Simple offers a Visa debit card, a mobile banking app and a web interface. It focuses on delivering a banking experience that's both streamlined and comprehensive, resulting in a system that integrates budgeting and goal-setting tools into your daily interactions with the account. Simple also offers a 0.40% APY in its Protected Goals account and a no-penalty CD product.
Review: Should you open a Simple bank account?
If you're willing to give up brick-and-mortar bank branches in exchange for a mobile banking app, Simple offers low-cost services with great utility and a relatively good savings rate in a broad low-interest-rate environment. Instead of operating branch offices, Simple partners with BBVA Compass, an FDIC-insured bank that holds all user accounts on Simple's behalf. Simple then provides access to those accounts through its mobile app and website, along with Visa debit cards for purchases and ATM withdrawals.
While Simple is a great foundation for basic banking and budgeting, it’s in no way a one-stop-shop for its users. Although Simple does offer personal loans and one no-penalty CD, it doesn't offer financial products such as mortgages or investment accounts. This means users with more complex financial needs may find it easier to keep their checking account at a larger bank with a more comprehensive package of services. Unlike other institutions, the Simple checking account doesn't provide any premium incentives for high balances, such as boosted interest. Simple also doesn’t currently have any sign-up bonuses or other new customer offers.
Finally, it’s important to note that Simple is quite different from a standard bank. Known as a "fintech" company, Simple doesn’t actually offer any of the financial products it advertises. Instead, the company is simply a user-friendly interface between its customers and the FDIC-insured bank that actually maintains customer accounts, BBVA Compass.
Simple checking accounts
|Simple Checking Account|
The first thing many people look for in a good bank account is low fees. Simple gets off to a good start here, with no fees charged for monthly maintenance, ATM usage (withdrawals only), overdrafts or ACH transfers. Essentially, the only time you'll pay Simple for a bank service is when you use your debit card in another country, which will cost 1% of the total transaction. Among traditional banks, few places come as close as Simple does to providing a truly "free" checking account.
The Protected Goals account is technically a checking account but acts like a high-yield savings account. You can stash money you don’t need on an immediate basis in the Protected Goals account, but if you want to spend it, you’ll have to make a free transfer back into the Simple checking Account to access it.
Through Simple's app and website, you can view balance and transaction history, deposit checks remotely and send money to other people. Direct deposit is also possible, and the bank lets you connect any outside checking or savings accounts for free transfers. The bank also allows free cash withdrawals through the 65,000-strong Allpoint network of ATMs, in addition to 10,000-plus new machines at outlets such as Walmart. In short, Simple provides every feature you'd expect of a standard checking account — other than physical banks and in-person service.
Finally, Simple accounts also come with features you'd expect to see in third-party financial apps, such as Mint or You Need a Budget. Its goal-setting option lets you define an amount and end date to save for a particular expense, while Safe-to-Spend shows you how much you can afford to spend after accounting for upcoming bills and savings goals. Most banks don't offer such detailed control over your banking, so Simple is a good choice if you prefer to have one app to manage all your finances instead of using one app for your banking needs and another for budgeting.
Simple savings accounts
Simple doesn’t offer any dedicated savings accounts. The Protected Goals account does offer a much higher yield than the Simple checking account, but it’s classified as a high-yield checking account, and not a savings account.
How does Simple compare to other banks?
Simple's marketing presents the company as a non-traditional alternative to typical banks, so we compared it with the largest brick-and-mortar brands, as well as some other online-only competitors. If you’re looking for banking services with user-friendly apps and budgeting tools, Simple could be a good option. Most of these competitors offer more services, however.
Simple vs. Ally Bank
We've included Ally Bank here as a representative of the online alternatives to Simple. Ally provides checking, savings and many additional services that smaller online banks such as Simple often skip over. Unlike the Simple checking account, Ally pays interest on its Interest Checking account, provided you meet certain minimum balance requirements. Ally's high-yield savings account also offers more competitive rates than Simple’s Protected Goals account, and it also offers CDs at higher rates.
Ally's apps and online interface fall a little short of Simple's functionality. Specifically, Simple offers in-app budgeting and savings tools, including its Safe-to-Spend and Goals tools. With Ally, you'll need to supplement your experience in that area with a third-party app like Mint if you want to replicate the integrated financial experience you'd get at Simple.
Simple vs. Chase Bank
People who rely on branch services and require additional bank services may have an easier experience banking with Chase Bank. Its nationwide network of branches provide millions of customers with bank accounts, credit cards and loans. Simple only provides checking account services, personal loans and a single CD option. Whether or not Chase’s vast reach means anything to you could depend on whether or not you live close to Chase's service locations.
Among mainstream banks, Chase has a very strong online interface, and it actually doesn't fall far behind Simple in terms of mobile functions — especially if you're managing credit card balances at Chase. However, Simple's checking account charges no monthly maintenance fee, compared to Chase Total Checking’s $12 monthly fee, and the interest rate on Simple’s Protected Goals account is much better than you’ll find with any Chase checking account. If you're willing to deal with transferring funds between banks once in a while, Simple is a superior checking account option.
Simple vs. Capital One
Although Capital One is another large bank with hundreds of branch locations, it comes much closer to providing checking services in the way Simple does. Capital One 360 Checking is an interest-bearing checking account you can access through the bank's website.
Combined with the savings accounts and other bank products Capital One provides, it may be a more convenient alternative, at least until Simple decides to expand the range of its own products to include investments or credit cards.