Intro: What is Simple Bank?


The world of online banking is ever increasing. Consequently, there is also an expansion of web-based and mobile banking options as well as third party payment intermediaries (i.e. PayPal, Square).

As such, there is an elevated interest in the banking institution, named Simple. In this Simple Bank review, we will be covering the who, what, where, when, and how of Simple Bank.

Previously known as BankSimple, this web-based, mobile-focused banking organization was founded in 2009 by former Twitter engineer Alex Payne, and Carnegie Mellon MBA graduates Shamir Karkal and Josh Reich.

simple banking review-min

Image Source: Shamir Karkal and Joshua Reich 

Simple officially established its presence in 2012 due to a growing demand from customer requests for Simple to shift from being merely an idea to a full-fledged operation. Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, Simple was procured by Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) for $117 million in 2014.

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Simple Bank Review: How is Banking Conducted at Simple?

Although Simple is a financial institution, it does not hold customers’ funds. The Bancorp Bank, located in Wilmington, Delaware, is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and is actually the holder of customer monies.

Simple functions as a technological intermediary, giving customers access to their funds via various traditional and non-traditional channels.

As such, Simple operates much like other brick and mortar institutions, even though it’s entirely online (referred to as “branchless”).

A simple review of their offerings yielded the following information:

  • Customers are still issued a debit card that can be used at automatic teller machines (ATMs) and anywhere else Visa debit cards are allowed.
  • Direct Deposit is provided.
  • Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) is available.
  • Customers can deposit checks or money orders.
  • There is a Bill Pay option where customers can either request a check to be mailed or an electronic transfer of funds are made to a vendor.
  • Simple can link to third-party payment systems such as PayPal.


Simple Checking Review: What are the Cons of Banking with Simple?

While Simple has several of the same options found within conventional banks, upon closer Simple Bank review, there are other details to consider before opening an account:

  • Because it doesn’t have the customary banking branches, Simple does not operate its own system of automatic teller machines (ATMs). While searching Simple Bank reviews two options became clear: First, customers can use automatic teller machines that are partnered with the Allpoint® ATM network. Both Simple and Allpoint® maintain ATM locaters to assist customers in avoiding out-of-network fees. Second, if a customer does use an out of network automatic teller machine, and is charged a fee, Simple does not rebate the surcharge.
     
  • In order to deposit funds, Simple banking reviews reveal that customers will need to send deposits via the postal service. If a customer desires to send cash, then acquiring a money order is the only way to complete that transaction. 
     
  • An additional Simple.com review brought more information to light. Simple does not offer checkbooks. Their site further states that “checks printed with your Simple account and routing number won’t work.” Thus, if customers need check writing as part of their banking experience, Simple cannot accommodate this process.
     
  • Simple bank reviews also disclosed that credit cards, CDs, mortgages, and other financial products are not currently offered. Their current sole focus is on personal banking accounts.
     
  • In terms of offering business accounts, a supplementary review of Simple Bank affirms the aforementioned concentration on personal accounts. There are no business accounts available at this time.
     
  • Simple is only available in the United States and does not offer monetary transfers between international banking institutions.
     
  • For those who require joint accounts, additional Simple reviews establish that Simple does not provide this service.
     
  • Should fraudulent activity be detected and substantiated, the customer is only protected if an in-network automatic teller machine is used or the transaction falls under the Visa Zero Liability Policy (which does not cover automatic teller transactions or any use involving a customers’ personal identification number, or PIN).

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Simple Bank Review: Are There Additional Benefits to Banking with Simple?

While certainly there are several downsides to banking with Simple (all depending upon individual expectations about what banking is and what it should provide), keep in mind that they are promoting themselves as a mobile banking facilitator. Thus, it’s sensible that at least a few of the traditional banking components will not be available.

Even so, there are benefits illustrated during the Simple bank review process, such as:

  • The application process to set up a Simple bank account is entirely online. No need to step foot in and wait in line at a brick and mortar operation. Potential customers may apply for an account either through their website or mobile app.
     
  • Depositing a check can be as “simple” as taking a photo with your phone. Indeed, photo deposits are such a popular feature that other banking institutions (including Wells Fargo, Chase Bank, U.S. Bank and Bank of America) have also added this feature over the last several years.
     
  • Diving deeper into the Simple Bank review benefits, they have a “simple” fraud policy. As soon as a customer notices suspicious activity, Simple’s mobile app will help quickly block the card from further use. As long as Simple is notified within two business days of the transaction, credit transactions will enact the Visa Zero Liability Policy. Meanwhile, transactions processed via use as a debit card will only incur a liability of the first $50 billed to the customer’s banking account. Again, this only holds true if Simple is notified within two business days.
     
  • Though the routing numbers are not used for checks, based on additional Simple bank review examination, they can be used for transferring funds such as through the wiring of money, or via Google Wallet, PayPal, and Square Cash.
     
  • Simple allows the linking of external accounts as long as the other banks belong to the Automated Clearing House (ACH) system. There is a disclaimer to the external account linking process, and only five external accounts are permitted; however, the process is “simple” and can be initiated either via mobile app or the Simple.com website

Image Source: Simple Bank

  • Another Simple banking review uncovered a unique element called Safe to Spend. Customers can set aside certain fund amounts by identifying them under a “Make a Goal” or “Goals” section. The customer Safe to Spend amount automatically subtracts their “Goals” or Scheduled Activities “that will be withdrawn” from the account “in the next 30 days.”
     
  • An additional perk to banking with Simple is that it does not charge fees. Indeed, Simple generates positive cash flow through fees paid by merchants when customers use their debit card.
     
  • In the midst of further Simple bank review exploration, Simple has installed a system called Simple Instant. Customers can add other Simple account holders to their Instant Contacts list, and instantly transfer monies with only an email address and telephone number.

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Are There Simple Bank Reviews from Customers?

There are many positive Simple Bank Reviews out there. For example, at NerdWallet, the Simple Bank review earns 4.5 out of 5 stars and earns a 5 out of 5 for its fee structure.

Meanwhile, at Credit Karma, Simple also generates 4.5 out of 5 stars with one hundred and sixty-three reviews listed. Several of the comments in this Simple Bank review page expound about how the Simple Bank customer experience is “ridiculously easy” and “incredibly managed.”

Undoubtedly, one institution cannot please every single customer. And the Simple Bank review section at MyBankTracker does venture into a few negatives about the Simple bank operation. Earning 3.5 out of 5 stars, several of the comments mention things like “do not get scammed by this bank” and “closed account without explanation.” Yet others on the same Simple banking review page continue to push the positives which reference “easy banking experience” and “very powerful tool.”



Simple Bank Review Conclusion

After a thorough analysis of Simple Bank reviews, several facts become evident. Simple Bank works well for those who prefer to bank via mobile apps. Moving funds between Simple customer accounts is instantaneous, and this could be an attractive component for families or friends who all maintain a Simple account.

Also, if customers aren’t in need of high interest rate checking, making cash deposits (it can be done but with jumping through hoops and some risk), or high interest savings accounts, then Simple might be a good financial fit.

The no-fees perspective may be a positive for a greater number of customers.

However, customers who value a financial institution that offers other products, such as CDs, mortgages, personal loans, or investment accounts, will not find that Simple meets their needs. Even though checking and savings accounts aren’t intended as hardcore investment services, the interest rate for Simple accounts is disconcertingly low. Furthermore, certain payments from a Simple account may not be honored, and additional fees by going through third-party payment vendors are a definite possibility.

Additionally, for customers who travel frequently, trying to find an automatic teller machine within Simple’s preferred network may prove to be challenging. Surcharges at automatic tellers can be pricey if not used sparingly.

Overall, throughout the Simple Bank review, it appears that Simple offers a very specific experience and iswell-regarded in that niche for those who prefer on-the-go mobile banking in contrast to the traditional bank network.

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