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This article was last updated Sep 10, 2014, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.
From the second I came across Simple, I was rather enamored—good design, innovative concept, and a willingness to compete with the nation’s biggest financial institutions. It’s not a credit card and it’s not just an app; it’s an actual bank that’s completely online and comes with a pretty white debit card.
Simple Debit Card Features
- Visa debit card
- Account accessible via mobile app and website
- 55,000 fee-free ATMs
- Automated budgeting and saving
- Photo check deposit
- Payment functionality
The user interface of both the app and website is elegant, intuitive and, frankly, fun to use. Even the debit card and the packaging it comes in are well-designed. Design is clearly their thing. The mobile app has a PIN, not a password, which is so much more user-friendly than your typical mobile passwords. In contrast, the web account requires a passphrase instead of a password with the purpose, I assume, of creating safer account credentials. In short, traditional passwords don’t exist in a Simple account.
Where Simple really shines is with their “Goals” functionality. The feature allows you to set a goal with a deadline and reach it over time. Simple automatically calculates how much you need to save a day and transfers it to your goal daily. For instance, if you are saving for tickets to Disney Land, you might need $200 in 3 months. Set your goal and mark the day you need the money by and Simple will automatically transfer $2.22 to your goal daily.
The goal functionality doesn’t end there either because it’s also great for budgeting. Similar to the envelope system, you can set a certain amount aside to use for planned expenses. So if you know that you want to spend $80 on groceries next week, you can pull that money aside instantly into your “groceries” goal. When it’s time to buy groceries, you can quickly tag the transaction with your goal so that it won’t affect your “safe to spend” balance. If you need help starting a budget, check out this budgeting calculator to see how much you could be saving.
One of the key features of Simple is that when you log in, you’ll be viewing your “safe to spend” money, which is likely not all of your money. Simple deducts the money you have set aside in goals so that you don’t overspend. So if you have $80 saved in groceries, you’ll have $80 less in your “safe to spend.”
The best part of Simple is that they don’t charge fees. That means no overdraft, transfer, or maintenance fees. So if you do overspend, you won’t be penalized for it by your bank.
Some other features worth mentioning are the in-app chat function that allows you to ask customer service questions and get an answer within your app, as well as the transfer function. You can instantly transfer money to friends or family who also have an account with Simple.
Simple is innovative, but they’re also a small fish in a vast ocean. In such a massive and detailed industry, it’s no surprise there’s some things Simple hasn’t yet perfected.
First of all, transferring money to your Simple account takes a while. It actually used to be longer, but they recently streamlined it to a 3-day transfer. Still, if you get paid via check or bank transfer, you’re going to have to be patient; however, the work around is easy if it’s available to you. If you can set up direct deposit, you’ll be able to access your funds instantly.
Simple doesn’t automatically suggest a budget like some of the other financial apps out there, but that’s an easy fix. There are some great calculators and tools out there to get you started.
There are also no extra features. Simple is exactly what it says it is—simple. There are no rewards, cash back, FICO Scores nor any other bells and whistles that are becoming common place in both credit and checking accounts.
If you have trouble managing your daily budget and planning ahead for expenses, then Simple is a great option for you. The design is great and the mobile app is very easy to use and helpful. If you’re looking for something more robust, consider pairing your Simple card with another card or service, or simply using another bank (yup, pun intended).
Kelsey Havens is a writer, financial health enthusiast and content manager at myFICO – the consumer division of FICO Inc. You can read more by Kelsey and other FICO experts by visiting the myFICO blog.
*Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.
*The content in this article is accurate at the publishing date, and may be subject to changes per the card issuer.