[Update April 2021: Simple accounts will become BBVA accounts as of May 8, 2021. CDs have been discontinued since February. To learn more visit the Simple to BBVA transition FAQ page here.]
Simple is another app-based, FinTech company acting as a mobile bank such as Aspiration and Affirm; which we covered earlier this month.
Simple leverages BBVA USA for its banking services and FDIC insurance, but then layers on its budgeting tools and fee-free accounts.
It was founded in 2009 in Portland, Oregon, but was acquired by BBVA in 2014. Therefore all money in a Simple account is actually held at BBVA USA, the American subsidiary of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A., and is FDIC-insured up to the applicable limits.
Simple has expanded its product suite since their inception and acquisition and now offers the following types of accounts:
- Online checking
- High yield checking
- Shared checking
- Certificates of Deposit
- Personal Loans
For the purposes of this review we will stick to the high yield checking account and the certificates of deposit that Simple has to offer. These are the only Simple accounts that currently provide a return on your savings.
To see if these Simple products are right for you, continue reading our full review of their features, account details and potential drawbacks below.
What is the Simple Account?
Simply put, the Simple account is an app-based smart wallet that can be managed on your desktop, tablet or mobile phone. It comes with free checking and budgeting tools that keep your personal finances organized.
While the account primarily functions as a checking account – complete with a debit card – it also has an add-on “Protected Goals Account” that functions as a high yield savings account and safe-guards your funds against unwanted spending. This Protected Goals Account also pays a solid 0.40% APY.
Simple Account Features and Drawbacks
The Simple Account comes with many features that an ordinary checking account does not. It also has some limitations in which standard checking accounts at brick and mortar banks and credit unions do not.
Simple Account Features:
- Safe-to-Spend. The first thing you see when you login is your account balance minus any upcoming bills, pending transactions, or Protected Savings Goals. Safe-to-Spend gives users a complete picture of what they can safely spend that day.
- Automate savings with deposits into your Protected Goals Account.
- 0.40% APY (for funds in protected goals account)
- No monthly fees
- No minimum balance or deposit requirements
- Mobile check deposit functionality
- Debit card
- Check writing (It costs $5 for a book of checks.)
- Budgeting and automatic savings tools
- No overdraft fees (Simple will reject transactions that will overdraw your account)
- 40,000 fee-free ATMs through the Allpoint network
- No fees from Simple when using out-of-network ATMs
- 1% international transaction charge when you use your debit card outside of the U.S.
- No ATM reimbursements on out of network ATM surcharges
- No physical branches
- No online bill payment. Read more about why they pulled this functionality here.
Simple Protected Goals Account Features + APY
The Simple Protected Goals Account is separate from your Simple account but money can be transferred easily between the two. Simple keeps these accounts separate to protect the funds designated for savings against any unwanted, accidental spending.
When you open the Simple Protected Savings Goal account your first goal will be automatically created for you. You can add and delete others, but this initial one may not be deleted. It is also where your accrued interest will get credited to at the end of each month.
Once you set a goal for a specific expense or purchase, Simple will automatically put away money each day until the goal is achieved. There is also a “Save It Now” feature for one-off transfers to savings goals.
Simple Protected Goals Account
To put Simple’s APY in perspective the average yield on a traditional savings account sits at just 0.07% APY nationally.
On top of the great yield, there are some other noteworthy features of the Simple Protected Goals Account. These are:
- Set specific goals with end dates
- Automated savings via transfers from Simple Account
- Only requires a penny to get started
- No monthly service charge(s)
Simple No Penalty 12 Month CD
If you’re in the market for an FDIC-insured, fixed rate certificate of deposit then you may want to check out Simple’s 12 month No Penalty CD. It is currently their only CD available, but comes with an attractive yield and terms.
As the name implies, this CD does not penalize you for early withdrawals if you need your cash prior to the 12 month maturity. You will have full access to your funds after 7 days of opening the account.
Simple 12 month No Penalty CD
Due to the transition to BBVA, Simple no longer offers CDs at this time.
To put this offer in perspective, the current national average for a 12 month CD sits at roughly 0.22% APY.
Simple Mobile Apps
The Simple app is available on iTunes and Google Play and scores a 4.6 and 4.4 star rating out of 5, respectively. This is better than the average mobile banking app rating of 4.05 out of 5 for a bank and 4.15 out of 5 for a credit union according to MagnifyMoney.
With their mobile apps you can:
- Deposit checks remotely by taking a picture of it with your phone (maximum $5,000 per day). Please allow 1-9 business days before the funds are available. There is also a 10 check per week max with this feature.
- Manage, budget and transfer funds on the go. You can set up new goals or instantly transfer money to existing goals. You can also monitor safe to spend amounts, daily transfers to savings goals and debit card spending.
If you’re looking for a simple, low-cost digital bank with modern money management tools then Simple is certainly worthy looking into.
This digital payment account works with a debit card and checks and provides a respectable APY on idle funds that you stash away into protected goals.
The main downside is the lack of any online bill pay feature(s) which may prevent you from keeping this as your primary account.