Review of Simple


Written by Brynne Conroy | Published on 9/30/2019

Simple is a fintech company that provides a unique cash management account. Depending on where you keep your money in your account, you could earn one of the highest APYs on the market while paying marginal fees — if you incur them at all.

Simple helps you budget, spend without anxiety and save for the future. However, if you deal with a lot of physical cash on a day-to-day basis, this account may not be the best fit for you. The consumer who will benefit the most doesn’t use much cash, has a smartphone and is motivated to make their financial life better.

In this article we will cover:

Simple account features

Simple allows you to easily visualize your budget and save for specific goals. You can track your expenses and spending habits, automatically save for long-term goals and even see how much is “safe to spend” at any given moment. These tools can revolutionize your budget. Even better, Simple is an affordable account with few fees and, depending on where you keep your money within your account, great APY offerings.

Simple Safe-to-Spend budget features

Perhaps one of the most helpful features of Simple is Safe-to-Spend. After accounting for your regular bills, recurring expenses, planned savings and future budgets, Simple calculates the amount that you can spend without affecting your long-term financial goals. Knowing this number can eliminate a lot of stress as you go about your daily life.

If you mess up and spend more than you have in Safe-to-Spend, money will be pulled from your goals, which could be anything from saving for your rent to stashing money away for vacation.

Simple spending account features

Even though Simple will feel like one account to you on the user end, you’ll actually hold multiple accounts. The part of the account that allows you to manage your daily spending and shows you your Safe-to-Spend number only earns 0.01% APY (as of the date of publishing), which isn’t atypical for a checking account but is low for a cash management account.

However, when you move your money into one of your Protected Goals accounts, it will start to earn a much higher APY. Protected Goals accounts are technically separate high-yield checking accounts, but all of them will be available under your profile. This high APY is a major contributing factor that earns Simple a spot on the roster as one of the best cash management accounts around.

Depositing checks and cash

Getting money into your Simple account is relatively easy — especially if you don’t deal with cash often. For example, if your aunt wrote you a check, you’d have multiple ways to submit it for deposit. You could opt to deposit it directly via your phone with Simple’s mobile deposit feature called Photo Check Deposit, or you could mail in the check.

However, if your aunt gave you cash, there’s no way to get the money into your account short of getting a money order or funneling it through a friend or family member’s bank account who can then issue you a check. If you want to write checks yourself, you can, but it will cost you $5 for a book of 25 checks.

Spending limits

When you open a Simple account, you will be issued a Visa debit card. With this card, you can spend up to $6,000 per day via card transactions. If you’re traveling internationally, the limit drops down to $1,000, though you can request to have it raised. ATM withdrawals are capped at $500 per day, both in the U.S. and abroad. ATM withdrawal limits are not negotiable. Finally, you can — though in most cases shouldn’t — take out a cash advance of up to $5,000 a day domestically or $1,000 a day internationally.

Regardless of which method you use to get money out of your account, the maximum amount you can take out per day is $8,000.

Simple savings account features

If you want to set up a goal to save for that concert around the corner, for example, that is considered a savings goal. You can set up multiple savings goals that will help you project your budget with Simple.

You can also set up a Protected Goal, which earns much more in terms of APY than other money held with Simple. Any money kept in your Protected Goal account or Emergency Fund earns those higher interest rates.

Technically, your Protected Goals account is a high-yield checking account. That means it doesn’t have the same limitations as normal savings accounts. While a savings account can sustain up to six certain withdrawals per month without butting up against federal regulation, with a high-yield checking account like Simple’s Protected Goals, you can make as many withdrawals in a month as you like.

If you’re not the kind of person who is going to move your money into savings by yourself, Simple has you covered. You can set up automatic transfers from your Safe-to-Spend account into your goals or Protected Goals so you won’t even have to think about it.

Money across all of your Simple accounts is FDIC-insured up to $250,000. Some cash management administrators will take the money from your cash management account and spread it across multiple banks, allowing you up to $250,000 in FDIC insurance with each bank that holds your money. Your interface would still be one account, but behind the scenes you’d be diversified. Because Simple only works with one bank, BBVA USA, it can only offer you up to $250,000 in FDIC insurance.

Simple fees and fine print

One of the biggest advantages of using a Simple cash management account is that there are hardly any fees. Simple won’t charge you any fees for:

  • Monthly maintenance
  • Overdrafts
  • ATM transactions

There are only two fees to really watch out for: a $5 fee for ordering checks and a 1% international transaction fee charged by Visa, not Simple. Given that there are no other fees charged, the two that do exist are not a burden. There are also no minimum deposit requirements.

Note that while Simple does not charge for either in-network or out-of-network ATM transactions, fees charged by other banks or ATM owners still do apply. Unlike some banks, Simple does not reimburse you for this cost.

Simple Fees
Monthly fee $0
Maintenance fee $0
Overdraft fee $0
ATM fees None*
International transaction fee 1% fee charged by VISA
*Fees charged by other banks or ATM owners may still apply.

Using the Simple mobile app

Aside from Photo Check Deposit, all Simple features are available both on the mobile app and desktop. You’re going to get the most out of the account if you use the mobile app, though.

For example, let’s say you’re at Target and are incredibly tempted to make an impulse purchase. You know your Simple account will tell you how much is safe to spend, but if you don’t have a smartphone, that feature would be useless in the moment.

You may also want to set a new savings goal at the spur of the moment, but don’t have access to a computer. By using the mobile app, you can set your goal in that moment before you lose your motivation or forget.

By accessing all of Simple’s tools via smartphone, you’re able to fully utilize all of the features of your account.

Opening a Simple account

To open a Simple account, you must be a U.S. citizen with a Social Security number who is at least 18 years of age. The online application process is appropriately simple, requesting basic information like your address and identifying information like your Social Security number. You will have to wait for your Simple card to be shipped to you, which is the longest part of the entire process.

What else you should know about Simple

Simple has many features, from its expense tracking to budget planning tools. But what if it’s not just you that manages your financial life?

If you and a friend or family member both have Simple accounts, you can easily send money back and forth with Simple Instant. This will help you split the dinner bill, pay for that Uber that your friend ordered home or any other myriad situations in which you need to pay someone back or lend someone money.

You can also set up a Shared Account, which is especially helpful for roommates or romantic partners whose finances are not completely joint. You’ll actually have two individual Simple accounts, but with the shared feature you’ll both be able to contribute to the expenses you share, such as rent, groceries and utility bills.

Overall review of Simple

Simple offers a complex product that provides many tools to help you better manage your money, and it rewards you with a higher APY for savings. While the product itself may be multi-faceted, it’s nearly-nonexistent fees are not. Two of the only expenses you’ll ever have to worry about are for ordering paper checks and getting charged by out-of-network ATM owners — and VISA if you’re traveling outside of the country.

Because of its low fees and high APY, Simple is one of the best cash management accounts on the market. If you have less than $250,000 in your deposit accounts, it can be a great option to provide you with the support you need to make managing your money a breeze.

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  |     |   Comment #1
Can POD beneficiaries be managed online (i.e. without mailing forms for every change)?

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