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Chime vs. Simple: Which is Best for You?


Written by Casey Hynes | Published on 10/17/2019

Chime and Simple offer cash management accounts that provide easy access to your money and a host of other features. Accounts from both fintechs let you maintain separate checking and savings balances, and neither charges monthly maintenance fees.

How to choose. After all, not all mobile bank accounts are created equal. We’ve taken a deep dive into both Chime and Simple to help you understand their differences and decide which is best for your needs.

Here’s the TL:DR. Simple offers an attractive interest rate of up to 2.15% APY on high savings balances and great budgeting features. Chime is the way to go if you ever need to deposit cash in your account, plus it can get you your paycheck up to two days earlier than other accounts—but be warned it only offers a token 0.01% APY on savings. Read on for all the details.

In this article we will cover:

Chime vs. Simple: An overview

Chime and Simple each offer checking and savings features, but there are important differences in the way they implement them. Like other cash management accounts, Chime and Simple also provide debit cards for cash deposits, withdrawals and budgeting features.

Launched in 2013, Chime is an online platform that provides free checking and savings accounts. Everyone who signs up for a Chime checking account automatically receives a Visa debit card and the option to open a free savings account.

Simple launched in 2009 and offers two accounts in one. Think of the account as one big pot of money, earmarked for different purposes. Your Simple account’s Safe-to-Spend balance serves as your checking account—by analyzing your spending patterns, the app tells you what part of your balance is safe to spend at any given time. The rest of your money is held in the savings section, which Simple calls “Protected Goals.”

Chime accounts are Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)-insured up to the legal limit through Chime’s partner, The Bancorp Bank. Simple is also FDIC-insured up to the legal limit via BBVA bank, which owns Simple and holds its deposits.

Chime vs. Simple: Account options

Chime Simple
Checking account X X
Savings account X X
Certificates of deposit N/A N/A
Money market account N/A N/A

Savings accounts

As noted above, Simple calls its savings feature Protected Goals. If your balance amounts to less than $10,000, you’ll earn 2.02% APY. Bump your Protected Goal balance above $10,000 and you’ll earn 2.15% APY.

Simple lets you establish multiple savings goals in the Protected Goals feature. For instance, you can set up one or more savings goals and an emergency fund goal. Couples who are saving toward a big goal together—say, a down payment on a house, a wedding or an around-the-world honeymoon—can contribute to a shared goal. All the separate goals combine under your Protected Goals balance, helping you to benefit from the higher APY.

Chime’s savings account earns a very low 0.01% APY, although Chime’s approach seems to be to establish the habit of savings and automate the savings process, rather than let users earn the best yield. Every time you use your Chime Visa debit card, Chime rounds up the purchase to the nearest dollar and sends the difference to your savings account. Those transfers may be small, but every little bit helps, right?

To make swifter progress toward your savings goals, Chime also allows you to set up automatic 10% transfers whenever you receive direct deposits of your paycheck. This way, you’re setting money aside without needing to think about it every month.

Budgeting

Budgeting is tough for the best of us, and Simple makes the process much easier by automating it. The company’s Safe-to-Spend feature analyzes your account based on your current balance, upcoming expenses and money you’ve designated toward a goal. It then tells you how much you can comfortably spend without putting yourself at risk of falling short on your bills or your savings milestones. This is a much more accurate approach than looking at your balance on any given day and spending based on that number. Without the context of your other financial commitments, you can’t make an informed decision about what you can afford.

Simple offers a trackable spending feature as well, providing you visuals such as graphs to understand what you’re earning and how much you’re spending, which can make budgeting feel more accessible.

Chime’s automated savings is also useful for budgeting purposes in that it ensures you’re setting money aside every pay day, no matter what other purchases you choose to make. However, Simple’s Safe-to-Spend is a more dynamic and helpful feature.

ATM Fees

Neither Chime nor Simple charges ATM withdrawal fees at in-network ATMs. Chime users can withdraw money at no cost from 38,000 MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs, while Simple customers can take out money at no charge from Allpoint ATMs.

Simple will not reimburse you for charges incurred at out-of-network ATMs, but if an in-network machine mistakenly charges you, the company will refund the fee. Chime customers who withdraw money from out-of-network ATMs will be charged $2.50. ATM withdrawals from Simple and Chime checking accounts are capped at $500 per day.

Direct deposit

Direct deposits can be made to accounts with either Chime or Simple. One of Chime’s signature features gives it a leg up in this department: If you opt to receive direct deposit paychecks or government benefits in your Chime account, the company will deposit the funds as soon as they are notified that the payment has been approved, instead of waiting until the funds arrive. This means you get your money up to two days sooner than with a standard bank account.

Setting up direct deposit with Simple can take anywhere from just a few days to a few weeks, depending on how rapidly your employer processes the request. Once the feature is set up, Simple’s website says you’ll have the funds by 8 a.m. on payday. Neither Chime nor Simple holds your funds; both say they post direct deposits as soon as they are received.

Note that you can also deposit checks via the mobile apps offered by both Simple and Chime.

Cash deposits

Depositing cash is simpler with Chime than it is with Simple. You can make a deposit to your Chime account at a designated GreenDot retail location (there are more than 90,000 nationwide). Cash deposits are limited to $1,000 a day and $10,000 per month. However, GreenDot may charge a $4.95 fee per deposit, and its limits may differ from Chime’s.

Simple admits on its website that depositing cash into your Simple checking account is “a little roundabout.” The company does not have designated deposit locations, but it recommends purchasing a money order and depositing it through the mobile check deposit option in the app or depositing the money in an external bank and transferring it into your Simple account.

Online bill pay

Chime offers online bill pay, while Simple canceled this feature in July 2019. If you’re using Chime, you can set up direct debit payments for your bills, or you can issue a paper check from your account for free. You simply set up the payment in your account dashboard, and a check will be mailed out. Chime does not limit the number of checks you can send in a day, though individual check amounts are capped at $5,000. While Simple won’t allow you to issue checks digitally, you can purchase a book of 25 paper checks for $5.

Account sign-up

The process of signing up for new accounts is simple on both Chime and Simple, requiring basic information such as your address, Social Security Number and source of income. However, this DepositAccounts writer found signing up for Chime to be a more user-friendly experience. Her application for a Simple account was denied, but the company cannot provide insight as to why due to regulatory rules. The Chime application was slightly shorter and easily approved. Of course, other users might have a different experience signing up for Simple.

Chime’s mobile app is available through Google Play and the App Store. The Simple app is also available for Android and iOS.

Account security

On the security side, both companies allow you to block your debit card if you’ve misplaced it or think it might have been stolen. Blocking the card gives you time to look around for it and make sure it’s missing before you order a replacement, which can be inconvenient, as you can’t use your account until the new card is issued.

Chime vs. Simple: Rates

Chime Simple National average Online bank average
Checking N/A N/A 0.202% APY 0.41% APY
Savings .01% 2.02% to 2.15% APY 0.278% APY 1.52% APY

If making your money work for you is a priority, Simple is the clear winner. The yield on Simple’s Protected Goals savings accounts blows Chime’s savings rate out of the water, with even low balances earning 2.02% APY.

Simple is the standout in this category nationally and among online banks as well, offering interest that’s much higher than the national average of 0.202%. Compared with its online banking peers, which provide an average APY of 0.41%, Simple again holds the clear advantage.

Chime vs. Simple: Fees

Chime’s fees
Simple’s fees
Checking account
$0
$0
Savings account
$0
$0
ATM withdrawals
$0 in-network, $2.50 out-of-network
$0
Overdraft fees
$0
$0

When it comes to what you’ll pay for your online banking account, Chime and Simple are pretty much even. Both accounts are free of any monthly account maintenance fees, and you don’t have to pay to access additional features or to move your money in or out of the accounts.

You can set up direct deposit for either account for free, and you can transfer funds to and from other banks at no cost, as well. Neither Chime nor Simple charges Automated Clearing House (ACH) fees for transactions between banks.

Who should bank with Chime?

  • You want a one-stop shop for banking. With a Chime account, you can link to your credit cards and investment accounts, as well as your other bank accounts, so you get a full view of your finances within the app. You have the option to pay bills, transfer money to your savings, and send money to friends and family all from the same place, which is highly convenient—what you want in a banking platform. Chime will also send regular notifications regarding your account balance and transactions, so you can keep tabs on your money without logging in to the app or website.
  • You have bad credit or have been denied a bank account in the past. Chime advertises itself as a second-chance bank account option. Past credit issues can prevent you from getting not only a credit card but also a traditional bank account. Chime doesn’t run a credit check and it doesn’t use the ChexSystems consumer reporting agency when assessing accounts either, so it’s much easier to open an account and start building a healthier financial profile.
  • You’ve had issues with overdrafts and want an account with a buffer. Chime’s SpotMe service is free to you as long as you receive at least $500 a month in direct deposits. Not being dinged for minor overdrafts can really add up, considering that the overdraft fee at most banks is $34 per overdrawn transaction. You’re covered up to $20 a month as long as you meet the direct deposit requirement, though Chime may allow an overdraft of up to $100 based on your account history.

    Another bonus is that you don’t have to link your savings account to cover overdrafts, so if you mistakenly over-buy, you’re not dipping into your rainy day fund to cover the difference. Be aware, however, that the next deposit you receive will be applied to your overdrawn balance. SpotMe is only beneficial for relatively small purchases, since any transaction above your account limit will be rejected.

Chime issues worth noting

Chime fares better in app reviews than Simple (see below), but it’s not without its user complaints. Customers have reported issues with poor customer service, lengthy waits between transferring and receiving funds and a lack of support when they’ve been victims of fraudulent charges on their accounts.

Who should bank with Simple?

  • You make large debit purchases. Simple’s maximum spending limit with your debit card is $6,000 per day, more than double Chime’s limit of $2,500. Total transactions, including ATM withdrawals, card transactions and cash advances, are capped at $8,000 per day. When traveling abroad, the Simple spending limit drops to $1,000 per day, but you can request that the company raise the limit back to $6,000 so you have better access to your funds internationally. If you anticipate needing or wanting to cover large expenses with your online banking account, Simple is the better choice.
  • You don’t deal with cash often. You’ll likely get the most benefit from Simple if your financial transactions are almost entirely digital. Because there’s no easy way to deposit cash into your Simple checking account, it’s not a great option if, say, you work a job in which you often receive cash tips. But if your income is entirely digital and you rarely interact with paper bills, Simple provides the tools you need to manage your basic finances.
  • You’re saving toward a big goal. Simple’s Protected Account is a no-brainer if you’re socking money away for a major expense. You can keep large amounts of money in the account and earn far more interest than you would with the Chime savings account.

Simple issues worth noting

For all its promising features, Simple has garnered some scathing reviews in the Google Play and App stores. Users frequently complained about poor customer service and glitches in the app that made it difficult to verify their accounts or access their money. People were also upset about Simple’s discontinuing the online bill pay and mail-a-check services. There were positive reviews, too, and some users were thrilled with their Simple experience. But there were enough gripes that it’s worth proceeding with caution.

Chime vs. Simple: Which should you choose?

Neither bank is a perfect option. Still, they each offer useful features for basic money management and savings. But the question remains, which bank is better for you?

The answer depends on your priorities. Chime wins for convenience, since the ability to pay bills online is a must-have in an online checking account, and Chime is the only one of the two to offer that. The option to easily deposit cash and budgeting tools also gives Chime an edge. However, if you’re primarily concerned with saving, you’re better off with Simple because of the high APY and the Safe-to-Spend benefit.

All APYs confirmed as of 10/17/2019
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