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Simple Bank Review: The Bank That Helps You Budget

Simple Bank Review: The Bank That Helps You Budget

Simple Bank is also known as, Simple, but finding the bank by typing “Simple” into Google is tough. Simple Bank is a digital checking account that some like to call an online bank. They call it an online bank because they do not have branches that you can visit; you have to undertake all of your transactions online.

Simple Bank is mostly used by people on their Smartphone, but you can use it via a web browser on a desktop computer if you wish. There isn’t very much that separates this company from a digital wallet. For example, a digital wallet doesn’t allow you to deposit cash, and neither does Simple Bank. A digital wallet gives you a card, and Simple Bank gives you a card. Digital wallets operate mostly online, and so does Simple Bank. The similarities between Simple Bank and digital wallet are obvious, so why isn’t it called a digital wallet service?

Why Isn’t Simple Bank A Digital Wallet?

Simple Bank offers a visa checking account card, whereas most digital wallets offer MasterCard cards. The Simple Bank card may be used in over 55,000 ATMs without you having to pay a fee, which is more than many digital wallet services are able to boast.

Many digital wallets offer some form of contactless payment, whereas Simple Bank doesn’t at the moment. Simple Bank is only available to US citizens, whereas digital wallets often have international access. Also, Simple Bank is part of the BBVA group, which is now the largest bank in Europe. Finally, your checking account is insured by FIDC, which means you may reclaim some of your money if something goes wrong such as the bank goes bust, whereas fewer digital wallets are insured by the FIDC.

Simple Bank app and card

Did You Know These Simple Bank Facts?

There is a Goals feature that you may use with Simple Bank. It allows you to schedule transfers to your savings accounts on a regular basis in order to reach your savings goals.

There are Simple Smartphone apps. The iOS app was released in May of 2011, and the Android app was released in January 2013. The Smartphone apps give you many of the tools and functions that the web browser website does.

You may use hash tag marking and hash tag searching with the Simple Bank website user interface. You may also find and use location based information, memos and your own transaction history. In short, there are numerous ways you may index and search for information with this bank.

There is Smartphone function that allows you to deposit checks of up to $3,000 USD. If you have a larger amount to deposit by check, or you do not wish to use the Smartphone app, then you may mail the check to the bank, or you may use an express courier.

Did You Know These Facts About Simple Bank?

Simple Bank budget screenshotSimple Bank doesn’t give out checks of any kind. They do not print checks for people to use, and if you have checks printed by third-party companies, Simple Bank will not honor the checks.

Simple Bank does allow for a bill pay service where they print out a check specifically for a company and mail it to them or the specified recipients. This is the only time when Simple Bank will create and honor checks by them. You can put in checks by other companies, but you cannot pay for other things with Simple Bank checks, unless you use the bill pay service.

If you make a deposit, the bank has and maintains the right to put a hold on that deposit for no reason whatsoever. What they really mean is that they perform random security holds, and that they reserve the right to hold your deposit if they suspect fraud or foul play.

Negative Reviews And Criticisms

It has all been syrup and roses so far, so let’s cover a few of the negative sides of Simple Bank. A common complaint is that they change their policies without notice and without correctly informing their users of the implications. They also have an inconsistent approach to how they enforce their policies and it is tough to know how transparent they are being. Is it that their policies change and then they have a cooling off period before they enforce them, or are they enforcing policies whenever it suits them?

The customer support team have canned responses

They are trained to use certain phrases and give robotic responses, and it feels very impersonal to the point of being insulting. It would actually be more pleasing if they simply played a pre-recorded phrase with elevator music in the background rather than spouting the same phrases over and over again.

What is worse is that it is not just their functional phrases, such as “Okay, bear with me while I put that through,” it is also their phrases of sympathy or empathy that are canned. Hearing canned responses to how they understand that my problem is frustrating is almost insulting when it is clearly a canned response. Why are their managers training them in the art of faux sympathy?

Overdraw and things will get nasty

The customer service department doesn’t seem to be trained for helping people deal with overdrawing. If you have overdrawn, you are going to have to do all you can to fix it on your own because the customer support team will not help. What is worse is that if you overdraw for what “appears” to be a security reason, then they will freeze your account and it will stay overdrawn until the account is turned over to collections agencies.

Customer support do not do what they promise

The customer service department seems to exist in a world with no consequences. Their staff are able to make promises that they do not keep, and the team is not punished or penalized in any way. Whether the customer service operative follows through on what was promised is simply a matter of personality. Is Sonja going to send out your debit card? Wait two weeks, no debit card, call again. Is Muhammad going to send out your debit card? Wait two weeks…you get the idea.

The unfair criticism

Many people online, me being one of them, say that the Simple Bank interface is too basic. It is an unfair criticism of a bank that calls itself simple, but maybe it should have called itself “Basic Bank.” The interface has no room for growth, and frankly, the services it offers are not suitable for a person with long-term banking goals. The Simple Bank service is a fine one, but it is probably better used as a second account rather than the account upon which you build your future.

Long email reply times

Yes, we are having a go at the customer service department again because frankly it is shit. Having to wait over 30 hours (on average) for an email reply on business days is just unacceptable. Maybe if it were a company selling rugs it may be acceptable, but this is a bank, where if they are not on the ball, then people may be defrauded, damage their credit or lose money.

Saved the worst customer support criticism until last

I have reviewed quite a few companies in my time, which means I have dealt with many customer service departments. In the English-speaking world, and even in India where many call centers are located, there is an unbreakable rule that says you cannot hang up on callers.

Most recently, before writing this article, I had dealings with a UK call centre company called Capita (South Yorkshire, England). It is a call center company that works for international phone companies, utilities companies and so forth.

Their policy is that they may only hang up if the customer is very abusive, and only after the support worker has given three warnings. Up to three warnings the customer may say the most awful and outrageous things and the call center workers have to take it.

The customer support people who work for Simple Bank will hang up because they feel like it. They may tell you that they cannot deal with the problem anymore and that you should email, or they may say you have to call another day, or they may simply tell you that your problem is over and hang up before you can insult their mothers.

Simple Bank app screenshot

Positive Reviews And Praise

The first half of this article had nothing but positive Simple Bank features, so this section can stand to be a little thinner. The criticism that this bank is not suitable as a long-term bank upon which you should build your future is 100% accurate. However, there are many people, myself included, that like a basic and simple banking experience. The basic interface with few features and fewer functions is exactly what some people are looking for. They are looking for a place to store their money and move their money, and that is what the Simple Bank service offers.

There are no fees when you overdraw

If your account is frozen when you overdraw, then you are in a heap of trouble and you will find yourself overdrawn for quite a while. However, it is true that they do not charge fees for being overdrawn. It is not something I could test myself because I don’t fancy ruining my credit rating, but I couldn’t find any online comments about people being charged for being overdrawn.

There is only a 1% foreign transaction fee

Checks take over a day to deposit if it is under $200, but that is hardly a criticism since most banks make you wait four or five days for the money to show up and clear anyway. The 1% foreign transaction fee is very competitive, and if you add this to their fee free ATM use when in another country, you can see why so many people use Simple Bank.

The app is worthy of mention

Simple Bank app - Budgeting Screenshot

Saving the best praise until last, one has to say that the app, be it simple and basic, is very good. Ally the app with its budgeting function, and you have a winner. Being able to see and plan your budget, see your balance, and see how well you are doing without having to sign into some big complex budgeting program is simply perfect. The app is not set up like other (more complex) budgeting apps, and that is why I like it so much. I am tired of playing with budgeting apps that operate with the complexity of a Boeing 777 cockpit.

Simple Bank Image - Cockpit of a Boeing 777

Conclusion – A Good Service With Terrible Customer Support

In my opinion, a Simple Bank account is a perfect second bank account. Use it for budgeting and as a second location for your money. It is not suitable for building and running your life because you need a more feature and service intensive bank for that, but it is good for day-to-day budgeting, or for secondary budgets for things such as holidays; which is ideal thanks to their 1% foreign transaction fees and free ATM use around the world.

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Their customer service department is simply terrible, You only have a smooth experience if you find the 1 out of 20 employees that cares about his or her work. If you want a budgeting app for day-to-day budgeting, holiday budgeting or project budgeting, then get a Simple Bank account and use their app.

About The Author

Ash The Great

After a varied career in different industries from the hospitality industry to the financial consultancy industry, Ash now spends his days working as a professional writer.

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