Simple Bank Review

Simple Bank Review

Looking to supplant traditional banks, Simple Bank focus is to create an easy, customer friendly banking experience. Central to this experience is an iPhone app, a debit card and their website at Joining Simple isn’t so easy. You have to request and subsequently wait for an invitation. A few months back I received my invite and it was the first time I was genuinely excited about correspondence from a bank. I’ve been using the service for a few months alongside my current traditional bank.  Are they any different from Citibank, Chase and the rest? Read on for my full Simple bank review.

Simple Bank Review

For years, we’ve grown accustomed to the traditional way of banking. You drive to your local branch and conduct your transactions with a teller between the hours and 9 and 4. Those banking outside of those hours or looking to save time will use the ATM. There is a certain comfort level in knowing your money and account are a few minutes away. I bank with Citibank, with whom I’ve been a customer for the past 20 or so years. With Simple, there is no local branch. In fact, there are no physical locations. For some, that will be a deal breaker and that’s certainly understandable. It should be noted that Simple’s banking services are provided by The Bancorp Bank, a member of the FDIC. Your money is just as safe with them as the bank on the corner.

Upon acceptance into Simple, you have to deposit a minimum of $200 to fund and open account. This is easily accomplished through a money transfer. They encourage you to setup re-occurring deposits, either from linking to another account or by setting up direct deposit through your employer. When you initially become a customer, you can get a small number of invitations that you can send to friends and family, should they want to join Simple. They incentivize you by offering you a bonus invite upon setting up either Direct Deposit or linking an account. My employer uses physical paychecks, so instead I opted for Linking An Account. Citibank has a service called Popmoney whereby I can set a reoccurring deposit to my Simple account. These take about 2 days for your funds to be available. The Simple website offers a helpful list which they playfully call ‘The Big Banks’ and each bank has an accompanying guide for transferring money. The whole process of signing up was seamless and within two weeks I received my Simple card.

When you first open the card, you notice the attention to detail, attention to the brand. Simple wants you to feel good about being a customer. A blue band wraps the Simple Visa card against a stiff cardboard backing which reads,

It’s A Good Day. Your new Simple Visa card is here. Excited? We’re a bit giddy.


Good Day Simple

It’s the whimsical nature of Simple that consistently reminds you that you are far removed from traditional banking or at least that’s the vibe they like to portray. This extends throughout the Simple experience. During a routine customer service interaction where I was inquiring about when I might receive my card, the customer representative promptly answered my question ended her message with …Cheers, Chelsea. I’m certain that in my twenty plus years with Citibank, they ever ended a correspondence with Cheers. It’s refreshing.

I mentioned it earlier that the overall banking experience is tightly tied to the iPhone app (there is also an Android app available now) and the Simple Visa card. This works no different than a standard debit card. There are no branches, but the Simple Visa card works at 50,000 Allpoint ATM’s. Finding one near you could not be easier. Simply tap on Account > ATM finder. Simple will provide a map within the app showing your location and all of the ATM’s nearby. Tap in the ‘i’ and you can navigate using Apple’s Maps or Google Maps (if installed).

Simple ATM locations

The whole concept of banking online is nothing new and most banks already have apps. For Simple, it was important to deliver an app that was a cut above the rest. Using my old bank as a comparison, there was no comparison. It’s not as if the information is any different, but it’s all in the presentation and how you access the information.

When you first login to the app, you have to use a special phrase you created on the website. This is often long and requires you carefully type it on your iPhone. Going forward, you access your banking app using a four digit passcode. If you are looking to check your balance to see how much cash you have available, this quick access is mighty helpful.

As you make transactions, they show up in a beautiful list under the Activity tab. Simple will auto-tag your transactions. For example, a recent trip to Starbucks is categorized as Fast Food, just one of a broad list of categories. Similar to Mint, allows you to easily track your expenditures by category. Tap on a category and you can see how much was spent on restaurants or fast food. A neat feature was a restaurant purchase that had a breakdown of how much was spent on food and how much was tipped.

Activity list

The Simple app allows you to add an image to your purchase information along with notes and hashtags that you create. The app provides a visual reminder of a recent lunch I enjoyed at the Five Bucks Drinkery. Not only do I frequent the finest eating establishments, but I know have visual proof of a tasty pulled pork sandwich and Corona I enjoyed for my $14.50. If I want to return to that specific restaurant, I can tap on the map to reveal the location.

Image with transaction

I didn’t receive a checkbook from Simple. It doesn’t exist and quite honestly, it shouldn’t in this day and age. All of my transactions are online and payments are processed no differently. You set up contacts within Simple and tap on their account to send money. While you rely on the desktop website for a number of features, most are the initial setup and the process is world’s better than my old bank.

Tracking and Goal Setting
The Simple website makes it incredibly easy to keep track of where you are spending your money. It’s similar to Mint, but whereas you can add all sorts of accounts to, Simple is limited to your checking account. There is no reason why someone could not add Simple to their Mint account, but it would certainly create some overlap. Simple seems to cater to a group that wants one card to rule them all. If you currently use one debit card for purchases, you might be able wrap all of what you get from Mint from your Simple account. I’m a casual Mint user, so I’d advise anyone looking to make the jump to do a comparison of features most important to you and see if those are available with Simple.

Budget categories

Simple also allows for easy goal setting, be it a vacation or saving up for a new iPad 5. You can set a date, amount, reason for saving and how much will be ‘moved into your goal’ each day until you reach your target. Like everything on the website, setting this up is easy, although I never finalized a goal due to my consistently low balances as a result of juggling my Citibank and Simple bank accounts.


  • Your bank isn’t as cool as Simple.
  • Great support
  • Fantastic banking app
  • Large number of support ATM’s
  • Nice variety of budgeting, goal setting tools


  • No local branches
  • Growing pains have seen services go offline on occasion
  • Transferring money takes 2 days minimum
  • No rewards program

During the past two months, there was nothing about my banking with Simple that jumped out as a revolutionary. There was a certain level of difficulty with having to manage two bank accounts. I suppose that’s the challenge facing them, as most people feel a certain comfort level of having a local branch.

For someone looking to go all in with Simple, they offer a nice myriad of budget tools that rival Mint, the popular finance tracking service. In order to take full advantage of their budget tools, you’ll need to commit to the Simple Visa debit card, thus giving up any rewards programs. Simple excels at improving your online and app based banking. Throughout my two months, I had such an appreciation for how they manage to reduce the clutter and provide information that I needed and fast. I can say unequivocally that Simple provides for a truly pleasurable banking experience that was unmatched by my old, traditional bank.



  1. Yancy

    March 9, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Looks very similar to

  2. Eric

    May 17, 2013 at 10:39 am

    I like a lot of the features here, but I’m not crazy about the “one card to rule them all” philosophy. I’m uneasy about doing all transactions through a debit card linked to my cash account. Does Simple’s debit card offer all the protection of a credit card? If not, I’m not ready to make the switch.

  3. Chris

    May 21, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Yes, any Visa debit card offers the same protection that a Visa credit card does.

    • Ron F

      May 23, 2013 at 7:04 am

      That is not true, at all. When you purchase anything with a credit card, you have the option of calling up your bank and disputing a charge if the merchant doesn’t deliver upon their promises. And typically as long as you have your receipt and your complaint is in fact legitimate, you can expect to be credited back within a few days – certainly within your billing cycle. Also, the burden of proof is on the MERCHANT to prove that the transaction was legitimate.

      But if you paid with a debit card, from a transactional standpoint, there is no “chargeback.” You must request a fraud review, a process that could easily take anywhere from 30-60 days. And in this case, YOU, not the merchant, must meet the burden of proof that the transaction was *fraudulent.* That makes a big difference in how easy or difficult it is to get your money back in the case of a transaction gone wrong.

      • Jeff C

        June 13, 2013 at 1:35 am

        Ron F is right.

        BUT – I’m all for changing our self-destructive culture of excessive consumer protection. We could all use a healthy dose of paranoia when it comes to our own money. Down with credit. Spend your own money.

      • Courtney

        November 26, 2013 at 7:07 pm

        That’s not true, I had ordered a very expensive book online, that didn’t get delivered using my debit card. The entire process was very simple in regards to banking. I called them and disputed the charge. Within the week the charge was negated.

        I’ve had to dispute charges multiple times, none of which have been difficult or took very long, and I only use one debit card.

      • Liora

        May 19, 2014 at 3:48 pm

        I have had mixed experiences with various online banks. Disputing charges can be a challenge depending on the bank. In the last year I had someone fraudulently use my card number in Vegas at for a juicer. There went $200 out of my account, instantly. I contested it, and back and forth things went as the retailer showed their “proof,” and I showed my proof that I didn’t know the person, etc. The BEST thing I did was to go and file a police report. Having that report to send to the bank was the final thing that convinced them. The officers at the station said it’s happened to them, and that filing a report is always a good step in ending the headache. This was with my bank, Capital One 360. Back when it was ING Direct, resolution to issues like this seemed a lot faster.

  4. Ron F

    May 23, 2013 at 6:54 am

    These online accounts look great on paper, but if you’re not the traditional 9-5, direct deposited paycheck type of person, the options for actually getting money into the account tend to get a bit onerous. As a business owner, I really don’t see that tying up my money for two business days buys me any significant value or benefits here over having a low cost checking account at a bank or credit union, and using Mint if I want the budgeting features. If I bank with chase, I even get the photo deposit and money-sending features they have here. So what are these guys really doing for me?

  5. Romeo

    August 10, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Hey Ron, I do know that You can shut off Your debit card right from Your iPhone or Android, or at least there website. You can also use photo deposit as well. And while Mint has similar budget features their entire “Goals” system is just something else entirely. I understand the idea of not liking too wait two days for funds, but I think their idea is to create such financial security that two days is nothing for their customers.

  6. Colin Morrison

    March 10, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Great stuff. Only issue is that it’s a debit card. Not protected like a Visa card from fraud or any other issues.

  7. Dru Olson

    July 30, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    Inspired by this article I decide to give Simple a try. BUT opening an account with Simple is anything but simple! As you can see from their e-mail below. Frankly, getting a mortgage for my house was easier. I thought I’d tell them no thanks, I’ll open an account some place with a “simpler”. However, their was sent via a no reply e-mail address and no e-mail address to reply is included. So, I hope on the website, guess what again only a phone number but no e-mail address is provided for customer service. So, I posted this instead since it was “simpler” than contacting SIMPLE.

    Dear ____:

    Thank you for applying for an account with Simple. In order to ensure the security of the information you provided, to protect your identity, and to comply with federal regulations, we need some additional information before we can open your account.

    Please provide the following:

    1. A signed and notarized request to open an account.
    This can be a handwritten or typed statement signed by you confirming that you are applying for an account with us.

    2. Clear copies of each of the items listed below. The same document can be used if it shows all the required information:

    • Proof of Identification (for example: current, unexpired driver’s license, U.S. military ID card, or passport)
    • Proof of Date of Birth (for example: current, unexpired driver’s license, U.S. military ID card, or passport)
    • Proof of Social Security Number (for example: U.S. tax form, such as Form W-2, Form1098 or 1099 dated within 5 years; paystub if it reflects FULL SSN; Social Security benefits award letter or Social Security card)
    • Two Proofs of Residence (for example: current, unexpired driver’s license or vehicle registration card; utility bill or bank statement issued within the past 30 days)

    Please note: The notary must certify your signature only on the request to open an account, not the copies of the documents.

    Please mail the items to us within 10 business days of the date of this message. The notarized document must contain the original signature and seal of the notary public, so we cannot accept items sent by fax or email.

    Send documents to:

    Attn: New Accounts
    409 Silverside Road, Suite 105
    Wilmington, DE 19809

    If we don’t hear from you or receive the required documentation, we cannot continue processing your account application.

    If you have any questions about this matter, please call our Customer Care team toll-free at 888-248-0632


    New Accounts Department

    Banking services provided by The Bancorp Bank
    Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender
    409 Silverside Road, Suite 105, Wilmington, DE 19809

  8. Ben Williams

    August 8, 2014 at 11:27 am

    So… just joined simple. Got a card AND transferred $500.00 in initially. Well, things looked good, so I transferred my $5,000 balance over. They have now FROZEN my account and are insisting that I provide 2months worth of bank statements (that have a lot of personal info around transactions – Dr’s, bills, etc.) before they will release my money. In short: Money gone from my old bank (poof) not in my anything but simple account.

  9. sam

    June 21, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    my guess is that simple is trying hard to respect all of the laws earnestly.

    I can only tell that there are some differences between a prepaid card. for my two cents I believe credit cards are safer in terms of fraud but more dangerous if you don’t consider the ramifications of overspending and bankruptcy. it is my understanding that thieves can have quite a party with your good credit line.
    so basically if you have cash card or cash it can be easily stolen and hard to get back. if you have credit it can be easily stolen and a nightmare to clean up your credit report. . . you can even loose your house over credit thieves. though I am sure there is a way to safeguard your house at least. of course then you have the bank that may love to steal your house by foreclosing on it. . . so to speak.
    hmmmm plain and simple thieves love to steal and people seize opportunities to steal even if they were not thieves prior. opportunities are too tempting.
    I think I would rather have my credit stolen then my cash unless a I could then be sued taken to court over a $20,000 plus credit charge. I would have to be able to prove my alibi. then fight the identity thieves charges. then of course I have to move over the cash to pay off the credit as well so its more hassle.
    there is a possibility that I could loose my assets over a huge credit bill charge. that is a possibility i’m unable to swallow.

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