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Sunday, May 19, 2024

If You Liked Simple, Try These Online Banks Instead

For much of the 2010s, Simple was a shining example of what the future of banking could be. It offered unique features to manage money that most major banks would take years to emulate. Unfortunately, on May 8, Simple will be closing for good. Customers will be migrated to a BBVA account, but for those who want to maintain the kind of experience they’ve had for years, there are a few options.

Simple’s appeal was centered on a few key features. Instead of showing users their total balance and making them mentally keep track of what money needs to go where, Simple let users divide their money into Goals that kept portions of their money separate. Expenses could then be used to automatically take bills out of certain goals, so that money is almost invisible. Any money remaining is shown in a Safe-to-Spend category.

This dynamic was unique when it came out, but in the time since, other apps have offered similar features. These are a few of the best options if you want to stay as close to the Simple experience as possible.

Hold On, BBVA Might Still Be Good!

Once the transition is complete, Simple accounts will become BBVA USA accounts, which use the same debit card and routing numbers, which means you won’t suddenly find yourself without the ability to pay for anything. Of course, if you were using Simple, you probably care more about the extra features like Goals and Expenses. Fortunately, those features aren’t entirely gone with a BBVA account.

BBVA has a collection of features creatively called Financial Tools. For long-time Simple users, some of the features might sound familiar. Savings Goals let you track money you’re saving for long-term goals, and Budgets let you categorize transactions and visualize whether you’re going over your budget for a particular category. They don’t work quite the same as Simple’s features, so it might take some getting used to. BBVA also has a lot more Mint-like features that let you integrate other accounts to view your net worth and track your debt payoff goals.

Some changes won’t be ideal, depending on your needs. While Simple didn’t offer any overdraft service at all, BBVA will allow overdrafts but will charge $32 per transaction. In general, BBVA has more fees for things like debit card replacement, wire transfers, and even paper statements (so be sure to sign up for paperless statements). However, you can make deposits from an ATM with BBVA, which you couldn’t do before with Simple, so that’s nice. In general, before you jump ship and move all your money out, it might be worth taking a little while to see if the BBVA account you’re going to get anyway is similar enough to the experience you’re used to.


If what drew you to Simple in the first place was a clean, modern app and straightforward saving features, then Chime might feel familiar to you. It doesn’t have the kind of Goals feature that Simple has, but it does have some useful features for saving money. First, it can round up all of your purchases to the nearest dollar and add the excess to a savings account, similar to the way investment app Acorns works. You can also set aside up to 10 percent of your paychecks whenever you get a deposit, so your money will be saved long before you have a chance to spend it.

Chime also offers Early Direct Deposit, which deposits your paycheck into your account up to two days earlier than it might normally appear. The service does this by depositing funds into your account the day that it receives the ACH instructions, rather than after the transaction has processed. Chime takes it on faith that your employer will pay the money, which for most transactions is generally a safe bet.

Chime also offers up to $100 of overdraft coverage with a feature called SpotMe, which works a bit differently than most other overdraft features. Instead of charging you a fee for going over, the service will simply cover the excess on debit transactions, up to $100, and take that money out of your next direct deposit (which is required to use the feature). However, if your charges exceed the limit, the transaction will be declined. It’s a nice cushion for when you go a few dollars over.

Unfortunately, Chime comes with a few drawbacks. It doesn’t support joint accounts yet, and you can’t deposit checks from the Chime app directly. For long-time Simple users, this might feel like a step backward, but for people who don’t need these features regularly, Chime can be an adequate replacement.


Similar to Chime, One is an online banking service that’s pretty reminiscent of Simple. One of the most welcome features for ex-Simple users is Pockets. These work similar to Simple’s Goals, but with a more explicit focus on treating them like a digital envelope system, so you can sort your money into categories like rent or food. However, One improves on Simple’s Goals by also allowing you to share Pockets, so you and your roommate could both contribute to the bills without having to combine finances. Certain One Pockets can also round up any transactions within them to the nearest dollar and put the excess into savings.

One also provides a similar Early Paycheck feature like Chime has. Set up direct deposit with your employer and you can get your paychecks up to a couple days early. Also like Chime, One can set aside up to 10 percent of your paycheck for savings, and it will even pay an extra 3 percent APY for the money you set aside this way.

In terms of overdraft protection, One has a unique mechanic. Instead of an overage fee like most banks, or even the small window of overdraft forgiveness like Chime, One treats overdraft expenses like a credit card. Users can get up to $1,000 in credit (depending on direct deposit status and approval) beyond what they have in their account. If you pay it back within the same month, there’s no interest. If a balance carries forward, however, the credit line charges 1 percent per month, or 12 percent APR on the amount borrowed.

If you struggle with paying off credit cards, this might not be the best option for you, but as overdraft protection features go, it can be handy to have extra room just in case rent comes out before your paycheck comes in. The $1,000 limit is roomier than what Chime offers, and it doesn’t come with the excessive fees of most banks. Provided you pay off the balance every month.

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