I had a bank account as a kid/teenager but I rarely used it. I guess I just kept the insignificant amount of cash I had to my name on my person. I don’t even remember the name of the bank – the only one in town – where I had an account.
When I moved from New York to Pennsylvania to begin my undergraduate studies at Cairn University I opened a bank at Commonwealth – which a few years later was acquired by Citizens – which quickly shut down the branch I used (and could conveniently walk to).
I’ve been with Citizens ever since. I don’t remember when “ever since” is exactly – maybe 2003? 2005? It has been quite a while.
They have been a pretty decent bank for me. Nothing special – but they had a free checking account with no required minimum and at one point even paid me interest (Green$ense) on my checking account. I did get annoyed when the order in which some of my deposits/charges came in caused my account to overdraft and the mess of fees that created and the ATM fees which I can never figure out where they are coming from are extremely annoying. It would be nice if the ATM fees where somehow associated with a specific purchase. Where is it that either I’m forgetting to use credit or where the cashier is not processing the card as credit?…Well, I never have figured that out.
All that to say, my experience with banks hasn’t been horribly unpleasant – but neither has it been awesomely fantastic. So how does Simple, a bank claiming to reinvent our banking experience compare? Good question.
Here are my thoughts as a customer for around a year now:
- Good – Safe to Spend is pretty cool. It gives me a general idea of how much money I have in my account that isn’t going to bills in the next few days.
- Good – The iPhone and Android apps are nice – and being able to deposit checks via the phone is great.
- Good – I haven’t had occasion to use their customer support but I hear you get a real person and they also have web-based chat support.
- Good – You get paid interest on your balance – granted, thus far I’ve been given a massive $0.01 per month…but I understand I don’t have the biggest bank account in the world.
- Bad – The low limits on checks deposited via phone to Simple. I get paid monthly for my main job and in occasional lump sums for my IT consulting – so I occasionally bump up against an issue depositing funds into Simple…and end up using my Citizens account and then transferring the funds over…annoying.
- Bad – The lack of real checks. This is another reason I have to keep my Citizens about open. If I need to write a physical check on the spot – I can’t with Simple. Sure, I can setup scheduled payments – but what about the doctor I didn’t know I was going to need to visit? Or the friend I want to give a check before we part ways? It is just inconvenient. Don’t make paper checks a big deal, but we do need some way to transfer funds the old-fashioned way till everyone else catches up to our digital fantastic-ness.
- Bad – Probably my biggest complaint thus far is how long it takes to transfer funds from my Simple account into my Citizens Bank – a whopping eight days! Wait…Say that again? Yeah, eight days. Citizens moves funds around faster than that! I thought Simple was the digital master?
I really like Bank. It seems like they are heading in the right direction…but they need to fix the above three items and they need to differentiate themselves in some more significant ways if they are going to be the banking company for a digital generation. Citizens and other banks are offering many of the same features Simple has – many already offer deposit by phone and so on.
If you think Simple might be a good fit for you, you can sign up via this referral link (bummer, I don’t get paid anything for referring. 🙁 They should fix that too…Even a little $5 or $10 would be nice!).