I quit my big bank for something Simple

The first year I had my checking account I incurred around $300 in overdraft charges. If I had to guess, the first lesson everyone gets from their bank is in the form of overdraft fees, although hopefully not as steep. I never really understood the point of overdraft fees. Charge me $35 so my $1.06 gas station soda debit charge goes through? I’d rather be denied the soda. My bank was actually part of a class action lawsuit for misleading overdraft fee structures. Lawsuits also happened at Bank of America & Wells Fargo and lots of other banks. How’s that for customer service?

As someone who was just learning their way with personal finance, I hated it and have always been pretty bad at it. Most everyone starts with a checking and savings account. Each account has their own current & available balance, something that I never fully grasped for a long time is what each meant. The choice is largely between credit unions, local & big name banks or store your money under the mattress. None did anything in terms of helping me be better at personal finance.

I recently discovered Simple.

When I come across a new piece of tech, I admittedly tend to fall hard. I eagerly opened my mailbox everyday for months awaiting my Square card reader in 2010. Simple is also rolling out in a slower, controlled fashion but I was able to snag an invite quickly with some late-night twitter sleuthing & begging.

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My first interaction with Simple was some time before I came across it online. Anyone working a service job can be considered an expert in credit & debit card variety. I think where your card is from, what’s on it and the tactile feel says a lot about you as a person. I distinctly remember at one time being handed a stark white, extremely light card with a simple, Simple logo on it with a matte-like card feel. I had never seen one before and it struck me as something unique and I meant to follow-up later at the time to learn more about its origin. (This sounds a bit dramatic, but I promise that’s how my obsessive brain operates.) I never did look into it more.

It’s no wonder there are many unboxing posts from people receiving their cards. It’s a beautiful physical product.

Image from TNW’s review: http://thenextweb.com/insider/2012/08/01/first-look-simple-reimagines-banking/

They have an equally beautiful, and more importantly, functional mobile and web experience.

Those familiar with the finance service Mint feel right at home with data about every transaction including grouping like food, gas and bills. Since Simple isn’t just feeding data like banks do to Mint, they allow for very rich data for every transaction including mapping where they all take place. Their Safe-to-Spend amount takes the mystery out of what’s in your bank account that isn’t already claimed by an earlier transaction, upcoming bill or goal.

Easily their best banking feature is their Goals function. This is what sold me to ditch my bank completely.

I’m planning a vacation in July. I know that I need $400 saved for my vacation a few days before I leave. A month ago, I setup a goal in Simple for my vacation. Setting a goal is as easy as naming what your goal is for, like vacation or a new dog, picking a date you need it by and choosing to set aside money now or save over time.

I chose to save over time and Simple automatically sets aside whatever amount it needs to each day out of my Safe-to-Spend amount to meet my goal amount by the date specified. Thoughtless, automatic saving. Exactly what I need.

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Not my goals. Although, a trip to Iceland would be pretty great.

Even with the beauty, functionality and features of Simple, that list doesn’t include my main big bank issue: customer service. Sure, any bank will be more than happy to let you visit them and assist with deposits and withdrawals, although, that too sometimes had its own fees. They were chipper and friendly when setting up my account and I can always find their not-always-near location, wait in line and someone will help me with any problems. But that’s not ever convenient and not the service I want.

Simple puts service at its forefront. Within their slick, awesome app is a section dedicated to support conversations and just a tap away is a direct line to a real person at Simple to help with any problems. When viewing my account online, their support and ongoing conversations with me are right on the home screen.

Getting used to how Simple does things and really making it work for you isn’t always easily apparent. On many occasions I’ve reached out for help through their support function. After each message sends you’re given a deadline on when someone will respond to your message. Unless it’s late in the day, it will usually say that day or tomorrow at the latest. I’ve never gone more than a few hours or overnight with an unanswered, non-urgent question. In fact, their support is so helpful and personable it makes me want to interact with them more and learn the ins and outs of Simple.

One of my favorite twitter customer service interactions ever happened with Simple. One frustration I had with the service was transferring money to my Simple account. I was tweeting with a friend and mentioned this, but offered to help them with workarounds I had found. Simple was tagged in the tweet, but was not involved with the conversation.

Within minutes of me tweeting about this, I received a support message from Simple. They said they noticed the tweets and actually were testing a feature that solved my problem behind-the-scenes and let me know they enabled it for me to try out. HOLY CRAP. This is what social media needs & can to be! All. the. time. If only every company listened on social media so well and responded in the same way.  This is the greatest opportunity businesses have on social media and the philosophy I try to uphold everyday over at my job with Kaldi’s.

I’m keeping my money Simple from now on.

Ps, that great feature just went live this week to make it super simple to transfer money between Simple and other bank accounts.

Enjoy this post? Hit the tweet button for me and I may just have an invite to send your way.

  • chrisonea

    Imagine if all aspects of life were this easy. Retailers and other service industry folks would do well to heed the example of Simple.