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“#The Best Online Banks and Budgeting Tools to Replace Simple – Review Geek”
If you bank with Simple, you’re likely still reeling over the news that it’s shutting down. You’re also probably searching frantically for a good alternative to the online banking service before it does. We’ve done the research and found several options for both online banking services and budgeting tools, so hopefully you can find something that’s a good fit.
Simple was beloved because of its unparalleled suite of budgeting tools and its user-friendly app. It made it easy to see your recent transactions and Safe-to-Spend money, plus it let you set money aside for goals and expenses while building your savings with minimal effort. And as such, there is no real direct equivalent to the app.
That said, we broke our alternatives into two categories: online banking and budgeting tools, since those were the two main reasons why people used Simple. Some online banking options offer budgeting tools as well, but you may find that you’ll need to download a budgeting app in addition to a new banking app to properly cover your needs the way Simple did.
For Online Banking
Simple’s online banking tools are well-loved because they made it easy to manage your money. Its millions of customers used it to track their finances, pay bills, plan for expenses, and put money away for a rainy day. It also allowed for shared accounts and made quick work of transferring money.
While researching online banking alternatives, we looked at r/SimpleBanking on Reddit, where users created a mega-thread discussing alternatives. User 11jwolfe2 even created a helpful spreadsheet in Google Docs comparing specific details between Simple and each of the other popular alternatives. While that spreadsheet covers dozens of alternatives, with more details being added all the time, we included the five strongest options here.
An All-in-One, Tool-Rich Option: SoFi
SoFi (Free, with no minimums or maintenance fees) is a great all-in-one app for managing your money. With it, you’ll get an Online Cash Management account, which essentially is a hybrid of checking and savings accounts. SoFi lets you choose between a joint account or an individual account. It offers both loans and credit cards, makes it easy to invest in stocks or buy crypto, and supports both Google Pay and Apple Pay. Plus, two-factor authentication keeps your money and information safe.
Although SoFi offers robust online banking options, its technology-driven design is what makes it such a great pick. SoFi has invested a good amount of time and money in its website and app, ensuring that it’s reliable, feature-rich, always up to date, and easy to use. The app has a nice layout, with everything clearly labeled and displayed in colorful charts. And below your financial information, you’ll see a variety of financial planning tools, educational resources, and the latest financial news stories so you’ll always be in the know.
SoFi also has a money and goals management tool called Relay. This tracks all of your spending in one centralized place, including your credit cards. It provides credit score monitoring, spending breakdowns, financial insights, and goal-setting options. Relay makes it easy to keep an eye on the big picture without much effort. SoFi’s Goals alternative, Vaults, is decent as well. You’ll auto-invest on a monthly basis into your Vaults, and it can also take rounded-up change from each transaction you make.
The biggest downsides to SoFi are that its Vaults aren’t nearly as customizable as Simple’s and it’s missing Simple’s specific Expense categories (think: Rent/Mortgage, Groceries, Phone) and, thus, any sort of automated funding for them. And while there’s no option for creating custom transaction notes, you can add a tag to each charge for at least a little bit of organization. There doesn’t seem to be any support currently for incoming wire transfers, instant account-to-account transfers, or CSV/JSON exporting either.
Buckets, Investments, and Benefits: Ally
Ally (Free, with no minimums or maintenance fees) is another stellar option. It’s got great interest rates, a well-established name (it was the first online bank, after all), and it has many of the benefits offered by traditional banks, like wire transfers. It’s a great option for everyday banking needs as well as investing, with options for an Online Savings Account with a 0.50% APY on all balance tiers. You can deposit checks, search your transaction history, check your balances, and transfer money between Ally Bank accounts and those at other banks. The service also makes it easy to pay bills and see your upcoming scheduled payments.
From the app or web portal, you can set up and manage preferences for your Ally debit card and control how, when, and where your card is used. You’ll also be able to manage CD interest disbursement and maturity options. With an online savings account, you’ll have up to 10 customizable Buckets at your disposal for organizing your money, plus you can set up boosters to automate and maximize your savings.
With Ally, you’ll also have plenty of investing features at your fingertips, both managed and self-directed. Ally doesn’t charge advisory or commission fees and it offers a Goal Tracker to, well, track your account. It also provides automated portfolio strategies, advanced charting tools, streaming quotes, and the latest market news, all of which are available from the app so you can manage your money even on the go. Ally supports Google Pay, Apple Pay, Venmo, and Zelle as well, making it easy to transfer money however you want.
Ally is pretty robust and well-rounded, but it does have a few shortcomings worth mentioning. It doesn’t seem to have dedicated expense categories or goals. And while it can round up your transactions to the nearest dollar and allow you to set up a recurring transfer to your savings account, there aren’t any other automated expense funding options. This is a major bummer for those who depend on these.
Share Money Easily: One Finance
One Finance (Free, with no minimums or maintenance fees) has a focus on financial wellness. It makes it easy for you to organize and share money through Pockets and doesn’t bother you with fees or minimums. It offers both checking and savings accounts (with an impressive 1-3% interest rate for the latter). You can sign up for an individual account, but it doesn’t technically offer joint accounts; rather, it offers Shared Pockets, which allow you to share money without the fuss of additional accounts or cards.
Pockets are where your money lives at One Finance, and they’re the closest alternative out there to Simple’s Expenses. There is no limit on how many Pockets you can make or what you can name them, which is handy. You will have to assign your card to a specific Pocket before using your debit card before use, which might get annoying, but the feature is nice indeed. The bank has stated on Twitter that it is currently working on something a little simpler than Pockets and more akin to Simple’s Goals, however.
One Finance allows you to round-up your purchases to the Auto-Save Pocket (and earn 3% APY). You can also earn 3% APY on up to 10% of your direct deposit (up to $1,000 per month) in addition to the 1% APY you get with a Save Pocket.
One Finance also makes a credit line available to you, should you need it. No interest is charged if you repay it within the month you borrow; otherwise, you will have to pay 1% per month (12% APR) if your balance carries over to another month. It also lets you access money from your paycheck earlier if you set up direct deposit. One Finance is integrated with Venmo, Apple Pay, and Google Pay as well, in case you need additional ways to send money.
The main downsides to One Finance is that it currently lacks dedicated joint accounts and a check deposit feature (although this will be coming in February). It’s missing a few other features (which The Almighty Spreadsheet says will be coming in the near future) like checks, two-factor authentication, and automatic Goal and Expense funding and spending. Overall, though, One Finance is a great choice for those with tons of shared expenses with friends, roommates, and family members, and it looks like even more features will soon be available if you can wait.
Early Deposits and a Mobile-First Design: Chime
Though it lacks many advanced features, Chime (Free, with no minimums or maintenance fees) is a good online banking option for those just wanting an individual account that’s tailored for getting money and paying bills. It supports Plaid, which is nice, as it allows you to view all of your financial accounts centrally within the app, and it has two-factor authentication to keep things secure. The service also lets you access your paycheck up to two days early with direct deposit.
With Chime, you’ll get a Spending Account (which is like a checking account), and a Visa debit card. It can help you grow your savings by rounding up your purchases into an optional High-Yield Savings Account with up to a 0.50% APY. There are no hidden fees or minimums, and it offers a fee-free overdraft with SpotMe, allowing eligible members to overdraft up to $100. That feature doesn’t cover ATM withdrawals, ACH transfers, checkbook transactions, or Pay Friends transfers, however.
The online banking service brands itself as “a banking app built by a tech company.” Its mobile-first design means the app is reliable, well-organized, feature-rich, and easy to use. It’ll send you real-time notifications when transactions and paychecks go through and help you find the nearest in-network ATMs. The app also has a transaction control feature that lets you block your card and transactions at any time (even internationally), which makes it easy to control impulse spending and prevent fraudulent card use.
Some features Chime is (unfortunately) missing include a joint account option, multiple account offers (like CDs and money market accounts), dedicated goals and expenses options, automatic goal and expense funding, fee-free out-of-network ATM withdrawals, budgeting tools, and CSV/JSON exports. But if you’re willing to download a dedicated budgeting app alongside Chime, it’s a solid option.
High-Interest Rates and No-Fee Checking: Varo
Varo (Free, with no minimums or maintenance fees) is an all-digital online bank offering no-fee checking and savings accounts, along with a huge ATM network. It even lets you receive your paycheck up to two days early using direct deposit. Varo does not charge fees for monthly account maintenance, replacement Visa debit cards (via USPS), foreign transactions, in-network ATM withdrawals, ACH bank transfers, over-the-counter cash withdrawals, or Varo Bank account-to-account transfers.
It’s also a good option if you’re looking for a high interest rate on a savings account. It offers anywhere from 0.40% up to 2.80% APY, which makes it easier to earn more money while you save, and it doesn’t require a minimum balance to open or maintain an account. You’ll start earning 0.40% APY, then work your way up to the 2.80% rate if you meet the following requirements: keeping a daily savings balance of $10,000 or less, making at least five Varo debit purchases each month, and receiving total direct deposits of $1,000 or more each month.
Varo’s ATM network includes more than 55,000 AllPoint ATMs across the world, and if you use one of those, you’ll never have to pay an ATM fee from Varo (though there is a charge for out-of-network withdrawals). It also waives overdraft fees up to $50 on any transaction and supports both Google Pay and Samsung Pay.
Varo seems like a good option for teens and college students, or those creating their first account. However, it lacks many of the more advanced features found in more robust options, such as joint accounts, dedicated goals and expense options, account-to-account transfers, transaction notes and notifications, easy-to-understand insights and graphs, and any sort of budgeting tools. You’ll definitely want to download a separate budgeting app in addition to this one to keep everything organized.
For Budgeting Tools
Beyond its online banking capabilities, the other outstanding part of Simple was its myriad budgeting tools. Because not every online banking service offers these, it might be beneficial to download one of these apps in addition to the new online banking app you choose so that you can stay on top of your bills and monthly budgeting goals. We have included the four best budgeting apps below.
For Budgeting and Credit Monitoring: Mint
Mint (Free) is one of the most well-known apps for budgeting. It centralizes all of your accounts into one place, allowing you to see the complete picture, plus it offers easy-to-understand tools so you can create and stick to your budget. The app even offers credit monitoring and bill tracking so you can keep an eye not just on your historical finances, but your future ones as well.
With Mint, you’ll always know exactly how much money you have available to spend across your cash, credit cards, and investments. You can also track your spending across different months, categories, and merchants. This makes it easy to see how much money you typically spend on things like groceries, rent, loans, transportation, and it allows you to create specific budgets for each category and allot money to them.
Mint sends you alerts for a variety of things, like when it spots suspicious transactions or when you go over your budget. This makes it easier for you to stay on top of issues before they become a serious problem. Each of your budgets are color-coded as well, so you can easily see how your spending breaks down per category at a glance. Mint is a powerful tool that helps you learn how to budget and think about your finances proactively.
For Zero-Based Budgeting: You Need a Budget
If you practice zero-based budgeting, where you account for every dollar of your income, you should check out You Need a Budget ($11.99 per month, or $84 a year). The service has four rules to its system: Give every dollar a job, embrace your true expenses, roll with the punches, and age your money. The rules are designed to help you take control of your finances, stay on top of them, and stop stressing.
You Need a Budget—or YNAB, as it’s commonly called—allows you to connect all of your accounts and import your transactions for a centralized look at your finances. It is designed to help you stop living paycheck to paycheck, get out of debt, and start saving money. YNAB makes it easy to set goals and track them, and with the help of its insightful reports, real-time updates, free online workshops, and financial advice, you’ll actually be able to.
For Budgeting with Your Partner: Honeydue
If you and your partner are looking for a way to manage all of your money together, definitely give Honeydue (Free) a look. The app shows the finances from both people in one centralized place. It shows both individual and joint finances and makes it easy to view bills and share finances with minimal effort. Honeydue is a great app for couples who share finances but not necessarily bank accounts, and it makes it easy to facilitate discussions about money.
It does offer a joint banking option as well, but it’s not nearly as robust as the options we included above in our Online Banking section. There are no monthly fees or minimums, and it allows you to withdraw cash from its large ATM network. You’ll receive instant notifications for purchases, and see real-time balances and budgets for each partner. There’s even an automatic bill-pay option coming soon. But, it lacks expense categories and goals, along with many other features.
Honeydue’s budgeting tools give you control over what you share with your partner and allows you both to set monthly household spending limits for categories. And to keep things organized, you can use the default categories or create customized ones as you need. Honeydue sends you helpful alerts when a bill is due or whenever you’re nearing a limit in a spending category. It also makes it easy to divvy up expenses and use emoji reactions on your partner’s spending habits.
For Envelop Budgeting: Goodbudget
Goodbudget (Free, with a paid option) is a great alternative for anyone who practices envelope budgeting, where you divvy out your income into specific categories, such as Groceries or Debt Repayment. The service allows for multiple accounts and devices as well, making it great for partners and family members and it ensures you’ll never be caught off guard by another expense.
The service automatically syncs between mobile devices and the desktop web portal, and it doesn’t even require you to sync bank accounts, though you can manually add account balances. It helps you create a customized budget and stick to it while simultaneously saving up for big expenses and paying down debt. Goodbudget has a variety of budgeting goals you can work towards, from your everyday expenditures down to planning a wedding or buying a house. The website is also full of financial advice including podcasts and a Budget Bootcamp.
The free version of the app gives you 20 envelopes, one account on two devices, debt tracking, one year of history, and support via the Goodbudget community. There’s also the Plus version you can upgrade to, which costs $7 per month (or $60 annually). The paid plan gives you unlimited envelopes and accounts for up to five devices, as well as debt tracking, seven years of transaction history, and dedicated customer support via email.
One Final Note
Hopefully, you found some alternatives that feel like they’ll be a good replacement for Simple! Meanwhile, Simple’s parent bank, BBVA USA, has assured users that “there is no immediate impact to your account at Simple and nothing you need to do at this time,” and that you can still keep using the app for now.
BBVA also stated that it will be migrating customers to the BBVA USA app, which promises “a much broader suite of products and services, alongside the bank’s award-winning mobile app, which includes BBVA Financial Tools.” The bank will release more information about the transition as it becomes available, and it’s entirely possible that we’ll end up with a service that’s just as robust and user-friendly as Simple is now.
Of course, with Simple closing, it’s possible that new services will pop up to fill the void and that one of them will be better than the alternatives we’ve listed here. For example, Google is launching a new service—Google Plex—sometime this year that will integrate online checking and savings accounts into Google Pay. But for now, hopefully one (or two) of these Simple alternatives will work for you.
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