There are a lot of banks out there.
Some are better, some are worse. Some advertise with talking babies. More and more of them are developing strong online services — and there are external apps like Mint that can help you manage your money. But mostly, banking is still a terrible experience dominated by bad apps, bad fees, and bad customer service.
When my already-difficult-to-work-with local bank got gobbled up by an even-more-difficult-to-work-with bigger bank in the fall, I decided to make a major switch. I’d seen ads for “Simple,” an app-only bank that promises high quality customer care that old-school physical banks can’t offer. They store your cash with The Bancorp Bank, an FDIC-insured account, and never charge overdrafts or other fees.
I moved a small amount of money in to see how I’d like it. After three months, I’ve made it my primary checking account. Here’s why.
The app keeps track of deposits, spending, and transfers right on your phone. And you get a notification for each new transaction. It's a great way to keep an eye on your spending -- and to watch out for theft.
This page lets you temporarily or permanently block a card the moment you think it might be missing. You can also change your PIN.
The app keeps track of no-fee ATMs where you can withdraw money. I've had no trouble finding one in Chicago, New York City, Cleveland, or even the sparse Poconos mountains of Pennsylvania.
First, you create a 'goal' on the second page of the app.
The app shifts enough money out of your 'Safe-To-Spend' amount listed at the top of your screen every day to meet the goal. You can keep track of your goals on this handy, attractive page and mark existing transactions as being toward that goal.
The cash is still in your checking account -- you can spend it in an emergency -- but the app helps you be responsible enough not to. Of course for longer term saving, you'll want a true savings account.
...And if your friends are Simple customers, you can instantly send them money without Venmo's delays.
Customer service replies very quickly and personally to every message you send, and seems to work hard to solve problems.
I've gotten replies and answers at night and on weekends, and been able to get on the phone with a helpful human being without extended wait times.