Why I’m not switching my bank to Simple

I finally got my Simple invite. Simple is an online banking startup that wants to make the experience of using banks much, much better. As far as I can tell they are delivering on that experience - their site and iPhone app are a joy to use. They also focus on the whole experience - the ATM card that came in the mail was delivered in a beautiful package, and the signup process, which requires gathering a ton of private information about you, was painless.

That said, I realized shortly after signing up that I'm going to be sticking with Ally Bank for one simple reason: they refund ATM fees. I used to hate ATM's. The option I had with ATM's was either a) look up the nearest in-network ATM online, then walk three blocks, all the while wondering why I are doing this to save a measly $3; or b) go to the liquor store ATM and hate myself for spending money to get at my money.

ATM fee refunds turned an experience I hated into something I can brag about ("It doesn't matter, I get the money back at the end of the month"). I get about $120 in ATM refunds every year, as well as the time and stress savings trying to find an in-network ATM saved, easily worth two or three percentage points of interest. I don't know how it makes business sense for Ally to pay for my ATM fees, but it's their killer feature.

I appreciate what Simple is doing and wish them the best. If you are still saddled with a card from a bank with physical branches, switching to Simple is one of the best things you could do. However at the moment Ally's ATM fee refunds (a better ATM user experience) over Simple's awesome website and iPhone app (a better web experience).

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One thought on “Why I’m not switching my bank to Simple

  1. Sam E. Lawrence

    Simple has a huge network of ATMs though. I looked up all the ones near me, and it’s such a huge network, I won’t need to worry about it unless I’m in an underground bar with one of those shady ATMs that charge more in fees than you end up withdrawing. In that case, I’ll just use my USAA account (yes, I’m lucky).

    Do you have any other complaints about Simple? I think they’re great, but am still waiting on my card (it’s in the mail). I’ve also heard that they may consider an ATM refund program similar to Ally or USAA’s.


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