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When it comes to banking, millennials are a little different.

For instance, we’re less likely than our parents to choose a big bank, or even a local credit union. In fact, a 2016 FICO survey showed 16 percent of millennials were considering opening an account with an online-only bank.

What do our banking quirks mean for the world of financial technology? It means new options are hitting the market every day!

Two of those new options are banking apps, called Chime and Simple. Growing in popularity, especially with the under-forty crowd, these apps give users more control over their money. But their premises and features are different.

If you’re looking to change the way you manage your money, here’s what each app does and how they stack up.

The Basics of Chime

Chime is both a bank account and an app to manage that account. When you open an account here, you get a Spending Account and a Savings Account. You’ll also receive the Chime Visa Debit Card.

The accounts are FDIC-insured. They have features that millennials have come to expect, including no monthly minimums or fees, no overdraft fees, and plenty of fee-free ATMs.

That all sounds pretty standard, right? So, what sets Chime apart from other free online banking options?

Two things: its automatic savings program and its app. Full Chime Review

Automatic Savings

We’ve talked before about apps that let you virtually save your change, including Qoins and Acorns. These apps will automatically round up transactions, saving or investing the difference for you.

Chime does this, too, when you enroll in its automatic savings program. When you spend $2.05 on coffee, Chime will round up the transaction to $3 and toss the extra $.95 into your savings account.

But there are some key differences between Chime and these other apps, including:

  • Direct to Savings. With Qoins, you have to send your change to a credit account of some kind, and with Acorns app, you’re investing your round-ups. But with Chime, you just put that money right into your savings account. It’s more flexible and accessible there.
  • No Fees. Chime’s accounts are fee-free, and so is its automatic savings program. With the other apps, you have to pay to have your change moved over to a different account (either a percentage of your savings or a monthly fee). With Chime, it happens automatically.
  • Paycheck Savings. When you set up your Chime accounts, you can automatically move 10% of your paycheck over to savings.

All in all, if you’re looking for a way to save your virtual change, Chime is an excellent option. Just complete an average of two transactions per day (including online bill pay), and you should easily save around $400 in a year.

Automatic Savings with Chime

The App

With all the new fintech options, apps are essential.

Chime’s is available both on Android and on iOS. It gives you instant notifications on all transactions, so you can keep a close eye on your spending. It will also ping you each morning with an account balance update, so you know exactly what you have available to spend for that day.

With the app, you can also easily check your balance and transactions log, find nearby fee-free ATMs, and check for cash back rewards.

Lose your card? You can temporarily block new transactions on your card or send a message to Member Services. You can also quickly pay bills, send e-checks, or transfer funds with the app.

A note on the checks feature: Chime will create and mail a paper check for you, if necessary.

You may still have one or two bills that need to be paid by check. You can create and send the check from your Chime app for free. The money comes from your account when the check is drafted rather than when it’s cashed, too, so you’re more aware of your cash flow.

One other interesting feature of Chime is its cash back program. When you use your debit card at certain retailers, you can earn credit card-like cash back rewards. You can use the app to figure out where to find these rewards.

Switching to Chime

When you sign up for Chime, you can simply link your old bank account to move your existing funds into your new Chime account for free. You can also easily set up direct deposit. With this feature, you could receive your paycheck up to two days early!

What It’s Missing

Chime is still developing some of its features, including photo check depositing. You can use a third-party app to deposit checks currently, but you can’t do this straight from Chime.

Depositing cash is also a bit hairy. You can deposit cash at any Green Dot location, but Green Dot will likely charge a fee.

Another missing piece is joint accounts. You can’t use Chime in tandem with another person yet, though they say they’re working on developing this feature.

 

 

The Basics of Simple

The premise of Simple is a bit more complex than that of Chime.

Instead of focusing on the major selling point of rounding up your change, Simple involves a bigger money management system. If you want to have more control over your spending and a built-in budgeting option, Simple may be just what you’re looking for.

Like Chime, Simple’s accounts are fee-free. They don’t charge for overdrafts or charge monthly fees. There are also no maintenance, card replacement, or minimum balance fees. Simple itself doesn’t charge ATM fees at its network of ATMs, though the ATM owners can still charge fees.

Other basic features include:

  • Photo check deposits. Unlike Chime, Simple allows you to deposit a check with a photo right from its app.
  • Account connection. You can easily transfer between Simple and other checking or savings accounts.
  • Transfer to friends. Simple also allows you to transfer money to friends instantly, so splitting dinners and other expenses is easy. It also works with Paypal, Square Cash, and Venmo, if those are your preferred methods of money-moving.
  • Check writing. Like Chime, Simple will write and send paper checks for free whenever you need that done.
  • Shared accounts. Simple allows for shared accounts for couples, or others who want to share a joint account for whatever reason. Shared accounts allows you to set up one joint account and two solo accounts, so you can share some expenses and transactions while keeping others to yourself. With shared accounts, you can get notifications of your partner’s spending in real time, so you’re always on the same page about spending.

The Budgeting System

Simple is set up as not only a banking app but also a budgeting system. It operates on the idea of Goals. You can basically create digital envelopes within your Simple account to work towards certain Goals.

Your Goals can be small things, like your monthly electric bill or rent. Using Goals this way is similar to setting up a budget on another tracking app. The difference is that the money gets separated within your account, and earmarked for certain goals.

The other option is to use Goals to save up for bigger-ticket items, such as a vacation or a new car. When you set up a goal, you’ll name the goal, put in a dollar amount, and tell Simple your time frame. It’ll then divide out how much you need to save per day to reach your goal in time.

Then, each time you spend, you can assign your spending to a particular goal category, if that’s where it fits.

Safe-to-Spend

Perhaps the most unique aspect of Simple is its Safe-to-Spend category. This is basically money that’s left over after your scheduled bills and goals.

Simple explains the setup this way:

Safe to Spend with Simple

At the base of your total balance is your scheduled bills and transactions. If you’ve set up the scheduled transaction from Simple, it’ll keep track of what’s coming up for you.

Then, you have your Goals. These are the budget items or longer-term plans you’re saving up for.

On the top is your Safe-to-Spend category. Basically, your Safe-to-Spend money is what’s left after you subtract the next thirty days’ worth of Goals and scheduled transactions from your account balance.

Let’s say you have $1,000 in your account, and in the next 30 days will need to spend $500 on scheduled transactions. You’ll also put $250 toward Goals. This means you’ll have $250 in your Safe-to-Spend category. This is basically money you can do whatever you want with.

However, if you spend $300 outside of Goals and scheduled transactions, you’ll dip into some of your Goals to cover the transaction. Simple will do all of this for you. It’ll just take you longer to reach your goals if you overspend.

Tracking Your Spending

With Simple, each transaction can be assigned to either a particular Goal or your Safe-to-Spend category.

In essence, your Goals work like your budget, allowing you to spend within limits or save to meet longer-term goals. Your Safe-to-Spend category is what’s left over. It’s your “fun money” that you can use to cover unbudgeted transactions.

Because of its Safe-to-Spend category, Simple is ideal for those who don’t want to budget for every single expense that comes up.

If a zero-based budget isn’t for you, Simple might do the trick. It’ll let you keep track of your must-pay bills and budget for areas where you typically over-spend. But you won’t have to budget down to the dollar, because you’ll always know what you have left after your bills and Goals.

Possible Drawbacks

If you’re looking for a Chime-like automated savings option, Simple isn’t it. It’ll help you earmark money for particular goals, but you have to set them up in advance. Simple also doesn’t offer a rewards program like Chime, and it doesn’t offer a high-yield savings account option.

There are some ways around these issues, though. You could, for instance, use a credit card to pay for basic expenses, netting the rewards and then repaying the card through Simple. You can also link Simple to a high-yield savings account to transfer out your longer-term savings on a schedule.

Chime vs Simple: Which is Better?

Even though Simple and Chime are targeting the same market, they’re actually not trying to accomplish the same thing.

Sure, at their core, they both offer app-based banking. But that’s where the similarities end. They’re both a great option, but they’ll meet different needs.

If you’re looking for automatic savings or to start saving your virtual change, Chime is the way to go. It’s also a great option if you want to net rewards on your debit card spending, rather than focusing on credit card rewards. However, if you need a joint account or frequently deposit checks, you might want to wait until the app gets those kinks worked out. Want to learn more about Chime? Check out our full review here.

If you’re looking for a money management tool combined with a bank account, Simple is a great option. As I noted above, I think it’s a particularly good fit for those who prefer to keep a looser budget without dictating where every dollar winds up. And it’s a good option for saving up little by little for big financial goals. Want to learn more about Simple? Check out our full review here.

Have you tried either Chime or Simple? Or both? Tell us what you think of these services in the comments!

Author Bio

Total Articles: 279
Abby is a freelance journalist who writes on everything from personal finance to health and wellness. She spends her spare time bargain hunting and meal planning for her family of three. She has a B.A. in English Literature from Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, and lives with her husband and children in Indianapolis.

Article comments

24 comments
Dana Jewell says:

Hello, I have had both banks for sometime and I have made a list of Pros and Cons that both banks have:

Simple Bank VS. Chime Bank

SIMPLE
Pros that Matter to Me Most:
– A+ iOS App (7/17)
– A+ Customer Service for several years
– A+ Web Interface for PC & Mobile for years
– Have had Chip Cards for +1 Years

Pros:
– Automated (Set it and forget) Savings Goals
– Tell Simple when you are Traveling, to monitor your account more closely
– Extras i.e. Tanner Goods Wallets
– Thicker, better looking Debit Cards w/Chip

Cons:
– Slower Transfer Times to External Accounts, 3-5 Buisness Days (Ex: Square Cash can take up to 1 Hour even w/instant transfers & notifications can be delayed)
– No Savings Accounts, but accrued interest is apart of Checking Accounts
– Can only deposit Physical Cash through External Accounts i.e. Banks, Square Cash, or Paid Money Orders

CHIME
Pros that Matter to Me Most:
– Payroll Check Two Days early
– Round Up into Savings on every transaction (to the Nearest Dollar)
– Round Up Bonuses (Every time you swipe you get a Savings Bonus calculated at the end of the week a.k.a They Pay You for Using Chime)
– Real Savings Accounts w/Interest
– Save 10% when you get paid (7/17)

Pros:
– Link External Bank Debit Cards Instantly
– Link External Bank Accounts Instantly
– Instant External Debit Card transfers, including Square Cash (Unlimited)
– Deposit Physical Cash into Account anywhere GreenDot is accepted (Fee Applies)
– Daily Balance Notifications & Weekly Round Up Bonus Notifications
– Mobile Check Deposit Beta (7/17)
– Monthly Cycled Merchant Rewards
– You can enable International transactions for when you do travel internationally (by default they are off)

Cons:
– Bad Web interface, Very Bad Mobile App and Bad Mobile Web interfaces (7/17)
– Bad Customer service that is foreign, hard to understand and mostly automated with long wait times (7/17)
– Customer Service Responds Faster via Twitter DM’s than they do in App, or calling them direct (7/17)
– Only 6 Transfers between Savings and Checking accounts per month
– Debit Cards are flimsy and feel cheaply made, no Chip cards, although they have promised they are coming (7/17)
– Mobile Check Deposit has finally arrived but is still in Beta and loads slowly in the iOS App (7/17)

Parris says:

“Only 6 Transfers between Savings and Checking accounts per month”
If you’re implying 6 transfers from the savings account then that if i’m not mistaken is a federal law not something exclusive to Chime just as a heads up

OdinsBeard says:

It is a federal law. You’re not mistaken. No one in America is allowed to transfer more than 6 times per month out of their standard savings account without paying a penalty to the IRS.

Claude says:

For my savings account with a regular bank, if you transfer using ATM, the limit doesn’t apply. No such exception with Chime. And you always have the option to pay a fee but not with Chime. If you do that too often they can close the account, but that’s never happened to me.

Eddie says:

Chime Banking has chip cards as of last month (12/17)…put in a request to receive a new card with the chip.

Danielle says:

I have had an awful experience with Chime. What they fail to tell you is that the account is useless until you activate your debit card and that it may take up to 2 weeks to receive. I set up direct deposit upon opening and now have no way to access the cash. Customer service was horrific. Had nothing useful to say and I had to ask for a manager no fewer than 3 times. Once I spoke to a manager, the options were: find a friend or family member with Chime and send the cash to them to send to one of my other accounts; or use an external account to suck the funds from Chime. Neither USAA nor CapitalOne would worked and I received the following messages: “The financial institution routing number you have entered is either invalid or does not allow electronic transactions. Please contact your financial institution for assistance” and ”
It looks like the routing number you provided is for a pre-paid checking account. We’re unable to link to that type of account at this time.” So their advice was useless. They eventually agreed to expedite a debit card, but as soon as I can move the funds, I will close this account.

Angel says:

Thank you for this comment this was really helpful as I too just ordered a card on Monday and I was going to link my direct deposit to it thinking it couldn’t take two weeks for my

nicole says:

HATE Chime app HATE it, I am closing it for a big bank again. I happen to work in banking in finance and have both worked on the front retail side of banking and behind the scenes in finance for big banks and credit unions. They cant do anything, the customer service is horrible. I wish I had a couple million in capital to start my own banking app because I have SO many better ideas. Simple is really good, minus the awful fact they got rid of shared network banking.

Mike says:

All of that is covered in the policy pages that you checked the boxes next to saying you read them 😬

Dee says:

Exactly!

Crestin Green says:

Well I’ve used simple and it was great but they have a glitch to where you cannot resign up again. They say it’s a glitch but it’s been months and no fix. My first time with chime but haven’t set up my direct deposit yet waiting on card first. So we will see.

OdinsBeard says:

I’ve used Simple since Google stopped offering cards/banking services. It was a pretty seamless transition. I am happy with Simple, but they need to do away with that clean, all-white interface/app. It’s murder on the eyes. No joke. They need a black mode. Also, I can’t speak for iOS app functionality since I’m an adult and use Android, but the Android version of the app is slick. It will kick the snot out of Chime for managing money, which, frankly, is what I think these sorts of app+account formats should be anyway. If I just want a place to store money, I’ll use a credit union like a normal person. Basically, if you know how to budget yourself, Simple is hands down the best way to go.

A down side of Simple is that you’re doing business with BBVA Compass bank, which is an investor in the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone Pipelines. So if you’re ecologically-minded, there’s that.

sg says:

Ive used them both on recent travels over the past year..

Simple:
Never had any issues except my card did get skimmed and my account was compromised.I called customer service and they were on top of it. They credited $ back to my linked credit union account and orders me another card. The issue was fully resolved in about 30 days.. Never had any issues using the card at ATMS – even in out of the way places like Mongolia..

Chime:
Going close my account and be done with them. Difficulty and too long wait times for emailed questions to be answered back.
The first time I received the card was able ti use it .. Took too long (day) get answer back why . Finally they said card was compromised and sending me a new one .. I had never used the card anywhere before the incident..
I use the same ATMs in the town I travel to frequently for bioth my Simple and Chime cards.. I always have issues on my Chime card not being accepted ,etc…. basically cant get my money out ATM -I will go to the 3 different banks and all a no go… Never an issue with Simple… That there is the main deal breaker – access to my cash , especially in area of the world where they only take money for many services.. I’ve written them about this on a few occasions and they just (finally) answer me back its that particular bank that I’m trying to withdraw from… Whatever it is -its not been a problem with Simple..

ANTHONY ERVIN says:

I’ve had a Chime Card for over a year and had no real problem. I know how to deposit money and withdraw money with no issue. The app is easy to use and the card is cool.

Casi says:

How do you use it in 3rd party apps though? I’m waiting on my debit card but need to access my funds and it won’t let me unless my card is active..

Blake says:

I opened a Simple account a year or two ago to use an emergency fund. I liked the idea of having an extra debit card in my wallet with money on it just in case.

I recently submitted a feature request to them, and while they did take my suggestion into account they also told me my card had gone “dormant” and was no longer usable. I never received a message stating my card wasn’t usable, and they confirmed that this is expected behavior due to limitations in their system. It’s not even shown on my account when I log in on the app or website on desktop. Horrible service in my opinion, completely unreliable card.

Gayle Turner says:

just opened this chime account and have my direct deposit going into it. Today I tried to connect my bank account to paypal and paypal is telling me that the routing number is no good and to open up a different account. Paypal was successful in transfering a little deposit to verify the account but cannot use the routing # for fee free transactions. My debit card does work but it is not fee free when sending $ via paypal.

Eric says:

I currently have both. The only perks to Chime are the early payroll deposits and the ability to instantly deposit cash at many locations (for a non-Chime applied fee). They also recently added a convenient “view my card” option within the app for times you want to use your card (for non-swipe transactions) without looking for it or if you dont have it on you. It shows you all the card info including the 3digit security # and full card #.

Simple has a couple traditional checking defaults absent from Chime, which is why I prefer Simple over Chime. For one, you can deposit checks, even personal checks (with varying hold times). You also can order a check book which is very helpful and alleviates getting money orders. You can’t do either with Chime. The downside to Simple is the inability to instantly deposit cash. You have to either get direct deposit, transfer money from another account (like Chime, but initiate the transfer with Chime so its only 2 days) or deposit a check. You cant deposit a check from another account in your name, but you can take cash, get a money order and then deposit it like a check. All decent options but none are instant.

I use Chime to get my direct deposits early, and then transfer money to my Simple. Simple.

MM says:

I currently have Chime and I do not recommend it until they can improve it further although I like that concept. My actual card was stolen recently and I am told that it may take up to 1-2 or 3 weeks to arrive. I would suggest they offer me a virtual card with the number etc I can use as I await the physical card/ Pay Pal does not recognize it as a bank account so I cannot link it there. I am paid a day and a half early, usually by the afternoon from direct deposit, but after the initial week in reality there’s just a week between paydays like usual. Transactions are slow to post. I have sent someone something via Venmo and two days later Venmo will tell me the funds weren’t available and my Venmo will be in the negative. No fees involved with Chime (or Venmo so far) but this has never happened with my previous bank account. I find myself finding excuses to transfer money from my Chime account to my old bank account I was going to close almost weekly, and that takes two days.

Morgan says:

My chime is linked to my paypal. I can deposit my paypal funds instantly to my chime account.

Clfreeman says:

How did you get pay pal to do it? I’ve been trying for days to get it to link up. As I didn’t get a debit card from chime yet and can’t access my money at all.

Missy says:

Hi. Does anyone know how I can split my direct deposit. I want half of my paycheck to go to Chime and the other half to another bank. Where within the app (or site) can we do this?

Miles says:

Usually you have to do that through your employer. Most places I’ve worked have some sort of online HR management where you would do things like add or change your direct deposit information or your tax witholdings (if you are in the USA).

Check with your employer how you split the direct deposit.

Susan says:

I’ve been using both Chime and Simple for the past 3 months. Chime was initially a lot more difficult to set up. I couldn’t get my traditional bank account to link and I was never able to get a hold of a real person to discuss my issue. I ended up messaging them screen shots and got back a message to the effect of – yeah that happens and there is no work around. Chime really could work on their customer service. Simple was easy to set up. I was able to easily link to my traditional bank and they have a customer service to call (m-f 9 hour customer service window? – not 24/7). As I continued using the cards I found I was gravitating more towards Chime. I can easily find a greendot location to add more money to my account (it costs $4.95 each time). Most of the stores nearby will limit me to (1) $500 transaction which means if I want to put in the max $1000 I have to go to multiple stores. I think this is store policy more than green dot or chime issue. I don’t mind visiting a store and once I have direct deposit set up I won’t have to worry about funding my checking account but I like the option if I have an emergency and need to add money to the account quickly. Simple was less than simple the more I used it. It took 10 days to get funds transferred from my bank account to Simple. They are not green dot connected so unless you have direct deposit, you will struggle trying to add funds to the account. I recently tried to purchase a money order and upload the photo to fund my simple checking. It took me 4 attempts and 3 days to get a provisional approval with a 5 day hold on the money order. I was NOT happy. Who can wait 5 days after payday for the bulk of their money to be available to them? Not me. I was particularly annoyed because the person I talked to said “normal” uploads are end of business day or the next business day. I guess mine was not normal? They never gave me any reason as to why my checks were held or if this would be a future problem. I’m really unhappy with Simple and decided that Chime is the winner for me.