Simplii Financial Review: Spectacle Over Substance

April 26, 2021
Banks

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To determine the best online banks in the Canada, we scored and reviewed 8 highly popular banks. In this case, we'll be focusing on Simplii Financial

Simplii Financial is CIBC's answer to Tangerine, another big traditional bank. It's got some perks to it like its referral program, which is the highest-earning one out of all online banks and its free international money transfers. It also has the best international usability out of all banks due to being able to waive most foreign ATM fees thanks to its ATM network partners in both the US and Canada.

However, for as good as that bank is, we truly believe that it isn't the best, a spot that's reserved for Tangerine. It's got great domestic fees, the best everyday usage, possibly the best customer support, the most banking products and the most extra features.


Out of all the online banks we reviewed, without a doubt, Tangerine offers the most complete experience an online bank in Canada can give. From savings to investing to a great referral program, it's all here and it's why Tangerine is our top pick for the best Canadian online bank.

 Simplii Financial
Domestic Fees8
International Fees5
Everyday Usage4
Interface and Usability4
Mobile App Functionality4
International Usability10
Customer Support9
Security & Regulation4
Savings/Premium Benefits5
Extra Features8
Total61

Now that you've seen the bank's overall scores, here's a more detailed look at how it performs in each category.

 Simplii Financial
Total Score61
1 Domestic Fees
ATM feesNFCA: Free access to 3,400 CIBC ATMs in Canada
Otherwise, a $1.5 fee will apply
Savings accounts don't have ATM withdrawals enabled
Monthly feesFree
Card FeeFree
Additional Cards Fee$4.97 per replacement card (1 Free yearly replacement)
Card Delivery FeeFree
Kids AccountX
Minimum balance required$0
Inactivity Fee$20 each year after 2 years of inactivity
Free Interac e-Transfers?✔️
2 International Fees
Foreign ATM fees$3 on all non CIBC ATMs
Foreign spending fee2.5%
Foreign exchange fees2.5% of the converted amount
(Users can ask for foreign currency and receive it in their local Canada post at Simplii's proprietary exchange rate)
Cross Border Transfer FeeFree with Global Money Transfer
3 Everyday Usage
Apple Pay✔️
Google Pay✔️
Does it accept cash deposits?✔️, only through CIBC ATMs
Spending/Transaction CategoriesX
Real Time Notifications?X
Built-In DonationsX
4 Interface and Usablity
Spending limits in the appX
Withdrawal limits in the appX
Sub-savings accounts✔️, Goals
Bill splitting / Shared ExpensesX
Subscription trackingX
5 Mobile App Functionality
Toggling payments in the appX
Toggle Foreign PaymentsX
Signup Speed> 10 minutes
Mobile App Ease of UseNot that intuitive
Apple Appstore Score /53.0⭐
Google Playstore Score /53.9⭐
6 International Usability
Hold Multiple CurrenciesX
International Money Transfers✔️, through Global Money Transfer from all non savings Simplii accounts
Can The Card Be Used Abroad?✔️
Is The ATM Network International?✔️, but only ATMs with the Interac® or PLUS labels can be used.
CIBC exchange rate will apply on the day of the transaction
7 Customer Support
In-app support chat✔️
Telephone support1-888-723-8881
Priority Customer SupportX
Email support[email protected]
Email Response Time2 days
8 Security & Regulation
RegulatorCDIC insured thanks to CIBC
Freeze/Unfreeze Card In The AppX
PIN resets in the appX, only at CIBC ATMs
Biometric login and authentication?✔️
Does it do a credit check?Hard credit check
9 Savings/Premium Benefits
Metal CardX
Cashback✔️, 4% in restaurants, bar and coffee shops
1.5% on gas, groceries and drugstores
0.5% on all other purchases
Only available with the Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa credit card
Partner Discounts?X
Gain interest rate?0.20% Annual rate
10 Extra Features
Get Paid early?✔️, through Direct Deposits
Network ATM Finder✔️
Overdraft Availability✔️
Overdraft Protection✔️, upto $5,000, and with a $4.97 minimum NSF fee per use and 19% interest rate on all overdraft balances
Stock TradingX
Commodities TradingX
Cryptocurrency Trading?X
Referral program?Referrers can earn $50 per friend referred, referrals will also earn $50 but need to deposit at least $100 and maintain that balance for 60 consecutive days.
Maximum of 10 friends per year or $500 per calendar year
Users can also earn up to $100 with certain promotions:
$25 on first order of foreign cash with referral link
$25 on first Global Money Transfer with referral link
$50 On first Global Money Transfer by inputting "GMT50" in promo code section at the moment of sending the transfer.

Now let's jump into the full written review explaining what you just read in our previous tables.

Simplii Financial Review: Breakdown

#1 Domestic Fees:

Simplii Financial starts strong by having no monthly fees whatsoever nor needing a minimum balance required in order to keep its account open. On top of that, Simplii Financial also offers free ATM withdrawals in Canada on all CIBC ATMs, of which there are around 3,400 countrywide, if not, a $1.5 fee will apply. It’s also worth noting that savings accounts can’t withdraw from ATMs.

On some of its bad points, Simplii Financial charges $4.97 per card replacement, even though its 1st yearly replacement and the delivery of the cards are free. Simplii also charges inactivity fees, but only after 2 years of inactivity, which will run for $20 each year after the account is considered inactive.

Simplii Financial Domestic Fees Score: 8/10

#2 International Fees:

Here’s where we get into Simplii’s first rough patch, but also one of its most important features. Simplii Financial is one of the only online banks in Canada that can send international money transfers, aside from EQ Bank, but these are free.

However, that unique feature is somewhat overlapped by Simplii’s very hefty foreign fees. For foreign ATM withdrawals done on any non-CIBC-ATMs, Simplii Financial charges $3 CAD. For any foreign spending transaction, Simplii charges a base 2.5% fee, the same which is charged on foreign exchange.

However, when it comes to foreign exchange, Simplii Financial bears a unique feature where users can buy foreign currency from the app and receive it later at any local Canada Post. This helps users who like to plan in advance so they can get the currency of where they’re travelling to weeks in advance.

Simplii Financial International Fees Score: 5/10

#3 Everyday Usage:

Here’s another rocky road for Simplii due to a lack of some features we consider crucial for online banks. These features are mainly categorizing transactions, showing spending insights and having real-time spending notifications.

Aside from that, Simplii features most other common features like being able to use Apple Pay, Google Pay and being able to deposit cash, but only at CIBC ATMs.

Simplii Financial Everyday Usage Score: 4/10

#4 Interface And Usability:

When it comes to having a fluid interface Simplii Financial doesn’t quite do its job perfectly at all. It's the bank we found to have fewer features to customize spending. It's lacking in features like setting spending and withdrawal limits from the app, sharing expenses/splitting bills and online subscription tracking.

The only feature that Simplii has is being able to open a sub-savings account, which is quite important but doesn’t make up for the lack of others.

Simplii Financial Interface And Usability Score: 4/10

#5 Mobile App Functionality

Simplii Financial gets to another rough patch here thanks to its mobile app not being developed as well as others. It lacks features like toggling local and foreign recurring payments from the app, and its app isn’t the best in terms of ease of use. Simplii Financial garners a score of 3.0/5 in the Apple App Store and 3.9 stars in the Google Playstore, which are average scores at best.

It’s also worth noting that signing up for Simplii Financial usually takes longer than 10 minutes due to its approval process and its CIBC roots, which require more thorough verification.

Simplii Financial Mobile App Functionality Score: 4/10

#6 International Usability

There are a few things to mention in this category when it comes to Simplii Financial. First, Simplii is the highest-scoring Canadian online bank in terms of international usability. As we had mentioned earlier, it’s the only bank that can send international money transfers without any fees. It’s also the one that has the biggest international ATM network thanks to Visa’s PLUS, Interac and CIBC ATMs.

Simplii’s card can also be used internationally anywhere where Visa is accepted, so there are no real compromises to Simplii’s foreign usability.

Simplii Financial International Usability Score: 10/10

#7 Customer Support

Simplii Financial performs excellently in this category as well due to the fact that it has one of the most responsive support agents out there. They offer all the main support channels, which are support chat, phone lines and email. Email takes around 2 days to answer any queries and they’re rather thoughtful at their job, even if they could be a bit faster.

Support is also knowledgeable and easy to reach through phone and chat, which is always a must for online banks.

If you want to get in touch with Simplii Financial's representatives, you can do so via the following channels:

  • Phone: 1-888-723-8881
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Chat: In-app/website.

Simplii Financial Customer Support Score: 9/10

#8 Security & Regulation

Since Simplii Financial is associated with CIBC, this means that Simplii is also regulated and insured by the CDIC. In this case, the CDIC makes sure that all eligible deposits inside Simplii Financial are insured for up to $100,000 CAD.

However, Simplii is lacking some other security features like being able to freeze/unfreeze debit cards from the app and not being able to reset card PINs from it either, only from CIBC ATMs. Simplii does let users configure signing-in with biometric login authentication, which is more convenient and safe for its users.

Another aspect that hinders Simplii’s score is the fact that the bank performs a hard credit check whenever any user applies for it, regardless of the product.

Simplii Financial Security & Regulation Score: 4/10

#9 Savings/Premium Benefits

It’s always nice when you can do more with your bank account, especially if you can earn without doing too much. However, Simplii didn’t keep this in mind when creating its account offering.

According to our scoring metrics, it ranks as the 7th, out of 8 banks in total, in terms of interest earned in account balance. Simplii Financial users will only earn 0.20% on their balances, only followed by Tangerine after its initial promotional interests are gone.

Although, it’s also worth mentioning that Simplii does offer cashback if users apply for the Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa credit card, which has the following cashback rewards:

  • 4% Cashback in restaurants, bar and coffee shops
  • 1.5% on gas, groceries and drugstores
  • 0.5% on all other purchases

Overall, Simplii offers low interest, cashback exclusive to a credit card and doesn’t offer partner discounts either, which doesn't bode well for its performance as a savings account..

Simplii Financial Savings/Premium Benefits Score: 5/10

#10 Extra Features

Simplii Financial does get back up on its own two feet here because it offers features that are worth having a hard credit check. The main feature that Simplii Financial offers is overdraft and overdraft protection; its overdraft protection goes up to $5,000 and only with a minimum NSF of $4.97 per overdraft charge.

It’s worth noting that having a Simplii account overdrawn will incur a 19% interest rate on all overdraft balances, something that’s always worth keeping in mind.

Aside from that, Simplii Financial also allows Direct Deposits to be set up and features an in-app network ATM finder, which can help users avoid fees when abroad.

Now onto what’s probably the most important part of this category. Simplii offers the single highest possible earning referral program out of all online banks we reviewed. The biggest benefit to it is that users are not limited only to registrations, rather there are other promotions as well that take advantage of referrals

Here’s a bit more on that:

  • Main referral program: Referrers can earn $50 per friend referred (referrals will also earn $50 upon registration) with a maximum of 10 friends per year. Referrals will only need to fund their accounts with at least $100 and keep that balance for 60 consecutive days.
  • Promotion #1: $25 on first order of foreign cash with referral link
  • Promotion #2: $25 on first Global Money Transfer with referral link
  • Promotion #3: $50 on first Global Money Transfer by using the “GMT50” promo code.

We scored all referral programs with how much money they could make with up to 5 referrals, of which Simplii users can earn up to $250 CAD, without any of the promotions mentioned. But the best part has to be the fact that the referral limit resets each calendar year, which means that users can earn up to $500 each year.

Simplii Financial Extra Features Score: 8/10

Why Simplii Financial?

Most online banks in Canada are great options if you're looking for a cheaper and more convenient alternative to regular banking. However, if you're eyeing Simplii Financial, you've definitely found a great bank for local use and for sending international money transfers.

Simplii Financial has to be one of the banks that has the flashiest promotions and some of the best features. These come in the shape of the best referral program out of the banks we reviewed, its great domestic fees and its free international money transfers. Even though it's not the best online bank, it certainly is the winner here.

Simplii Financial vs. Tangerine

When reviewing a specific bank, we always compare it to the best in its category. And according to our thorough testing, the best online bank in Canada is Tangerine, which scores 72/100 points on our scoring system. Here’s why we think Tangerine is a better alternative:

As we had mentioned before, Simplii Financial has to be one of the online banks with the flashiest features. However, these make it look better than it really is, since we consider it to be a bank that misses some of the fundamentals of online banking in terms of its mobile app and saving features.

In terms of product variety, Tangerine and Simplii Financial are tied head to head. However, Tangerine manages to be better in all other aspects where Simplii fails, offering just an experience that is better in terms of an overall perspective.

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