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- My boyfriend and I had our first joint account at Simple, so it was a blow when the bank shut down.
- I investigated other options and decided on Ally as a new home for our funds.
- I’m glad we made the switch — our money is earning more interest than before.
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I’ve written about my love for my Simple bank account many times before, so you can imagine my dismay when I got an email on January 7 telling me that the bank would be shutting down. “BBVA USA has made the strategic decision to close Simple,” the email read. “There is no immediate impact to your accounts at Simple, and nothing you need to do at this time.” That second line was reassuring, but my brain was already swirling with potential next moves.
Having to make financial decisions is always a little fraught, at least for me, but there was an added layer at Simple: It was the first place my boyfriend and I had ever had a joint account. We opened it when we moved in together in 2018, and had used it ever since, depositing $50 each per month to pay off our electric bill and any large furniture purchases that came along.
Now, I was pretty sure I wanted to pick up and move my money somewhere else — but where? I’d been so happy with Simple that I’d never bothered to check out any other options.
Reviewing my other bank options
Luckily, I’d kept a side-piece during my time with Simple: a high-yield savings account at Ally that I’d opened years before to help me manage the money I earned at my serving job.
A decade later, the Simple account had become the hub for much of my saving and spending activity. But I still used the Ally account for its original purpose, squirreling away funds from my freelance writing career to be able to pay my taxes and max out my retirement contributions every year.
Did Ally have a joint account function, I wondered? I already knew from experience that the interest rates for Simple and Ally had remained fairly in sync throughout 2020, hovering at the same level and then dropping within weeks of each other. So maybe Ally could fill the Simple-sized hole in my heart at the same interest rate I was already enjoying. (When I got the email from Simple, I believe both were at 0.50% APY, where Ally still sits.)
As it turns out, it could.
I opened a joint checking account at Ally
I already had an Online Savings Account at Ally, where I quickly transferred the funds from my individual Protected Goals and Safe-to-Spend accounts at Simple. Beep boop boop, easy as that.
Then I set about looking into whether Ally offered joint accounts. After a few clicks, I hadn’t seen the words “joint” or “shared” once, and was feeling discouraged. So I tried a Google search, which opened my eyes to the fact that any account can be a joint account if you just add someone else’s name to it.
Ally joint accounts may not be advertised as openly as Simple’s were, but it turns out to be quite easy to open one.
While logged in, all I had to do was click “Open an Account,” scroll down to “Savings and Checking” on the lefthand side, then select the tab for “Interest Checking.” Once there, I was asked to verify that my existing account information was correct, decide whether I wanted to fund the account now or later, and sign some service agreements and privacy notices. Then I pushed the big “Apply Now” button, and we were in business.
The benefits of our new joint account
I was approved truly seconds later, and then it was a simple matter of adding my boyfriend as an account owner. I was asked for personal information like his address, birth date, and Social Security number, and luckily for us, he was pretty immediately approved as well. (Although I see from this Reddit post that that isn’t always the case — they appear to do a credit check, so if you aren’t approved, that could be why.)
Now that we were officially joint owners, I funded the account with the contents of our old Simple Shared Account, and got to work streamlining our finances. The two of us had gotten into an annoying habit of just Venmoing each other back and forth for expenses instead of paying for them out of the joint account, which was becoming really hard to keep track of. So I used this as an opportunity to consolidate everything and increase the amount we were each contributing to our joint account every month. We’ve boosted it to $125 each now, which covers electric, cable, and our bundled renters and auto insurance.
Also, the APY on our Joint Checking Account at Ally is 0.10%, — and it will increase to 0.25% if we ever have a balance over $15,000 — which is way higher than what we were getting before. (I’m fairly confident it was literally 0% at Simple, a memory supported by this table.) So while we’ll miss the nostalgia of our very first joint account at Simple, the replacement we engineered at Ally actually does all the same things — and more.