Synchrony Bank Review : Pros, Cons, & Who Should & Shouldn’t Use It 2024

Synchrony Bank is one of the largest credit card issuers in the United States and provides store-branded credit cards for many major retailers. While it doesn’t offer traditional checking or savings accounts, it does offer competitive CD rates and a high-yield savings account.

In this Synchrony Bank review, we’ll cover the key pros and cons of using Synchrony, who it’s best suited for, alternatives you may want to consider, and everything else you need to know about this online-only bank.

Overview of Synchrony Bank

Synchrony Bank is headquartered in Utah and has been in business since 2003 when it spun off from GE Capital. It issues credit cards for many major retail stores and websites, including Amazon, PayPal, Walmart, Lowe’s, and more.

In addition to credit cards, Synchrony offers the following products:

  • High-yield savings accounts
  • Certificates of deposit
  • Retirement CDs
  • Money market accounts (for businesses)

Synchrony serves over 80 million customers nationwide and brought in $15.3 billion in revenue in 2021. Its deposits are FDIC-insured.

Some key advantages of Synchrony Bank include:

  • Competitive interest rates on savings and CDs
  • Large ATM network access
  • Strong mobile app and digital banking
  • Valuable credit card rewards and perks

Potential downsides include:

  • No checking accounts
  • Limited branch locations
  • Credit cards aren’t as rewarding as premium travel cards

Next, we’ll dive deeper into the pros and cons of banking with Synchrony.

Pros of Synchrony Bank

Here are some of the biggest advantages of using Synchrony Bank for your financial needs:

High-Interest Rates on Savings Accounts and CDs

Synchrony Bank offers some of the highest interest rates you can find today on savings products. Here are the latest rates as of writing:

  • Savings account APY: 1.05%
  • 6-month CD rate: 3.60%
  • 1-year CD rate: 4.00%
  • 18 month CD rate: 4.10%
  • 2-year CD rate: 4.15%
  • 3-year CD rate: 4.00%
  • 5-year CD rate: 4.00%

The national average APY for savings accounts is just 0.06% right now, according to the FDIC. So Synchrony’s 1.05% APY is around 17x higher. Its CD rates also consistently rank among the top rates nationwide.

This makes Synchrony a great option if you’re looking to earn higher yields on your savings or certificates of deposit. Just be aware that rates can fluctuate over time.

Access to a Large ATM Network

When you open a savings account or CD with Synchrony, you get fee-free access to over 100,000 ATMs nationwide through the Allpoint network.

This makes it easy and convenient to withdraw cash from your Synchrony accounts when needed. You can locate nearby in-network ATMs using Synchrony’s ATM finder tool.

The only catch is there are no Synchrony bank branch locations for routine transactions like deposits. You have to rely on ATM access, mail-in deposits, or mobile check deposits.

Advanced Mobile App and Digital Banking

Synchrony Bank’s mobile app and online banking platform provide a feature-rich digital banking experience. You can easily:

  • Check balances
  • Monitor transaction history
  • Transfer funds
  • Deposit checks
  • Pay bills
  • Set up alerts
  • Contact customer service

The Synchrony mobile app has high ratings in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, indicating most customers find it intuitive and useful.

Being an online-only bank, Synchrony caters to digital banking customers. If you prefer visiting physical branches though, it may not be the best fit.

Valuable Credit Card Rewards and Perks

While Synchrony doesn’t offer its own branded credit card, the store cards it issues often come with nice rewards. For example:

  • Walmart Rewards Card: 5% back on purchases, 2% back at Walmart stores, 1% back elsewhere.
  • Amazon Prime Rewards Visa: 5% back at and Whole Foods, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores, 1% back elsewhere.
  • PayPal Cashback Mastercard: 2% back on all purchases.
  • Lowe’s Advantage Card: 5% back on Lowe’s purchases.

Specific perks and benefits will vary by card. Compared to premium travel rewards cards, Synchrony’s store cards generally don’t offer sign-up bonuses or the highest rewards rates. But the ones it issues often beat basic cash-back cards.

Cons of Synchrony Bank

While Synchrony Bank has some attractive features, there are also some downsides to consider:

No Checking Accounts Available

One major limitation of Synchrony is it does not offer any checking accounts. This restricts it from being a true one-stop-shop banking provider.

The lack of check writing abilities or debit card access to your funds can be inconvenient compared to a traditional checking account. You have to rely on savings account withdrawals or ATM access instead.

If you want the simplicity of having both checking and savings at the same institution, Synchrony won’t provide it. You’ll need an external bank for checking services.

Very Limited Branch Locations

Synchrony operates just three branches nationwide: two in Utah and one in South Dakota. Unless you live near one of them, you won’t have access to in-person banking services.

For those who still prefer handling some transactions face-to-face, the lack of physical branches can be a challenge. You have to rely on online, mobile, mail, or phone instead.

While Synchrony offers fee-free ATM access, typical ATM transactions are still limited compared to what you can do inside an actual branch. You may occasionally find yourself needing branch access only to realize the nearest Synchrony branch is states away.

Store Credit Cards Aren’t as Rewarding as Premium Travel Cards

The credit cards issued by Synchrony can earn very good rewards on purchases made with the specific retail store or website associated with the card. However, for general everyday spending, the rewards rates are just decent, not exceptional.

For example, the PayPal credit card earns 2% back on all purchases. That’s solid but doesn’t compare favorably to top-tier cards like:

  • Chase Freedom Flex: 5% back in rotating bonus categories each quarter
  • Citi Double Cash: 2% back on all purchases (1% when you buy, 1% when you pay it off)
  • Capital One SavorOne: 3% back on dining and entertainment

The lack of bonuses, travel perks, airport lounge access, and other premium features also make Synchrony’s store cards less rewarding for frequent travelers or those spending big on general purchases.

So while Synchrony cards can make sense for loyal customers of specific retailers, they aren’t go-to cards for maximizing everyday rewards.

Who is Synchrony Bank Best For?

Given its pros and cons, Synchrony Bank is best suited for:

Savers Seeking High-Interest Rates

The standout feature of Synchrony is the highly competitive interest rates it offers on savings accounts and CDs. The rates are among the best in the industry.

So if you want to earn stronger yields on your money, Synchrony is a great option. Just be prepared for an online-only banking experience.

Cardholders Loyal to Specific Retail Brands

If you frequently shop at stores like Walmart, Amazon, Lowe’s, etc., using the co-branded Synchrony credit card for that retailer can be rewarding. You’ll earn solid cash back, perks, and discounts on their purchases specifically.

Just recognize the cards aren’t as rewarding for general spending compared to premium travel and cash-back cards. Synchrony cards are best suited for brand loyalists.

Digital Banking Customers

As an online-only bank, Synchrony is designed for those who prefer managing their finances digitally via computer and mobile devices. You get robust digital banking tools and convenience.

If you still rely on in-person banking though, Synchrony probably isn’t the best fit due to its very limited branches.

Certificate of Deposit Investors

Synchrony provides attractive CD rates across a range of terms from 6 months to 5 years. If you want a higher yield on a short-, medium-, or long-term CD, Synchrony is a good option to look at.

Their CD early withdrawal penalties are also lower than some competitors. You’ll only lose 3 months of interest on a CD under 2 years and 6 months of interest on a CD of 2 years or longer.

Who Should Think Twice About Synchrony Bank?

While Synchrony can be a good fit for many, here are some instances where alternatives may be preferable:

If You Want Checking Services

Since Synchrony doesn’t offer checking accounts, it’s not a full-service option if you want both checking and savings at the same institution.

Those who prefer the simplicity of having everything in one place may want to look at banks and credit unions that offer one-stop access to checking, savings, loans, credit cards, and more.

If You Prefer In-Person Banking

Online banks like Synchrony offer convenience through technology but lack local branches you can walk into. If making deposits, speaking to tellers, accessing safety deposit boxes, etc. is important to your banking experience, Synchrony probably won’t satisfy your needs.

Community banks and credit unions with branch networks are better options for those who still utilize in-person services.

If You Want Premium Travel Rewards From Your Cards

The credit cards offered by Synchrony earn great rewards when you’re shopping at partner retailers. But for everyday spending, the rewards rates and perks lag premium travel cards.

If you want to maximize points, miles, and travel perks on all purchases, top-tier cards from issuers like Chase and Amex are better suited for your wallet.

If You Need Extensive Customer Service

While Synchrony does provide customer service by phone, chat, email, and more, options are still more limited compared to banks with local branches. You lose that ability to walk in and talk to someone face-to-face if you ever need to.

If having more extensive customer support is important for your banking experience, you may prefer institutions with greater local access and service.

Alternatives to Consider

Some alternatives to consider instead of (or alongside) Synchrony Bank include:

For high-yield savings: Ally Bank, Marcus by Goldman Sachs, Discover Bank, Axos Bank

For checking/savings: Local banks and credit unions, Charles Schwab

For credit cards: Chase, Amex, Citi, Capital One, Bank of America

For CDs: Marcus, Ally, Discover, TD Bank, Citizens Access

The right alternative for you depends on your needs and preferences as a customer. For example, Ally offers similar savings yields to Synchrony while providing checking accounts too. But a local credit union may be preferable if you want the community bank experience.

Do your research to see which financial institutions align closest with what you’re looking for. Synchrony makes sense for many situations but isn’t ideal for everyone.

The Bottom Line

Synchrony Bank provides attractive CD and savings rates along with useful retail credit cards for brand devotees. However, the lack of checking accounts and limited branch access restrict it from being a complete banking provider.

Overall, Synchrony is best suited for interest rate-driven savers, digitally savvy customers, store credit card users, and CD investors. We hope this detailed review helps you determine if it’s a good fit for your banking needs.

Compare your options and look for a financial institution that provides the right mix of accounts, rates, technology, service, and convenience for your personal needs and preferences. Your money matters, so be sure to choose wisely.

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