Synchrony Bank Review: Online Savings Accounts With High Rates

Synchrony Bank's rates are higher than the national average.

What exists today as Synchrony Bank began in 1932 as the General Electric Contracts Corporation to assist families with appliance purchase financing. Over the years, the bank has evolved by launching a variety of programs and products, such as GE credit cards, Chevron and Texaco consumer credit card programs and mobile account management and business centers.

In 2015, Synchrony Financial completely broke off from GE and became the independent financial institution known today: a digital bank that offers high rates due to the absence of physical branches.

Explore what Synchrony Bank has to offer through this review to determine if it’s one of the best online banks:

Who Is Synchrony Bank Best For?

Synchrony Bank, insured by the FDIC, prides itself on a high annual percentage yield. Plus, it’s one of the largest distributors of private label credit cards in the U.S.

Here are some of the possible advantages and drawbacks of banking with Synchrony Bank.

Pros and Cons of Synchrony Bank
ProsCons
Synchrony Perks program, offering all customers perks for leisure and travelNo physical branches for in-person banking
High-yield APY for all accountsATMs with Plus or Accel logos aren’t readily accessible everywhere in the U.S.
No minimum account balance required, except for CDs$5 out-of-network ATM reimbursement per statement cycle minimal compared to other banks
24/7 customer supportNo interest checking, loans or nonbank investing offered
ATMs with a Plus or Accel logo incur zero ATM fees from Synchrony BankQuickly accessing needed funds can be problematic

Overall, Synchrony is ideal for people interested in high APY rates who do not need to access physical cash very often.

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Types of Accounts Available

Synchrony Bank offers a host of accounts with competitive rates. Here’s a look at what’s available.

Synchrony Bank Account Offerings
AccountFeaturesRatesRate Comparison
High-Yield Savings
  • 24/7 digital banking
  • Access to ATMs throughout the U.S. and abroad
  • FDIC insured
2.00% APY with no minimum balance
  • Citizens Access: 2.00% APY with minimum balance of $5,000
  • American Express National Bank: 1.90% APY with minimum balance of $1
  • Barclays: 2.00% APY with  minimum balance of $0
Money Market Account
  • Access money via ATMs,  checks, over the phone or online
  • 24/7 digital banking
  • FDIC insured
1.20% APY on all balance tiers
  • Ally Bank: 0.90% APY for account balances under $25,000; 1.00% APY for account balances above $25,000
  • Capital One: 2.00% for account balances with a minimum of $10,000
  • Discover: 1.75% APY for account balances under $100,000, 1.80% for account balances above $100,000
Interest CheckingNot an available product
CD Rates
  • Competitive CD rates
  • 24/7 digital banking
  • Terms offered between 3-60 months
  • FDIC insured
  • 2.40% APY for 12 months
  • 2.55% APY for 60 months
  • Ally Bank: 2.6% APY with $0 minimum balance for 60 months
  • Discover: 2.50% APY with $1,000 minimum deposit for 12 months
  • Marcus by Goldman Sachs: 2.50% APY with $500 minimum deposit for 36 months
IRA CDs
  • Traditional or Roth options
  • 24/7 digital banking
  • 2.40% APY for 12 months 
  • 2.55% APY for 60 months
  • Ally Bank: 2.35% APY with $0 minimum balance for 12 months
  • Capital One: 2.30% APY with a $0 minimum deposit for 12 months
  • Discover: 2.40% APY with a $2,500 minimum deposit for 12 months
IRA Money Market Account
  • Traditional or Roth options
  • 24/7 digital banking
1.20% APY with no minimum balance
  • StateFarm Bank: 2.00% APY with $1,000 minimum balance
  • American Express Personal Savings: 1.9% APY with $1 minimum balance
  • BBVA: 2.40% with $10,000 minimum balance

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Online Savings Account aka High-Yield Savings

With the ability to earn 2.00% APY on any balance tier, you might wonder who could pass up this online savings account. Here’s a look at the account’s features, pros and cons.

Features

  • No overdraft fee — instead, the withdrawal will be denied
  • No minimum balance to begin an account
  • Synchrony Perks Program available upon opening an account

Pros

  • Can access cash by phone, online or specific ATMs
  • 2.00% APY for any account balance tier
  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • 24/7 banking and support

Cons

  • ATMs are inconsistent with their withdrawal limits
  • ATMs are not easily accessible everywhere in the U.S.
  • Only six withdrawals allowed per statement cycle; over-the-limit requests denied
  • $5 Synchrony Bank refund on ATM surcharge fee

Compare: Best Online Savings Accounts

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Money Market Account

Synchrony’s Money Market account offers a 1.20% APY with no minimum account balance. This rate is comparable to other money market accounts depending on your account balance tier.

Features

  • No overdraft fee — instead the withdrawal will be denied
  • No minimum balance required to open an account
  • Synchrony Perks Program included with new account

Pros

  • ATMs are inconsistent with their withdrawal limits
  • ATMs are not easily accessible everywhere in the U.S.
  • Only six withdrawals allowed per statement cycle; over-the-limit requests denied
  • $5 Synchrony Bank refund on ATM surcharge fee

Cons

  • ATMs are inconsistent with their withdrawal limits
  • ATMs are not easily accessible everywhere in the U.S.
  • Only six withdrawals allowed per statement cycle; over-the-limit requests denied
  • $5 Synchrony Bank refund on ATM surcharge fee

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Interest Checking

As of right now, Synchrony Bank does not offer any type of interest checking account.

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CDs

Synchrony offers competitive rates from 2.40% APY for 12 months to 2.55% APY for 60 months. The shortest CD term available is three months with a 0.75% APY.

Features

  • Flexible dividend payments when CD matures
  • Terms ranging from three to 60 months
  • FDIC insured

Pros 

  • Ability to withdraw interest paid during your CD’s current term anytime without a penalty.
  • Add funds through non-Synchrony Bank accounts
  • Average early withdrawal rates

Cons

  • A minimum balance of $2,000 to start a CD
  • Auto-renew if you do not deposit your money within 10-day grace period after CD maturity
  • More competitive rates found elsewhere

Related: Best CD Accounts

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Individual Retirement Accounts

Synchrony Bank offers both traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs as Money Market accounts or CDs. Here’s a look at the differences between traditional and Roth IRAs:

Traditional vs. Roth IRAs
Traditional IRARoth IRA
Earnings are tax-deferred until withdrawalTax-free qualified withdrawals and earnings
Income does not affect how much you can add to funds each yearIncome affects how much you can add to funds each year
Must be under 70 1/2 years old to add money to IRAAdd money to IRA at any age
All withdrawals will be taxed. The tax will be on the money you added to your IRA when you withdraw.No tax on withdrawals if the funds have been in your IRA for at least five years

And now, here are the features, pros and cons of Synchrony’s Money Market account and CDs:

Features of the IRA Money Market Account

  • 1.20% APY with no minimum balance
  • 24/7 digital banking
  • Add funds anytime
  • Online IRA MMA calculator

Pros of the IRA Money Market Account

  • 1.20% APY for any account balance tier — if you don’t have a lot of money to invest
  • Earnings are above national average for 12-month aged account
  • Ability to roll over funds from specific employer-sponsored retirement plans to a traditional IRA with Synchrony Bank

Cons of the IRA Money Market Account

  • 1.20% APY for any account balance tier — if you have a sizable amount of money to invest
  • Other financial institutions may offer higher APY rates

Features of the IRA CD

  • 2.40% APY for 12-month IRA CD with minimum account balance of $2,000
  • 2.55% APY for 60-month IRA CD with minimum account balance of $2,000
  • 24/7 digital banking
  • Online IRA CD calculator

Pros of the IRA CD

  • Ability to transfer current IRA or roll over your employer-sponsored IRA
  • Above national average with a 12-month CD and a $2,000 account minimum
  • You can change IRA beneficiaries as many times as you want

Cons of the IRA CD

  • Other financial institutions may offer higher APY rates
  • Other financial institutions do not require a minimum balance

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Investment (Nonbank) Options

As of right now, Synchrony Bank does not offer any type of investment (nonbank) options.

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Loans

As of right now, Synchrony Bank does not offer any type of loans.

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How To Bank With Synchrony Bank

Once again, banking with Synchrony Bank is completely digital. Of course, you can always call its support team and mail checks, but the effective way to bank with Synchrony is on your mobile device or laptop — or via whatever new technology is right around the corner, like a touchscreen bathtub.

Technology

Get friendly with Synchrony’s technology for the best banking experience. The bank’s user-friendly website lays out features clearly. Many options are available to open an account and a top banner allows you to log in to your preexisting accounts.

Via the bank’s mobile app, you can easily transfer money, check on your account balances, deposit checks and engage in live chat with a banker. Logging in is as simple as using Face ID or Touch ID technology. The app is available on Google Play and the App Store.

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Fees

Synchrony Bank does not charge any monthly service fees on its accounts. But it does charge early withdrawal fees from CDs and IRA CDs. Ultimately, Synchrony does not feature hidden or expensive fees that you might find at some brick-and-mortar banks. The bank claims it can forgo those type of fees because of its all-digital platform.

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    Availability of Funds

    Even though it may seem daunting to not have a physical bank — there was one in Bridgewater, New Jersey, but it closed — you can access your money in four different ways with Synchrony Bank.

    • ATM: Synchrony Bank offers an ATM card with its High-Yield Savings and Money Market accounts. With the card, you can get cash and perform basic transactions in the U.S. or abroad. Customers will enjoy no fees at any ATM that has the Plus or Accel logo. But fees apply for ATM usage abroad — like at most banks.
    • Electronic transfer: You can send and receive money between your Synchrony bank accounts and other banks by either going online or calling its phone system. No transfer fees apply to High-Yield Savings or Money Market accounts.
    • Check: You can request checks for your Money Market account.
    • Wire transfer: You can also request a wire transfer from your High-Yield Savings or Money Market account.

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    Who Should Skip Synchrony Bank?

    Although Synchrony Bank offers competitive products and services, not everyone prefers online-only financial platforms. Here’s who should skip Synchrony Bank:

    • People who desire a more personal relationship with their bank
      • Face time is always more effective when establishing a relationship, and that also goes for you and your bank. Face-to-face relationships with financial advisors and bankers can make big decisions — such as buying a home or funding a retirement account — less sterile and more personal.
      • People who want quick access to their money
        • Access to ATMs does not mean quick access to all of your money. Depending on the ATM location you visit — convenience store, grocery store — you might run into daily withdrawal limits that offer less than what you may need in a day. A brick-and-mortar bank’s ATM withdrawal limits, however, are clearly stated, and you know what to expect when using one of their ATMs.
        • People who want a one-stop shop
          • Online banking offers a lot of convenience with most basic banking tasks. But it’s not a one-stop shop if you’re looking for a physical branch with an ATM, in-person financial advising and other essentials.

        Here’s a breakdown of what Synchrony Bank is best and worst for:

        Highs and Lows of Synchrony Bank’s Products and Services
        Best for:Worst for:
        High APY ratesMoney and cash accessibility
        Perk Programs for leisure and travel for all customersPhysical branches
        24/7 digital bankingReimbursing ATM surcharge fees above $5 per statement cycle

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        Is Synchrony Bank Right for You?

        Synchrony Bank is perfect for anyone who can bank digitally with ease. Like all banks, however, certain benefits and drawbacks exist.

        Benefits

        • High APY rates
        • No service fees
        • Comprehensive technology for digital banking
        • Synchrony Perks Program for leisure and travel

        Drawbacks

        • No physical location
        • ATM surcharge fees only reimbursed up to $5 per statement cycle
        • ATMs not always nearby
        • Some APY rates not always most competitive

        When comparing this bank, look at other digital-only financial institutions, like Ally Bank, instead of traditional banks like Wells Fargo to determine if you’re getting the best deal. Depending on your balance tiers, income cash flows and financial goals, Synchrony Bank could be the perfect choice if you’re someone who pays your bills, friends and family digitally and you enjoy receiving competitive APY rates on your accounts.

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        Jared Nigro is a writer based in Los Angeles. He writes for environmental and socioeconomic foundations like The Dan & Susan Gottlieb Foundation and Inside Out Writers. 

        Last updated: Sept. 23, 2019

        Rates accurate as of Sept. 23, 2019. This content is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the bank advertiser, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. This site may be compensated through the bank advertiser Affiliate Program.

        About the Author

        Jared Nigro is from Pittsburgh, which is obvious by the way he gravitates toward cheese at parties. He is a comedy writer from The Groundlings Sunday Company, Upright Citizens Brigade and has his own digital show on Comedy Central called “Broken People.” When he isn’t being funny, he’s reading books on debt and finance and listening to his favorite finance podcast, ChooseFI.