Synchrony Bank Review - Everything You Need to Know

High-yield online bank accounts with ATM access in more than 200 countries

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Who is Synchrony Bank Best For?

Synchrony’s product lineup is adequate, but not as extensive as some banks. That said, Synchrony pays competitive rates, and that may be all you need. Consider this bank if you want:

  • A savings account with a relatively high rate
  • The ability to make cash and check deposits at ATMs in the Plus and ACCEL networks
  • A mobile app with mobile check deposit
  • Up to ten external bank account links
  • CDs that consistently pay competitive rates
  • No monthly charges and few additional fees

Pros

  • Competitive savings account interest rates

  • Cash and check deposits and withdrawals at ATMs nationwide

  • No monthly fees or excessive transaction charges

Cons

  • No checking account for everyday spending

  • Inconsistent information about ATM deposits

  • CDs require a minimum deposit of $2,000 to open

Types of Accounts

  • High Yield Savings
  • Money Market Account
  • Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
  • Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)

High Yield Savings

Synchrony's High Yield Savings account pays a competitive rate on your deposits. As a bonus, you receive an ATM card for cash withdrawals — something many banks don’t provide with savings accounts (they require you to transfer money out instead).

Other advantages include:

  • Earning 2.05% APY regardless of your balance
  • No monthly fees
  • No minimum deposit or ongoing balance required
  • Ability to withdraw cash and make deposits (cash or check) at ATMs
  • Mobile check deposit

Money Market Account

The money market account at Synchrony also pays interest on your deposits. The rate is lower than the savings account rate, but the tradeoff is that you can easily spend funds in your account.

Other advantages include:

  • Earning 1.20% APY on all account balances
  • No monthly fees
  • No minimum initial deposit required
  • Ability to withdraw cash and make deposits (cash or check) at ATMs
  • Write checks directly from your money market account balance (subject to Regulation D limits)

The Synchrony Money Market account is competitive, but other banks have slightly more appealing offerings if you’re primarily interested in a money market account. For example, Discover Bank pays 1.85% and provides a debit card that you can use online or with merchants (but Discover requires a minimum of $2,500 to open the account).

Whenever you use a money market account, be aware that federal law limits certain types of withdrawals to six or fewer per month. You can withdraw cash at an ATM as often as you want.

Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

Synchrony offers a range of CDs and their rates are just about the best you'll find online. While you can likely always find other institutions offering to pay more, the question is whether or not it’s worth the trouble to chase rates as they change. At Synchrony, CD terms range from three months to five years and all require a minimum $2,000 deposit to start.

CD Rates
Term Rates
3-month CD 0.75% APY
6-month CD 1.00% APY
9-month CD 1.25% APY
12-month CD 2.65% APY
18-month CD 2.75% APY
24-month CD 2.80% APY
36-month CD 2.85% APY
48-month CD 2.95% APY
60-month CD 3.10% APY

Potential penalties: Synchrony’s CDs are standard term deposits that may incur an early-withdrawal penalty if you take money out before the CD fully matures. The penalty amount depends on the original term of your CD.

  • 12 months or less = 90 days of interest
  • More than 12 months but less than 48 months = 180 days of interest
  • 48 months or more = 365 days of interest

The 48-month penalty is relatively steep, so it’s critical to understand your needs before buying long-term CDs at Synchrony. You can also use CD ladders to potentially make money available more often.

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)

Synchrony offers retirement account versions of their CDs and money market account. The IRA money market, with a minimum $250 initial deposit, may be appropriate for risk-averse savers who want to make monthly contributions. The IRA CDs have the same terms as Synchrony’s other CDs: $2,000 minimum initial deposit, and potential early withdrawal penalties.

Other retirement accounts are not available currently.

Other Types of Accounts

Synchrony allows you to open trust accounts, but does not offer loans or investment services at the time of this writing.

How to Bank With Synchrony

To open an account, visit SynchronyBank.com or call 1-866-226-5638.

As with most financial institutions in the U.S., you’ll need to provide personal information to open an account. Have the following ready:

  • Names of all account owners
  • Social Security Number (SSN) or Tax ID Number (TIN) of all account owners
  • A physical address of account owners (mailing address optional)
  • Previous address (if you’ve lived at your current address for less than two years)
  • E-mail addresses and phone numbers of account owners
  • Basic employment information
  • A description of how you’re funding your account
  • Bank account information for any accounts you wish to link to Synchrony

You can fund your account with direct deposit, ATM deposits, ACH transfers, wire transfers, remote deposit, or deposits by mail. Synchrony asks that you include a deposit slip with mail deposits.

Customer Service

Customer service representatives are available from 7 AM to midnight EST, Monday through Friday (8 AM to 5 PM on weekends). You can speak with a representative by phone, but chat is also available for both non-customers and existing customers.

Account Fees

Besides early-withdrawal penalties on CDs, there are very few fees at Synchrony:

  • Wire transfer out of Synchrony: $25
  • Stop payment on a check: $25
  • Overnight check delivery: $25

Funds Availability

When you deposit checks, Synchrony may hold your funds temporarily to reduce (but not eliminate) the risk of bad checks. Holds apply whether you add money by remote deposit, mail, or via a deposit-accepting ATM. There may be exceptions to the standard policy, so always check with a customer service representative if you need immediate access to your funds.

Synchrony’s funds availability policy is similar to policies at other online banks:

New accounts: During the first 30 days after your first deposit to Synchrony, funds from check deposits should be available on the sixth business day after Synchrony processes your deposit.

Same-day availability: After 30 days, some deposits — including direct deposits of your wages and wire transfers into your account — may be available on the same day Synchrony receives them (if processed by 3:00 PM EST).

Next-day availability: Checks drawn on the U.S. Treasury or on Synchrony Bank accounts should generally be available on the next business day after your deposit is processed.

Other check deposits: Most other deposits should be available on the second business day after processing your deposit. That said, at least the first $200 of total check deposits for the day may be available on the first business day.

Electronic deposits: ACH transfers that you initiate at Synchrony should be available within three to five business days—unless you verify the account with random deposits. Doing so should make those deposits available on the same business day that Synchrony credits your account.

Exceptions: Banks can extend hold times for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, the cause is beyond your control, such as a natural disaster or technical glitch. Other potential issues include (but aren’t limited to):

  • You deposit more than $5,000 in checks in one business day (applies to one or more checks)
  • Your account activity leads Synchrony to believe there may be a problem with the deposit
  • You deposit checks that previously bounced

About Synchrony Bank

Synchrony Financial, based in Draper, UT, dates back to 1932; the retail bank previously operated under the name GE Capital Retail Bank. Synchrony Bank is the online banking division, and deposits at Synchrony are FDIC-insured up to federal limits as of this writing. Synchrony reports holding over $56 billion in FDIC-insured accounts.

Synchrony uses security measures typical of financial institutions in the U.S. Traffic is encrypted, and the bank continually monitors systems with the goal of identifying threats to your information. When you take certain actions, Synchrony sends a two-factor identification code to your phone (voice or text) to verify your identity. For added security, always tell Synchrony to forget your device, and you’ll need to enter a code every time you log in.

The Bottom Line

Benefits

If you’re looking for a high-yield savings account and some of the highest rates on CDs, Synchrony may be a suitable option. Fees are straightforward and generally low, and the occasional ATM rebate makes the offer more appealing. Synchrony tends to be near the top of interest-paying banks consistently. It’s not the highest-paying offering, but small interest rate differences only matter on significant account balances.

Drawbacks

Synchrony’s website and customer service seem to disagree on ATM deposits, which may be a valuable feature for those who work in service industries and need to deposit cash. Although you can deposit cash, representatives say that they don’t recommend doing so and that Synchrony is not responsible for lost deposits. Also, If you buy a long-term CD, be prepared to wait until maturity or pay a hefty early-withdrawal penalty.