Synchrony Bank Review

Synchrony Bank is a newcomer to the online banking market, and it offers an interesting blend of old-fashioned and high-tech banking. Like many online banks, it runs on a lightweight business model so it can offer lower fees and higher rates of return. Unlike online-only banks like Ally, Synchrony has a physical location in Bridgewater, New Jersey.

Deal of the Day: Earn 1.05% APY on an FDIC-insured savings account at Synchrony Bank.

But don’t worry, you don’t have to live in or near New Jersey to open an account with Synchrony.  You can take advantage of this bank’s award-winning CD rates and great Money Market accounts wherever you are in the US. This bank has over $46 billion in assets, and is FDIC insured.

Bank Highlights

Synchrony Bank offers several options for customers, and boasts an online storefront where you can choose which savings and checking options best suit you. The bank’s products include:

Optimizer +Plus High Yield Savings Accounts: This savings account is service-fee-free as long as you maintain an account balance of $50. Interestingly enough, Synchrony’s high-yield savings account APY (1.05% APY as of June 22, 2016, which is subject to change) is even better than its Money Market APY. It beats out Ally and Capital One 360 by quite a bit. And, again, you can manage your money here over the phone, online, or by using an ATM card.

Optimizer +Plus CDs: These CDs are known for their great interest rates. You can choose terms from 3 to 60 months, and open a CD with a minimum deposit as low as $2,000. Manage your CDs either online or over the phone.

Optimizer +Plus Money Market Accounts: Money Market Accounts with Synchrony are service-fee-free as long as you maintain a balance of at least $1,500. APY on all accounts, no matter the balance, is 0.85% as of June 22, 2016. Synchrony’s Money Market rates are comparable to those of Ally, First Internet Bank, and Sallie Mae. As with all Money Market accounts, federal regulations limit you 6 transactions per month. But the good news is that you can easily transfer money online, over the phone, or using an optional ATM card.

Optimizer +Plus IRA: If you’re interested in opening an IRA focused on stability over earnings, this is an option. You can open an IRA with Synchrony for just $250, or open an IRA CD with at least $2,000. The earnings for an IRA CD vary.

Perks: One of the interesting things about Synchrony’s Optimizer +Plus program is the Perks. With Synchrony, you can get rewards for more than just swiping your credit card. You can get travel-related perks for keeping a high balance with Synchrony or for remaining a loyal customer. Here are some of the perks you can get through the program:

Loyalty About Us Optimizer Plus GE Capital Retail Bank1

Synchrony Bank Pros

Synchrony’s mostly-online business model means it can offer better rates of return for its customers. But there are other advantages to this online bank, too.

1. Excellent rates. The primary advantage of a Synchrony CD or savings account is the APY. The rates are competitive with those of other online banks, and Synchrony’s high-yield savings account beats out even the best-known online savings accounts out there.

2. Simple to open. You can open an account with Synchrony online in a matter of minutes. You just need your Social Security number and Driver’s License/Military ID/State ID Number.

3. Easy account management. Like other online banks, Synchrony operates mainly on an online account management format. But it also has a physical location that locals can use, as well as a customer service line that allows you to manage your account over the phone.

4. ATM reimbursement. The bank offers up to $5 in ATM reimbursements per statement cycle. This isn’t a lot, but Synchrony also focuses on savings accounts, rather than spending accounts. So you’re less likely to use the ATM for these accounts on a regular basis.

5. Free money market account checks. Avoid ATM fees altogether by using checks for your money market account, instead. Your first order is free when you open an account.

6. Easy transfer to another account. You can link your Synchrony account(s) with outside accounts so that you can easily transfer money between these accounts. It’s faster than a normal transfer or a mail-based transfer.

7. Easy IRA rollover. The phone representatives from the bank can help you rollover your IRA into a Synchrony IRA if you want. It’s a relatively easy process over the phone.

Cons

In spite of its great rates, Synchrony does have some disadvantages. Some of them are common to all online banks. Others are specific to Synchrony.

Problems with All Online Banks

1. Security threats abound. Synchrony, like all of today’s good online banks, takes measures to protect against security threats. But online banks – and even traditional banks with online components – are always somewhat vulnerable to security threats.

2. Transactions can take longer. Using your ATM card with Synchrony is exactly like using an ATM card with another bank. But putting money into your account or moving it to another account can take a bit longer. This is especially true if you need to mail in a check or get a withdrawal check in the mail.

3. Moving away can be complicated. If you decide you don’t like your physical bank, you can go in and quickly close out your accounts. This process with an online bank can be more complicated and can take longer. So don’t open an online-only banking account unless you really plan to stay with that bank – especially since banks like Synchrony charge monthly maintenance fees if your account balance gets too low. You can’t just pull out all your money and not deal with closing the account.

Things to Consider with Synchrony

Synchrony has some great rates for CDs and high-yield savings accounts. But that doesn’t mean they’re perfect. Here are some potential issues to consider:

1. No in-person service for most customers. If you’re used to in-person banking services, this may be a major hangup for you. If you do happen to live nearby to Synchrony’s one physical location, you can see a representative in person. Otherwise, you’re stuck to the internet and the phone.

2. Limited account options. Synchrony is a savings bank, not a full-service bank. So while they do offer some loans and credit cards, they don’t offer checking accounts. In order to transfer money between a checking account and an Optimizer +Plus account, you have to open a checking account elsewhere and link it with your Synchrony account.

3. Accounts do have fees. Synchrony’s fees are relatively easy to avoid, especially since you have to maintain just a $50 balance in your savings account to avoid that account’s fee. But, still, they’re not 100% free accounts like those offered by other online banks.

4. Limited IRA investing options. The Synchrony IRA is not your best option if you’re interested in stock and bond investing. It offers a set rate of return. And while the CD IRA rates are slightly better, they still won’t touch the historical returns of the stock market.

Bottom Line

Synchrony could be a great option if you’re looking for a place to stash your emergency fund. It’s low balance requirements and top-notch rates of return on high-yield savings accounts can’t be beaten. And its CD rates are good, too, so it could be a good option for a CD ladder style savings plan. Just keep in mind that it’ll take longer to deposit and withdraw your funds, and that you won’t be able to check in with your banker in person.

Visit Synchrony Bank for More Details


Published or Updated: July 23, 2016
About Abby Hayes

Abby is a freelance journalist who writes on everything from personal finance to health and wellness. She spends her spare time bargain hunting and meal planning for her family of three. She has a B.A. in English Literature from Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, and lives with her husband and children in Indianapolis.

Comments

  1. Steve Johnson says:

    Your review of Synchrony Bank has an error regarding the min balance required to avoid a fee on their High Yield Savings acct. The minimum balance to avoid a Five dollar service fee is Fifty dollars not Fifteen dollars as your article indicated

    • Rob Berger says:

      Steve, thanks for catching the typo!

  2. marcus says:

    Am having difficulties moving my money to my external account, and when i contacted the bank they told me they are reviewing my account. Am sick of this bank and need to close it down and what happens to my money.

  3. C Loft says:

    This bank is awful. Customer service is appalling. I emailed them from online account and they responded that I do not have an account (despite the fact that I clearly sent the message from the account after logging in..not to mention all of the paperwork I receive regarding said account). Bunch of idiots.

  4. Jim W says:

    Internet banking with Synchrony bank is difficult at best. After they changed the name from
    GE retail Capital Bank, we could not logon to our account (over two months) Calls to customer
    service were lengthy and confusing to both us and customer service with the final result being
    lots of paper work which was also difficult to get. We have not had this much problem with
    the three other internet banks and our accounts with them. We are now going to close our
    account with synchrony and go elsewhere. If you have choices I suggest you find another
    internet bank.

    • Rob Berger says:

      Jim, thanks for sharing your experience with the bank. Hopefully they’ve got the kinks worked out by now.

  5. Mike says:

    Hi,

    How many linked accounts does Synchrony allow? I love Ally Bank for the fact that they allow an unlimited number of linked account without needing to send voided checks (they verify using trial deposits). How does that experiecne compare in Synchrony?

  6. Blaine says:

    I use a third party provider to monitor my credit and balances on my account. Synchrony is the only bank that does not allow this provider access to my account. When I contacted their customer service, this is the response I received: “At this time, we do not provide access to Synchrony Bank account(s) via these third-party tools. Please know that protecting any personal information provided to us is one of our primary objectives, and we continue to work closely with these third-party service providers to ensure they meet data security standards and are fully compliant with regulatory requirements before enabling these sites to access your account details.”

    I have accounts with four of the top ten largest market share credit card issuers. They sync fine with my credit monitor company. Synchrony is a farce if they think that their standards are any higher than the other companies that hold 98.7% of the market share.

    And when presented with my issue, their customer service instructed me to send a fax or a letter. They refused to direct a manager speak to me. Lowes should sever all business ties with this company.

  7. Mark Smith says:

    The account opening process is horrible. Keeps giving you error for joint owners. Called four times. Only once the customer service was nice enough to address part of the issue. Two of the four customer service reps were clueless. Fourth time i was transfered to some other department to confirm a saving account opening, this individual talked and confirmed things so fast that it felt like he is going to take the money and run away….and never to be found again.

  8. John McKeating says:

    Hi Folks,
    Interesting article. I have had some difficulty with Synchrony. The interest rate charged on their Master Card was pretty high. I decided to do a balance transfer offer to another credit provider offering a 0 interest option. Synchrony sent the check back to the new bank without notifying me. Rather they (Synchrony) called me repeatedly requesting my normal payment and telling me I was late. Then the fifth person I spoke to told me they “don’t do balance transfers.” Their confusion and the arbitrary nature of not accepting a balance transfer was inconvenient and annoying. I’ll be closing the account. I don’t recommend this bank.

  9. denise Hago says:

    VERY POOR customer service…Worse trained employees and supervisors.. The transfer from GE to Synchrony has been a nightmare. Payments not posted properly from the start. kicked in late charges, Call repeatedly … convince person I am right they cresdt my account for the late fees but it has triggered a higher payment then agreed upon. so more late fees and more computer generated phone calls at least 5 – 10 per day from a computer. when you answer the phone no one answers.
    The call center in INDIA ( why not America) is impossible to understand. Supervisors agree you are correct and have not missed a payment or been late but sorry we can not fix it. Then they hang up. Hours wasted on the telephone… My credit report shows I am behind. So my only recourse is to give you BAD reviews and warn others NOT to get credit with Synchrony .

  10. Mr. Anon says:

    Got an error at end of application; said to call with error message, they write “To complete your application you must contact our call center within 10 days from today’s date or your application will no longer be considered. Called they went over the application for an account (right I am applying for a saving account in which I am giving them my money and they then say they will get back to me or not consider my application for me to give them money ofcourse. They called me a week later and I didn’t bother to return the call further. No problems like this with other online banks. I saw many comments of people having issues to withdraw funds and not automatically roll over cds I imagine they were right as well consider trusting your $ elsewhere.

  11. J B Grissom says:

    Mailed a deposit check to the Synchrony Atlanta address indicated early last week and check still has not cleared nor has my deposit shown up at Synchrony. Was told on average it takes 5 to 10 days for check to be delivered by USPS first class mail from Nashville, TN to Atlanta, GA despite the fact that we mailed the check at our Post Office. So now according to Synchrony there is no urgency because it has not been 10 days yet. I asked if they had checked on this problem and they just blame the USPS which I do not at all believe to be true. Very unconcerned and non-chalant about the check and any apparent problems that they may have at Synchrony. And I truly believe this is a Synchrony Bank problem and not a USPS problem. Also, according to the webiste when we opened the online account 7 days ago a deposit envelope was to be mailed to me. We have never received the deposit envelope either. Tried to call the corporate office in Connecticut and only got voice mail which repeatedly cut me off. Very poor customer service.

  12. Les says:

    The article states that the bank had $39 million in assets – is that correct – seems very low!!

    • Rob Berger says:

      Right you are. Should be billion, which we’ve corrected. They also now have more than $39 billion.

  13. Margie says:

    There is a real disconnect with policies at Synchrony online bank. I am left hanging for a life savings deposit I made on 23 April 2015. Today it’s 9pm on 5 May 2015. I never received any kind of acknowledgement of the transfer of funds from Synchrony, nor any posting to my online account. The online balance remains $0. Spoke with two Synchrony representatives yesterday, assuring me they would let me know the status of things today, yet no one has called. They explained funds are somewhere in a general ledger, but to me, at this moment, it feels like my money has been stolen. I’m very upset. Is there federal agency can I call? From Ally, I would have received a letter documenting my transaction, account number, deposit amount, etc. etc…. Instead, I received a letter saying my account was closed…prompting me to investigate. After, two conversations later, a promise of a return call within 24 hours never materialized. it more like 30hrs and the bank is closed so I can’t get any answers. Miserable.

  14. Rodolfo Eljaiek says:

    THIS BANK IS A DISASTER! BE AWARE. Have been trying since 5/29/15 to get the interest from my CD’s transferred electronically to my local bank account to no avail. I spoke to them on 5/29 and was given a confirmation number. On 6/1 I called and was told the transfer would take place on 6/3. It did not happen. On 6/6 Rob Piasecki (?) told me he would take care of it and would confirm with a call the following day. It did not happen. Called on 6/11 and spoke to Joy (a supervisor) who was no joy to talk to–more interested in arguing than taking care of the issue. She said she would take care of the transfer THAT DAY! It did not happen. Called on 6/13 (Saturday) and spoke to another supervisor (Steve) who told me I could count on the transfer by the 16th (Tuesday). It did not happen. Called 6/16, Amy from the office in Kansas answered and after checking with her boss for a long time said the transfer will be in my bank by the 18. It did not happen. THIS BANK IS A JOKE! I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT. I BELIEVE I WILL HAVE TO PERSONALLY FLY TO NEW JERSEY AND TAKE MY MONEY OUT OF THEIR ONLY BRANCH IN ORDER TO GET MY MONEY AND TRY TO FORGET THIS NIGHTMARE.

  15. Ryan Blaney says:

    Since you cannot do bank to Synchrony bank transfers to open an account I find them useless. They force you to mail in a check, the only option allowed? So obviously if they have no clue how to do bank to bank transfers I will never get my money out of this account. No thank you.

  16. Sue says:

    Thank you all for posting these comments. I think I’ll stay far away from this bank! After reading your comments, I went to BBB and Synchrony bank has deplorable ratings. I’d love to hear more about ally. I’m just looking for a place to put my savings and earn a little interest.

  17. Kris says:

    I’m quite puzzled by these awful experiences when I was able to open a joint account in this bank 3 months ago, smoothly. My account has been performing well and have not encountered any problems ever since.

  18. Rosalyn says:

    I just opened a High Yield Savings account last week and am also confused by the negative comments regarding the account-opening process. @Ryan Blaney, I never mailed a check to open the account. Yes that is an option, but you can also transfer your initial deposit from an outside bank. There are definitely a few extra security hoops you need to clear prior to Synchrony “verifying” your other bank as an OK transfer site (this will NOT take “a few minutes” as the article indicates, but instead several days), but after you complete them there shouldn’t be any issues and the funds should transfer easily.

  19. Mark says:

    A few minutes ago I opened an account with Synchrony Bank, no problem, whole proses was easy and smoothly. I just can’t believe that they are still in business with this kind of attitude and practices. Customer service representatives aren’t trained properly and speak with very heavy
    accent, but this problem we have for a long time with almost any customer service reps.

  20. A says:

    This is the worst bank I have EVER dealt with. Their customer service is horrendous!!!! After I closed my account I received a statement that I was late on my payments and I owed them more money. Once that was resolved, I asked for the title needed to resolve our account. It’s been two weeks and I am still trying to find someone to help me. I have been hung up on 3 times, talked people at a call center not located in the U.S. who have no clue what the company policies are, and someone who said they could help my but nothing has happened yet. They were happy to take my money to pay off the account but VERY unwilling to provide me with the title for the item we bought. If I could I wouldn’t even give them a star! It’s just Horrible !!!!! Find somewhere else to go !!!

  21. Jimbo says:

    They still have the same problems with opening accounts online. Had to open it over the phone. Then, they didn’t fund the account via ACH. Called them and the person told me that there were no transfer instructions for the account. On top of that, when I tried to get online access there was another problem that nobody could resolve. So, I told them to cancel the account. Still waiting for confirmation of that.

  22. Michelle says:

    AWFUL, to say the least! HORRIBLE CUSTOMER CARE! I opened an account a few days ago with Synchrony bank through a third party company to finance a sofa. I called today to see if I could obtain my account number to set up automatic payments. The customer care agent says that she can help me with that and proceeds to ask me for my social security number. After I gave her my social, she tells me that they are not allowed to give account numbers over the phone. SERIOUSLY?? So, I ask for a manager, which was also worthless (Carol). I explained to the manager Carol what had happened. How unacceptable the customer care woman was. How I was told she could help me with my request, asks for my social security number, and then says she cannot give me my account number over the phone. Here I am giving MY SSN# to a stranger and I can’t get MY account number? Carol then said that I called them. Yes, I did, but there are dishonest people everywhere (even in banks). She told me I had to wait 7 – 10 days to receive my account number. I explained that I will be out in the middle of nowhere soon (no internet or any type of communication) and would like to set up an automatic payment. I asked if I could have my card expedited. Carol said that they don’t do that. Worthless! In short, this is one of the worst companies out there. I highly recommend staying away from this company.

  23. Steve Luck says:

    I’m curious why you have not included American Express Savings bank in your list. They pay .9% APR, are very easy to work with, and the only time I needed to call them in the last three years, an American voice took care of my issue promptly. I expect nothing less from Amex and was not disappointed. I was considering Synchrony Bank to get another small bump in interest rate, but after hundreds of negative reviews at the BBB and almost all negative reviews on your site, they are so far from zero hassle that I won’t risk it. Thanks for the article. Based on a write-up in Money on-line last week where they gave Synchrony the favorable nod, I would have moved my savings there if not for your article. I do 100% on-line banking, and zero hassles means a lot. For now, I’m sticking with Amex until I find an on-line bank that pays more and also has few complaints, and it won’t be Synchrony.

  24. Steve Hall says:

    I wish I would have seen this before opening a savings account with Synchrony. I’ve had nothing but trouble making an ACH. In fact, it’s going to wind up a wire transfer and cost me.
    Synchrony people told me twice they had sent instructions and information to my local bank I’m transferring from. (.05% interest). It’s been 8 days and my account isn’t funded yet.
    I should have known. Last spring, I tried to open an IRA and the person said I wouldn’t have time to fund it, because it takes so long. At the time I had 30 days.
    I don’t know what’s going on, but something isn’t right.

  25. qheidnkd says:

    This is the worst bank to ever exist. It takes hours to make a payment every month because it is impossible to get in touch with customer service and the rare occasion that I get in touch with customer service, they know NOTHING. They continously transfer you to other numbers and do not help at all. This bank is such a joke and I would advise that anyone not voluntarily get an account with them unless you want to rip out your hair. THE CUSTOMER SERVICE IS SUCH A JOKE.

  26. Wayne Forehand says:

    I was planning to open a Synchrony account but after reading the terrible reviews above; I will not! I tried to open an account on the web page but that did not work and then when I called they were closed. Glad I looked at reviews before continuing. I had such high hopes for the good rates at a new bank.

  27. Bryan Cain says:

    @Steve Luck You are spot on my good man!

    I have perusing online banking for a good place to open a new savings account and have been dumbfounded by all the negative reviews for basically ALL online banks. The number one reason being Terrible Customer Service and call centers located outside of the US!

    I also currently have an Amex account and just two days ago had a Wonderful Experience changing my rewards account over the phone with customer service from a Real American actually located in the US. I’ll take that 0.9% rate and feel good knowing that if I do need customer service, I’ll be able to understand the person on the other end of the phone who actually lives in the US.

    People, unless your savings account balance is over $100K, that extra .1% or .2% just ain’t worth it!

  28. AO says:

    No issues with Synchrony and I’ve been with them for nearly 2 years. I deposit cash via transfer from my brick and mortar checking account and my interest is always paid on my balances by the first week of each month.

    I transfer money out occasionally to my brick and mortar checking account and haven’t had any issues. It does take a couple days (2 – 3) to perform online deposits or withdrawals and while that’s not the most expedient time window, it’s a tradeoff worth the higher interest rate.

    Bottom line, I’m a happy customer.

  29. DavidOC says:

    I had opened an account with GE Care Credit for some dental work that was unexpected. GE shortly thereafter sold Care Credit to Synchrony Bank. Within the span of twelve months I had paid my monthly payment within a few days of the due date and every time Synchrony Bank charged me either $25.00 late fee or $38.00 late fee. When I complained they said there was NO grace period because of the credit card in question, complete BS. It was just another way for Synchrony to take advantage of consumers. Then after dealing with this a few times, I opted to pay the card off in December of 2015. It showed a balance I paid the balance and then within a few weeks received another balance of $8.91, the fleecing continued. When I called they said it was because the payment didn’t post in time so there was some additional interest. I said your website indicated what the balance was when I paid it off – they didn’t care. So for three months I have a zero balance on the Care Credit card and another doctors appointment for my wife came up and I regretfully said use the Care Credit card. She went into the Doctors office had her procedure and then went to pay with the paid off Care Credit Card and it was declined. The doctors office called Synchrony to get the authorization and they informed the office that the account was closed because of “No Activity” – I said your kidding right. Called the 800 # and logged online to customer service for chat. Yep, they confirmed they closed the Account because there was no activity. I said for three months? They said well you haven’t charged anything on it in more than a year, so that’s what we considered inactivity. They said I could re-apply if I wanted and I kindly told them to go screw yourself, that is the worst customer service I have ever experienced with a bank. When I pay off my credit cards including my Gold Amex, they don’t close my account because I decide not to use them.

    STAY AWAY FROM SYNCHRONY BANK, THEY WILL NICKLE AND DIME YOU AND WHEN YOU THINK YOU HAVE A BALANCE AVAILABLE YOU WONT AND THEY WILL CANCEL YOUR CARD WITHOUT EVEN INFORMING YOU.

    Thank God for American Express, they know what customer service is. Beware!!! Not sure why your showing 4 stars with so many negative reviews and all other review websites show 1 star?

  30. Todd says:

    This bank is still a disaster. I got an email that my account was open and I could go ahead and register for online access. Unfortunately, they never provided an account number to do this. Called customer service and they gave me my account number to start the registration. When I hit the verification step, their system was supposed to send me a voice mail with the code. Ten Minutes later no code. Tried again; no code. tried again, account locked. A call to the help desk number listed revealed they are closed. Called the original customer service number and they did unlock my account. Then they tried to go around the verification process manually. While doing this, they wanted me to provide my linked checking account and bank routing number verbally over the phone…na-ah. I hung up called back and closed the account immediately. This type of incompetence doesn’t get my money.

  31. Mia says:

    Sure they have great rates, but personally I rather have mediocre rates and have great customer service. The costumer service representatives are condescending and rude. I opened the account for my emergency fund, but closed it after three weeks. I’ll take my money elsewhere.

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