When it comes to your money, you probably use the services of a bank. Whether you are getting a credit card or opening a savings account, you need to find a bank to help. There are many choices out there. Some of them are huge names in the industry, but there are also smaller names that are building a space for themselves and who are worth getting to know.
One such bank is Synchrony Bank. This bank is actually becoming quite well known for offering store credit cards. It also offers other products that might be attractive to you. Before you learn about the products, though, you should learn more about the bank itself. It also is a good idea to see how this bank stacks up against competitors.
We offer a complete Synchrony Bank review. Our unbiased review provides you with facts and information gathered from our research and through looking at reviews and customer comments. We want to provide you with a well-rounded look at what to expect from this bank.
An Introduction to Synchrony Bank
Synchrony Bank is a financial services company that originated in 1932. While it offers many services, its most prevalent offering is private label credit cards. It is based online, so it can offer its customers more. Low fees and high returns are a trademark of the bank. However, despite the fact that it is primarily an online bank, it does have one physical location in Bridgewater, New Jersey. It operates in the United States and in Canada.
The products offered by Synchrony Bank include the following:
- High-yield savings accounts
- Money market accounts
- Credit cards
The high-yield savings accounts offered provide you with a place to keep your money without any fees as long as you keep a $50 balance. The APY is variable, but it is the highest offered by the bank.
The money market accounts also offer a great APY that is above the national average. You won't be charged a fee if you keep at least a $1500 balance. Rates are comparable to larger competitors.
If you are looking at a certificate of deposit, Synchrony offers the highest ones you can find at terms of 12 months to 60 months. The minimum deposit is $2000.
You can start your IRA with Synchrony for $250. If you want an IRA CD, you will need a minimum deposit of $2000. Rates vary, but they are just as accommodating as the bank's other products.
Credit cards are the biggest business for this bank because they provide so many options. You might recognize some of the popular retailers who use this bank for store credit cards. These retailers include:
- Banana Republic
- Old Navy
The bank also offers Visa and Mastercard credit cards, such as the BP Visa and the Paypal Extras Mastercard. In addition, it offers the Care Credit card, which allows you to pay for medical and health-related services and purchases. It can be used at some stores, such as Rite Aid.
One of the best things, and the main reason why Synchrony is a top credit card issuer, is that it extends credit more readily than competitors. Getting a card from this bank will be much easier but do note that every application is a hard pull on your credit report.
One final word on credit cards from Synchrony. Many of Synchrony's store credit cards offer you the chance to never pay interest. Based on how much you spend, you may earn several months or even up to a year to pay off your balance without having to pay any interest. If you are someone who pays off cards monthly or fairly quickly, this could be a good deal for you, not to mention a huge savings.
What Makes It Stand Out
Synchrony offers a program that allows you to earn perks. The program is called Optimizer +Plus. It allows you to earn travel-related extras every time you use your Synchrony credit card. You can also earn through keeping a balance or just by being a loyal customer. The program has several tiers with each offering higher benefits and more perks. At the lowest level, the basic level, you get reimbursement for ATM fees and free money market checks. At the highest level, you can get those perks plus travel discounts, special rates, free wire transfers and access to VIP events. What tier you are on is based on your balance or the number of years you have been a customer. So, even if you do not have a high balance, your loyalty can earn you amazing perks through the Optimizer +Plus program.
No review is complete without looking over the pros and cons that customers have noticed about a company. Here is a look at the pros and cons based on customer reviews:
- Easy to open an account
- Great rates
- Reimbursement for ATM fees
- Mobile and online account management interfaces
- Easy money transfers between accounts
- Free money market checks
- Deposits or moving money can take longer than at a brick and mortar bank
- Closing an account is more difficult than a brick and mortar bank
- No in-person service unless you live in New Jersey
- Doesn't offer checking accounts
The bottom line is that if you are looking for convenience and completely mobile banking options with amazing rates, then Synchrony is for you. On the other hand, if you like banking in person or want a checking account, then you should probably look elsewhere.
How Does Synchrony Compare to Other Banks?
It is only fair when looking at a business to see how it stacks up against the competition, and Synchrony has plenty of competition both online and off. Let's take a look at how the bank compares to some of the bigger names in the industry.
Goldman Sachs Bank USA
When looking at one of the big draws of Synchrony — the excellent rates — the comparison to Goldman Sachs is head to head. Both banks offer similar rates, so either one will work if rates are your main deciding point. However, you do not get the option of having ATM access to your money market account through Goldman Sachs like you do with Synchrony. This may be a deal breaker for some people.
One of the biggest names in the industry and a direct competitor of Synchrony Bank is Chase Bank. Chase is well-known, especially since its name is constantly being brought up in those rather funny commercials it puts out. When looking at a comparison of these two banks, some things stand out. First, Chase has many physical locations, so it can offer in-person service in a way Synchrony never can. Chase also offers far more products, including checking. However, the rates at Synchrony far beat out Chase.
Bank of America
Another huge name in banking is Bank of America. This national bank offers many physical locations, which by now you know is one of the downsides to Synchrony. It also provides all banking products, including financing and checking accounts. However, again, the big banks cannot compare to Synchrony when it comes to rates. Ally Bank
Perhaps a fairer comparison is between Synchrony and Ally Bank. Ally is also online, so there is no issue with in-person services. It also can offer better rates than brick and mortars, like Synchrony. The biggest advantage Ally has is offering a checking account. Otherwise, the two banks stack up pretty evenly.
As you can see, when comparing Synchrony to other banks, it does a good job holding its own. The biggest downside with Synchrony is that it does not offer checking accounts. Not having this option may be a huge issue for some people who want to do all their banking at one location. However, if you are more interested in saving, then Synchrony would be a great choice, even over some of your other options, thanks to outstanding rates and flexibility. In addition, when you want a credit card, whether it is a store card, Visa or Mastercard, Synchrony does a good job of providing easy access to credit lines to suit your needs.
A Word About Online Banking
We can't finish our review without talking about the differences between online and offline banks. Strictly speaking, an online bank operates almost exclusively online. Like Synchrony, they may have one main branch, but otherwise, you are left doing all your banking virtually, including making deposits, cashing checks and signing paperwork. An offline bank may offer online banking. In fact, most do, but they also have plenty of brick and mortar locations, so you do not have to do all your banking online or through a mobile app. You can often easily find a branch near you where you can go to conduct your banking business. This physical difference is the biggest difference between the two types of banks.
It also leads us to the next difference, which is that because online banks do not have as many overhead expenses, they can offer much better rates and lower costs to you. They save by not having all the expenses of buildings and extra staff. They are then able to offer you the most attractive rates, usually much higher than brick and mortar banks. In addition, they usually relax fees and offer you breaks on fees, such as those for ATMs since they do not have physical locations where you can easily get cash.
Beyond differences, there are a few other things about online banks that you should know. The first concerns security. Security is a concern for any business whether it operates online or not. However, because they operate solely or almost completely online, these banks have more of a focus on security. That is not to say there is not a risk. You will always have risk in today's high-tech world.
Another thing to know is that when you open an online banking account you still must verify your identity. This is pretty easy when you can walk into a bank location. You just bring your documents with you and show them to the customer service agent. However, with an online bank you cannot do that. This means you will have to have access to a scanner so you can copy your documents to send to the bank.
Finally, when you bank online, you get a lot of convenience and features you may not get with a physical bank. For example, you may have the chance to download an app that lets you make instant transfers between accounts or that lets you make virtual check deposits. Customer service is also usually easier to contact. You may be able to use a virtual customer service option or send questions directly from the mobile app or website. Online banks know that you need to be able to communicate with them easily or they will lose you as a customer, so they often work harder to make sure things are as easy as possible. They stay ahead of trends and on top of new technical developments to bring you the latest features.
Banking is a personal service. It really does depend on your needs and what you see as the most important aspects you want your bank to have. When it comes to Synchrony, it is hard to beat the rates it offers. Beyond that, though, if you want variety in services, especially if you need a checking account, or if you prefer to bank in person, then Synchrony may not be for you. Some people will be completely happy with what this bank has to offer. Those who bank with here often give it high marks and have great things to say about its services. So, our recommendation for this bank is that it isn't for everyone. However, if it is a good fit for you, expect to have a great experience. We give them a rating of 4.5 out of 5.