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Synchrony Bank Review: Online Savings, CDs, and Money Market Accounts

Synchrony Bank is one of the newest online banking options for American consumers. It came into existence in mid-2014 when it changed its name from GE Capital Retail Bank.

Synchrony Bank account with accounts savings, money market and CD insured by the FDIC , all with attractive yields (competitive rates) and relatively few obstacles to overcome.

Your certificates of deposit and money markets can be structured as traditional and Roth IRAs , increasing the attractiveness of the bank to savers for retirement. All accounts are FDIC insured with balances up to $ 250,000.

Key features

Synchrony Bank has a few other features worth mentioning, including a loyalty rewards program that provides high-deposit and veteran customers with travel discounts, priority customer support, special account rates, and other benefits. .

Although not grant direct loans, its subsidiary Synchrony Financial offers financing and credit cards private label for dozens of US retailers and their customers. Synchrony offers three Mastercard credit cards with rewards programs and other benefits.

Synchrony Bank has a notable drawback: it does not offer a checking account . If you’re looking for juicy new checking account deals and promotions , you’ll want to look to one of Synchrony’s excellent competitors.

High Yield Savings Account

The Synchrony High Yield Savings Account yields 0.50% APY on all balances. That’s significantly higher than the national average for online and branch savings accounts, according to Synchrony Bank.

There is no minimum opening deposit or monthly maintenance fee. You can request a free ATM card when opening the account, but it is not essential. Virtually all ATMs in the US are fair game for withdrawals, and Synchrony does not charge its own ATM fees.

However, ATM withdrawals are capped at $ 1,000 per day, a bit tight considering Synchrony does not have physical branches with withdrawal counters. Third-party ATM fees are reimbursed up to $ 5 per month.

You’re limited to just six savings (and money market) account withdrawals per month on Synchrony. Although Synchrony does not charge a fee for excessive withdrawals, exceeding the limit is reason to close your account for misuse.

Money market account

Synchrony’s Money Market Account yields 0.35% APY on all balances and has no initial deposit requirement or ongoing monthly fee.

All accounts include a free checkbook and optional free ATM card. The same withdrawal limits and ATM refund rules apply here.

Certificates of Deposit (CD)

The terms of CD Synchrony vary from three to 60 months. There are nine options in total, making it easy to create multi-CD stairs here:

  • 3 months
  • 6 months
  • 9 months
  • 12 months
  • 18 months
  • 24 months
  • 36 months
  • 48 months
  • 60 months

Synchrony CDs follow a tiered interest rate structure with steps of $ 25,000 and $ 100,000. Yields range from 0.15% APY for the three-month CD to 0.85% APY for the CD of 60 months.

All CDs come with a 15-day best rate guarantee that automatically entitles you to the highest available CD interest rate within the first 15 days of opening your account.

There is no minimum balance required to open a CD with Synchrony. For CDs with terms of less than 12 months, the early withdrawal penalty is equivalent to three months of interest. For longer terms, the penalty is six months of interest.

Individual Retirement Account (IRA) Options

For retirement savers who want to reduce the tax burden on their long-term savings, Synchrony Bank offers special money market and CD accounts that can be structured as traditional IRAs or Roth IRAs.

Unless otherwise noted on the Synchrony website, the term lengths, returns, performance levels, initial deposit requirements, and early withdrawal penalties for these IRA options are identical to their counterparties that they are not from IRA.

Trust accounts

Any type of Synchrony account can be designated as a revocable or irrevocable trust.

Revocable trusts can be altered by the grantor, the beneficiaries, and anyone with power. Trust funds are a common use case.

Irrevocable trusts can only be altered by the beneficiary. For more information, see the Synchrony Bank forms page.

Third-party financing through Synchrony Financial

Although Synchrony Bank does not directly issue credit cards or loans, it does provide financing and credit services for a wide range of well-known businesses in the United States.

The bank specializes in financing high-value purchases, such as new HVAC equipment and jewelry, and in issuing private label credit cards that can be used at specific retailers, although there are no credit cards sadly. noteworthy rewards.

You can find a list of companies that offer Synchrony- backed financing on the website of Synchrony Financial , a subsidiary of Synchrony Bank.

Synchrony credit cards

Synchrony issues three Mastercard credit cards:

  • Synchrony Preferred Mastercard card . This is a no annual fee credit card with benefits backed by Mastercard like identity theft protection. However, it does not have a rewards program.
  • Synchrony Plus Mastercard card . This no annual fee card promises unlimited 1% cash back on every eligible purchase and a host of benefits backed by Mastercard, including cell phone protection and credits with partner merchants like Lyft, Instacart and Hello Fresh. The World Elite Mastercard offers and benefits pagehas more details. 
  • Synchrony Premier Mastercard . This no annual fee card pays 2% cash back on all eligible purchases with no limits or restrictions and has the same great benefits as Synchrony Plus. The catch: It’s reserved for applicants with excellent credit scores. 

Customer Support

Synchrony Bank’s customer service apparatus includes a general purpose email address, an internal messaging system for registered account holders, and a toll-free phone line. Automated banking services, such as balance checking, are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via the hotline.

To speak to a human representative, you must call between 8 a.m. M. And 10 p.m. M. Monday through Friday, or between 8 a.m. M. And 5 p.m. M. Saturdays (all hours are Eastern time).

Advantage

These are some of the arguments in favor of banking with this particular financial institution. Among the most powerful are Synchrony Bank’s high returns, low lows, and excessive withdrawal fee waivers.

  1. Great CD rates . Synchrony Bank CD yields range up to 0.85% APY for the 60-month product. That compares favorably with well-known online banks like Ally Bank . And it takes the returns of many smaller online banks out of the water. 
  2. Solid savings returns . Synchrony Bank’s 0.50% savings performance outperforms many competing online banks. That makes this account a good place to park your extra money while you decide what to do with it.
  3. Few restrictions on savings and money market accounts . Synchrony Bank’s money market and savings accounts have relatively little red tape. There is no minimum deposit requirement or continuous minimum balance requirement in either, for example. Other savings and money market accounts come with more inconvenient restrictions, such as the prohibitively high minimum opening deposit of $ 25,000 and iGoBanking’s ongoing money market balance requirement.
  4. ATM card available with savings account . The Synchrony Bank savings account comes with a rare benefit: a free, optional ATM card. Since you can’t open a checking account with Synchrony, this benefit makes it easier to tap into your savings for cash if you don’t have funds available in another account, such as a Synchrony money market or another bank’s checking account. Many other online banks, including Ally and FNBO Direct, do not offer ATM cards with savings accounts.
  5. No account administration or maintenance fees . Synchrony Bank does not charge maintenance or account management fees, even when balances are minimal. This is a huge advantage over some traditional banks, which require sizable minimum balances to avoid monthly maintenance fees.
  6. No fees for excessive withdrawals . Although Synchrony’s savings and money market withdrawals are technically limited to six per month by law, Synchrony is in a distinct minority of consumer banks that do not impose excessive withdrawal penalties on customers who exceed the limit. You can make more than six savings withdrawals or outgoing transfers per month without incurring any fees, although Synchrony reserves the right to close your account if you abuse the privilege.
  7. ATM reimbursement up to $ 5 per month . Synchrony Bank reimburses third-party ATM fees up to a $ 5 monthly limit. That’s not a great opportunity, but it’s a help for people who don’t need cash every day.
  8. Better availability of customer service than some competitors . Synchrony Bank customer service representatives are available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. M. At 10 p. M. From Monday to Friday and from 8 a. M. At 5 p. M. Saturdays. Those windows are longer than those of similarly sized online banks, such as BankDirect or Salem Five Direct . It’s particularly nice to be able to get in touch after hours, because many people can’t afford to take time outside of work to talk to their bank. 
  9. The returns on IRA options are identical to non-IRA equivalents . Synchrony Bank’s money markets and certificates of deposit (CDs) have identical returns and, in the case of certificates of deposit, term durations, as their non-IRA counterparts. This seems like a no-brainer, but many online banks offer CD IRAs and money markets with much lower returns than comparable non-IRA instruments, making them much less attractive than they would be otherwise.

Disadvantages

These are the major drawbacks of Synchrony Bank. They include the lack of day-to-day money management options (checking accounts) and installment loans.

  1. No checking account . Synchrony Bank’s biggest drawback is the lack of a checking account. In practical terms, this omission makes it impossible to use Synchrony Bank for your daily financial needs, as savings and money market withdrawals are limited to six per statement period. Several other, even smaller, online banks like Salem Five Direct and BankDirect tend to offer a checking option.
  2. No auto or home loans . Although Synchrony Bank offers third-party financing and private label credit cards through its affiliate Synchrony Financial, it does not make direct loans or issue credit cards that can be used without restrictions. If you want an online bank that offers auto or home loans, you’d better have a well-known competitor, such as Ally Bank (car) or Capital One 360 ​​(home). For internal credit card options, look for FNBO Direct (Visa ExtraEarnings credit card) or Discover Bank, whose parent company offers numerous credit card options.
  3. There are no commercial products . Synchrony Bank does not offer accounts or credit products for business customers. If you’re looking for a small business loan or credit card, try an online business financing option, like Kabbage or OnDeck . If you are looking for business bank accounts, TIAA Bank offers a complete line.
  4. No investment products . Synchrony Bank has no brokerage internal or real investment options (IRA CDs fixed interest do not count). Some competing online banks have affiliated brokerages or mutual fund families ; for example, the tax funds FNBO Direct have six different funds together can form the basis of a diversified investment portfolio.
  5. High minimum balance for CDs . Synchrony Bank CDs require at least $ 2,000 to open. That’s higher than some big-name competitors, including Ally Bank and Discover Bank.

Final word

Not all banks can be everything to everyone. Some who are not everything to everyone try to pretend they are, with predictable consequences for customer satisfaction and retention.

Fortunately, Synchrony Bank does not pretend to be something it is not. It does what it can to help customers who appreciate its attractive savings vehicles, even offering a rather nifty loyalty program that rewards long-time account holders. But it never makes any representation that it is suitable for day-to-day banking or lending needs.

If you are looking for a direct conversation from your online bank, you could do worse than Synchrony.

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