Synchrony Bank has the benefit of being part of Synchrony, the Fortune 500 company that has over 80 years' financial services experience. It means the backing is definitely there to make it one of the best online banks, and without the overheads associated with brick-and-mortar branches, it is well-placed to offer excellent rates of interest to its customers too.
As well as being one of the leading online banks, Synchrony is the largest provider of private label credit cards in the US.
- Note that rates were correct as at September 2020, but may have changed since.
Synchrony review: Account options
Synchrony offers a variety of savings options, including standard savings accounts, money market accounts, CDs and IRAs, although checking accounts are notable by their absence.
Basic checking: N/A
Premium checking: N/A
Money market: 0.50%
Short term CD: 0.25%
Long term CD: 1.00%
Fund availability: 1-2 business days
Number of ATMs in Network: 2 million
Standing out is the high yield savings account that pays 0.75% regardless of how much you have available to deposit - in fact, there is no minimum balance requirement at all on this account, or the money market account that pays 0.50%. Up to six withdrawals or transfers are permitted from your savings accounts each month. There’s no fee if you go over six, but Synchrony does reserve the right to close the account for misuse. Also note there are no monthly fees on any of the accounts either.
You'll need at least $2,000 to open a CD with Synchrony, which is higher than some other CD providers, such as First Internet Bank of Indiana. However, the rates available stack up well, and range from 0.25% for a three-month term, and rise steadily up to 1.00% for a 60-month term.
Synchrony review: Features
A key part of Synchrony's proposition is its perks program, which rewards customers mainly with travel and leisure discounts depending on how much they have saved and how long they've been with the bank. If you have less than $10,000 in your account and under a year as a customer, you're on the Basic tier, with the requirements rising steadily through Silver, Gold, and Platinum, all the way up to the Diamond tier, for those with $250,000 at the bank and at least five years as a customer.
As an online bank, you'll be looking to make cash withdrawals through an ATM. Fortunately, Synchrony has an ATM network to rival most, with over 2 million locations serviced across the US. Should you use an out-of-network ATM and incur a fee, you can get a reimbursement on up to $5 worth of surcharges per statement cycle. If you have Diamond status in its Perks Rewards program, you’ll receive unlimited ATM fee refunds, and can also benefit from three free wire transfers per statement cycle.
With Synchrony’s mobile app you can manage your account, check balances, and make transfers. You can also deposit checks into your account using the app by taking a picture of the check using your device, although the most you can deposit this way is currently limited to $10,000.
Synchrony review: Service
Perhaps surprisingly, Synchrony lacks one customer service option that is usually common to online banks, namely email. However, an agent should be available via live chat or over the phone during its business hours of Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET - at the weekend, the agents head home early at 5:00 p.m. A mailing address is also easily found on the website should you prefer to make contact in writing.
Synchrony review: Security
As an FDIC protected bank, your deposit accounts are insured up to $250,000 should the bank fail, and can't honor your monies. In respect of the security of your funds online, you get complimentary access to identity theft resolution services through CyberScout should you need them. There is also multi-factor authentication, and security monitoring to keep an eye on any unusual activity that may occur should something become compromised.
Should you use Synchrony?
Synchrony is an excellent online bank option if you're looking for a high-paying savings account. The returns paid on its CDs are definitely worth considering too, although the deposit requirements are a little loftier than at some other leading CD providers.
The absence of any checking accounts might deter those who like to keep all their banking matters in the same place, but the rewards program is a definite plus, as is the vast ATM network.