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Ally Bank vs. Synchrony Bank: Compare and See Who Wins

Banking, Banks & Credit Unions, CDs, Checking Accounts, Savings Accounts
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Online banks like Ally and Synchrony don’t have to shell out millions of dollars to keep the lights on at branch locations, and that’s partly why they’re able to offer higher annual percentage yields (APYs) while keeping fees low.

Compared with Ally, though, Synchrony has a couple of shortcomings: no checking accounts or mobile banking apps. But because Synchrony’s interest rates are strong, it could still be a good match for people who are simply looking for a new place to stash their savings.

Choose Ally if:

Choose Ally if:

Ally+Bank
Learn more
at Ally Bank
    • You’re looking for an online bank with full product offerings, including checking and savings accounts and certificates of deposit
    • You’re looking for competitive interest rates on your checking and savings accounts
    • You appreciate having many ways to reach customer service, including online chat

Choose Synchrony if:

Choose Synchrony if:

Synchrony+Bank
Learn more
at Synchrony
    • You’re only looking for a savings account
    • The savings account APY is a top priority for you

Below is a detailed breakdown of how the banks compare when it comes to checking, savings, CDs, customer experience and other fees.

» Want to explore other options? Check out the best high-yield online savings accounts

Basic checking accounts

 Ally Interest Checking
Synchrony
Monthly fees$0N/A
Minimum opening deposit$0N/A
Interest on balancesDeposits under $15,000 earn 0.10% APY, while larger balances earn 0.60%N/A
ATM networkAccess to over 43,000 free Allpoint ATMs

Reimburses customers up to $10 per month for out-of-network ATM fees
N/A

At Ally:

  • You can open an Ally account with as little money as you’d like and never owe a monthly fee
  • The account bears interest, but unless you maintain a large balance, you won’t see substantial returns
  • Ally provides excellent ATM access, so finding a free cash machine should be easy. The out-of-network fee reimbursement is a nice touch that other free checking accounts rarely offer.

At Synchrony:

  • Synchrony doesn’t offer a checking account

» Want to see more options? See the best online checking accounts

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Basic savings accounts

 Ally Savings
Synchrony High Yield Savings
Monthly fees$0$0
Minimum opening deposit$0$0
Interest on balances1.25% APY1.30% APY (as of 9/21/2017)
Automatic transfer from linked checkingYesYes, from a different financial institution

At Ally:

  • The savings rate dwarfs the national average of 0.06%
  • There are no initial deposit requirement or monthly fees
  • Ally’s customers can schedule automatic transfers between their Ally savings and checking accounts

At Synchrony:

  • Synchrony’s rate also far exceeds the national average
  • No initial deposit requirement or monthly fees

» Want to compare other accounts? See our best high-yield online savings accounts

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Certificates of deposit

 Ally
Synchrony
Minimum opening deposit$0$2,000
APY on one-year term1.50%-1.65% 1.65% APY
APY on three-year term1.55%-1.75% 1.80%-1.85%
APY on five-year term2.25%-2.35%2.30%-2.35%

At Ally:

  • Ally’s CDs have no minimum deposit requirement
  • Rates may vary at balance thresholds of $0, $5,000 and $25,000

At Synchrony:

  • Some of Synchrony’s CD rates are slightly higher
  • The initial deposit requirement of $2,000 is comparatively steep
  • Rates may vary at balance thresholds of $2,000, $25,000 and $100,000

» Looking for higher rates? Browse the best CD rates

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Bank experience

 Ally
Synchrony
Branches01
WebsiteClean look, uses plain, easy-to-understand language, good FAQ centerHelpful FAQ page.
Banking apps (ratings from app store users)4.5 out of 5 stars for iOS; 3.4 out of 5 for AndroidNo mobile app offered
Customer serviceAvailable by phone, chat, email and social mediaAvailable by phone, email and social media, but no online chat

At Ally:

  • Ally offers online chat and also lists estimated wait times for phone-based customer service
  • Ally’s mobile apps receive decent customer reviews. You can take care of all the basics, including transferring money between accounts and depositing checks.

At Synchrony:

  • Synchrony has a branch in Bridgewater, New Jersey, but unless you live in or near that Garden State city, it’s not going to do you much good
  • Synchrony’s customers can get in touch via phone, email and Twitter, but the bank doesn’t offer an online chat service
  • With no app available, Synchrony customers have to use a web browser to bank on their phones but can still deposit checks and transfer money

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Other fees

 Ally
Synchrony
Overdraft fee$25N/A
Overdraft protection transfer fee$0N/A
Extended overdraft fee$0N/A
International debit card feeUp to 1% of the transactionN/A

At Ally:

  • Ally charges $25 for overdrafts, which is significantly less than the national median of $35
  • Ally charges customers a maximum of one fee per day, regardless of the number of overdraft transactions
  • No extended overdraft fee, meaning you won’t face additional charges on top of the original fee if your account stays in the red for several days. You will, however, owe an additional $25 per day if you trigger subsequent overdrafts.

At Synchrony:

  • Because Synchrony doesn’t offer checking accounts, it doesn’t charge overdraft fees

Ally is difficult to top

Although Synchrony’s CD rates are slightly higher than those at Ally, its overall game doesn’t quite compete. If you’re looking to keep your checking and savings accounts under the same roof while having access to a mobile app, you’ll be disappointed by Synchrony. Ally’s accounts and mobile tools, meanwhile, are among the best we’ve come across for any bank.

If the idea of joining an online bank appeals to you but you want more options, take a look at our list of the best online checking accounts.

Tony Armstrong is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: tony@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @tonystrongarm. Margarette Burnette of NerdWallet contributed to this article.

Updated November 28, 2017.