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

Sept. 21, 2018
Banking, Banks & Credit Unions, CDs, Checking Accounts, Savings Accounts
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Online banks Ally and Synchrony can earn you more interest than traditional banks can, partly because they don’t have to shell out millions of dollars to maintain branches.

But the two banks have differences that can matter: Synchrony has no checking accounts or mobile banking apps, yet its savings rates are competitive enough to consider if you’re focused on accounts with high annual percentage yields.

Snapshot comparison

Checking accounts
Ally Interest Checking

  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Minimum opening deposit: $0

Savings accounts
Ally Online Savings

  • Interest rate: 1.60%
  • Monthly fee: $0

  • Synchrony High Yield Savings

  • Interest rate: 1.70%
  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Certificates of deposit
    Ally High Yield CD interest rates

  • 1 year: Up to 2.00% APY
  • 5 years: Up to 2.15% APY
  • Minimum deposit: $0
  • Synchrony CD interest rates

  • 1 year: 2.00% APY
  • 5 years: 2.15% APY
  • Minimum deposit: $2,000

  • Overdrafts, ATMs, customer service
    • Overdraft fee: $25, maximum of once per day
    • Overdraft protection transfer fee: $0
    • Branches: 0
    • ATMs: 43,000
    • Customer service: available 24/7 by phone

    • Overdraft fee: N/A
    • Overdraft protection transfer fee: N/A
    • Branches: 0
    • ATMs: Thousands worldwide with the Visa Plus and ACCEL logos (see more details)
    • Customer service: available by phone 7 a.m.-midnight ET, Monday-Friday, and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays

    Choose Ally if:

    Choose Ally if:

    • You’re looking for an online bank with full product offerings, including checking accounts
    • You want competitive interest rates on your checking and savings accounts

    Choose Synchrony if:

    Choose Synchrony if:

    • Your priority is getting a savings account with a high APY

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

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

    Basic checking accounts

     Ally Interest Checking
    Monthly fees$0N/A
    Minimum opening deposit$0N/A
    Interest on balances0.10% APY for deposits under $15,000N/A
    ATM networkAccess to over 43,000 free Allpoint ATMs

    Reimburses customers up to $10 per month for out-of-network ATM fees
    (See ATM network details for Synchrony savings account holders)
    Ally offers checking, and Synchrony doesn’t. If you’re shopping for a new checking account, Ally has a lot to offer. The account even reimburses some ATM fees and earns interest, which are rare features for checking accounts.

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

    [Back to top]

    Basic savings accounts

     Ally Savings
    Synchrony High Yield Savings
    Monthly fees$0$0
    Minimum opening deposit$0$0
    Interest on balances1.60% APY1.70% APY
    Automatic transfer from linked checkingYesYes, from a different financial institution
    Both banks’ savings accounts are nearly identical, with interest rates that reflect the current rising-rate environment. You can’t go wrong with either. Their rates are more than 20 times better than the national average savings rate of 0.09%.

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

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    Certificates of deposit

    Minimum opening deposit$0$2,000
    APY on one-year termUp to 2.00%2.00%
    APY on three-year termUp to 2.10%2.10%
    APY on five-year termUp to 2.15%2.15%
    Synchrony requires a $2,000 minimum deposit, which is steep. Ally has no minimum deposit, but for some term lengths, rates are higher with larger balances.

    » Looking for higher rates? Browse the best CD rates

    [Back to top]

    Bank experience

    WebsiteClean look, uses plain, easy-to-understand language, good FAQ centerHelpful FAQ page.
    Banking apps (ratings from app store users)4.8 out of 5 stars for iOS; 4.4 out of 5 for Google Play4.5 out of 5 stars for iOS; 3.6 out of 5 stars for Google Play
    Customer serviceAvailable by phone, chat, email and social mediaAvailable by phone, chat, email and social media
    Ally has a mobile app, Synchrony doesn’t. Ally’s mobile app lets you transfer money, check balances and deposit checks. To do the same things on your phone with Synchrony, you need to open its website on a web browser. As far as customer service, you can reach either bank by phone, email or Twitter, but Ally also has chat and provides estimated wait times for phone lines. Synchrony offers help at its one branch location in Bridgewater, New Jersey, but it won’t do you much good if you’re not nearby.

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    Overdraft fees

    Overdraft fee$25N/A
    Overdraft protection transfer fee$0N/A
    Extended overdraft fee$0N/A
    Synchrony doesn’t have overdraft fees, but Ally does. Since Synchrony doesn’t offer a checking account, it doesn’t allow an overdraft to occur. Ally charges $25 for overdrafts, which is significantly less than the $34 median fee among big banks, and only once per day. Some banks don’t have a daily maximum for overdraft fees.

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    Ally is hard to beat

    Synchrony’s CD rates are slightly higher than Ally’s, but 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: [email protected] Twitter: @tonystrongarm. Margarette Burnette of NerdWallet contributed to this article.