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:
- 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:
- You’re only looking for a savings account
- The savings account APY is a top priority for you
» Want to explore other options? Check out the best high-yield online savings accounts
Basic checking accounts
|Ally Interest Checking||Synchrony
|Minimum opening deposit||$0||N/A|
|Interest on balances||Deposits under $15,000 earn 0.10% APY, while larger balances earn 0.60%||N/A|
|ATM network||Access to over 43,000 free Allpoint ATMs|
Reimburses customers up to $10 per month for out-of-network ATM fees
- 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.
- Synchrony doesn’t offer a checking account
» Want to see more options? See the best online checking accounts
Basic savings accounts
|Ally Savings||Synchrony High Yield Savings
|Minimum opening deposit||$0||$0|
|Interest on balances||1.25% APY||1.30% APY (as of 9/21/2017)|
|Automatic transfer from linked checking||Yes||Yes, from a different financial institution|
- 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
- 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
Certificates of deposit
|Minimum opening deposit||$0||$2,000|
|APY on one-year term||1.50%-1.65%||1.65% APY|
|APY on three-year term||1.55%-1.75%||1.80%-1.85%|
|APY on five-year term||2.25%-2.35%||2.30%-2.35%|
- Ally’s CDs have no minimum deposit requirement
- Rates may vary at balance thresholds of $0, $5,000 and $25,000
- 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
|Website||Clean look, uses plain, easy-to-understand language, good FAQ center||Helpful FAQ page.|
|Banking apps (ratings from app store users)||4.5 out of 5 stars for iOS; 3.4 out of 5 for Android||No mobile app offered|
|Customer service||Available by phone, chat, email and social media||Available by phone, email and social media, but no online chat|
- 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.
- 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
|Overdraft protection transfer fee||$0||N/A|
|Extended overdraft fee||$0||N/A|
|International debit card fee||Up to 1% of the transaction||N/A|
- 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.
- 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.
Updated November 28, 2017.