Capital One 360 vs Synchrony Bank

Capital One 360 vs Synchrony Bank

If you are looking for a new online bank, there are plenty of great options out there. Many of them offer excellent savings rates along with a wide range of banking products to meet your needs. And some, like Capital One 360 and Synchrony Bank, make it easy to manage your accounts no matter where in the world you are.

But what are the differences between these two banks, and which one is the right choice for your money? Today, we are going to take a look at both of these online institutions to determine whether Synchrony Bank or Capital One 360 is best for you. We’ll talk about each of the products they offer, the interest rates provided, and even differences in accessibility.

By the end of this article, you should have a good idea of where to turn. So, let’s get started.

Why Choose an Online Bank?

Many online banks offer exceptional rates of return on your savings, making them a great place to safely stash your funds. However, online banks tend to cherry-pick the services they provide, and can often prove challenging when it comes to deposits, withdrawals, and overall account management.

Because of this, it’s important to find the online bank that provides you with the best all-around features. This might even be more challenging than finding the right brick-and-mortar bank, depending on all of the products and services you need.

The banking products you need could include:

  • Checking accounts
  • High-yield savings accounts
  • MMAs
  • CDs

You might also desire a range of features for your accounts, such as:

  • A mobile app for on-the-go account management
  • ATM and/or check access
  • Mobile check deposit
  • FDIC-insured protection
  • Brick-and-mortar locations (which select online banks will provide, though they’re very limited)

Both Capital One 360 and Synchrony Bank offer a mix of features, making them excellent options for anyone seeking a new online bank. But deciding between the two can be a bit tricky.

Checking Account High-Yield Savings Account Money Market Accounts (MMAs) Certificates of Deposit (CDs) No-Penalty CDs
Capital One 360 Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Synchrony Bank No Yes Yes Yes No

Checking Accounts

One of the biggest reasons for getting a bank in the first place is to have and manage a checking account. Whether you still balance a paper checkbook or simply use your account as a place to accept your direct deposits, a checking account is a financial must-have.

Some experts suggest keeping your checking account and savings account at separate banks. This allows you to sort of put your savings “out of sight, out of mind.” If you are required to initiate an external transfer in order to spend your savings (especially if a few days’ hold is involved), you create an overspending buffer

I mention this because not all online banks offer checking account options. In fact, many do not; of those that do, you might be limited in the services offered, such as in-network ATMs or mobile deposit features. Before you go and choose your next online bank, you need to decide whether you want — or can even tolerate — having your checking and savings accounts at two different institutions.

Checking Account Offered? Monthly Fees Minimum deposit ATM debit card Checks Mobile deposit Local branch access Interest bearing?
Capital One 360 Yes None $0 Provided Available Yes Yes Yes
Synchrony Bank No N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Capital One 360: Checking Accounts

If you’re looking for an online bank that makes managing your checking account easy, look no further than Capital One 360.

This bank’s checking accounts come with a slew of features and easy accessibility. They offer online checking accounts with:

  • No minimum deposit
  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • No minimum balance to maintain
  • Free ATM Debit MasterCard
  • Access to over 39,000 free ATMs around the country
  • Account management and in-person assistance at Capital One Bank branches
  • A top-rated app with mobile check deposit
  • Online bill-pay

You’ll also earn interest on the balance you carry in your Capital One 360 checking account. However, it pales in comparison to what you could earn in the right high-yield savings account, so you shouldn’t use your checking account to store more than you plan to spend in the near future.

Capital One 360 checking accounts currently earn between 0.20% and 1.00 % APY, depending on the balance held (as of December 4, 2018).

Synchrony Bank: Checking Accounts

While Synchrony Bank is a top-of-the-line online bank, offering a variety of account types and features for almost every customer, there is one downside: they do not offer checking accounts. However, this may not be a dealbreaker for most.

As mentioned above, it’s often suggested that banking customers keep their checking accounts (spending money) and savings accounts separate. Being a single click away from spending your emergency fund is unwise; instead, having an added step (transferring funds) and a number of business days might be the cooling-off period you need.

If you wish you could save more and spend less — or if you are likely to dip into savings for expenses that aren’t emergencies — it might be worth keeping your checking account somewhere else. You can always find a local, brick-and-mortar institution for your everyday funds, offering you all of the accessibility you could need. Then, choose a bank like Synchrony for all of your savings account needs.

Summary: Capital One 360 offers online checking accounts, Synchrony Bank does not.

High-Yield Savings Accounts

Most online banks shine when it comes to high-yield savings accounts, and both Synchrony Bank and Capital One 360 fit this mold. Both banks offer market-topping interest rates, earning you an enviable return on your funds. They also make it easy to deposit, transfer, and withdraw from said savings accounts, depending on your financial activity.

High-Yield Savings Offered? Monthly Fees Minimum deposit ATM debit card Above-average interest rate? Mobile deposit Local branch access
Capital One 360 Yes None $0 No Yes Yes Yes
Synchrony Bank Yes None $0.01 Yes Yes Yes (1)

Capital One 360: High-Yield Savings Accounts

Looking for an easy place to put your savings, where it will earn well-beyond the national average in terms of APY, offers easy access, and even has local branch access (though it’s still an online bank)? Capital One 360 can help.

With 360, you can open as many as 25 savings accounts at a time. This means that you can have accounts going for your emergency fund, family vacation, holiday shopping, new furniture, kids’ braces, and anything else you plan to buy in the future… all at the same time.

Here are a few of the highlights of a Capital One 360 savings account:

  • Open 1-25 accounts, with ease
  • No monthly fees
  • No minimum balances
  • No minimum deposit
  • APY well above national average
  • Mobile app with check deposit

The national average interest rate for savings accounts is about 0.08% APY. With Capital One 360, though, you’ll earn quite a bit more. In fact, you’ll earn 1.00% APY (as of December 4, 2018) on all high-yield savings accounts, regardless of balance.

If you enjoy being able to withdraw funds from your savings account at an ATM, you’re out of luck. Capital One 360 does not provide checks or ATM debit cards to high-yield savings customers. Withdrawals can be made online, through the app, or over the phone and are limited to digital transfers, wires, or official bank checks.

If you have a checking account and have connected it to your savings account, there is a work-around. You can transfer funds immediately from savings to checking, using the bank’s mobile app. Then, use your checking account’s debit MasterCard to withdraw that cash from an in-network ATM without a fee. However, this can be annoying at best and too tempting at worst.

As with all savings accounts, you are limited to six withdrawals per month. This is a federal guideline, though, not Capital One 360’s.

Synchrony Bank: High-Yield Savings Accounts

Perhaps you want an online savings account that is not only full of features, but also earns you market-leading interest on your balance. This is where Synchrony Bank comes into play.

Their savings accounts come chock-full of features, such as:

  • No minimum balance
  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • Only $0.01 required to open
  • One of the highest interest rates on the market today
  • An ATM debit card for easy account access
  • Up to $15 in ATM fees refunded each month

One of the perks — as far as accessibility goes — is that Synchrony Bank does provide ATM debit cards for their savings accounts. This means that you can access your money for free at any ATM. The bank will reimburse you for at least $5 in ATM fees each month (Diamond level Perks Program members get unlimited ATM reimbursements), making it even more convenient to withdraw cash any time you need it.

The bank’s app also makes it easy to set up direct transfers, move funds, view your account activity, and even deposit checks via mobile.

Currently, Synchrony Bank offers one of the highest savings account interest rates around, easily beating out almost all of their competitors. In fact, you will earn more than double what you’d earn at Capital One 360 on the same amount of cash. Synchrony Bank’s current high-yield savings rate is 2.05% (as of December 4, 2018), though this is subject to change at any time.

Summary: Both banks offer feature-rich online savings accounts, though Synchrony Bank’s interest rate is considerably higher.

Money Market Accounts (MMAs)

If you need greater flexibility with your savings but still want to earn an impressive return, you might want to consider a money market account, or MMA. These savings vehicles are very similar to basic savings accounts, except that they often pay even higher interest rates if you carry a bigger balance.

Plus, with some banks, you will also get checkbooks for your MMA… even though you probably won’t get them for a savings account. This can be convenient when you need to make a big purchase from your savings but don’t want the deal with the hassle of transferring funds or visiting a bank branch.

Money Market Account Offered? Monthly Fees Minimum deposit ATM debit card Above-average interest rate? Mobile deposit Local branch access
Capital One 360 Yes None None No Yes Yes Yes
Synchrony Bank Yes None None Yes Yes Yes (1)

Capital One 360: Money Market Accounts

If you have a significant amount in your savings and want to more-than-double your interest rate with Capital One 360, a money market account is right for you. For smaller balances, the high-yield savings will provide everything you need; it’s worth the switch to an MMA if you have $10,000 or more tucked away, though.

Capital One 360 MMAs offer a whopping 2.00% APY on balances over $10,000. This is a nice improvement from the 0.85% that you’ll earn on balances $0-$9,999.

While there isn’t actually a minimum deposit required to open an MMA at this bank, depositing anything less than $10,000 will earn you the same rate as a savings account. So, you should consider that to be the minimum deposit amount, if you want to really take advantage of all that the MMA has to offer.

Capital One 360 does not provide MMA accounts with checks or ATM debit cards. To access your funds, you’ll need to call or log in online and transfer initiate a transfer. There are no monthly fees with this MMA, but you will need to stay within the federal guideline of 6 withdrawals or less per month.

Synchrony Bank: Money Market Accounts

As mentioned, most people choose money market accounts over savings accounts so they can earn a higher interest rate on their savings. With Synchrony Bank, though, this isn’t the case: the MMAs here actually earn less than their high-yield savings.

There is little reason to choose a Synchrony Bank MMA over their HYS, as a result. However, their HYS accounts already earn an impressive return, so it doesn’t hurt to open one of those instead.

If you still choose to go the MMA route through Synchrony, there is no minimum deposit required. You will earn the same 1.20% APY (as of December 4, 2018) whether your balance is $250 or $25,000 (or more), which is quite a bit less than the 2.05% APY offered by their savings accounts at the moment.

Synchrony Bank MMAs also don’t charge monthly fees, though you’ll be required to stick to the federally-mandated 6 withdrawals or less per month. Withdrawals can be made via ATM card, external transfer, wire transfer, or by requesting a check from the bank.

Summary: Both banks offer MMAs without fees or minimum deposits, though Synchrony Bank’s ATM card option provides the best funds accessibility.

Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

We save money for a variety of reasons. Some of our savings is earmarked for emergencies, and should be easily accessible. Other savings are for future expenses — like a down payment on a home or a family vacation — and don’t need to be touched for quite a while.

If that’s the case and you have savings that you can set aside for a longer period of time, a certificate of deposit (CD) is a great way to earn a higher rate of return. In exchange for guaranteeing that you won’t touch your deposit for a specific term, you’ll have the opportunity to net an APY that’s often well-beyond those offered by savings accounts.

Term CD offered? Term lengths No-Penalty CD offered? Early withdrawal penalties Minimum deposit Above- average interest rate?
Capital One 360 Yes 6 – 60 months No 90 – 180 days’ interest None Yes
Synchrony Bank Yes 3 – 60 months No 90 – 365 days’ interest $2,000 Yes

Capital One 360: Certificates of Deposit

Certificates of deposit are often available in a number of “flavors,” and Capital One 360 CDs are no different. The bank offers term CDs in a variety of term lengths, with no minimum deposit required and no maintenance fees.

As of this writing (December 4, 2018), Capital One 360 CDs were available in the following terms and interest rates:

  • 6-month CD at 0.60% APY
  • 9-month CD at 0.75% APY
  • 12-month CD at 2.60% APY
  • 18-month CD at 2.60% APY
  • 24-month CD at 2.70% APY
  • 30-month CD at 2.70% APY
  • 36-month CD at 2.80% APY
  • 48-month CD at 2.85% APY
  • 60-month CD at 3.10% APY

If you plan to lock your money away for less than a year, you’re better off choosing a basic savings account. The CDs at Capital One 360 offer a lower return for 6- and 9-month CDs than they do for high-yield savings or MMAs. However, beginning at the one-year mark, you can maximize your earnings by opting for a CD instead.

The most important thing to remember about CDs is that you absolutely cannot touch the funds until the term matures. If you do need to pull your principal out early, you’ll be subject to some pretty steep fees, called early withdrawal penalties.

At Capital One 360, these early withdrawal penalties are as follows:

  • For CD terms of 12 months or less, your penalty is 3 months’ worth of interest.
  • For CD terms longer than 12 months, your penalty is 6 months’ worth of interest.

Depending on when you pull out your principal and how much money you had originally deposited, these penalties can really sting. They may even add up to more than you earned in interest, and could dip into your original balance!

As mentioned, there is no minimum deposit required to open a CD at Capital One 360. You can also open as many as 50 CDs at one time. There are also no monthly maintenance fees and your money is FDIC insured.

Synchrony Bank: Certificates of Deposit

Putting your savings in a CD from Synchrony Bank can be very lucrative. It just depends on how long you can afford to lock the money away.

At-present, Synchrony Bank offers CD terms in the following lengths and corresponding APYs:

  • 3-month CD at 0.75% APY
  • 6-month CD at 1.00% APY
  • 9-month CD at 1.25% APY
  • 12-month CD at 2.65% APY
  • 18-month CD at 2.75% APY
  • 24-month CD at 2.80% APY
  • 36-month CD at 2.85% APY
  • 48-month CD at 2.95% APY
  • 60-month CD at 3.10% APY

As with Capital One 360 above (and most banks), it doesn’t make much sense to choose a CD if you can only afford to pick a term less than a year. However, beginning with the 12-month CD, you can earn significantly more in interest than you would putting your money in a high-yield savings or money market account.

Synchrony Bank does not offer a no-penalty CD option. This means that if you need to touch your principal before the CD matures, you’ll pay an early withdrawal penalty. These are as follows:

  • For CD terms of 12 months or less, your penalty is 90 days’ worth of interest.
  • For CD terms greater than 12 months but less than 48 months, your penalty is 180 days’ worth of interest.
  • For CD terms greater than 48 months, your penalty is 365 days’ worth of interest.

This penalty can not only eat up all of the interest you may have earned before withdrawing, but could even dip into your principal deposit. Be sure that you only choose a CD if you’re sure that you can afford to keep that money locked away until term maturity.

There is a $2,000 minimum deposit to open a CD with Synchrony Bank. However, there are no monthly maintenance fees and you can withdraw your interest earned at any time.

Summary: Both banks offer CDs with comparable interest rates and features. However, Capital One 360 has no minimum deposit requirement, while Synchrony Bank has a $2,000 minimum for CDs.

Banking Features

Choosing a bank isn’t always as easy as online-versus-local or choosing the one with the highest interest rate. You also need to ensure that they offer the features and services that you need most.

Without some of these services, you may feel that your money isn’t secure, might have trouble accessing funds when you need them most, or could find that managing your account is too inconvenient.

Here’s a look at some of the most in-demand banking features, and which of these two institutions provides them best.

FDIC Insured

Both Capital One 360 and Synchrony Bank are FDIC insured. This means that your funds are protected up to the insured limits, which are currently $250,000 per depositor, per institution, and per ownership category.

Verdict: It’s a tie.

Brick-and-Mortar Branches

When looking for a new bank, you have two choices: pick an online institution and forgo local branches, or opt for a traditional bank and miss out on higher interest rates. Some banks, though, offer you the rare opportunity to have it all.

Synchrony Bank has one brick-and-mortar branch, located in New Jersey. If you’re not near that branch, you’re out of luck in terms of in-person banking. For most of us, Synchrony Bank is considered online-only and as such, you can expect to do all of your banking online or over the phone.

Capital One 360 is a rarity in the online banking world, though. Sure, they’re an online bank offering higher-than-average interest rates and a slew of awesome features. But if you really want to open an account, make a deposit, withdraw cash, or make account changes in-person with another human being? You can do that.

Simply drop in at a Capital One Bank branch and get help with your 360 online account. You can also use any one of the 39,000+ Capital One Bank ATMs around the country without fee.

Verdict: Capital One 360 wins here.

ATM Cards

Both Synchrony Bank and Capital One 360 offer ATM cards for various accounts, but they’re definitely not equal.

Capital One 360 provides an ATM debit MasterCard for checking account customers. This card can be used for free at any of their in-network ATMs, for a fee at out-of-network ATMs, or anywhere MasterCard is accepted.

However, the bank does not offer ATM cards for high-yield savings or MMA customers. If you want to access those funds, you’ll need to use their mobile app, login online, or call the bank to initiate a transfer, start a wire, or request a check.

With Synchrony Bank, you won’t be able to get an ATM card for your checking account because, well, the bank doesn’t offer checking accounts. However, you will be given an ATM card to access your funds in either your high-yield savings or money market account.

Synchrony Bank also offers ATM fee reimbursements. If you are reach their Diamond level, your reimbursements are unlimited, too.

Verdict: Synchrony Bank wins here.

Mobile App

If you’re looking for an online bank that offers an excellent, versatile mobile app, both of these banks fit the bill. You’ll find easy-to-use apps from each that provide you with account access, deposit options, and even on-the-go transfers from your mobile device.

Capital One 360 only has the edge here because their app is one of the top-rated available. Also, since they offer checking accounts in addition to their savings products, you can use their app to manage all of your funds. (With Synchrony, you can only see the products you have with them: your MMA or HYS.)

Verdict: Capital One 360 wins here.

Mobile Check Deposit

One of the reasons people still like to visit their local bank is to deposit checks. However, with mobile deposit you can add these funds quickly and on-the-go from your phone or other device.

Both Capital One 360 and Synchrony Bank offer mobile check deposit from their mobile platforms. There doesn’t seem to be a difference in the functionality of either, so they seem to be equal.

Verdict: It’s a tie.

Which Bank Is Right for You?

Choosing a bank is a very personal decision — one that others can’t make for you. You need to decide which banking products you need and the features that are most important to you before you even start shopping around for your next institution.

Your needs may even shift over time. As your savings grow, your spending habits change, and your future plans form, you might need a new bank that offers different services. The most important part is knowing what you need and then finding the bank that offers those features… plus, a high interest rate on your savings accounts is also important!

Synchrony Bank and Capital One 360 are both popular, highly-rated online banks that offer a variety of products and services to their customers nationwide. Neither bank stands out above the other overall; they’re both excellent institutions that can meet your needs. However, one of them might be able to better serve you, earn a higher return on your savings, or make your banking experience simpler.

Hopefully this guide will be able to narrow down your search for you. While both Capital One 360 and Synchrony Bank are trusted and popular options in the online banking world, it’s up to you to decide which one meets your needs best.