By Adam Jusko, ProudMoney.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
I recently got a mailing from Synchrony Bank about their Synchrony Mastercard, a credit card offering 2% cash back on all card purchases. I had been aware that Synchrony had transitioned old Toys R Us/Babies R Us customers to this card (after Toys R Us went kaput), but had never seen it advertised as a card you could apply for directly. Now Synchrony is offering it to some potential cardholders by mail only. (You won’t find an online application as of this writing; the invitation directs you to mastercard.synchrony.com, but you need an authorization code from the mailer to apply.)
No Annual Fee and Competitive Cash Rebate
The Synchrony Mastercard has no annual fee, and its 2% “flat” cash back rate on all purchases is competitive with the Citi Double Cash card, often thought of as the standard-bearer for flat cash back cards on the market. (Very few credit cards will give you 2% on all purchases; most have a lower cash-back rate or give higher rebates in only certain purchasing categories like gas, groceries, etc.)
The cash back you receive is automatically given as a statement credit, meaning it is credited to your account to offset charges you’ve made to the card. You don’t have the option to actually get the cash in your hand.
You can earn a $150 bonus if you spend $1500 with the card in the first three months of having it. (At least that is the bonus offer I got.)
Interest Rate – Introductory 0% and Ongoing Rate
The Synchrony Mastercard offers a 0% interest rate on new purchases for the first 12 months you have the card.
After that, the interest rate could be 13.99%, 19.99% or 26.99%, depending on your credit history. The 13.99% rate was highlighted for me in the prequalification letter I got, though I’d have to go through the actual application process to see what the real interest rate would be.
13.99% is a good interest rate in today’s market. 19.99% is only OK. 26.99% is yuck. I don’t ever carry a balance on my credit cards, and you shouldn’t, either, which would make the interest rate irrelevant.
3% Foreign Transaction Fee
There is sort of a trend away from transaction fees on purchases outside of the United States, but this card will charge you an extra 3% on any such purchases.
Synchrony Mastercard vs. Citi Double Cash vs. PayPal Cashback Mastercard
The Synchrony Mastercard has much in common with the Citi Double Cash and PayPal Cashback Mastercard (which is also issued by Synchrony Bank). All three cards give you the opportunity to get a 2% reward on all of your purchases. How you get that 2% is slightly different for each, though:
- Synchrony Mastercard: You earn 2% immediately with your purchase; reward is given as statement credit automatically; $150 bonus opportunity; 3% foreign transaction fee
- Citi Double Cash: 2% is earned in phases — 1% when you make the purchases and 1% when you pay it off; reward is given as a check or statement credit once you’ve earned $25 in rewards; no bonus opportunity; 3% foreign transaction fee. (NOTE: the reward on this card can also be taken as ThankYou points (2 points per dollar) and combined with ThankYou points earned on other Citi credit cards.)
- PayPal Cashback Mastercard: You earn 2% immediately with your purchase; reward is automatically deposited into your PayPal account; no bonus opportunity (unless you receive a special invitation offer); NO foreign transaction fees.
Synchrony Bank is known to be more open to accepting credit card applicants with lower credit scores, so it is likely that this card is easier to get approval for than a card such as the Citi Double Cash. Still, it offers a generous reward, so it is probably more difficult to get than many of the store credit cards that Synchrony issues.
The Synchrony Mastercard is a strong 2% flat cash back card, and getting a potential bonus upfront is icing on the cake. Hopefully we will see this card offered on a wider basis in the future instead of being an invitation-only card.