Synchrony Car Care Credit Card: 32 different flavors to skip
Recommended in limited cases. Use the Synchrony Car Care Credit Card (and all its various versions) very cautiously. Requires special attention to on-time payments to avoid very high APR and/or fees. If you must pay for a large auto repair or maintenance bill right now, this is a way to do that, but recommend trying to find another way.
Pros and Cons: Synchrony Car Care Credit Card
You can use to create a small 0% interest loan for yourself to pay automotive related bills (assuming you make all payments on time)
No annual fee
Likely easier credit approval than most cards
Reliable credit card issuer and servicer – Synchrony Bank
Extremely high APR – 29.99%!
Limited functionality – cannot use for purchases at any other store besides Synchrony Car Care Card locations
No additional perks or special offers for card holders
Are you thinking of applying for the Synchrony car care credit card?
Or maybe you’re slightly confused by the many, many co-branded versions of this card?
Either way, you’ve landed in the right place!
Read on for clarifications on the many different ‘flavors’ of this card, as well as a brief but thorough analysis of the generic version of the card
The Synchrony car care credit card, and its ~32 or so different co-branded versions are all functionally the same thing.
They are essentially using a credit card to give you a short term loan, at 0% interest, to pay for a car repair or maintenance. Almost all versions of the card have the same critical features (though you should double check your version, since there are small variations):
- 0% interest on your first purchase over $199 for 6 months (and on some versions this goes to 12 months for first purchase over $749).
- Note that this only applies to 1-receipts worth of purchases, meaning you do not get 0% on all purchases for your first 6 or 12 months of having this card, just on that first receipt
- ~30% interest rate kicks in if you don’t make minimum required payments each months AND fully payoff the promotional balance (that’s that first receipts’ worth of purchases) within the promotional period (6 or 12 months)
- No annual fee
- No rewards, perks, or cash back
- Only accepted at certain auto repair and service stores and gas stations (at writing about ~65 brands of auto shops accept the card and most of it’s versions.
- Synchrony claims that that, combined with all the gas stations that accept the card, results in over a million locations accepting this card. But note that you cannot use it to purchase anything else)
So to sum up, you can essentially get a 0% interest loan for 6-12 months to make a $199+ car repair purchase, as long as you carefully make the re-payments on time. If you miss a payment or don’t fully repay on time, you will pay a punitively high interest rate.
Due to the high interest rate and lack of rewards, we think that most people should skip this card, though.
But we’ve provided all the details you might possible need below, in case you’re interested ⏩ ⏩
The many, many different versions of the Synchrony Car Care Credit Card
Ok so, why are there so many different versions of this card and why is it so confusing?
- This makes a little more sense when you understand that Synchrony bank is one of the largest issuers of co-branded credit cards in the world. It’s their primary business to be the underwriter and servicer behind many of the store-branded credit cards you see
- They created a ‘base version’ of the Synchrony car care credit card, then let auto parts and car service and repair shop retailers offer the same card, just with their name brand on it, even though your real financial relationship and account is with Synchrony
Essentially, this card is a program that car related retailers can sign up for to offer their customers. They can make small tweaks to the features of the card and how it works and its rules, but not fundamental ones, that’s why all versions are nearly the same
Different auto parts and repair shops and retailers nationwide are coming into and out of the program
At writing there are about:
- ~32 different co-branded versions of the Synchrony Car Care credit card
- ~65 different auto parts and service retailers accepting this card. Most of these retailers accept all versions of the card, but not all!
- One notable exception is that Jiffy Lube only accepts its own version
- If this is a potential concern for you, you should check out the terms and conditions of the specific version you plan to obtain
- 250K gas stations nationwide accepting the card
What kinds of car and auto related stores accept this card?
According to Synchrony, here are some of the many different ‘subcategories’ of car-related merchants that accept the card:
- Auto insurance
- Car and Truck dealerships
- Car wash and detailing
- Heavy duty trucking
- Auto service and repair
- Auto parts and accessories
- Car and truck rentals
- Gas stations
- Parking, tolls, and transit
- Taxi and ride shares (unclear if Uber or Lyft accept, we think this is unlikely)
- Wheels, tires, and tire service
Links to helpful tools Synchrony provides
Where will my card be accepted?
- Navigate to Synchrony’s location checker here (let’s you choose which version of the card you have)
How much will my monthly minimum payments be?
- Go to the payment calculator
How can I prequalify to see if I have a good chance of approval before affecting my credit?
- Head over to the pre-qualification page
I’m ready to apply, where do I go?
- Check out the application page
Benefits of the Synchrony Car Care Credit Card
While we take a tough stance on many store credit cards, including this one, it’s not all bad. There are pros. For example, if you have a large and unexpected auto service or repair bill you could use this card and its 0% financing for 6 months to spread out those payments over 6 months, instead of having to pay in full now. Remember this is only a ‘free’ loan if you make all required minimum monthly payments and completely payoff the promotional balance before the 6 months is up!
Another benefit is that this card is, while still subject to credit approval, likely easier to obtain for people with low or no credit. Combine that fact with the fact that this card is accepted at gas stations nationwide and reports to the 3 main credit agencies, and you could use this card to build credit with your routine gas purchases.
Use at many auto related locations
According to Synchrony and Tuffy, this card is accepted at 25,000 auto stores nationwide and many gas stations nationwide as well. So, even though it’s the Tuffy card, you can use it at many other car maintenance stores, who participate in the Synchrony car care program (there are about 65 brands who do!).
No annual fee
Given the lack of perks and benefits, it should probably go without saying that there’s no annual fee for this card. But just to be sure, we double check, and there is not.
Pre-qualification and fast credit decision
You can pre-qualify for this card without impacting your credit score, although that is not the final credit decision, it just tells you if you’re likely to be approved. Tuffy and Synchrony also claim that most credit decisions for this card are made within minutes, but of course do not guarantee that.
Drawbacks of the Synchrony Car Care Credit Card
The interest rate of 30% is extremely high, and will make purchases of 199 or more you made on the Synchrony Car credit card much more expensive if you have to pay this rate. For reference, in 2022 the average interest rate for most credit cards was about ~17%, so this is nearly double that!
There are no rewards or cash back offered with this card. There also are no special offers available, like you see in many cards today.
This generic version only offers promotional financing for six months, while some of the co-branded versions have financing available for twelve months on larger purchases.
This card only works at auto-related stores that have signed up to participate in the program, so you can’t use it to pay for other expenses.
Other than the promotional financing, there does not appear to be special offers for cardholders, like many store cards have (like extra discounts).
Gas purchases are not eligible for promotional financing.
Final thought on the Synchrony Car Care Credit Card
Unless you’re in a really tough spot, with no other way to pay, we’d skip the Synchrony car care credit card. If you have good or great credit, consider using a card with rewards instead. If you have poor or no credit, there are better options to start re-building.
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