Tuffy credit card: Use only as last resort | A brief review

PFG's Rating:

Recommended in limited cases. Use the Tuffy Credit Card 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: Tuffy Credit Card

Pros

N

You can use to create a small 0% interest loan for yourself to pay automotive related bills (assuming you make all payments on time)

N

No annual fee

N

Likely easier credit approval than most cards

N

Reliable credit card issuer and servicer – Synchrony Bank

N

Can be used anywhere the Synchrony Car Care Card is accepted

Cons

s

Extremely high APR – 29.99%!

s

Limited functionality – cannot use for purchases at any other store besides Synchrony Car Care Card locations

s

No additional perks or special offers for card holders

s

No rewards 

  • This card does not offer rewards 
  • 29.99% APR – very high! But unfortuantely typical for store co-brand cards
  • No annual fee – $0 annual fee.
    • Applications are subject to credit approval
    • While they will take into account your total application, we recommend a credit score of at least 560 to be likely for approval
    • Be 18 years old (or the age of majority in your state or territory)
    • Have a government issued photo ID and tax identification number (for example a social security number)
    • Be willing to provide a non-PO Box mailing address
    • None – just the promotional financing

    Interested in other credit cards?

    Check out our credit card hub!

    Are you about to make a major car repair or purchase and thinking of using the Tuffy Credit Card to pay?

    If so, you’re in the right place!

    We have a fast-paced review that will tell you everything you need to know. We’ve already read the fine print so you don’t have to.

    Note that this is part of our ongoing series on the Synchrony car care card, which has ~65 different versions. The Tuffy credit card is one of those versions.

    Executive Summary – Tuffy credit card

    Like most versions of the Synchrony car care card, we only recommend getting and using the Tuffy credit card in very limited situations. There are basically two:

    1. You truly have no other way to pay and must get your car repaired now

    2. You can pay, but want to spread out the payments over 6 months, and will not forget to make monthly on time payments and payoff the full balance within 6 months

    Why only in these limited situations? Because the Tuffy Credit Card is only accepted at car repair shops that accept the Synchrony car care card and at participating gas stations. That seriously limits its utility. It also does not earn any kind of rewards – a major drawback. The interest rate is also sky high, at nearly 30%.

    Still, if you essentially need to use it as a short term loan for auto service or repair, you can do that. Just make sure you make your monthly minimum monthly payments required and fully payback the total promotional balance within 6 months, otherwise that 30% interest will be charged.

    Lets dive into the details ⏩ 

    Some limited benefits

    Benefits of the Tuffy Credit Card

    ‘Free’ loan

    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!

    Credit builder

    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.

    Unfortunately, lots of drawbacks to consider

    Cons of the Tuffy Credit Card

    High interest rate – 30%!

    If you miss your required minimum monthly payments or don’t pay the full balance within 6 months, you will trigger this very high interest rate. Note that interest will be charged from the date of purchase! Not from when payment due date. Yikes!

    No perks or rewards

    There are zero perks, rewards, or cash back on this card. With rewards so easy to get these days, this is a huge drawback. Many store cards at least have 5-10% off purchases made at their store, but not this one.

    Limited usage

    This card is not a general utility card like most credit cards. It’s not accepted everywhere or even at most stores. It’s only accepted specicially where the Synchrony car care is accepted, which is mostly only auto repair shops and gas stations. Having to keep track of another credit account can be a hassle for a card that is accepted in so few places.

    No signup incentive

    Unlike many credit cards today, this card does not offer any kind of sign-up bonus. Very disappointing!

      Who is the Tuffy Credit Card good for?

      Who is the Tuffy Credit Card good for?

      As mentioned in the executive summary, there’s really only two types of people we see this card being good for

      1. People who truly have no other way to pay right now and need an emergency car repair

        This could be you if you have no other way to pay for an auto repair, but have to get your car fixed now because it’s your means of transportation for work or school, for example. If this is you, this card can effectively serve as a short term loan to get your car fixed. You’re likely to be approved for the card within a few minutes, even if you have poor or no credit. We estimate you probably need a credit score of 600 to be approved.

        Remember to make required minimum monthly payments and fully payoff the promotional balance, though, to avoid making your car repair much more expensive through high interest.

      2. People who can pay now, but want to spread out payments over 6 months

      Even if you can pay now, you might want to spread out your payments over time, especially if it’s a large bill. This is a fine approach to take. Just remember to read our section below about the fine print you’re signing up for, so you don’t have any surprises.

      Also consider if the time and management required to maintain another credit account is worth it to you.

      The fine print, summarized

      • The promotional financing – 0% interest – only applies to your first purchase you make on the card, so your ‘first receipt’

      • You have to spend at least $199 on that first receipt

      • Minimum monthly payments are still required, you can’t make no payments for 6 months and not be charged interest

      • The amount of the minimum monthly payments required depends on the original purchase amount, larger purchases will require larger minimum monthly payments

      • The minimum monthly payments are unlikely to payoff the full promotional balance. Remember to track this closely and payoff that full promotional balance within 6 months

      What is Tuffy Tire & Auto Service? What is Synchrony?

      Tuffy Tire & Auto Service

      Tuffy is a nationwide chain of auto repair franchises headquartered in Ohio. They’ve been around for over 50 years. It’s part of a family of brands including Brakes Plus, Express Oil Change & Tire Engineers, Mavis, and Town Fair Tire.

      Since it’s a franchise, though, each location has a separate owner and operator. So we suggest checking reviews for your local location before deciding to get your auto service done there.

      Synchrony

      Synchrony is a large, public bank and financial services company. They are one of the largest issuers of

      co-branded store credit cards in the world. You can think of them as the actual bank, financiers, and servicer behind the Tuffy Credit card.

      A

      Last word on the Tuffy Credit Card

      Due to the high interest rate and lack of any benefits, it’s hard to recommend this card for just about anyone

      Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

      Get fast answers to the most common questions 

      How can I reach customer service for this card?
      • You can call customer service at: 877-295-2080 or 1-866-893-7864

      • You can email customer service at: [email protected]

      • You can also chat with an agent by logging into your account (see below) and clicking on the chat icon

      Where do I login to my account for this card?

      Login to your Synchrony Tuffy Credit Card at mysynchrony.com

      Is this the best version of the Synchrony Car Care Card?

      Almost all versions of the Synchrony Car Care credit card are very similar. This one is pretty much exactly average. Some versions allow you to get 12 months promotional financing, instead of the 6 months on this card, if you spend enough (typically around $750)

      Will the application or pre-qualification affect my credit score?

      The pre-qualification will not, the application will

      What are other fees on this card?

      There is a late payment fee of up to $41 and a returned payment fee of up to $30

      Do you have reviews of similar cards?

      Check out all of the co-brands of the Synchrony Car Care Credit Card here

      We have reviews of several of the co-brand cards participating in the Synchrony Car Care Card program:

      Editor's Note:

      At Personal Finance Guru, we want to help you maximize your lifestyle through personal finance. You can trust the integrity of our independent financial advice. Our opinions our own and have not been provided, review, approved, or endorsed by any advertiser or financial product provider. To support and grow the site, however, we may receive compensation from the issuers of some products.

      Meet the Author:

      Cody Beecham

      Cody Beecham

      Founder/Owner/Editor/Author

      Cody is the founder and owner of Personal Finance Guru. His day job is as a management consultant at one of the Top 3 firms (think Mckinsey, Bain), where he advises Fortune 500 C-suite clients on their most important and pressing business problems. He completed his business education at Harvard Business School. 

      After seeing the lack of personal finance education for regular people, Cody started the website with the mission to provide everyone access to information that will help them achieve their financial goals.

      Cody approaches personal finance from a maximalist perspective, shunning typical advice around simply not buying a cup of coffee instead of more effective methods like investing in yourself to quickly grow your income. 

      He believes in saving money and investing for the future, but he also knows that you need to enjoy life today. That’s why Cody approaches money with a sense of humor and a positive attitude. He knows that if you’re not having fun while you’re growing your wealth, then what’s the point?

      Cody approaches life with the same gusto that he brings to personal finance. He loves to travel and experience new cultures, and he is an avid reader and learner. He also enjoys playing sports (especially tennis) and spending time with his family and friends.