Synchrony traces its roots to 1932. GE Capital Retail Bank was started during the Great Depression, providing customers a line of credit to purchase GE appliances. The lending arm remained GE Capital Retail Bank until being spun off from its parent company in June 2014. GE filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 13, 2014 announcing its intention to spin-off the portion of its GE Capital business dedicated to retail credit cards. GE's SEC filing indicated that the new company would be called Synchrony Financial. On July 31, 2014 Synchrony Financial raised $2.88 billion in its initial public offering.
In 2018, Synchrony acquired Loop Commerce, which provides a patented platform for digital and in-store gifting services called GiftNow.In 2018, Synchrony's largest program was the acquisition of PayPal's $7.6 billion credit receivables portfolio. PayPal also chose Synchrony Bank to be its exclusive issuer for the PayPal Credit point of sale financing program in the United States through 2028. Additionally, PayPal agreed to extend its existing co-brand credit card relationship with Synchrony through the same 10-year term. These transactions (collectively, the "PayPal transaction") officially closed in July 2018.
In 2019, Synchrony announced the acquisition of Pets Best, which offers pet insurance and wellness plans for dogs and cats. Pets Best will operate under Synchrony's CareCredit platform.
In 2019, Synchrony expanded its auto and home acceptance locations and value propositions. Working with the Discover Network, the Synchrony HOME Credit Card can be used by consumers to finance their home needs at more than a million large, medium, and small retail locations nationwide.  Synchrony also increased its Car Care acceptance network to more than 500,000 locations across 25 categories including gas, auto parts and service, car washes, parking, and ride sharing. 
Synchrony has four Innovation Stations, which are located in Stamford, Connecticut; Chicago, Illinois; Kettering, Ohio; and Hyderabad, India. The in-house, cross-functional teams use agile methodology to test new ideas/technologies, solve client problems, and improve speed to market.
Synchrony's corporate ventures arm, Synchrony Ventures, invests in early-stage companies that provide emerging technology and products.
In 2016, Synchrony Financial launched Digital Apply, a credit application site, and SyPi (Synchrony plug-in), an integrated plug-in credit solution for retailers' mobile apps, through which customers can access their credit card information. As of 2019, more than 20 retailers had adopted SyPi, and nearly $2 billion in credit card payments had been made through the technology. 
In 2018, Synchrony created the Alexa Store Card skill for customers to manage their Amazon Store Cards via voice technology.
A majority of Synchrony's retail partners have deployed Synchrony's AI-enabled virtual assistant Sydney for cardholders. 
In June 2014, shortly before Synchrony's New York Stock Exchange debut, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of Justice reached a $225 million settlement with the company after it entered into a consent decree with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The settlement stated that while operating as GE Capital Bank, the company had engaged in deceptive and discriminatory credit card practices. According to USA Today, "The bank said it discontinued such sales practices in 2012 and has already refunded more than $11 million in fees as a result of its own review."