SunTrust Kills Off Any Value in the Delta Debit Card Effective July 25

The Suntrust Delta Debit card has been a lucrative mileage-earning tool for a long time. I’ve been writing about it since 2009.

Since it’s been a debit card that earned 1 mile per dollar charged, it’s been useful to many in the past buying money orders and depositing those back into a bank. And it’s been a highly efficient way to earn miles for paying taxes since debit transactions incur a miniscule flat fee while credit cards incur a pretty hefty percentage of the total payment.

They even offered 30,000 miles as a signup bonus and with the business debit card you could get extra cards on the same account and earn the bonus for each.

Even after debit transactions stopped being profitable for banks, Suntrust continued to offer a signup bonus for the card even.

Two years ago it became possible for people with no access to a Suntrust branch to get the card online. Then Suntrust stopped issuing new cards last year.

Effective July 25 it appears the value of the card will be effectively over even for existing cardmembers.

I haven’t received the letter from Suntrust yet, but Doctor of Credit shares that that the Suntrust Delta debit card will devalue July 25.

The annual fee for the card goes up from $75 to $95, except:

  • ‘Signature Advantage’ customers with less than $100,000 on deposit pay $75
  • ‘Suntrust Premier’ customers and ‘Signature Advantage’ customers with $100,000+ on deposit pay $25

The business debit card goes up to $120 per year.

Mileage-earning will be capped at only 2000 miles per 30 days (4000 miles for Signature Advantage accounts).

What’s more, it will only still earn 1 mile per dollar for Signature Advantage accounts — everyone else earns just 1 mile per $2 (Delta purchases receive double the earning).

I’ve earned huge mileage out of the Delta debit card. I recently had 2 business class roundtrip awards to Australia booked with miles earned from this card, and have plenty of Delta miles left. It’s been the primary way that it still made sense for me to earn SkyMiles. That appears to be coming to an end, and it’s unlikely I’ll be earning very many Delta miles going forward.

The UFB Direct AAdvantage-earning debit card, which already earned only 1 mile per $2, devalues further June 1.

Debit cards are no longer financial windfalls for banks. It’s no longer worth incentivizing transactions since the Durbin amendment to Dodd Frank financial reform eliminated the profit for banks from debit transactions. The rewards debit card is almost entirely a thing of the past.

I’m truly sad to see this development, but the underlying economics made it inevitable and mostly I’m surprised how long it continued to last.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. […] SunTrust Delta Debit Card Devaluation Coming July 25 (View from the Wing). A great deal I did not fully appreciate at the time and resisted when trying to stick to limits I set on my involvement in the hobby. Many are sad to see it go. I guess I won’t be seeing Gary up front while I am in the back on Virgin Australia flights. […]

Comments

  1. I opened an account just to get this card two years ago, exactly for the reason of paying tax bills and loading BB. Well I tried to pay the 2013 tax bill in 2014 and all of the payment processing company treated it as a ‘credit card’ and not debit. Then when I tried to load BB with it, it would not prompt me for a pin as BB was also treating it as a Credit card.
    I would have loved had it worked but alas, I canceled it within 7 months of opening.

  2. This is the most devastating development in years!!! I earn thousands upon thousands of Skymiles every month from this card for nearly free!!!!!!

  3. @ Gary — Does this debit card work for RedCard Prepaid loads at Target? I was just about to switch to this method, but I guess that won’t last for long (if at all).

  4. Any thoughts on how someone without tax payments can really run this into the ground since it’s ending anyway? Anywhere to easily cycle money orders with this card and right back into the same account?

  5. I’m surprised they didn’t just turn it into a card that earns miles on signature only and then limit debit purchases to 0 miles (or 24k or whatever).

    Why limit signature purchases (or at least make the miles earned on signature very high)? It makes no sense to me.

  6. Bummer. I have the Signature Advantage already and I think it’s still probably worth it when the new terms kick in. Between RadPad and BB I usualy only average around 4500 miles a month anyway. And the fee stays $75 and ratio $1-1 mile, so the 4000 mile cap is really the negative part. I think it’s worth it to generate 48,000 miles per year.

    If you can’t meet the $25k monthly minimum for Signature Advantage, then I agree the economics ($95, $2-1 mile, 2000 mile cap) simply aren’t there.

  7. Sooner or later we’re actually going to have to start paying for tickets. I have my first flight on them in years booked in August because they have the only non-stop.

    You may end up having to fly with….THE GREAT UNWASHED…in economy

  8. I used to have an America West/Bank of America debit card. Even though it was a $2/mile earn, I liked it because I already banked with BofA and America West was my primary airline (thanks to good schedules out of my local airport, SBA).

    When the HP/US merger came along, the card was discontinued. BofA tried to move me over to an Alaska Debit card, but that really provided me with zero value, since my spend alone wasn’t sufficient to have netted me flights and I was, at that same time, moving, with my new home airport being unserved by Alaska, AA or DL.

  9. @Gary- Every other bank in the country pulled out of giving miles for debit cards a few years ago, when the Durbin Amendment was implemented. SunTrust seems to have been the lone hold out. Point seekers were greedy, laundering money through their accounts via money orders to earn big point balances, and now the bank is shutting it down.

    If it was truly the Durbin amendment that was causing this, and not consumer greed, why would SunTrust have left this opportunity in place for so long?

  10. For a long time fear of cancellation has limited my use of this card. As the saying goes, “the value of the Sword of Damocles is that it hangs- not that it drops.” Well, the gloves are off now. I’ll cram every cent I can into that account and cycle it through between now and July. But hey, one door closes and another opens… on to the next!

  11. I’ve had the card for about a year for quarterly tax purposes. Didn’t read the fine print at first so got charged $12 monthly for having below $3000 in the account for two months. Anyway, after the June tax payment, I’ll close the account. Too much trouble, too many fees, not enough SkyMiles return.

  12. It seems the most one could earn is 20K miles per month. Not bad at that, but only 2 more months.

  13. @leslie that’s worth the fee (if there is zero work involved..), but the question is if you didn’t have the suntrust card what would you do with that spending?

  14. I could do direct deposit of 100$ to avoid $12 monthly fee and only pay 95$ a year. the money is use to pay mortgage and bill that could not be pay by other credit card so won’t earn a penny. So far I got 49000 delta pts. Thank Gary

  15. As a small business owner, the perk for banking at ST, was the skymiles, since we fly a lot. Suntrust KILLS me with bank fees on our accounts for the ability to wire funds, incoming transfers, “analysis fees” etc (still less than what we would spend in airline tix). We had a small regional bank before were we got all the bells and whistles and more service than we have with ST for waaaaay less money a month. For only 4000 points a month (2 cards) vs what we pay in bank fees, it’s not worth it for us. But then again, we’re only a low 7-figure a year business, so I’m not even a blip on their radar, so I doubt they’ll miss me. I called today to see if when cards expire, if we’re Really grandfathered in (one card expires in 3 mos) or if they’ll replace with a regular card, and at this time we’ll still get Skymiles cards, so I guess there’s that while I gear up to haul everything back to the other bank after July…

  16. Just got noticed on this. Well, I have earned over 500K miles with this card in the last 2 years and it is time to say good bye.

  17. Frank, Huff, or anyone else: which IRS payment service did you use that worked to obtain Skymiles? I made a payment in May and was denied Miles. Would appreciate hearing of any success paying taxes this year and your methodology, thanks in advance.

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