The Suntrust Delta Debit card was 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 and a half 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.
On Saturday the value of the card will be effectively over even for existing cardmembers. It gets more expensive at the same time it becomes almost worthless as a mileage-earning tool.
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 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. My recent business class Australia trip was booked with miles earned from this card, and I have plenty of Delta miles left. It’s been the primary way that it still made sense for me to earn SkyMiles.
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.
Still, I was sort of mad. I paid a $75 annual fee for this card in January for a set of benefits. They were gutting the benefits. How is that fair?
So I logged into my account and messaged Suntrust. I told them they should either wait to devalue me until my card year was up, or at a minimum give me back my $75. They did a bait and switch, and aren’t delivering what they promised for my $75. (Sure, I got plenty of value out of it already…)
- They said no to my request for $75.
- They’ll give me $72 instead.
If you’re not going to use this debit product anymore to earn miles, you might as well ask for your money back!