Earn 12,000 Miles Per Year Free With Bluebird and the Suntrust Delta Debit Card

On Friday I received an email from American Express.

Hello Gary,

Adding funds to your Bluebird Account is easy. Now, Bluebird is adding another no-fee way to add funds online to your Account.

Effective immediately, you can add funds to your Account from your debit card for no fee (previously $2.00 per transaction). Click here to learn more about adding funds with a debit card.

You can review the updated fee chart by clicking here.

Should you have any questions about this change, please visit Bluebird.com or call 1-877-486-5990.

Thank you for your Membership,
The Bluebird Team

You can now load an American Express Bluebird card with a debit card and not pay any fee.

If you have a mileage-earning debit card, you should earn miles for the transaction. And of course Bluebird lets you transfer money straight back to your checking account.

That’s a way to generate miles at no cost, there’s no need to find Vanilla Reload cards, and you can do it right from your computer.

This doesn’t help you meet minimum spending requirements on a credit card, of course. And the mileage-earning is going to be pretty limited for two reasons.

  1. There aren’t many mileage-earning debit cards. Most earn one mile per $2 spent. The only 1 mile per dollar debit card I’m aware of is the Delta co-branded card from Suntrust bank.
  2. The loading limits this way are very low. You can only load up to $100 per day and $1000 per month. You can load $12,000 per year in 120 separate transactions. That’s a decent amount of effort for the miles.

Earning 1 Mile Per Dollar With the Delta Debit Card

Suntrust Bank issues the Delta Skymiles World Check Card and offers 1 Delta mile per dollar spent.

Suntrust will let anyone open an account online, but they seem to shut accounts down for many people who do not live in their business areas of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carlona, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, and Washington DC only. Suntrust is strong in the South and Mid-Atlantic.

Frequent Miler, who doesn’t live in a Suntrust state, had his account closed after initiating a $7000 funds transfer. I’ve seen that large funds transfers initiated from a Suntrust account that’s just been opened seem to raise flags.

There’s a 5000 mile signup bonus and a $75 per year annual fee. You need to keep a $3000 average balance in the account to avoid monthly fees.

I have a Delta debit card from Suntrust which I use for paying taxes. So if I can build this into my routine it’s even more Delta miles. Now I just have to figure out what to do with all those Delta miles I accumulate!

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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. I’ve often thought about getting this card but have never actually gone through with it. To your knowledge, can this card be used to buy MOs at walmart as a way of earning a few extra miles?

  2. So if I am already loading $5000/month using vanilla reloads, will I be able to load an additional $1000 online using a debit card? Or will the $1000 of debit card loading count reduce the amount I can load with VR each month?

  3. 2 Questions –

    1. Are you sure it counts like a purchase and not a money transfer (which wouldn’t earn miles)?

    2. Does this count against the $5 load limit per month for bluebird?

    Thanks in advance for the help!


  4. Have you actually done this successfully? I attempted transfers both from my SunTrust debit card into my BB account and from my wife’s Suntrust debit card into her BB account. Both transfers were unsuccessful.

  5. Also, the amount of effort required is limited as BB allows you to set up the ten $100 transactions to run on consecutive days using a calendar. Very simple, so only a once-a-month effort. Waiting to hear if it actually works for anyone.

  6. Tread very lightly with ST. There are many stories on FT on account shutdowns (even within the bank’s geographical footprint), holds on funds, no refund of card annual fee etc.. My account lasted the best part of 3 weeks before their fraud dept. closed me down. No reason given, and took another 3 weeks plus multiple phone calls before I received a check for the balance.

  7. I have had no problems with Suntrust doing 1000-1500 worth of transfers to BB per month for around 10 months. I am a long term customer of Suntrust (I actually use to work for them for a short period of time). I live in the mid Atlantic also. I think people out of the footprint of the bank and those maxing the $5000 per month on BB may be the ones getting their accounts shut down.

  8. I can confirm that the on-line transfer from Suntrust to Bluebird works. I Just did it for the first time. then I logged on the Suntrust and the money was out. Logged on the Bluebird and the money was in – instantly.(The only thing I can’t confirm is if the funds to Bluebird will post as a “purchase” for the purpose of earning the points) When I do a load at Walmart, there’s no question – I always do earn.

    Another thing I can confirm is that the Suntrust load to bluebird is part of the $5,000 limit. I actually wanted to create a second bluebird account for that reason, but I didn’t bother to find out if that’s allowed.

  9. My experience is the opposite of travelin2s, as my $100 ST debit load has gone through even though I have already loaded $5k this month via VRs.

  10. what to do with all those Delta miles I accumulate!

    I’ll take ’em, I’ll take ’em. I live in Montana and bring musicians in from my old 25-years-worth of colleagues in the DC area (plus all those who, like me, have gotten out). It costs a small fortune to fly to Montana. I use pretty much ALL my ff miles for domestic r/t flights. Delta is the only server for at least one of the airports I fly from. (And there’s no first class on most of these little planes, so no decision about using miles for upgrades.) Of course you can’t find anything for 25K anymore, so the miles really slip through my fingers. Bringing 10 people in to do the Bach St. John Passion, or buying seats for a gamba or cello or huge theorbo…. I’ll take ’em, Gary!!!

  11. for those that have done the MO at walmart via the ST debt does there seem to be any limit for how much (amount) you can do this monthly? purchasing them / cashing yourself to earn the points?

  12. Related question – I have been trying to link a myVanilla debit card to my Bluebird account. Each time is says, “no can do, try again later..” blah blah blah.

    Has anyone been successful at linking a myVanilla to BB? If so, I’M ALL EARS, please fill us in…

  13. I live in AZ and have a ST account, I haven’t had problems with them at all. I transfer money from my Chase account to ST to pay my bills, I also have a direct deposit to it. So this is what i do, I get my VRs, load them to my BB accounts, write a check to myself, then transfer the money into my ST account and pay my bills. I get miles for Bill pay so I get miles all around. We all know that Skypeso’s aren’t wroth much but the pay with miles on the DL web site is a good way to fly domestic FC cheap, I don’t use all my miles and pay with cash too so I can get more miles and segments with them.For me it’s a win win…

  14. As User Name said, the Sun Trust deal is not as clean as it seems. I know a very experienced FTer who lives in the ST region who was shut down for a modest amount of activity at Walmart. Customer was given only a few days notice before shutdown.

  15. @Korrinda: wouldn’t recommend ST with Venmo – I had my ST account shut down after a few months and Venmo was the only “unusual” spend on it. No tax payments, no walmart.

  16. I have been using ST for @6 months, I load my BB at walmart from my ST account to pay bills. I also use the ST delta dbit card to pay my taxes online and pay all my credit card bills at the walmart billpay. Often paying 3-5k at a time, no problems at all so far.

  17. Just used my BofA Alaska Airlines debit card to do some small replenishment. The transactions posted as purchases so it works.

  18. Just got a ST Delta debit card. Called and activated, and tried to load to BB through the BB site. No dice. Deleted card, re-added. Still no go. Any suggestions, Gary?

  19. Are you sure SkyMiles are being credited for your Bluebird reloads with the Delta Debit Card? I ask because I was doing the same thing with the new Target Prepaid REDCard — using my Delta Debit Card to load $200/day five times per month to my REDCard through the website — and noticed that no SkyMiles were being credited to my Delta account. So I read the terms and conditions for the Delta Debit Card and, lo and behold, “payments for stored value cards . . . do not qualify.” Thus, I am curious whether American Express and WalMart have debit card loads coded the same way so that SunTrust will not send SkyMiles credits to Delta for them.

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