The Suntrust Delta Debit Card is Back for New Accounts at 1 Mile Per Dollar (Up to 48K Miles Per Year)

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

Until last month it was a debit card that earned 1 mile per dollar charged. It used to be a good way to buy money orders and deposit 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. This continued even after debit transactions stopped being profitable for banks.

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.

Now the card is no longer with much for ongoing earn. The annual fee for the card went 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 went up to $120 per year.

Mileage-earning is now 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).

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.

But Suntrust apparently sees a role for the card in incentivizing big customers.

The Points Ninja reports that signups for the Suntrust Delta Debit card are again open for Signature Advantage account holders only.

  • 5000 mile signup bonus
  • $75 annual fee
  • 1 mile per dollar spent, up to 4000 miles per month (so 48,000 miles per year cap)

Signature Advantage accounts have a $25 monthly fee unless you have $25,000 on deposit with the bank (inclusive of investment accounts).

You could move $25,000 in existing investments there and open the possibility of earning 48,000 Delta miles per year for a $75 annual fee and some effort.

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, 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. Gary, I had the “old” SunTrust debit card and, like you, recently canceled and asked for a refund of my annual fee, since the T&C of the original agreement had changed and now I am only earning 1 mile per every 2 dollar spend. The ST rep was very polite and efficient about the entire deal, and I received the refund within 24 hours..

    The kicker is the ST rep told me it was not ST that wanted to change the T&C of the card, ST wanted to keep it at 1:1 ratio as ST had plenty of business with the card (I’ll bet!) and it was a lucrative program. She said it was Delta that no longer wanted to continue the program.

    Just another move from Delta in the continuing devaluation of Skypesos.

  2. I am no pro on the Debit card side of mileage earning. With the annual fee and the cap, and including the opportunity cost very slim % of population may find this lucrative. Thoughts?

  3. Gary, thanks for the hat tip. I’ve updated my post with some new info. You may want to note that (via chat, so caveat emptor) a Suntrust agent has informed me that the new limits are “per card” not “per account” limits. That significantly increases the value proposition in my mind. Joint Signature Advantage account holders who pay two annual fees and have cards linked to separate Skymiles accounts can each earn 4,000 per month.

  4. @PhatMiles: By my calculation, the best case scenario is 48,000 miles per year at a cost of 0.2CPM. If you’re in Suntrust’s service area (by definition also Delta’s) it’s probably worth looking into.

  5. In so many ways this is almost completely a waste of time and resources . My extra $100,000
    is not going to languish in a bank account to get a puny few miles .

  6. With the new T&Cs I cancelled a few weeks back and closed my ST account. I also recall reading somewhere that you can’t use it for taxes anymore, which was all I used mine for.

  7. I cancelled mine when Suntrust announced the massive devaluation right after Delta’s 99th deval. You can’t trust either of them (you put a lipstick on a pig but it is still a pig)..

  8. If you have a spare $50K laying around, just put it in an AA earning account at BankDirect. It will earn 5,000 AA miles/month “interest” and no need for any crazy money moving schemes. They do charge $12/mo “maintenance” fees though.

  9. Terrible bank. Limited customer service hours and constantly having to call them to unfreeze my account for simple purchases. Cannot at times withdraw money. I am really sorry I saw this post because they are really a horrible bank to deal with. In the three months I have had this account, I have had more issues than all my other banks combined.

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