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.
- 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.