Sunday Reader Questions: Any Good Debit Card Rewards Programs Left?

by on October 14, 2012 · 18 comments

in Alaska, Bank of America, Cash Back Rewards, Debit Cards, Delta, Sunday Reader Questions

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Update: PerkStreet Financial will be closing permanently and ceasing all business operations on September 26, 2013.

TPG reader Edward asks a more general question about debit card reward programs:

“I was reading your blog while looking for a debit rewards program. Can you recommend any debit card rewards programs?”

Unfortunately, while debit cards used to be a lucrative way to rack up points, the Dodd-Frank act has made miles- and points-earning debit cards a lot scarcer. I still have a Continental Airlines debit card from Chase in my wallet, though it doesn’t earn me points any more (not that Continental’s around anymore either)!

Unfortunately, my Continental debit card from Chase no longer gets me any miles…nor does Continental exist!

Fear not, though, there are still some options out there for you.

The best is probably the Suntrust Delta Debit World Check card. Though the recent sign-up bonus of 15,000 Delta SkyMiles is no longer available, you do still get 5,000 miles for enrolling and making your first purchase, and you earn 1 Delta mile per dollar on PIN point-of-sale and signature-based purchases, and 2 miles per dollar you spend on Delta purchases. You get 5,000 Delta SkyMiles with sign-up and earn 2 miles per dollar spent on non-ATM purchases. This card carries a $75 annual fee.  Where you could really reap the points is by paying your taxes with it since tax payment services tend to charge smaller processing fees for debit cards than credit cards (usually just a flat fee of $3-4 as opposed to 1-3% of the total amount).

In second place, we have the Perkstreet Financial Cash Back Debit card. This card doesn’t give miles, but instead gives 1 percent cashback per every dollar spent (non-ATM), so you can use the credits to buy any travel reward – or anything else – that you might want. With this card you’ll earn 2% cash back for online purchases at merchants like Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Apple and iTunes. In addition, you can earn 5-25% cash back on PowerPerks which are special cash back offers from a variety of changing merchants. See my full post on it here, but some things to consider when thinking about this card are that you must have a balance of at least $5,000 or more in your free checking account to get the 2% cash back. If you have less than $5,000, you just get 1% cash back. Plus, that cash back is in the form of a MasterCard gift card, which isn’t exactly cash, is pretty close and much better than a specific airline/restaurant/store gift card. Beyond the 2% cash back, there is no annual fee, no monthly fees, a huge network of free ATMs and all money held is insured with FDIC (up to $250,000). They even have rotating categories/stores that offer 5% cash back on up to $5,000 of purchases that they announce montly via Twitter or Facebook.

The third option is the Bank of America Alaska Airlines Debit Card. It comes with 3,000 miles for sign-up, and cardholders earn 1 mile for every $2 in non-ATM transactions. You can only earn up to 100,000 miles a year on it as well. It also levies a $30 annual fee – and just beware of the fine print to make sure your account doesn’t have a minimum-balance requirement or you get hit with a monthly fee.

So the bottom line is, though there are far fewer options for miles- and points-earning debit cards than in the good old days, there are still some options for earning miles and cash back out there that you can take advantage of to reap big rewards. Do any of you have great debit cards that earn you points? Feel free to share your suggestions below.


Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Lynn

    The Suntrust product also has a minimum balance which I believe is $3000 among checking and savings products. I just keep a portion of my emergency funds in a savings account at Suntrust to make sure I keep the minimum balance. I am not sure I will be renewing my debit card when the year is over. I cannot use the debit card to pay payment services (such as Walmart) to pay my mortgage (Wells Fargo will not accept those types of payments) and I usually do not have to pay taxes.

  • gman

    There’s also a little known UFB debit card, which gives 1 mile for every $2.

  • Brian

    What is a “non-ATM purchase” and how is it different from a Pin point-of-sale or signature-based purchase?

  • Points Obsession

    A couple of things you need to know when considering the Suntrust MasterCard for paying taxes.
    1. There is a daily limit imposed by Suntrust of $35,000 per day. A lot, I know but the online tax services such as only a certain number of transactions in a chain period. In my case, two per year.
    2. The card is only available as a MasterCard so out of the three online payment services, only one allows MasterCard at the $3.49 per transaction fee. The others charge around 2%. Ouch.
    3. Lastly, Suntrust required me to come into a branch to open my account.
    Good Luck!

  • PointsObsession

    Regarding #2: the other services will allow debit transactions but only VISA branded debit cards. The Alaska Airlines debit card is a VISA but it’s T&C’s specifically state that you will not earn miles on tax payments. Ugh.

  • shermanxia

    very useful. just signed up for PerkStreet. Never heard of it before, but it seems to be a nice cards! no fees anyways. :) Thank you!

  • sunk818

    Your information on PerkStreet is out of date. It is $20 cash back after $2200 of spend. That is 0.9% cash back. 2% cash back used to be for $5k minimum accounts, but they do not offer that any more.

  • Kevin Hanson

    Here’s another option for people to consider, if you have similar spending habits to me. I use my credit card for almost all of my purchases. I use my debit card only when I need cash, and perhaps I’ll use it to buy groceries or a few lunches here or there, but in general, I use the credit card. Thus, I don’t care too much about earning points with my debit card as I don’t SPEND that much on it.

    However, I do use my debit card to get cash… Thus, I’ve chosen Ally bank. They don’t charge ATM fees, and they refund the fees of ANY ATM you use nationwide. That’s pretty nice… Furthermore, they give a bit of interest. I don’t really keep that much money in my checking account, but it’s nice to know that it is at least making SOME money for me…

  • mbrosen

    Don’t forget PayPal’s Debit MasterCard.

    1% cashback on all non-ATM/non-PIN transactions.

    No annual fee.

    It’s a debit MasterCard that allows you to pay out of your PayPal balance. For those who don’t maintain a balance, or desire FDIC protection, you can just sync it to your checking account on file with PayPal, and funds will then be drawn from your regular checking account. Simple enough, and you will still receive the cashback for those transactions.

    Cashback is deposited to your PayPal account monthly for the previous cycle.

    Business and Personal versions available.

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  • Epicurus

    Which of the 3 online payment services allows the $3.49 transaction fee with The Suntrust Mastercard World Check Card instead of the 2%?

  • Reward Boost

    The info on PerkStreet is outdated. You now get 1% back on everything, 2% back online at Amazon, WalMart, and other big stores. There are also some crazy things like 2% back at restaurants when you go with a friend and both use your PerkStreet card (or if you’re lucky enough to be at the same restaurant with another PerkStreet user at the same time).

    It’s still a good card, but not as good as suggested above.

    We have a full review with more information here:

  • youngi

    Perkstreet info is REALLY out of date now! :) They just announced it closing the doors as of today Aug 12, 2013

  • Dorky Weiner

    And screwing people out of their accrued rewards.

  • Eric

    So could it be useful to sign up for a Delta Skymiles Debit Card just for tax payments, and up my W2 deductions to minimize what comes out of my paycheck and maximize what I pay in taxes in April…

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  • Milk

    That actually sounds like a good idea!

  • Aby

    I just signed up for a Chase Disney Debit Card. Hopefully the discounts will add up when I take my vacation to Disneyland!

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