Maximizing the Delta Suntrust Debit Card

by on January 31, 2013 · 30 comments

in Debit Cards, Delta, Taxes

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Lately we’ve seen lucrative 100,000 and 75,000-point sign-up bonus offers on credit cards, so a simple 5,000 bonus on the Delta Skymiles World Check Card might seem a tad underwhelming. However, the card has a few other qualities that make it a decent option for those who can’t get in on the credit card offers and who want to use it to rack up miles for transactions that would normally incur fees that would negate the value of those miles, such as paying taxes.

Previously, Suntrust only offered the Delta debit cards to those who lived in places where SunTrust is based including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carlona, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, and Washington DC, but recently they opened it up to anyone living in the U.S. according to Free Frequent Flyer Miles.

You can get the Delta SkyMiles World Check Card for opening a Signature Advantage Banking, Solid Choice Banking, SunTrust at Work Solid Choice Banking and Balanced Banking accounts. Last year Suntrust ran 30,000 mile bonuses for the personal card and 25,000 for the business card, but I haven’t heard of those bonuses returning, though if you’re not in a rush to get the card, you may want to wait.

SunTrust Delta Debit

Card Benefits:

  • Earn Faster: Earn one mile for every dollar you spend on everyday purchases and two miles for every dollar spent on Delta purchases, including tickets, in-flight purchases and Delta Sky Club memberships
  • Zero Liability: 100 percent protection against unauthorized purchases
  • Satisfaction Guarantee—Receive a refund, up to $250, in the event you are dissatisfied with your item within 60 days of purchase and the store will not accept the item for return
  • MasterCard Marketplace: Facebook application that features money-saving offers on clothing, accessories, dining and much more
  • MasterCard SecureCode: Helps prevent unauthorized purchases by requiring a unique password for check card purchases online at participating merchants
  • Extended Warranty: Doubles the original manufacturer’s warranty for up to one year
  • Annual Fee: $75

Worth It?
I value the sign-up bonus of 5,000 miles at about $70 (1.4 cents per SkyMile), so that nearly takes care of the first year annual fee of $75, but there are also monthly fees are associated with the different types of checking accounts you can link it to. This could be a good opportunity with people with children to get a miles-earning card without an established credit history – parents can co-sign for a checking account for them and as long as their SkyMiles account is attached, they will get the miles and you can as well for your own account.

Paying Your Taxes
The other thing about getting a miles-earning debit card that might make it an attractive choice is that you can pay your taxes with it and only incur fees that are nominal compared to those that are charged when you use a credit card to pay your taxes. As quarterly business tax deadlines approach for businesses and the personal tax season comes up in April, this becomes an important and timely issue to consider.

To give you a comparison, here is the official government list of approved tax payment vendors, and here are the rates they charge for using a credit card versus a debit card to pay taxes: 1.89% for credit cards or only $3.49 for debit cards. They accept Mastercard, Visa, Discover, BillMeLater, Star, NYCE, Pulse and Accel cards. Generally 2.35% when using American Express, Mastercard, Discover or Visa , or a $3.95 convenience fee per transaction with debit cards including Accel, NYCE, Pulse and Star. So a $1,000 tax bill will net you 1,000 miles and cost you $23.50 on your Visa, and just 2.1% when using an Amex to pay a federal tax of $100,000 or more. You can also use your Amex Membership Rewards to pay your taxes and convenience fee at the rate of 2,000 points per $10.

ChoicePay: 1.88% fee for credit card tax payments versus only $3.48 flat fee for debit card payments. 2.35% when using credit cards including American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa. A $3.89 flat fee per transaction using NYCE, Pulse and Star debit cards.

Business Tax Payment: 2.35% fee when using credit cards or a flat fee of $2.99 when using a debit card.

Tax vendors

So to take a quick example, let’s say you owed $20,000 in taxes – not uncommon for small businesses or those who take a lot of exceptions on their payroll taxes. If you were to pay using, you would incur a fee of either $378 for using a  credit card, or just $3.49 for using a debit card! That is literally a savings of 99.1%!

To put it another way, if you use a credit card, you’re essentially paying 1.89 cents each for those Delta miles – just about half what the airline would charge you for them if you were just to buy them directly at the usual rate of 3.5 cents each plus fees. However, by using a debit card, you’re paying 0.01745 cents per mile. An amazing value considering you have to spend this money anyway.

While SkyMiles aren’t the most valuable mileage currency out there, be sure to check out my  Travel Tuesday Top 10: Ways to Redeem Delta SkyMiles- there still are some decent redemptions out there.

There are other mileage earning debit cards out here, like the Alaska Airlines Bank of America card, but they specifically prohibit earning miles from taxes, so the Delta Suntrust card might be your best bet.

**Warning: You should try and use this card for other purchases first, before running big payments such as taxes on it in order to avoid having your account closed**

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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    Are you sure that that tax payments count for points? I went to the website and it was not at all clear.

  • thepointsguy

    Yes- many have reported success. Id recommend doing a small payment to make sure, but otherwise I don’t see much risk since the fee is so low

  • ChiliPalmer

    Yeah – if you read the thread around about this, it sounds like this is the fastest way to get your Suntrust account shut down. Good luck!

  • Pricesquire

    Do you still need an initial deposit of $5,000 to get this debit card? How does this card compare to BoA’s Alaska Air card?

  • David

    The Delta Suntrust debit card is a horrible option for anyone and your support of it smacks of pandering. There are other options for people with poor credit but they are of a type and for people of a economic group that your blog, although I love to read it, sadly does not target. Better to say nothing then recommend such a poor option.

  • thepointsguy

    What cheaper way do you recommend paying taxes?

    Also- for people who can’t get a credit card (of which there are many) what better way can you earn miles on all purchases without a credit pull?

    I’m all ears

  • Eric

    I opened the account specifically for running my tax payments through. I loaded the account, got the debit card, and started using it. I made 2 of 3 tax payments before ST put a block on my card. I asked them what the problem was and they said the card was being abused. I told them what I used it for and they didn’t care. Said if I wanted my funds I would have to come into a branch to withdraw it. For data, I live in TN and my two payments were about $12k total.

  • Frank

    Cheaper, easy – Bluebird, just one step added for miles/points but cheaper and you don’t get your account shutdown.

    Suntrust is a poor choice. Multiple tax payments trigger a shut down. The closed my account and said they could cut me a check for the account balance. Yeah, nice, that took 6 weeks to receive.

    Ever have to go to another bank wanting to open an account recently? They now ask you know if any other banking accounts were shut down? They do investigate this now to see if your word matches banking records.

    Suntrust is only a problem waiting to happen. Bad suggestion.

  • Asdf

    Blogs quickly kill all good deals – examples are everywhere. Don’t tell him.

  • Asdf

    The risk, as described in a comment just above, is quite clear: you have a not-insignificant amount of money on deposit with Suntrust. They shut you down. To get your money back, they tell you to come in to a branch. If you live in a state that’s far away from the nearest branch, you’re hosed.

    Great advice you’re doling out here.

  • Paul

    This has already been covered ad-nauseum weeks ago by bloggers who don’t blog for a living

  • Pnet Jain

    Ugh, I tried opening an account online a few days ago after Gary mentioned it on VFTW and they shut it down. It doesn’t work for people who don’t live in a Suntrust area. :(

  • Taxpayer

    I’ve got to ask: did you try this?

    I know you live in Florida, but even so, you are at pretty serious risk of a shutdown.

    I’m in Nevada, and I got shut down. And, yes, they told me to come into a branch to get my (5-digit) balance withdrawn. Eventually they relented and sent me a check – I had to point out to them that they allowed me to open the account in the first place even though NV residents supposedly can’t open accounts. The process took weeks. I never got any miles save for the 5K initial ones, at a cost of $70. Not worth it – especially for Delta miles.

    I know the time value of money is nonexistent right now, but that only matters if you’re very, very liquid. I’m not.

    If you’ve got tons of free cash and tons of time, fine, try this out. But otherwise, this is like another PayPal as far as shutting you down and holding on to your cash.

    Please do tell us if you’ve actually tried this as I suspect you would have written this post very differently if you had.

  • Lannan86

    My account was shut down after only a few incoming transfers. I am calling them everyday for a few months to get my money back but it’s been extremely difficult and i haven’t got money back yet i would not recommend this for anyone. they can shut down your account for whatever reason they come up with.

  • Dagmar

    Not happy with this card at all. It took weeks for me to get my money after they put a hold on my account for valid activities. No padding of spend. Wanted to start small. Not worth the fees either.

  • Robert

    As with most commenters I would have to agree that your chance of opening much less keeping your account open if you live out of state is incredibly small. I love how bloggers say it’s been expanded, yeah right. I’ve tried 3 times to open an account, 2 were unsuccessful and 1 was closed with a balance. Why don’t you try some of this stuff before your write about it??

  • MYRflyer

    What? no mention of using your Suntrust Delta Debit to purchase money orders at walmart? Rinse & Repeat

  • PointsObsession

    Keep in mind that Suntrust allows a maximum of $30,000 in transactions per day on the debit card.

  • Rs6332

    My understanding was that tax payments are treated like cash withdrawls on debit cards and thus not eligible for miles or rebates.

  • Leonasocal

    FYI. The BofA Alaska Airlines card is dead. Not showing on their website and when I called to convert my debit card, the rep confirmed for me they’re not issuing new accounts. No good credit cards from BofA. Really thinking of switching to Chase with their $200 credit to switch over.

  • Babs

    Opened a BoA account today and got a alaska debit card.

  • Philipaburns

    I opened an account and I live in California, took about 18 calendar days, but that is because i had a family emergency and could not respond to my mail quick enough. Online transfers have been easy, card works with various transactions.. So far so good.

  • kim

    I just tried making a tax payment at Payusatax with my new Delta debit card and received the following message

    Please check the Error(s) below:

    Your card is not eligible to be processed as a ATM Debit Card transaction. Please verify your card information and try again or select a different payment method (or card type).

  • thepointsguy

    I would try calling and processing the payment through a representative. Several times with a few of the tax payment sites I would get an error but once I got through to a rep they were able to process it for me or at least explain better why I was getting the error. 888-877-0450 is the number for a live operator, thought they may only be available Monday – Friday. Good luck!

  • Pingback: Updated Options for Earning Airline Miles from Debit Cards | The Points Guy()

  • MKR

    I opened the Delta Sun Trust Card approx 4 months ago. At the time, I was never told of the 5k minimum daily balance requirement. If that is not kept, they access an immediate $17.00 per month fee, pretty high when you add that up annually to the fee. I objected in person (since the same person I objected to was a Sun Trust VP and did not inform me of the min. balance requirement. Her hands were tied, but she did refund (2) months fees. I just hate all these bank fees. Since I have already have paid the $75.00 annual fee, I will probably keep it until next April, but will serious consider closing the account. I don’t know many people who keep a working balance of 8-10k in their primary checking account and have to make sure they never purchase too much to take it below 5k. Although it may seem petty, these fees are like throwing almost 300.00 in cash out the window of a moving car. (not to mention their non-same bank ATM fees are very high too

  • Alex

    THANXXXXXXXXXX the points guy!!!
    Everything you suggested worked. I got the SunTrust Delta card a few month ago. Everything is working great! The payment of taxes, bill pay etc.
    You’re the BEST!

  • NolaChris

    Surely I’m not the only one who has had a good experience with Suntrust. I live out of their region. Great customer service. Getting my miles monthly (6-7K). Credits recovering from a divorce, so I’m happy to generate some extra miles with purchases and 2x on delta flights till I reward credit cards are available to me again. What is so terrible is about that?

  • Ray

    Can you load VISA debit gift cards onto this US Suntrust Debit/Checking card?

  • TheRealScottR

    I live in Washington. Successfully got the card and paid $3k in taxes. we’ll see how it goes next quarter.

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