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

Oct. 14, 2012
4 min read
Sunday Reader Questions: Any Good Debit Card Rewards Programs Left?
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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.