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

Oct 14, 2012

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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.


Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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.