Maximizing the Delta Suntrust Debit Card

Jan 31, 2013

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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**

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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.

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