SunTrust have in the past been extremely generous with their debit card promos. I think a little more generous than they ever intended. In 2010 there was a promo for 25,000 bonus Delta SkyMiles for opening an account with a SkyMiles debit card. The card cost $55. The beauty was you could add additional debit cards to the same account for $55 each and get the 25k for each. People went really big on this. We opened two accounts in our family and took five cards each, earning 250,000 miles for $550, or 0.22 cents per miles. This went a long way to paying for our summer family vacation in 2011 to the Seychelles, Mauritius and Paris. I’ve read stories of others minting over 1 million miles with this promo alone.
Indeed opening bank account and debit cards used to be a pretty lucrative means of collecting miles, but that all changed with the Durbin Amendment, one of the strangest results of regulatory reform post the 2008 financial crisis. Many banks pulled out of this gam due to the now capped fees. I have seen my Continental and US Airways debit card vanish from existence. So I was
somewhat very surprised when I saw Delta come out with a new promo again this year.
This time the terms & conditions appear to have been tightened to prevent us from getting miles for multiple cards under the same account. In addition they appear to be handling account openings much more tightly and are weeding out what they think are people only opening accounts for the purpose of miles. The prior promo was under a business account (at least the most lucrative one was) but we just used SSN’s for sole prop accounts. This time there is a personal and business version but the business one requires a real business with EIN etc. Still the personal sign up of 30,000 Delta SkyMiles for a $75 card fee, and then 1 mile per dollar spent thereafter. That is still a pretty reasonable 0.25 cents per mile, and while many folks refer to SkyMiles as SkyPesos, personally I have been able to find great value and can’t value them any less than at least 1 cent per mile. However the accounts that support this card will cost at least $12 per month in fees unless you maintain an average $3,000 balance, though that balance is across all products: checking, savings, money market, CDs and interestingly IRAs. So if you have money sitting in an IRA somewhere you could in theory just transfer it over to meet the minimum balance requirement regardless of the checking account balance. You also need to establish a payroll direct deposit (for at least one pay period) and make a single purchase on the card to get the full bonus.
The business version is 25,000 Delta SkyMiles for a $120 card fee, though the account fees and mimimums are better at $10 and $1,000. So for this round, I am focusing on the personal.
Here is the landing page for the personal promotion and you can either open an account in a branch or via their online chat function. Despite living in a SunTrust heavy state (NC) I went with the latter as it is just so much easier and less hassle. I think for the business option you will need to go into a branch with your documentation. Here is the landing page for the promo.
The thing that has me really excited about this though is that it keeps open a debit card mileage opportunity as opposed to the many credit card opportunities. There are some things you just can’t buy on a credit card, and with a little creative thought and some searching around you can get many more miles over and above the sign up on this card. I am currently running some experiments on this and will report back in a few weeks on the results, but I am pretty certain this will open up many new avenues to a lot more points! So in the meantime I would suggest getting the card before June 30th 2012 when the sign-up promo expires, and then stay tuned for further details or let me know your own thoughts and ideas below!