For those of you who have been following my previous posts regarding debit cards, this is the most up-to-date post regarding the Sun Trust Delta Debit card. If you are just researching this for the first time please check out previous articles (first post, second post, third post, fourth post).
Officially The End of an Era
Oh, Sun Trust I wish you could have made this better. In recent months Sun Trust has made changes to their Delta debit card and it is now time to cancel the card officially. Per their announcement to cardholders, several changes take place on July 25th, 2015 – just four days from the time this is posted. Here is a list of the changes for those accounts that are not “signature accounts” meaning that you do not have significant assets with the bank (less than $100,000):
- Annual fee increase to $95/year (from $75).
- A monthly cap of 2,000 miles (from 250k/year)
- 1 mile earned per $2 spent (from 1:$1)
Those are in addition to the monthly maintenance fee of $12/month in your account (assuming a cash balance of less than $3,000 minimum per month).
Let’s do the math on what you would get if you stay with Sun Trust and maximize your opportunities but do not hold a $3,000 minimum in your checking account.
- Annual fee of $95 + $144 for monthly maintenance fees = $239.
- For that, you are spending $4,000/month but only getting 24,000 miles per year.
- In order to get a free domestic ticket on reasonable routes and days, you would need to repeat this behavior for 20 months at a cost of $398.
- It is not a coincidence that $398 is approximately the same amount you would pay for a cash ticket, so save the cash and move your money elsewhere.
A Very Delta Move
Delta has been drawn the ire of the miles and points community for the last three years with the continual and laughable (if it wasn’t so sad) devaluation of their currency. Gery Leff coined the term “SkyPesos” many years ago to express how bad the currency was in relation to other options before the devaluations began. At least one blogger has recently called them “SkyDrachmas” in honor of the Greek economic crisis but based on their even further recent devaluation I don’t feel like that is fair to Greece. Now even Sun Trust is devaluing how you can acquire the miles let alone what Delta has done when you want to spend them.
This is following a recipe from Delta which was to both reduce the earning potential with the program and at the same time the purchasing power. Someone who used to fly coast-to-coast a couple of years ago would have earned 5,000 or more SkyMiles for a $400 flight, now they would earn closer to 1,900. And while the price of an award used to cost 25,000 points fairly routinely for a domestic award ticket now seems to nearly always price for 40,000 points on reasonable days and routes. Not only are the miles 60% harder to come by, but spending them is also 60% more expensive. Five trans-continental flights at $400 each ($2,000 spent on travel) would have been enough for a round trip a few years ago and edging into their entry tier status with perks. Now that same flyer would hold only 23% of what is typically needed for the same domestic award. That’s a dramatic shift and Sun Trust has matched its dual-threat approach with their own customers.
Time to Walk Away From Sun Trust
Maybe you liked the bank, I did. I never really had issues with the bank for several years. Even after I decided to leave them, I considered my situation to be isolated and still recommended the card for my readers. Many of them (including friends and family) signed up for accounts based on my recommendation and at the time, that wasn’t bad advice.
But that day has come and gone.
It is time to cancel your Sun Trust account and move to a bank that will show their customers a little more respect. You have options. You just don’t have any options if you want to continue to earn SkyMiles and that is partly what the bank is… well… banking on.
I will detail where to move your accounts for mileage earning possibilities, but for today, it is time to just come to terms with the fact that this relationship is over. Some of you will be tempted to play records from the Smiths in sorrow and self-loathing. Others will stay with the bank a little longer because they are just not ready to admit it’s over.
But it is over.
It’s also time to say goodbye to Delta. It’s like an abusive relationship with the other party constantly taking advantage of your trust and goodwill. RUN!
“But operationally speaking, they run a great airline.” said many Delta apologists.
They run an okay airline, but they don’t respect their customers (if they did they would not hide their award charts). They also don’t value themselves. Matthew points out how they charge up to 468% for flights on Delta metal as opposed to what they charge for the same route on a partner airline. In England we would say that they are, “taking the piss”, or essentially mocking us for how stupid we are for staying with them.
Don’t be stupid. Leave Delta. Leave Sun Trust.
I will post in a few days the alternative banks that you should use instead, and for the time being, the airine that offers the best value for your money is American or Alaska Airlines. Conveniently they both have debit card offers right now that far exceed the Sun Trust card for little to no cost.
As always with posts on debit cards, if you have questions that cannot be answered in the post or comments, please reach out to me directly (as many of you have in the past) and I will respond to you directly. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.