Suntrust has politely asked that you step up your game

It seems that in the last few days Suntrust has been mailing letters to holders of Delta SkyMiles-earning debit cards, notifying them of a radical devaluation in the terms of the program, effective July 25, 2015.

Via Doctor of Credit, for cardholders who don't have a Signature Advantage account with Suntrust:

  • the annual fee will rise to $95 from $75;
  • earning will be cut to one SkyMile per $2 spent with the card from one SkyMile per $1 spent with the card;
  • and earning will be capped at 2,000 SkyMiles per rolling 30-day period.

Signature Advantage accountholders will have slightly more favorable terms, but pay a $25 monthly maintenance fee.

Confession: I've been slacking off

I've had a SkyMiles check card since last April, and have earned a few hundred thousand SkyMiles with it since then. But I could have been earning far, far more, and I wasn't.

The reason is somewhat risible, though it seemed to make sense at the time: Suntrust caps free, next-day inbound transfers from external accounts at $20,000 per rolling 30-day period. After that, the only free option for inbound transfers is 3-business-day transfers, which would involve tying up funds for days at a time without anything to show for it.

There have always been other options for transfers: I could use a third-party banking platform like Google Wallet or Amazon Payments, or pay a nominal fee for external ACH "pushes" from one of my local banks or credit unions. But that would also take additional time and raise the price I paid for miles for which I didn't have any specific redemption in mind.

So I didn't, and instead limited myself to $20,000 in SkyMiles check card purchases per rolling 30-day period.

But no more!

I'm not aware of any volume limits on Suntrust's 3-business-day transfers, so once I hit the $20,000 monthly limit on next-day transfers, I'll be aggressively using the longer, less-convenient, but still-free transfers. By initiating a transfer each day I should (after the first 3 days) have funds available for my SkyMiles check card each business day.

By my reckoning, I have 10 weeks and 3 days to earn as many SkyMiles as possible under the program's current terms and conditions.

Since I just paid the current, $75 annual fee in April, I'll probably hold onto the card until April, 2016, earning 2,000 SkyMiles per month at a cost of approximately $13.40. It won't make me rich, but I like flying Delta, and that's a price I'm willing to pay for the additional miles each month.


What do my readers think? Have you been using the Suntrust SkyMiles World Check Card as aggressively as you could have been? Will you start, now that we have just 73 days to take full advantage of it?