SunTrust Cash Rewards Credit Card review

Our rating

3 stars 3/5

See explanation of our ratings system

See breakdown of this card’s rating

The SunTrust Cash Rewards Credit Card promises boosted cash back in everyday categories. SunTrust is a regional bank that allows applications only from those residing in its nine “footprint states.” So, if you can get the card, should you? Our review will help you decide.

The rewards

With this card, you’ll earn:

  • 5 percent cash back on gas and groceries (on up to $6,000 spent in those categories combined in the first 12 months after account opening)
  • 2 percent unlimited cash back on gas and groceries after Year 1
  • 1 percent unlimited cash back on all other qualifying purchases

You can redeem for cash back (minimum of $5 per redemption) as a statement credit to your card account or a deposit into a bank account.

If you have other SunTrust accounts, you can take your cash back to another level with cash-back deposit bonuses. Depending on your relationship with SunTrust, you can earn:

  • An additional 10 percent if you redeem into a checking, savings or money market account. So, in other words, if you deposit $100 in cash back, you’d get an additional $10.
  • An additional 25 percent if you have a SunTrust Signature Advantage account with less than $100k in it.
  • An additional 50 percent if you have a SunTrust Signature Advantage account with $100k or more in it.
  • An additional 75 percent if you’re a SunTrust Private Wealth Management client.

Fees

The SunTrust Cash Rewards Credit Card has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. The late-payment fee is up to $38.

Benefits

This card is offered at the World MasterCard level, meaning it comes with the standard suite of World MasterCard benefits, including secondary rental-car insurance, purchase protection, extended warranty, price protection (reimbursement if you find an item you bought for a lower price up to 120 days after purchase), travel accident coverage, baggage delay insurance, trip cancellation/interruption insurance and more.

Applying for the card

SunTrust offers its cards only to those in a handful of states:
When you reach the second page of the online application, you’ll only be allowed to proceed if your address is in the states listed above.

A good choice?

For the first year, the card is a cash-back powerhouse, earning 5 percent back on gas and groceries with no annual fee. The average U.S. family spends $6,000 on groceries per year, and if your family matches that average), you could earn $300 per year in cash back.

After Year 1, though, the card is less compelling and competitive if you don’t have a relationship with SunTrust (to get those redemption bonuses). Plenty of no-annual-fee cash-back cards in the industry earn 2 percent (or more) in the gas and grocery categories. The Blue Cash Everyday card from American Express, for example, earns 3 percent back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1 percent) and an unlimited 2 percent on gas. The BankAmericard Cash Rewards card, meanwhile, earns 2 percent back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 3 percent on gas (for the first $2,500 in combined category spending per quarter).

And plenty of other cards earn 2 percent or 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases.

However, the SunTrust Cash Rewards Credit Card may win out if you have an existing relationship with the bank – especially if you have significant savings in a SunTrust Signature Advantage account. If you get the 25 percent redemption bonus, for example, you’re earning 6.25 percent cash back on gas and groceries in Year 1 and 2.5 percent cash back on groceries and gas after Year 1. Plus, you’re getting 1.25 percent on all purchases always. That’s more competitive. If you manage to get into the upper relationship tiers for the 50 and 75 percent bonuses, there’s essentially no contest.

Why we gave it 3 out of 5 stars

This card’s rating was determined by our standards for cash-back credit cards.

Rewards-earning rate: We require no-annual fees to offer above one percent on ALL spending or at least 3 percent in at least one bonus category. This card does not fulfill that after Year 1.
Cash-back redemption value: The redemption value is 1 cent per point earned, fulfilling our requirements.
Rewards simplicity and transparency: For the first year, rewards are capped, so we rewarded half a star.
Bonus-earning opportunities: This card offers an introductory bonus (5 percent cash back on certain categories for Year 1) and ongoing redemption bonuses if you already have a SunTrust account.
Unique perks: The card provides free online FICO score access, but no other perks that are unique in the industry.