The SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card is for borrowers with good credit who want to refinance high-interest debt, but need more time to pay it off than the typical balance transfer card offers. Most credit cards with balance-transfer promotions give cardholders 12 to 18 months to carry a balance at a 0% APR. But that kind of timetable can be difficult to keep up with when you’re juggling debt and a tight budget. Paying off your balance before the standard APR kicks in may require a monthly payment you just can’t afford.
With this card, by contrast, you will pay some interest (a low rate) during the introductory promotion, but you can take up to three years to chip away at your balance before the card’s standard rate applies.
Depending on how much you can spare for monthly payments and the total credit card debt you have, transferring balances with this offer (which must be done within your first 60 days with the card) can save you more money than a traditional balance transfer card would. Plus, you won’t be charged a fee to make the balance transfer if you do it within those 60 days. (More on this below.)
Exceptionally long promotional period
No balance transfer fee initially
Lower ongoing APR than many balance transfer cards
No balance transfer snag on new purchases
No 0% APR offer
Lackluster rewards on purchases
Promotional APR fluctuates with the prime rate
- Exceptionally long promotional period: Three years is practically unheard of for a low-interest rate balance transfer promotion. And the APR, pegged to the prime rate, is still far lower than most three-year personal loan options for refinancing credit card debt.
- No balance transfer fee initially: Most balance transfer cards charge a 3% to 5% balance transfer fee that can add up to hundreds of dollars if you have a large balance. With this card, you’ll have 60 days to make a transfer at no charge. (There’s a fee of 3% for any transfers made after that.) Even if you don’t need three years to pay off your balance, a competing card that charges a fee may end up costing you more, depending on how much you transfer.
- Lower ongoing APR than many balance transfer cards: With a below-average ongoing APR for both balance transfers and purchases, the SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card is a safer choice for the long haul. The range of ongoing APRs offered beats many of the best-known balance transfer competitors by a good 1 to 3 percentage points.
- No balance transfer snag on new purchases: Unlike some cards, the SunTrust Prime Rewards card gives you a grace period on new purchases even if you take advantage of the promotional balance transfer offer. Just pay the minimum amount due on the transferred credit card balance, plus the total amount of new purchases you have charged to your card each month and you'll avoid finance charges.
- No 0% APR offer: If you have a large enough budget––or a low enough debt load––to pay off your credit card balance in 15 or 18 months (you may even be able to find an offer of 21 months), then you are better off sticking with a card that doesn’t charge any interest during the promotional period. (Of course, if you pay a balance transfer fee with a competing card, that may change the equation.)
- Lackluster rewards on purchases: Though you’re not likely to get this card for the rewards, it would be nice if it offered more than an uninspired 1% cash back. Cardholders who redeem rewards into their SunTrust bank accounts will get a little bit more, but it’s still not a good reason to apply for this card.
- Promotional APR fluctuates with the prime rate: Planning monthly card payments can be difficult when the promotional APR can change at any time. A personal loan or a card at 0% fixed APR, by contrast, allows you to budget for monthly payments from the outset, and stick to it until the end of the promotion.
The prime rate, which moves in step with a benchmark rate set by the Federal Reserve, has never been lower, thanks to the Fed’s emergency rate cut in March 2020.
Bonus for New Cardholders
The SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card’s $100 statement credit (after spending $500 on qualifying purchases in your first three months with the card) isn’t amazing, but it’s better than what you’ll get with some competitors. Many balance transfer cards that offer 18- to 21-month promotional periods don’t offer an introductory bonus at all.
Earning Points & Rewards
If you decide to use this card for more than just paying down a big balance, you’ll collect 1% cash back on your purchases—a bare-bones rate for any rewards card.
If you have good credit, you can almost certainly earn more with another rewards card. For perspective, if you charge $1,000 a month, a 1% card will yield $120 in cash back over a year; a 1.5% card, $180 in cash back; and a 2% card, $240 in cash back.
If you bank with SunTrust, you can boost your rewards by redeeming them into eligible SunTrust accounts. The more you keep in those account(s), the bigger your Loyalty Cash Bonus:
- If you redeem into any SunTrust checking, savings, or money market account, you’ll get a 10% bonus—effectively 1.1% cash back.
- If you have $25,000 to $100,000 in deposit or investment balances in select SunTrust accounts, you will get a 25% bonus, or effectively 1.25% back.
- If you have more than $100,000 in deposit or investment balances in select SunTrust accounts, you will get a 50% loyalty bonus, or effectively 1.5% back.
In terms of redemption methods, you’ll have two options for getting cash back: a statement credit or an ACH deposit. (And you can’t redeem less than $5.) You can also redeem your rewards for merchandise, gift cards, travel, or experiential rewards, all of which can be purchased or booked on SunTrust’s online rewards portal.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
If you can’t afford to pay off all your credit card debt in 15 or 18 months, this card’s balance transfer offer could save you quite a bit in finance charges. Some simple examples in the table below illustrate this. Let’s say you have total balances of $5,000 to transfer. If you can pay $334 a month or even $239 a month, using a card with a 0% APR offer probably makes sense, assuming you find one with a long enough promotional period that you can wipe away your balance without paying any interest at all.
But if $146 a month is more realistic for your budget, using the SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card is a better choice. At a 3.25% APR, you’ll pay off that $5,000 balance in three years with a monthly payment of about $146. Sure, you’ll have to pay $255 in interest (rolled into that payment,) but consider the alternative. If you had used a card charging a 15% APR for the last 21 months of your pay-down period, interest would have cost you about $403.
(including any interest)
|Repayment Period||Total Interest|
|Card with 15 months at 0% APR||$334 a month||15 months||$0|
|Card with 21 months at 0% APR||$239 a month||21 months||$0|
|SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card with 36 months at 3.25% APR||$146 a month||36 months||$255|
|Card with 15 months at 0% APR and then 21 months at 15% APR||$146 for first 15 months and $153 for remaining 21 months||36 months||$403|
What’s more, you should take into account any balance transfer fees you may be charged with a competing card. If you use a card with a fee of 3%-5%, your total borrowing cost will be $150 to $250 higher on a $5,000 balance.
To keep things simple, you may want to avoid using this card for purchases while you’re paying down debt. If you do use it—perhaps to earn the bonus or take advantage of a perk such as cell phone insurance—pay any new purchases in full to avoid impacting your repayment calendar. In other words, if you must pay $150 a month to pay off your balance within three years, and you made $500 worth of purchases this month, send your bank $650.
SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card’s Excellent Perks
Credit cards can come with a lot of different extras, but we’ve made a list of the ones with exceptional value. The SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card offers a few of these standout benefits as a World Mastercard:
- Insurance coverage for delayed luggage: You’ll be reimbursed up to $100 a day for emergency essentials, such as clothing or toothpaste, if you use your card to pay for your trip. Coverage lasts for a maximum of three days.
- Insurance coverage for trip cancellation or interruption: If you charge your trip to your card, you may be reimbursed up to $1,500 if it’s canceled or cut short through no fault of your own.
- Cellphone coverage: Use this card to pay your phone bill and you’ll get up to $1,000 worth of insurance coverage for a stolen or damaged phone.
SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card’s Other Features
- Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
- Roadside assistance hotline
- Hotlines for travel, medical and legal problems
- Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases
- Free shipping through ShopRunner membership
- Automatic $5 discount on all Postmates orders over $25
- 10% discount on onefinestay.com short-term rentals
According to J.D. Power’s 2019 credit card satisfaction survey, SunTrust has earned middle-of-the-road marks: ranking seventh out of 12 regional credit card issuers. The bank offers 24/7 customer service, but not an instant chat service.
The SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card’s security features are standard for the industry.
SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card’s Fees
Compared to other balance transfer cards, this fee schedule is exceptionally competitive, and not just because fees for balance transfers made within your first 60 days are waived. After that, the standard balance transfer fee is 3%, rather than the 5% some competitors charge. There’s also no foreign transaction fee, a somewhat unusual benefit for a basic rewards credit card, or a penalty APR.