Credit Cards Credit Card Reviews

SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card Review

overall rating
3.8

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The SunTrust Prime Rewards has a three-year introductory offer that allows you to transfer a balance from another card and pay interest at only the Prime Rate—a percentage that has been running in the mid-single digits. The card has no annual fee, and you can earn 1% cash back on qualifying purchases.

SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card

overall rating
3.8
SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card
On SunTrust's Secured Site.

Current Offer:

3 year introductory offer on eligible balance transfers at Prime Rate (currently 3.25% variable APR). Plus earn a $100 in statement credit after you spend $500 on qualifying purchases in the first 3 months after account opening.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 11.24% - 21.24% variable
Annual Fee $0
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR Prime Rate (3.25%) for 36 Months
Balance Transfer Fee Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Rewards Earning Rate 1% cash back on all eligible purchases.
how this card stacks up
When compared among all balance transfer cards in our database:
Low Introductory Interest
Low Fees
Low Long Term Interest
Security/Customer Experience
Benefits
worst best

Currently rated one of our

Full Review of SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card

Pros
  • Exceptionally long introductory APR offer on balance transfers

  • Easily-earned one-time offer

  • Cell phone protection

Cons
  • Low rewards rate

  • Not available to residents in all states

Pros Explained

  • Exceptionally Long Introductory APR Offer on Balance Transfers: The SunTrust Prime Rewards card has an unusual if not unique low-interest offer on balance transfers. It provides not the 0% APR of most such deals, but instead sets interest at the Prime Rate—a reference point well below the typical APR that banks use to determine interest rates on loans and credit cards. And where 0% APR offers typically run for 9 to 12 months, the deal with this card runs for a full three years. Finally, the offer skips the customary transfer fee—of 3%—if you complete a balance transfer within 60 days of opening the card’s account. That makes this deal a potential cost-saver for those who plan to carry a balance for a while. By our calculation, paying a reduced interest rate for three years on a balance transfer leaves you ahead financially, over receiving 12 months free from interest but then having to pay a regular APR for the next two years. For a transfer of $10,000, and compared with paying a regular APR of 16%, we estimate the SunTrust offer would save you about $190 in interest. And those savings don’t include skipping the transfer fee of about $300, as you could with the SunTrust offer but likely not with the 0% APR one. Once the introductory offer expires, your APR will be 11.24% to 21.24% variable, depending on your credit profile. That’s a relatively low range. 
  • Easily Earned One-Time Offer: It’s one of the smaller bonuses out there, but few cards allow you to earn $100 as readily as the SunTrust Prime Rewards does. You get a $100 statement credit if you spend just $500 within the first three months of opening an account. To be eligible for the bonus, then, you’d have to spend just $167.67 per month—a threshold almost any cardholder should be able to meet. 
  • Cell Phone Protection: If you pay your cell phone bill with the SunTrust Prime Rewards, you receive up to $1,000 in cell phone protection against theft or damage per year. The coverage is limited to two claims per year, each of up to $800. 

Cons Explained

  • Low Rewards Rate: As a SunTrust Prime Rewards cardholder, you’ll earn 1% cash back on qualifying purchases. Even for a balance-transfer card, that’s a fairly low rewards rate, and one that limits the card’s appeal. 
  • Inconvenient Application Process in Some States: If you want to apply for the SunTrust Prime Rewards card, it’s important to know that it’s not available conveniently and flexibly to everyone. Unless you're already a SunTrust customer, only residents in the following states can apply for the card online: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington D.C., and West Virginia. If you live elsewhere, you’ll have to apply for the card over the phone. Also, according to a customer-service representative, Vermont residents are ineligible for the card, no matter how they apply.

This Card is Best For

  • Avatar for Cash Back Strategist Persona
    Seeks to maximize cash back earnings across spending categories
    Cash Back Strategist
  • Avatar for Annual Fee Averse Persona
    Resists or refuses an annual fee on principle or due to cost
    Annual Fee Averse
  • Avatar for Balance Carrier Persona
    Tends to pay less than balance in full and so accumulates debt on card
    Balance Carrier

This card is best-suited to—indeed, exclusively aimed at—people who have high-interest credit card debt on another card and who need a long time to pay it off. The SunTrust Prime Rewards allows a full three years at a very low APR, which allows you plenty of time to pay down your balance without incurring onerous interest charges. 

Here’s how this card's APR offer can help reduce costs compared with having no low-interest deal at all. 

For example, let's say you had $6,000 in credit card debt on a card at 16% APR. If you paid $180 per month, it would take you 45 months to pay off your balance. By the time you retired the debt, you’d have incurred $2,007 in interest charges.

But let’s say you transferred the $6,000 balance to the SunTrust Prime Rewards card. At the time of publication in early 2020, your APR would be 3.25% (the current Prime Rate) for 36 months. If you continued to pay $180 per month, you’d pay off your full balance before the introductory APR expired. And you’d pay just $397 in interest charges, a savings of more than $1,500 compared with repaying the balance without the deal. 

This card’s rewards are fairly meager, but they are increased for those who hold other accounts with SunTrust. Those bonuses (of up to 50%) make the card more appealing if you’re already a customer of SunTrust, or are prepared to take more of your business to the company. 

SunTrust Prime Rewards One-Time Offer

If you spend at least $500 on purchases with your SunTrust Prime Rewards card within the first three months of becoming a cardmember, you’ll get a $100 statement credit.

That spending threshold is easily achievable for most people. If you only use your card to pay for essentials like groceries and gas, you should readily meet the $500 requirement and earn the $100 statement credit—which essentially represents a 20% return on your spending. 

Rewards Earning Details

The rewards program on the SunTrust Prime Rewards card is simple; there are no spending categories to remember. Instead, you’ll earn a flat 1% cash back on every purchase you make. 

However, customers who have other SunTrust accounts can qualify for loyalty bonuses that can increase your rewards.

  • Checking, savings and money market account customers: 10% rewards bonus 
  • Advantage Checking, Signature Advantage Checking, or Exclusive Checking customers: 
  • Balance between $25,000 and $100,000: 25% rewards bonus
  • Balance greater than $100,000: 50% rewards bonus
  • SunTrust Premier Program or Private Wealth Management customers: 50% rewards bonus

That means if you’d otherwise earn $100 in cash back rewards and had a basic SunTrust checking account, you’d get a 10% bonus. You’d then have a total of $110 in cash back rewards. 

Rewards Redemption Details

Cash-back rewards can be redeemed for gift cards, bank deposits, statement credits, merchandise, and travel arrangements. Your rewards have the same value regardless of redemption method. 

How to Maximize Your Rewards

Using this card whenever you make a purchase will earn a flat 1% cash back on every qualifying transaction. That's not a lot, relatively speaking, but it’s better than nothing if you don’t own a more lucrative rewards card.   

To show you how rewards can add up, consider a typical person’s spending. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average consumer spends: 

  • $7,923 per year on food
  • $1,866 per year on apparel and services
  • $2,109 per year on fuel
  • $768 per year on personal-care products

If you spent those amounts in each category and used your SunTrust Prime Rewards card to pay for each purchase, you’d earn 1% cash back on the $12,666 you spent, giving you $126.66 in rewards. 

To get the most value from your card, consider taking advantage of SunTrust’s loyalty bonuses. If you sign up for a SunTrust checking, savings, or money market account, you'll get a 10% loyalty bonus, giving you a higher rewards rate. Premium accounts and high account balances increase the bonus to 25% or 50%. 

Assuming that you had a checking or savings account with SunTrust, you’d get a 10% loyalty bonus. In the example we detail above, your cash-back rewards for annual spending would increase from $126.66 to $139.33. 

SunTrust Prime Rewards Outstanding Benefits

The SunTrust Prime Rewards card does offer some standout benefits for a credit card with no annual fee: 

  • Cell phone protection: If you use your card to pay your cell phone bill, you’ll get protection for your cell phone against damage or theft. 
  • Complimentary Shoprunner membership: You'll get free two-day shipping and free return shipping at major retailers. 
  • Postmates discount: Use your card to pay for food and beverage orders through PostMates and get $5 off every order of $25 or more. 
  • 10% off OneFineStay bookings: Book reservations at rental homes across the globe with OneFineStay and get 10% off your stay. 

Standard Benefits

  • Purchase protection
  • Secondary car-rental insurance
  • Roadside assistance
  • Professional travel services
  • Emergency travel referral assistance
  • Travel insurance

Cardholder Experience

In the J.D. Power Credit Card Satisfaction Study, SunTrust was ranked sixth out of 11 regional bank card issuers. However, SunTrust recently merged with BB&T, the top-ranked regional card issuer, so you might expect even better service going forward than the current ranking for SunTrust suggests. 

The customer-service team is based in the United States and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can get help online through secured online chat, or you can call 1-800-477-9702. 

Security Features

The SunTrust Prime Rewards card has standard security features, including zero liability protection, identity theft protection, emergency card replacement, and emergency cash advances. Cardmembers can also view their FICO score for free on their monthly billing statements.  

Our Verdict

The SunTrust Prime Rewards provides consumers carrying debt on a high-interest card that they’ll need a few years to pay off an appealing solution, and with no annual fee or balance-transfer charges. The card does charge interest, at the Prime Rate, for up to 36 months, but that’s actually cheaper than taking a shorter 0% APR offer and then continuing to pay interest at a market APR for two years after that deal expires.If you don’t need the extended period of interest relief this card provides, though, you’re better off looking to alternative options. Those include other cards that specialize in balance transfers through shorter offers in which no interest at all is imposed. For instance, the Amex Everyday card offers 0% APR on balance transfers for 15 months with an ongoing regular APR of 12.99 - 23.99% variable and no balance transfer fee for transfers made in the first 60 days of account opening. 

And almost any other card you choose, no matter the type, will likely beat the the rewards you’ll earn with the SunTrust Prime Rewards. For example, the Discover it Cash Back card allows you to earn 5% cash back on quarterly spending categories on up to $1,500 spent per quarter, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. If you spent the maximum each quarter, for an annual total of $6,000, that means you’d earn $300 in cash back rewards (which Discover will even double during your first year as a cardmember). Contrast that with the mere $125 or so you would earn in cash back with the SunTrust Prime Rewards, for spending about twice as much over the year.

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For SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card
on SunTrust's Secured Site.
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CURRENT CARD
SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card
overall rating
3.8
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 11.24% - 21.24% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate 1% cash back on all eligible purchases.
Investopedia Credit Card Rating Methodology
Investopedia is committed to delivering the best credit card recommendations in the industry. We’ll tell you when a card is good, we’ll tell you when a card is bad, and we’ll only call a card the best if we would recommend it to our friends or family members.
Overall Star Rating Explained
To rate credit cards we objectively assess, score and weight nearly 100 individual card features which roll up into five major feature sets: fees, interest, rewards, benefits and security/customer service. Here’s how we weighted those feature sets for the overall star rating of a card:
We have applied our proprietary rating methodology to every generally-accepted credit card in the U.S. domestic market to allow consumers to make fully informed choices. It’s important to note that for our overall score that we make a number of assumptions about how you would be using your credit card:
  1. While we make no assumption as to whether balances are carried on a given card we do assign varying weights to all credit cards’ introductory APR (if present) in addition to the regular, long term purchase and balance transfer interest rates.
  2. We utilize BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) income and average category spending data to calculate annual earnings rates for rewards cards that offer cash back, points or miles rewards at a set rate on all spending or in consideration of bonus rewards for certain spending categories, like gasoline, groceries, restaurants or travel.
  3. We determine the maximum points value of rewards cards by dividing the points, cash back or miles required to exchange for the retail price of the most valuable redemption option (for example, in the case of a card that offers a domestic roundtrip airline ticket as a redemption option vs. another redemption option of lesser value that requires the same amount of points or miles to acquire, we would base the rewards value on the airline ticket).
  • Cards that are selected best overall in their respective categories generally feature most if not all of the following attributes:
  • Low or Reasonable Fees Credit card fees come in many forms but the primary ones involve those for annual card membership and balance transfer. There are a myriad of reward and non-reward card options that charge no annual fee but for the many that do assess an annual fee the cost is often justified by their lucrative ongoing rewards and initial signup bonuses. Balance transfer fees are occasionally waived during introductory periods with certain cards, a factor which is heavily and positively weighted in our scoring model for cards offering this benefit. When charged, balance transfer fees range between 3% - 5%, which we grade accordingly. Other standard fees can generally be avoided, such as those for paying late or taking cash advances but we rate those relative to other cards in the market for reference, though with less weight assigned
  • Competitive Interest Many cards offer 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for varying lengths and then revert to a permanent or regular APR (based on a variable rate tied to the prime rate) that applies to any balances not paid in full. We rate both introductory APR percentage and length (in months) along with the midpoint of the variable regular APR interest rate range.
  • Valuable Rewards Credit card reward programs can be based on cash back, points or travel rewards (which can be generic or travel partner-specific, as with airline and hotel co-brand card programs). For cards that offer rewards we determine the value per dollar spent along with average redemption values and assign more favorable ratings to cards that offer superior consumer value. We also assign value to sign-up bonus offers and their initial spending requirements, when present.
  • Excellent Benefits Credit card benefits cover a range of offerings like concierge service, TSA Pre-check, auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, lost luggage assistance and free credit scores. We rate cards on the number and level of over a dozen standard and upscale benefits and provide extra weighting emphasis for those travel-related perks that apply to premium travel cards when present.
  • Solid Security/Customer Service Security and customer service features like lost or stolen card replacement, being able to lock one’s card from an issuer app and 24 hour customer support are becoming more standard across the card market and we provide a significant amount of weighting to features in this area.
  • You can also read the full version of our methodology for a more in-depth look at how we assess cards and award them the best in various categories.