SunTrust Secured Credit Card with Cash Rewards Review

By Christina Majaski. Last updated 23 May 2017. 0 comments

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SunTrust Bank, originating and headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, has an extensive history of providing banking services and financial products that reaches as far back as 1891. Its secured credit card, the SunTrust Secured Credit Card with Cash Rewards, is however, fairly new on the credit repair market. This card provides many features not yet available with many other secured credit cards, such as a rewards program that would be considered valuable, even among unsecured credit cards. (See also: 5 Best Secured Credit Cards)

Why We Like This Card

  • Earn up to 2% cash back on gasoline and grocery store purchases.
  • Opportunity to graduate to an unsecured credit card.

How This Card Works

After you are approved for the card, you must open a Secured Card Savings account with SunTrust Bank. You can then make a deposit as low as $300 up to the maximum credit limit you are given when approved. Your security deposit is held in the secured card savings account for the duration of your credit card. When you have made your deposit, you receive a credit card with a credit limit equal to the amount of your deposit, and can use the card as you would any credit card. Your payments to the card are reported to the three major credit bureaus which, if managed responsibly and made on time, can help establish a positive credit rating. Furthermore, through proper use of your credit account, SunTrust Bank may graduate the card to an unsecured credit card.

SunTrust Secured Rewards Program

When you are approved for the card you are automatically enrolled in the rewards program, which allows you to earn cash back on the purchases made with the credit card. You earn 2% cash back on the first $6,000 spent each year on gas and grocery store purchases and 1% cash back on all other purchases, including gas and grocery purchases made after the first $6,000. The cap on the 2% categories resets each year. Your cash rewards do not expire.

You can redeem your cash rewards at $25 increments for statement credit or check. If you redeem by depositing your cash back into a regular SunTrust checking, savings, or money market account, you receive a 10% bonus on your rewards. For example, if you have accumulated $50 in cash back and have it deposited into a SunTrust checking account, you receive a bonus of $5. The 10% bonus, however, is not applied if you redeem your cash back into your Secured Card Savings account. It needs to be a "regular" checking, savings, or money market account.

Other Benefits

Shopping benefits. Includes shopping benefits such as extended warranty which double the original manufacturer warranty for up to one year, price protection in the event you find a lower price within 120 days from the purchase date, and purchase assurance which covers purchases that are damaged or stolen within 90 days of the purchase date.

Concierge service. You have access to concierge service for assistance with dinner reservations, tickets to events, purchasing gifts, and making business-related arrangements.

Pros

Earn cash rewards. It is rare for secured credit cards to offer rewards programs, especially for cash back. This card allows you to earn 2% cash back on your gasoline and grocery store purchases up to $6,000 in purchases per year, and then after that, you earn an unlimited 1%.

10% cash back bonus. You can earn an additional 10% cash back when you redeem through a SunTrust bank account, other than the secured card savings account. This increases the value of the rewards earned on your purchases.

Graduate to an unsecured card. Not all card issuers allow you to graduate from a secured card account to an unsecured card. When your credit improves and you no longer need the secured card, you would need to cancel or close the account in order to receive a refund of your security deposit, plus you have the added disadvantage of losing an aged account from your credit rating. This card provides the opportunity to possibly graduate to an unsecured card, in which case, your secured savings account would be converted to a personal savings account that you can do with as you please.

Cons

High APR. Although secured credit cards often carry higher APRs than unsecured cards, secured cards with lower APRs do exist. However, because of the rewards program especially, it is recommended that you pay your balance in full each month rather than carry month to month in order to avoid paying interest on your purchases, which cancels out any rewards earned with the card. If you consistently carry balances, it is best to forego any rewards opportunities and instead opt for a card with a lower APR. 

Cannot increase limit. You cannot increase your credit limit by depositing into your account periodically like you can with other secured credit cards. The amount you initially deposit is the amount of your credit limit unless you close the account and open a new one. You do have approximately 50 days to make your security deposit, which allows you to build up the amount of your deposit before actually submitting.

Does not earn interest. The security deposit does not earn interest while it is being held. This is an option sometimes offered by secured credit cards, which allows you to earn a little extra on your deposit while it's being held. However, if you are provided the opportunity to graduate to an unsecured card, the deposit is transferred to a personal savings account which does earn interest and can be managed just as you would any other savings account.

Foreign transaction fee. The foreign transaction fee of 3% is common with secured credit cards and is only a disadvantage if you travel abroad frequently or use your card for foreign purchases. Since this fee also eliminates any cash rewards earned with the card, it is best you choose a secured card with a lower or no foreign transaction fee.

Who This Card Is Best For

This card is best if you are in the process of establishing or reestablishing your credit rating, and want to earn cash back on gasoline and grocery store purchases. Because of the high APR, it is best for those who pay balances in full each month rather than carry them from month to month. It is also ideal if you currently bank with SunTrust Banks or may in the future, in order to take advantage of the added cash back bonus.

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