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SunTrust Secured Credit Card Review

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At a Glance
suntrust secured credit card
4.2 / 5
Rating

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SunTrust Secured Credit Card

  • Sign-up Bonus: None
  • Rewards: 2% cash back on gas and grocery spending, up to $6,000 in total category spending per year; unlimited 1% cash back on everything else
  • Benefits: Cash back bonuses (up to 75%) for SunTrust checking accountholders; free customizable card face; free FICO score every month; Platinum Mastercard benefits
  • Fees: 3% foreign transaction fee; 4% balance transfer and cash advance fees
  • Annual Fee: $32
  • Credit Needed: Below average

Advertiser Disclosure: This post includes references to offers from our partners. We receive compensation when you click on links to those products. However, the opinions expressed here are ours alone and at no time has the editorial content been provided, reviewed, or approved by any issuer.

The SunTrust Secured Credit Card doesn’t make our list of the best secured credit cards to rebuild credit, but it has some unique features worth considering. With a $32 annual fee and a strong cash back rewards program that favors gas and grocery spending, it’s designed for applicants seeking to build or rebuild their credit after setbacks such as foreclosure or personal bankruptcy.

As a secured card, SunTrust Secured Credit Card requires conditionally approved users to open special secured savings accounts and make opening deposits of at least $300, up to their approved credit limits. These deposits earn nominal interest (currently 0.01% APY) and are refunded only when the card balance has been paid in full and the account closed.

SunTrust Secured Credit Card is a great stepping stone to better credit. In exchange for your promise to pay by your statement due date and use your allotted credit limit responsibly, you’ll earn 2% cash back on gas and grocery spending (up to $6,000 in combined category spending per year) and 1% cash back on everything else. You’ll also enjoy valuable fringe benefits, courtesy of Platinum Mastercard, and generous cash back bonuses when you redeem accumulated cash back into SunTrust deposit accounts.

If you’re on the path to improving your credit, SunTrust Secured Credit Card is worth a closer look. Here’s what you need to know about its features, advantages, drawbacks, and overall suitability.

Key Features

Initial Deposit Requirement and Refund

If SunTrust conditionally approves your application, you’ll be told your approved credit limit and given 50 days to make a deposit into your interest-bearing collateral account, known as your Secured Savings Account. Your credit limit and initial deposit will not be less than $300. SunTrust holds this deposit until your pay off your entire outstanding balance and close your account.

If you upgrade to an unsecured credit card, SunTrust converts your collateral account to a regular savings account from which you’re free to make withdrawals. While your secured card is open and active, with or without a balance, you can’t withdraw the collateral account deposit.

Credit Limit Increases

If you’d like to increase your credit limit after opening your account, you need to formally apply for a limit increase. SunTrust reserves the right to pull your credit during this process. If your application is approved, you’ll receive notice of your new credit limit. You can then make a corresponding deposit into your collateral account.

Earning Cash Back Rewards

This card earns 2% cash back on gas and grocery purchases, up to $6,000 in combined category spending per year ($120 in total bonus cash back). That’s great news if you’re trying to save money on groceries. All other purchases, including gas and grocery purchases above the $6,000 annual spending limit, earn unlimited 1% cash back.

Redeeming Cash Back Rewards

The minimum cash back redemption threshold is $5. Once you clear that, you’re free to redeem your rewards for statement credits against your credit card balance, or you can receive direct deposits into a U.S. checking, savings, or money market account (whether at SunTrust or another institution).

You can also redeem for non-cash items, including travel, experiences, gift cards, and general merchandise. Redemption rates vary on these non-cash items, and they may devalue your earned cash back.

Cash Back Bonuses for SunTrust Deposit Account Holders

SunTrust deposit account holders are entitled to potentially generous bonuses on cash back redemptions.

You’ll earn a 10% bonus ($10 for every $100 redeemed) by redeeming into SunTrust checking, savings, or money market account, other than the Secured Savings Account.

If you have a SunTrust Signature Advantage Account and less than $100,000 combined deposit and investment account balances, you’ll earn a 25% bonus ($25 for every $100 redeemed).

If you have a SunTrust Signature Advantage Account or are enrolled in the Premier Banking Program and have more than $100,000 in combined deposit and investment account balances, you’ll earn a 50% bonus ($50 for every $100 redeemed).

And, if you’re a SunTrust Private Wealth Management client, you’ll earn a 75% bonus ($75 for every $100 redeemed).

Credit Bureau Reporting

Every billing cycle, SunTrust reports your payments (or lack thereof) and credit utilization rate to all three major credit reporting bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. If you consistently pay your bills on time and utilize your credit limit responsibly, your credit score is likely to rise over time as a result. For more help, check out our guide to rebuilding your credit.

Important Fees

SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card has a $32 annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is 3%. Balance transfers and cash advances both cost the greater of $10 or 4%. Late and returned payments cost up to $38.

Free FICO Score and Credit Insights

Your account comes with a free FICO score that’s visible in your online account dashboard. It changes monthly, helping you keep close tabs on potential credit issues before they cause serious harm. Within your online account dashboard, you can also access a slew of helpful tools and content related to responsible credit use.

Platinum Mastercard Benefits

As a Platinum Mastercard product, SunTrust Secured Credit Card comes with some useful benefits. The most noteworthy include:

  • Complimentary loss and damage coverage on rental cars charged in full to the card
  • Purchase assurance (refunds) on certain items lost or stolen within 90 days of purchase
  • Extended warranties on purchased items with original warranties of 12 months or less

Credit Required

SunTrust Secured Credit Card is available to applicants with below average credit. A recent bankruptcy may jeopardize your application.

Advantages

  1. Generous Cash Back Rate for a Secured Card. SunTrust Secured Credit Card earns cash back at a pretty generous clip for a secured credit card: 2% back on the first $6,000 in annual gas and grocery spending ($120 in annual bonus cash back), and unlimited 1% back on everything else. That’s better than most direct competitors. For instance, Navy Federal Credit Union nRewards Secured Credit Card, which is reputed for its generosity, earns a flat 1% back on all purchases.
  2. Cash Back Bonuses for SunTrust Deposit Account Holders. The cash back deal gets even better for existing SunTrust deposit account holders, who can earn bonuses from 10% to 75% on redeemed cash back. Most secured card users will likely qualify for the 10% or 25% bonus categories, but $10 to $20 per $100 is nothing to sneeze at.
  3. Solid Fringe Benefits. This card boasts Platinum Mastercard benefits such as complimentary loss and damage waivers on rental cars and extended warranties on certain purchased items. If you can find ways to take advantage of these benefits, you’ll earn or save hundreds each year you hold this card.
  4. Deposit Earns Token Interest. Deposits held in SunTrust Secured Savings Accounts earn nominal interest. However, yields are at rock-bottom: 0.01% APY. However, if and when prevailing interest rates rise, it’s likely that these savings yields will rise as well. That’s a potential incentive to apply for this card over other secured options that don’t hold deposits in interest-bearing collateral accounts.
  5. Can Upgrade to an Unsecured Card. After several consecutive months of responsible credit use, you can apply for an upgrade to an unsecured credit card without first paying off your balance and closing your secured card account. You can choose from the SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card, the SunTrust Cash Rewards Credit Card, and the SunTrust Travel Rewards Credit Card. This is a big advantage over banks that don’t permit upgrades.
  6. Builds Credit With Responsible Use. SunTrust faithfully reports your payment patterns and credit utilization to the three major credit reporting bureaus each month. If you use your card responsibly and pay your bills on time, this is likely to improve your credit over time.

Disadvantages

  1. Has an Annual Fee. SunTrust Secured Credit Card has a $32 annual fee. If you’re a light spender or have a low credit  limit, and therefore can’t earn cash back fast enough to offset this charge, this isn’t the ideal secured card for you.
  2. Can’t Automatically Increase Your Limit With Additional Deposits. SunTrust doesn’t allow you to increase your credit limit simply by making a deposit into your collateral account. Instead, you need to formally apply for a credit limit increase. This may require a hard credit pull, which can temporarily impact your credit score.
  3. Relatively High Initial Deposit Requirement. This card requires an initial collateral account deposit of at least $300. That’s fairly high for a secured card, and may pose a problem for cash-strapped applicants. Some competitors, such as Citi Secured Mastercard ($200 minimum deposit) and Capital One Secured Mastercard ($49 minimum), are more lenient.
  4. Has a Foreign Transaction Fee. This card has a 3% foreign transaction fee. That’s more than enough to negate cash back rewards on international spending. If you regularly travel out of the U.S., consider a foreign-transaction-fee-free alternative such as the Navy Federal Credit Union nRewards Secured Credit Card.
  5. High Balance Transfer and Cash Advance Fees. SunTrust Secured Credit Card has high balance transfer and cash advance fees: 4% or $10, whichever is greater. With such a high regular APR, it’s not clear that you’d want to use this card for balance transfers anyway, but the high balance transfer fee makes it even less attractive. Some competing cards, including the Navy Federal Credit Union nRewards Secured Credit Card, are much more generous: the NFCU card has no balance transfer fees and a token cash advance fee of $1 or less.

Final Word

If you live in the South, your home probably isn’t too far from a SunTrust branch. As SunTrust is one of the biggest banks in the region, it’s fair to bet that you or someone you know has a SunTrust deposit account.

If you live in another region of the country, the benefits of doing business with SunTrust aren’t beyond your reach. You can apply for a SunTrust deposit account (thanks to its robust online banking apparatus) or any of the bank’s rewards credit cards as long as you meet U.S. residency requirements and basic underwriting guidelines.

Once you’ve had your secured card for a year or two and demonstrated responsible credit use, you’ll have a real shot at approval for one of these potentially generous credit cards, which can earn up to 5% cash back on spending in select categories. That’s definitely a credit goal worth aspiring to.

Verdict
suntrust secured credit card
4.2 / 5
Rating

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SunTrust Secured Credit Card

The SunTrust Secured Credit Card is a solid choice for consumers who want to earn cash back while they rebuild their credit. Thanks to SunTrust’s redemption bonuses for deposit account holders, it’s an even better deal for current SunTrust customers. And, unlike some competitors, it offers a clear path to unsecured status. On the other hand, the relatively high initial deposit requirements and cumbersome credit limit increase procedures make it less attractive for users who expect their incomes (and means) to grow.

Key benefits include the generous cash back rate, cash back bonuses for SunTrust account holders, strong fringe benefits, yield on collateral account deposits (likely to be more useful as rates rise), clear path to unsecured upgrade, and likelihood of better credit with responsible use.

Drawbacks include the $32 annual fee, 3% foreign transaction fee, $300 minimum initial deposit requirement, the inability to increase the credit limit simply by making a new deposit, and the 4% (or $10) balance transfer and cash advance fees.

Overall, a great choice for those who take their credit-building with a side of cash back.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

Comments Disclosure: The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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