SunTrust Bank Review

SunTrust Bank operates more than 1,400 bank branches across the southwestern United States. This Atlanta-based bank got its start in 1890 and continues to serve clients with a clear mission statement — “Lighting the way to financial well-being.”

SunTrust Bank offers a range of consumer client services with a significant focus on wealth management, growth and long-term investment planning. Interest rates for SunTrust’s offerings are on par with other brick-and-mortar banks but fall behind its online competition.

As a primarily regional bank, SunTrust offers benefits for clients living in and around its service area, but its web presence may lack some of the functionality and ease-of-use delivered by online only banks.

SunTrust at a glance

Pros
  • Historical legacy of financial expertise and wealth management
  • Focus on long-term investment growth
  • Variety of accounts to match personal needs
Cons
  • Branches primarily in the Southwest
  • Lower-than-average interest rates
  • Mixed reviews about in-person service

What’s interesting about SunTrust

SunTrust’s regional focus allows its advisers to better understand local market trends and make wealth management recommendations that help grow client savings. The bank is also committed to reducing customers’ financial stress with its onUp Movement, which offers advice and strategies to improve financial confidence.

As one of the country’s largest and longest-running regional banks, SunTrust is able to offer competitive interest rates compared to other brick-and-mortar banks and provide a wide variety of accounts to help clients find their best fit.

Things to consider

Lacking a physical presence outside the Southwest, SunTrust Bank struggles to compete online with web-based financial institutions. In addition, their in-branch customer service has mixed reviews across multiple websites. Finally, the bank is currently in the process of merging with BB&T to create a new banking brand, Truist, which may impact long-term operations.

Checking & savings accounts

SunTrust Bank offers three checking account types: Advantage Checking, Essential Checking, and Balanced Checking. Of these three, only the Advantage Checking account is the only one that earns interest on your balance. This interest rate is somewhat lower than comparable brick-and-mortar banks. SunTrust does offer an online questionnaire to help find the best fit for your checking account needs.

Advantage Checking: This account requires a $100 balance to open and offers varying amounts of “Loyalty Cash Bonus” when linked with a SunTrust credit card that adds cash back into your checking account. With more than $3,000 worth of qualifying monthly deposits or a linked SunTrust credit card, this account has no monthly fee.

  • Essential Checking: Again, a $100 balance is required to open this account. No interest is accrued, but with $500 worth of deposits or a $500 daily balance, there is no monthly fee. You also receive a “starter pack” of 10 free checks, and students enjoy no monthly maintenance fees for the first five years.
  • Balanced Checking: $100 lets you open this account, which is designed to limit overdraft spending and manage checking balances. With a combined daily balance of more than $3,000 across checking, savings, money market and CDs, this account has no fee and also includes a reduced item return fee.

SunTrust also offers two types of savings accounts: Essential Savings and Select Savings.

  • Essential Savings: This account requires no minimum balance and has no monthly maintenance fee. Deposits are insured to the FDIC legal limit, and the account comes with free identity theft protection. This account generates no interest and incurs a fee after six withdrawal or balance transfer transactions.
  • Select Savings: This account requires a $100 minimum balance and earns interest tied to tiers based on the amount of money in your account. Interest rates are somewhat below similar banks. You also receive a 1% “anniversary bonus” of up to $25 when linked with a qualified checking account.

Money market accounts

SunTrust’s money market accounts require a $100 minimum balance to open and use a tiered interest system. Interest earned is slightly lower than
comparable banks. This account does offer limited check-writing privileges and provides easy online access to account balances and transfer options.

CDs

SunTrust Bank offers two CDs: Personal and Advantage.

Personal CDs require a $2,000 minimum deposit and offer tiered interest, with terms ranging from seven days to 10 years to fit your needs. SunTrust also offers a 12-month special rate which is comparable to other banks. The remainder of its CD interest rates are slightly below average.

Advantage CDs include higher interest rates, one penalty-free withdrawal per term and the ability to increase the CD principal during your term to generate additional interest. Advantage CDs require monthly auto-transfers of at least $50 to maintain higher interest rate offers.

Credit cards

SunTrust offers three Mastercard options: Cash Rewards Credit Card, Travel Rewards Credit Card and Prime Rewards Credit Card.

  • Cash Rewards Credit Card: This card offers 5% cash back on gas and grocery purchases up to $6,000 in the first 12 months. It also includes 0.0% introductory APR for 15 months and offers interest rates that are lower than comparable cards. In addition, cardholders receive 2% unlimited cash back on grocery and gas purchases and % on all other purchases after the promotional period ends. This card has no annual fee.
  • Travel Rewards Credit Card: After spending $3,000 in qualifying purchases in the first three months after opening this account, cardholders receive $250 in statement credit. A promotional 0.0% APR is offered for 15 months and better-than-average interest rates are offered thereafter. Along with 1% cash back on qualifying purchases and 2% back on qualified dining purchases, cardholders receive 3% unlimited cash back on all eligible travel purchases. This card has no annual fee for the first year.
  • Prime Rewards Credit Card: This card offers $100 in statement credit after spending $500 on qualifying purchases in the first three months. Cardholders receive three years of prime rate interest followed by variable interest rates that are slightly lower than average. There is no monthly fee for this card and you receive 1% unlimited cash back on all qualifying purchases.

Personal loans

SunTrust’s lending arm, LightStream, offers unsecured personal loans for almost any need. Fertility treatments, home renovations and improvements, debt consolidation, and more are all covered under a LightStream unsecured loan. Customers can borrow from $5,000 to $100,000 from LightStream with reasonable interest rates and experience same-day funding. Furthermore, there’s a 0.50% rate discount when you sign up for automatic payments and if you’re not completely satisfied with your loan experience, LightStream will refund you $100.

Mortgage loans

SunTrust has created a proprietary mortgage mobile app, SmartGUIDE, to help customers find and fund the home of their dreams. With SunTrust’s mortgages, there’s no origination fee, but do expect lender’s fees, usually around 1 point. But 30- and 15-year fixed mortgages have interest rates below 4% as long as you have a decent credit score of 660 and above.

Mortgage refinancing

SunTrust offers mortgage refinancing products to customers and it says it saves people an average of $314 per month by doing so. There are no closing costs for SunTrust’s mortgage refinancing products, and it offers several different products and rates to choose from.

Home equity loans & HELOCs

This bank offers home equity lines of credit with a special variable rate that’s currently calculated at prime minus 1.51% on initial advances of $25,000 or more at closing. That takes the current rate down to 3.24% for 12 months, which is a pretty sweet deal. If you’d rather have a fixed standard rate on your HELOC, SunTrust offers that option too, with rates that start at 4.50% APR. You can borrow as little as $10,000 or as much as $500,000 depending on your needs and the amount of equity in your home.

Car loans

Through LightStream, SunTrust also has auto financing products. Customers can expect a 0.50% interest rate discount with setting up automatic payments and another 0.10% if you show a better offer from another competitor. Interest rates are average, so LightStream makes up for it with excellent customer satisfaction and fast funding on loans.

The final word

SunTrust Bank offers regional expertise for clients looking to improve their investment strategies and reduce their stress around financial management. For customers who may prefer more robust online options or higher-than-average interest rates, SunTrust is likely not be the best fit. However, its lending arm, LightStream, offers great products for loans, especially for car loans and refinancing.