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Suntrust Home Equity Loan Review March 2024

In December 2019, BB&T and SunTrust completed a merger of equals to become Truist Bank. As Truist, the bank offers HELOCs with a wide range of terms. However, it no longer provides home equity loans.
Peter WardenMar 1, 2024
Editor’s Note
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Overall rating
2.64/5
Full Star
Full Star
Half Star
Empty Star
Empty Star
According to Bills.com
Home Equity LoanHELOC
AmountNot currently offered
Termn/a
Ratesn/a
Min. Credit Scoren/a
See Truist's website for full terms and disclosures
Pros

Has a solid reputation and a venerable history

Provides a simple and quick way to apply for a HELOC

Lets customer get their hands on their funds faster than many banks

Cons

It's HELOC rates aren’t typically among the lowest

Has had some customer service problems, though those may now be behind it

Doesn’t offer home equity loans

Does SunTrust Bank Offer Home Equity Loans or HELOCs?

Currently, SunTrust Bank is operating as Truist and offers HELOCs but not home equity loans.

Many banks withdrew some home equity products from their offerings soon after the COVID-19 pandemic began. As such, many banks, including SunTrust, may choose to reinstate them at some later time. 

Most HELOCs come with variable rates. In other words, their interest rates float up and down in line with most other rates. This variability may become a larger issue for borrowers concerned about the risk of rising interest rates on their HELOCs, for as long as the Federal Reserve tries to tame inflation by hiking rates. 

However, SunTrust/Truist also allows HELOC customers to fix the rates of some, or all, of their borrowing. Yet customers can do this only at the time money is withdrawn from the line of credit. And it can only be done five times. So borrowers should reserve this rate-fixing option for times when they’re drawing relatively large sums.

Further, during periods when interest rates are generally rising, customers are likely to pay a slightly higher rate to fix their rate than they would pay if they signed up for a variable rate. SunTrust/Truist also charges a nominal fee of $15 every time a rate is fixed.

SunTrust Bank: General Information

SunTrust Banks, Inc. began life as the Commercial Travelers’ Savings Bank in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1891. However, SunTrust Banks ceased to exist as a separate legal entity in late 2019. That’s when it entered a “merger of equals” with BB&T Corporation, another bank with roots in the 19th century.

SunTrust and BB&T’s merger created a whole new bank: Truist. With headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, Truist is now among America’s 10 biggest commercial banks and has 15 million customers. Its 2,100+ branches are found in 17 states.

Does SunTrust offer home equity loans or HELOCs?

As SunTrust/Truist, the bank offers HELOCs with a wide range of terms. However, it no longer provides home equity loans. 

Many banks withdrew some home equity products from their offerings soon after the COVID-19 pandemic began. As such, many banks, including SunTrust, may choose to reinstate them at some later time. 

SunTrust HELOC

The SunTrust/Truist HELOC webpage is shorter in detail than those of many competitor banks. But it’s possible to glean some information:

  • Maximum combined loan-to-value (CLTV) – Not published. Yet a HELOC calculator is preset on the website at 85%. Assuming that is the standard CLTV, the balances on the first (main) mortgage, plus the new HELOC, plus any existing second mortgage(s) could not exceed 85% of the home’s appraised market value.
  • Interest rate range – 7.05% to 11.50% APR (when Bills.com last checked). But that might rise, as the Federal Reserve continues to hike interest rates.
  • Minimum credit score – Not published. However, elsewhere on its website, Truist encourages borrowers to attempt to keep their credit score “above 720” to receive the lowest rates. Nevertheless, many borrowers with lower scores will likely still be approved for a HELOC, just at a higher interest rate.
  • Maximum and minimum loan amounts – Not published.
  • Length of loan terms – Borrowers can choose from a range of unspecified draw terms. Repayment periods last 5, 10, 15, 20, or 30 years.
  • Closing costs – “The advertised rate will vary if the client chooses for the bank to pay their closing costs, which is an option in some states if the requested loan amount is less than or equal to $500,000. Other fees may be charged at origination, closing or subsequent to closing, ranging from $0 to $10,000, and may vary by state.” So Truist can often help with closing costs. However, when it does, and the borrower repays the HELOC in less than three years, the bank can demand the money back

Most HELOCs come with variable rates. In other words, their interest rates float up and down in line with most other rates. This variability may become a larger issue for borrowers concerned about the risk of rising interest rates on their HELOCs, for as long as the Federal Reserve tries to tame inflation by hiking rates. 

However, SunTrust/Truist also allows HELOC customers to fix the rates of some, or all, of their borrowing. Yet customers can do this only at the time money is withdrawn from the line of credit. And it can only be done five times. So borrowers should reserve this rate-fixing option for times when they’re drawing relatively large sums.

Further, during periods when interest rates are generally rising, customers are likely to pay a slightly higher rate to fix their rate than they would pay if they signed up for a variable rate. SunTrust/Truist also charges a nominal fee of $15 every time a rate is fixed. 

SunTrust home-equity loan

As already explained, SunTrust/Truist was not offering home equity loans when this review was written. Check the bank’s website to see if that’s changed.

One can still take advantage of other SunTrust/Truist products that might suit one’s needs, including: a HELOC, a cash-out refinance, a personal loan, and/or a credit card. But if only a home equity loan will do, another lender is the only choice.

How to Apply for SunTrust Home Equity Loans

As noted, SunTrust/Truist does not currently offer home equity loans. Borrowers, however, can shorten the turnaround time of their Truist HELOC applications by preparing in advance. That means having ready all the information likely to be required when applying.

Someone who has all the required documents should be able to complete an online application in roughly 15 minutes. (It shouldn’t take long to upload the necessary documents, either.)

The bank says applicants can typically access their funds within 30-35 days of the application being completed. That’s faster than many of its competitors can manage.

Applicants who like face-to-face meetings can apply instead at one of the bank’s 2,100+ branches. Call 844-4TRUIST (844-487-8478) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., or Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., ET, to request an appointment. You can also call that number if you prefer to make a mailed application.

On the SunTrust/Truist website, one can find a list of the details and documents likely to be required when making an application:

  • Each applicant’s personal details, including Social Security number
  • For online applications, a U.S. cell-phone number
  • Home addresses over the previous two years 
  • Employment history over the previous two years
  • Financial paperwork, including proof of income, assets, debts, and other regular  obligations
  • Information about the home that will be securing the HELOC – purchase and property documents, including paperwork about the existing mortgage(s) and any other liens

Any applicant who has frozen their credit will also be asked to unfreeze it briefly, so that the bank can check their credit score.

SunTrust Bank Alternatives to HELOCs

What alternatives does SunTrust/Truist propose for those who are unsure if they want a HELOC? On its HELOC webpage, the bank suggests three options.

A cash-out refinance should deliver the lowest interest rates (of the three suggested options) to borrowers. But doing a cash-out refinance means that one has to refinance one’s entire existing mortgage. So, unless a borrower has a higher rate than the one he or she would now be offered, this is unlikely to be a viable option. Another drawback is that cash-out refinances tend to have much higher closing costs than do other forms of borrowing.

SunTrust/Truist’s second recommendation is a personal loan. The bank’s website says that annual percentage rates (APRs) for its personal loans range from 5.49% to 15.99%. But only borrowers with exceptionally high credit scores will qualify for the bank’s lower rates. Thus, for most homeowners, a HELOC might be less expensive.

The third recommended alternative is using a credit card, which can be great for borrowing modest sums over a few months. However, SunTrust/Truist’s published card rates are 15.49% – 24.49% APR, with only one card offering a lower range of 13.49% – 22.49%. Therefore, unless absolutely necessary, borrowers would be unwise to charge large sums for long periods to credit cards. 

SunTrust Expert and Consumer Ratings

What do other people think about SunTrust/Truist? This writer visited seven popular websites to see the star ratings awarded by consumers and experts alike. He then worked out the average star rating for SunTrust/Truist across those sites: 2.64 stars out of 5.0.

Anyone who has conducted a similar exercise for banks will report that experts tend to be kinder than customers in their star ratings and comments. However, that’s likely because upset customers tend to shout louder than happy ones: Fewer people go on Trustpilot (a review website) to praise an organization. Bearing that in mind, 2.64 is a decent rating.

Meanwhile, SunTrust/Truist gets the Better Business Bureau’s top (A+) rating. And it’s a BBB-accredited business, too. 

The bank scored 825 – a little below the industry average of 851 – in the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study. That’s a solid score, rather than a spectacular score.

It seems likely that the disruption caused by SunTrust’s merger with BB&T led to some subpar customer-service events. These subpar interactions, however, have probably become less of an issue as the unification of the two banks has progressed. 

Alternatives to SunTrust

It is always a good idea to comparison-shop whenever taking on new borrowing. People can save serious sums by seeking out their best possible deal.