What to do with those Sears gift cards…

Last week the Southwest Airlines shopping portal (Rapid Rewards Shopping) offered 15 points per dollar when shopping at Sears.com.  I wrote a number of posts with ideas for capitalizing on the promotion. The key was to buy gift cards for 15 points per dollar and then to sell the gift cards, or to use the gift cards through the shopping portal to get another 15X.  For many, this appears to have worked well, but some people ran into issues:

  • A few people received messages from Sears that the ordered merchandise was out of stock.  These messages arrived too late to get 15X by buying something else.
  • Sears outright cancelled some orders without explanation.
  • One reader reported trouble from PlasticJungle.  When he tried to sell his gift cards, PlasticJungle canceled the order.

If you find yourself stuck with gift cards that you don’t really want, here are some options you have:

Use gift cards for day to day expenses

First, to get the obvious one out of the way: Sears gift cards can be used at Sears, KMart, Lands’ End, Sears Outlet, MyGopher, Crafstman, etc.  Most Kmart stores carry groceries, pharmaceuticals, and other commonly needed goods.  Simply moving some of your regular spend to these stores can go a long way in lowering expenses you would normally incur at other stores.

Upgrade gift cards to ones you actually want

Many KMart and Sears stores will let you use Sears gift cards to buy gift cards from other merchants.  Use this technique to save at gas stations, restaurants, or even for travel (KMart often carries Marriott and Southwest Airlines gift cards).

Don’t call

It seems to be universally true that when people call Sears or KMart to ask if they can buy gift cards with gift cards, they are told no.  However, it usually works (but not always) when you go ahead and try in person.  I’ve found that it helps to buy just 2 or 3 gift cards at a time.  It also doesn’t hurt to load your cart with other items as well.  I don’t think it’s a glitch that allows you to do this.  Take a look at the Terms & Conditions that you agreed to when you bought the gift cards.  I’ve bolded the important part:

This card is issued by SHC Promotions LLC and is redeemable for goods and services at participating Sears, Roebuck and Co., Lands’ End, The Great Indoors, and Kmart store locations in the U.S., P.R., Guam and U.S.V.I., and at sears.com, kmart.com, landsend.com and Lands’ End catalogs. Not valid for purchase of third party debit or prepaid cards. Not redeemable for restaurant, Olan Mills Portrait Studio transactions or for cash, except where required by law. Cannot be applied to credit accounts. Lost, stolen or damaged gift cards may only be cancelled and replaced with proof of purchase.

Notice that they explicitly exclude 3rd party debit and prepaid cards, but not gift cards.  I’ve seen this myself at the register.  The register has no problem with regular gift cards, but if you try to buy an American Express or Visa card with a Sears gift card, the register won’t allow it.

Upgrade and sell

Some KMart stores carry BP gift cards.  BP cards can usually be sold to gift card resellers for 91 or 92 cents to the dollar.  Currently, Plastic Jungle lists the buy price for BP cards at 91 cents to the dollar.  If you start at TopCashBack before selling to PlasticJungle, you can earn another 4% cash back (4% of 91% = 3.64%).  This amounts to a 5.36% loss.  If you got 15 points per dollar for buying Sears gift cards, then selling your gift cards in this way is equivalent to buying Southwest miles for only .36 cents each.  That’s an incredible bargain!  I will admit, though, that upgrading and selling gift cards can be a slow, painful process, but if you’re stuck with Sears gift cards this may just be the best way to go.

Other ideas?

If you have other ideas for how best to use Sears gift cards, please comment below.

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Comments

  1. I purchased a bunch of physical gift cards to earn enough points for the companion pass. My miles have already posted to the Southwest shopping portal so that much is out of the way. I now have about $7,500 worth of cards to redeem. Here are some methods I’ll be testing:
    – If you purchase an item at a brick and mortal Sears store by 5/29 using your Shop Your Way card, you’ll be sent an offer for 25% off (in points) on your next purchase at a physical store from 5/30-6/1 (check the SYWR Facebook page for more info). I’m hoping that the 25% off will count toward the entire purchase and not just one item. The discount should be enough to offset reselling fees on eBay/Paypal.
    – Hold on to the cards. I’m sure Sears, Kmart, or one of the other affiliate companies will have another 10-15x bonus at some point in the future. Call it a prolonged double dip.

  2. I see you made a distinction between a “prepaid card” and a “gift card”. Your distinction implies that a “prepaid” card is a visa, amex or mastercard whereas a “gift” card is for a specific business. Do I understand that this is what you mean? And, if so, is this particular distinction obvious to the store, in case I need to bring it up?

    • bluecat: Yes, that is what I mean. I’m not sure that all visa, amex, mastercard cards are considered “prepaid cards” but I’m pretty sure that merchant gift cards are not classified as such. Is the distinction obvious? Probably not but it has been my experience that this is how the cash register itself works (i.e. it allows merchant gift cards, but not amex, visa, etc. to be paid for with Sears gift cards).

      Mike: Thanks for another data point on this

      thomas: Thanks for the tip. As soon as I’m in the market for a bass I’ll shop there :)

      JW: Great idea. I just tried it, but couldn’t find any place to put in a gift card on the payment screen.

  3. I exchange my Sears gift cards for better gift cards at Kmart regularly. I try to not do more than 5 at a time to avoid drawing attention to it. Technically the Kmart policy is to forbid this, so if you get a cashier that quotes the policy just act like you didn’t know, make a mental image of the cashier and come back another time. I’ve only been turned down once in maybe 20 tries, and I attempt to get the same cashiers who have no problem with it. I’m still working on my Sears cards from the Chase 10X UR deal a while back. This time I bought e-cards from Sears than double dipped for merchandise.

  4. Recently, I have been buying sears cards at 4x threw urmall, but then upgrade those cards at the physical Kmart store to bass pro shop and go back threw the urmall and it ends up being 9x plus 1 for the card of your choice in the beginning making it 10x in the end.

    Sound like a broken record but with free shipping and no sales tax…. you should become a fan of bass pro shop!!!

  5. Is it possible to use Sears Gift Cards through the Sears Vacations website? (www.searsvacations.com) Don’t know if there are good deals through that site, but might be another option.

  6. I went to the first Kmart and was turned down. Called another location and asked about buying gift cards with gift cards and they said no. Called a third location and they said yes. I told them I wanted to buy gift cards as presents for other people. Went to the store and exchanged my e cards for Mastercard gift cards. It really depends on the cashier. I also found calling saved time. The “can you just see if the register will allow it” also works too.

  7. Majority of the time, sears prices are worse than amazon by 10-20% and sears don’t price match amazon (correct me if I am wrong). Hence there is no point in using sears.com
    kmart is the best option to liquidate gcs in my opinion. Prices are competitive, easy customer service.
    I purchased some subway gc using sears gc in kmart.
    But I also found a perfect item at kmart – its beer! From now on until I am done with all the sears gc’s – kmart is my official beer sponsor. Don’t we “point chasers” consume as much beer also?

  8. Wink wink
    Kmart also has a great electronic section.

    Might I suggest my fellow Sears gift card holders to go and browse.

  9. shop your way gives out 25% back in points today (shop between 5/31-6/2). the points will expire 6/30 or 12/31 (can use to buy GC). Any idea to buy and then sell to use GC?

    • Hong: It’s a great way to go if you can find resellable items. 25% back in points amounts to a 20% discount overall, which is excellent. For example, if you spend $1000, you can get $1250 worth of stuff. $1000 is 80% of $1250.

  10. @TravelerMSY, exactly! It would be a great data point for FML – how long would frequent miler’s fans take to burn up 7k on beer?:)
    But seriously, I only have $200 in GC to spend. I didn’t go aggressive on this deal because, I have had NO luck in getting points automatically credited from RR mall purchases. Even now RR site does not show my sears transactions. This is all for nothing at this time (except I am going to spend good portion of $200 on beer!)

  11. Here is warning for Plastic Jungle users.

    Do not use any kind of anonymizing software on your PC when you place your sell order. After going back and forth with Plastic Jungle they told me that the reason my order was cancelled is because it was placed from outside the United States.

    I know it wasn’t, so I’m pretty sure my VPN fooled them.

    Shut down your VPN before placing your order and maybe you will have better luck with them – I’m still trying to get them to allow me to resubmit the same giftcards without my VPN in place.

  12. @vr- I agree there’s a risk to not getting points. I would only do this deal if you are prepared to use the cards yourself or to eat the vig on selling them if you can’t.

  13. Just a heads up – I double dipped and bought a lawn mower with the gift card. The lawn mower arrived broken. I tried to exchange it in store. The gal would only do so if she first returned it and then ordered me a new one. She claimed it would not affect the miles. BUT, looking closely at the receipt she typed in the order number from the the purchase. Argh. Better to have a working lawn mower than 4k miles, but this seems problematic.

  14. My Kmart has been out of stock of BP gift cards for several months now. Has anyone seen BP giftcards recently at their Kmart?

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