The Sears double dip is alive but hobbled

I need more Sears gift cards like I need a hole in my head. However, Laboratory experiments must go on so I’ve recently bought no less than 5 new gift cards…

Sears has long been my favorite and most reliable double dip merchant.  Sears regularly offers fantastic point earnings through popular portals.  In the past, I’ve seen 10X through AAdvantage Shopping, 10X through the Ultimate Rewards Mall, and 15X through Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping.  Even better, it has usually been possible to double-dip: get points for buying gift cards and then get points again when buying merchandise using those gift cards.  This has meant that it was easy to double point earnings: 20X through the Ultimate Rewards Mall, 30X through Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping, etc.

A change in terms

On several shopping portals, a new phrase has appeared in the Sears’ terms & conditions:

Not eligible on gift cards, gift certificates or any other similar cash equivalents as of 11/1/12.

Uh oh.  Does this mean the double dip is dead?

Experiments

In addition to testing the Sears’ double dip, I wanted to test the limits of my new credit cards: the U.S. Bank Cash+ and the Discover More card (see “Cash+ Update” and “Discover More Experiments in Progress“).  Here is what I did…

Test 1: Go through ShopDiscover portal to Sears to buy a physical gift card and pay with my Discover card.  Would I earn portal cash back (10%) and Discover’s quarterly bonus (5%) for online purchases?  Result: SUCCESS!  I Earned a combined 15% cash back!

Test 2: Go through ShopDiscover portal to Sears to buy an e-gift card and pay with my Discover card. Would I earn portal cash back (10%) and Discover’s quarterly bonus (5%) for online purchases?  Result: MIXED.  I earned 5% back thanks to Discover’s quarterly online purchase bonus, but received nothing from the ShopDiscover portal.

Test 3: Go through ShopDiscover portal to Sears to buy a physical gift card and pay with my Cash+ card.  Would I earn portal cash back (10%) and 5% from Cash+ for department store purchases?  Result: MIXED: I received 10% cash back from the ShopDiscover portal, but only 1% back from Cash+.

Test 4: Go through ShopDiscover portal to Sears to buy merchandise and pay with a gift card. Would I earn portal cash back (10%) despite not using my Discover card?  Result: SUCCESS.  I earned 10% cash back for purchase made entirely with a gift card!

Test 5: Go to Kmart in person to buy a gift card and pay with my Cash+ card.  Would I earn 5% back from Cash+ for department store purchases?  Result: FAIL.  U.S. Bank did not count Kmart as a department store.

Test 6: Go through the Ultimate Rewards Mall to Sears to buy a physical gift card and pay with my Sapphire Preferred card. Would I earn 6X from the Ultimate Rewards Mall?  Result: SUCCESS!  I earned 6X points.

Test 7: Go through the Ultimate Rewards Mall to Sears to buy an e-gift card and pay with my Sapphire Preferred card. Would I earn 6X from the Ultimate Rewards Mall?  Result: FAIL.  No points earned.

Results Explained

The experiment results teach us a lot:

  • You can earn points or cash back when buying physical gift cards from Sears.com.
  • You cannot earn points or cash back (anymore) when buying e-gift cards from Sears.com.
  • You can earn points or cash back when using gift cards at Sears.com.
  • The ShopDiscover portal works regardless of how you pay.  That is, you can pay with a gift card or a credit card other than Discover and still get cash back.
  • The US Bank Cash+ card does not consider Sears.com or Kmart (in person) to be department stores.  I had picked “department stores” as one of my 5% categories this quarter in the hopes of finding a new double dip opportunity.

In other words, it is still possible to double-dip with Sears, but it takes more planning than before.  Previously it was possible to hop on a one day sale by buying e-gift cards in the morning and then using them to make your purchases in the afternoon.  Now, however, you need to figure in the delay in processing and shipping of physical gift cards (in my experience, it takes approximately 5 days). 

Currently, the best deals I know of are 10% cash back through ShopDiscover, 9% cash back through Ebates, 6X through the Ultimate Rewards Mall, and 6X through United’s MileagePlus Shopping portal.  As a side note, the Ultimate Rewards Mall started the month with Sears at 5X, but quietly updated to 6X mid-month.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

Pingbacks

Comments

  1. Ain’t nobody keep the Frequent Mile down. Fabulous work! I’m breaking out the Discover card today for some of those easy Sears bucks.

  2. Good to know that the physical cards are still alive. Although the wording on the shopping sites make me nervous of making a big purchase and finding out afterward that it doesnt count.

  3. FM, I have a Sears e-gift card from Sept when UR was 10x. Back then, I got 10x for buying the e-gift card and 10x for using it. Do you know if I can still get UR points for using the e-gift card? I see that you got points via the ShopDiscover portal; do you see any reason why the UR Mall portal will be different? Also, have you ever noticed any difference in getting points when USING a physical gift card vs an e-gift card?

    • Dave: Using gift cards should still get you points. There are some exceptions to this rule, but usually when something works in one portal it will work in others too. Sears.com doesn’t differentiate between physical and e-gift cards when using them.

  4. I can confirm still getting 5x points from using my e-GC’s that I purchased @ 10X pts back in Sept from Sears. My most recent transaction was about 2 weeks ago for a data point

  5. “I need more Sears gift cards like I need a hole in my head.”

    Translation: the FrequentMiler portal will likely offer cash back on Sears gift cards for the foreseeable future. 🙂

  6. Also, I think I’ve discovered what might cause bonus UR points not to post. As long as your transaction at Sears, whatever COMPLETES while your session through Chase is still active, it’ll register correctly. If for some reason your Chase session times out (due to neglecting that window) that’s when it might not necessarily post. To combat this, i ALWAYS make sure my cart and payment method is finalized and THEN I click on the merchant link through the UR portal and quickly complete the transaction. Hasn’t failed me in MANY MANY transactions (to the tune of about 160k UR points worth!)

    • Gabriel: I do something similar, but for a different reason. I don’t think it matters if the portal times out since it has already sent along the tracking info to the merchant. However, if the merchant site loses track of the session information that could be a problem. So, if I’ve been shopping a while, I also go back to the portal and click through again.

  7. Sears triple dip – Sears shopwayreward every now and then 5-15% (of total value of purchase) back in shopway reward points (make sure you don’t ignore e-mail from shopwayreward – if interested in sears triple dip). Combining above mentioned double dip with shopwayreward bonus you can earn some cash and loads of points which essentially means free points.

    @frequentmiler – you should write a post on sears shopwayreward also for all the 3 tiers sliver,gold and platinum.

  8. Another data point FM – I went through the Southwest portal to buy a $10 Sears physical GC using my SW Chase card and got the points. I only got 40 points for the purchase so far (4X via SW portal), but hoping the 500 point bonus will eventually post.

  9. I used shopdiscover portal to drugstore.com and purchased ~$600 goods with discover card, at check out I had a thought using the AMEX SPG card to meet the spending requirement, but didn’t use the AMEX since 15% cash back is a lot and I didn’t feel like mess with it by using a different card.

    After the statement arrives the 15% shopdiscover cash back didn’t post, so I had to call – the representative (from Salt Lake City) looked in detail about my purchase and verified my discover card was charged ~$600, and she instantly credited me with the missing 15% cash back. Imagine I used AMEX and there is no way I can win this fight. So from my experience it’s better to be safe…

    • Jack: That’s exactly right. Paying with something other than your Discover card can be risky. A very similar issue comes up regularly with the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall. There, you can get points if you pay with a different card, but you can’t necessarily get help if the points don’t post.

  10. FM – another data point – I went through the AA shopping portal to buy a Sears physical gift card and got the 5X. I used one of my Citi AA cards just because I didn’t want to take the risk of being rejected. Did this mainly because the AA shopping portal was having an extra 500 points for ever $250 purchase in their portal. So instead of 1250 AA points, I got 1750. Went this route instead of getting 1500 UR.

  11. any thoughts on how long it takes points to post?

    I bought a $400 physical gift card from Sears through the United shopping portal using the Home Improvement Card.

    It’s been 35 days and nothing shows up in my Transaction Details.

    And yes, there was a disclaimer that gift cards did not qualify.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *