Maximizing the 2 day Sears/MileagePlus 16X promotion

As I reported earlier today via my QuickDeals page, Sears is currently offering 12 miles per dollar for shopping through the United MileagePlus Shopping portal, and 16 miles per dollar for MileagePlus cardholders.  Unfortunately, this promotion runs for just 2 days (Oct 8th and 9th).  16X is the best payout for Sears that I’ve ever seen, and 12X is second only to the one time 15X promotion they ran last year through the Southwest Rapid Rewards portal (also for just 2 days).

Here are a number of ways to get the most out of this current promotion…

Freedom, additional 5X

The Chase Freedom card is offering 5X this quarter for and select department store purchases.  Sears is explicitly listed as one of those department stores.  So, start your shopping through the MileagePlus portal, go to, and pay for merchandise with your Freedom card.  If you are also a MileagePlus cardholder, you should earn 5X Ultimate Rewards and 16X United miles. 

Discover, additional 5%

The Discover card is offering 5% cash back this quarter for “online shopping.”  Purchases at should count for this bonus.

Plink, additional 6%

Regardless of which credit card you decide to pay with, if you sign up for Plink first and add Sears and Kmart to your Plink wallet, you could earn up to 6% in the form of Plink points, but to maximize this you would have to make your purchases $50 at a time.  Plink points can be redeemed for gift cards such as, Walmart, and many others via the Tango card.  See “Plinking Sears” for details. 

e-Gift cards

This one is a bit risky, but it just might workMommy Points discovered that the Sears terms and conditions now say “Gift Cards eligible as of 10/4/13.”  In many past experiments, I and others had found that purchasing physical gift cards at through portals worked to earn points, but purchasing e-gift cards did not.  It seems very likely that the new terms & conditions mean that e-gift cards are once again working!  I’ll test this out, of course, but it usually takes four or five days to get confirmation of portal purchases, so we won’t know for sure in time for this promotion.

Also note that e-gift cards are sold and fulfilled by Sears, so the Freedom 4th quarter bonus should apply to Sears e-gift card purchases.

Discount e-Gift cards

Another option is to buy Sears, Kmart, or Lands End e-gift cards at a discount from gift card resellers or other means, then use those gift cards through the MileagePlus portal to double dip.  See “Best options for buying merchant gift cards“.

Physical gift cards

Purchasing physical gift cards from Sears always seems to work for earning portal points, so this is a safer bet.  Unfortunately, physical gift cards are sold and fulfilled by Kmart, so you most likely will not earn an additional 5X if paying with your Freedom card.  Best bet is probably to buy $50 at a time with a credit card linked to Plink and with Kmart in your Plink wallet.  With this approach, you’ll earn 12X to 16X United miles plus 6% back in the form of Plink points.

Also note that physical gift cards are sold and fulfilled by Kmart, so the Freedom 4th quarter bonus most likely will not apply to Sears physical gift card purchases.

Double dip

If you take a chance and go for e-gift cards, then you may receive them in time to double dip with this promotion: go through the portal once to buy e-gift cards, and then go through the portal again to use the gift cards to buy merchandise.  In total, you could earn 32 United miles per dollar with this approach!  That doesn’t even count any additional points you’ll get from your credit card, Plink, and Sears’ Shop Your Way Rewards!

Upgrade gift cards

If you’re not interested in Sears’ products, another option is to buy Sears’ gift cards and then upgrade them to other gift cards at Sears or Kmart.  At Sears, you would have to find the secret gift card rack (please read “The mysterious case of the secret gift card rack” for details).  The secret gift card rack often has $100 Visa gift cards available for $105.95 as well as a number of merchant gift cards with no fee.  I’ve never had any trouble using a physical Sears gift card or a printed e-gift card to buy other gift cards at Sears.

Kmart is a different story.  Kmart’s rule is that you cannot buy gift cards with gift cards.  In practice, though, some cashiers allow it.  Some stores are hard coded not to allow Amex, Visa, and MasterCard gift cards, though, so go for merchant gift cards instead.  Maybe throw a few into your cart with a bunch of groceries just to be safe.  Also note that Kmart requires a manager override to apply e-gift cards, so stick with physical gift cards if you plan to go this route!

Using gift cards

Sears gift cards can be really handy for general use.  They can be used at Sears for merchandise, car maintenance, eye care, etc.  They can also be used at Kmart, Lands’ End, Crafstman, Kenmore, PartsDirect, Sears Outlet, and even with My Gopher for online grocery purchases.  So, if you don’t have an immediate need for Sears’ merchandise, it may be worth stocking up on gift cards to get rewards now, and then use the gift cards later.

Options for combining techniques

There are a number of ways to put together the above suggestions to maximize your earnings.  Here are two examples:

Quick Quadruple dip:

If you’re willing to take a chance on e-gift cards, you could maximize earnings on Sears’ purchases as follows:

  • Sign up for Plink. Register the appropriate credit card and put Sears in your Plink wallet (Kmart too, just in case). 
  • Go through the MileagePlus portal to Sears and buy e-gift cards $50 at a time (go back through the portal each time).  Earn 6% back in Plink points.  Earn up to 16X United miles.
  • Pay with your Chase Freedom card or Discover card.  Earn 5X or 5%.  Max $1500 in spend per quarter.
  • Once your gift cards arrive via email, go through the MileagePlus portal again to buy merchandise and pay with your gift cards.  Of course, don’t forget to apply any coupons or other discounts that you can find.  Earn up to 16X United miles and 1% or more in Sears’ rewards. 

In total you could earn up to:

  • 32 United miles per dollar
  • 6% in Plink points
  • 5X or 5% from your credit card
  • 1% or more in Sears’ ShopYourWay Rewards points.

While not all of the above rewards are equal, it is convenient to add up the rewards: 32X + 6X + 5X + 1X = 44X!

Slow Quadruple dip:

A safer option is to buy physical gift cards, but then you will not receive them in time to double dip with this 16X promotion.  Instead, you could order gift cards now and wait for the next decent promo.  Since Sears’ has had 9X promos several times recently, let’s assume we’ll see that again:

  • Sign up for Plink. Register the appropriate credit card and put Kmart in your Plink wallet.
  • Go through the MileagePlus portal to Sears and buy physical gift cards $50 at a time (go back through the portal each time).  Earn 6% back in Plink points.  Earn up to 16X United miles.
  • Pay with your Discover card.  Earn 5% (I don’t expect the Freedom 5X bonus to work here since these gift cards are processed by Kmart).  Max $1500 in spend per quarter.
  • Once your gift cards arrive, wait for the next decent Sears’ portal promotion.  Let’s assume 9X appears somewhere.  Go through that portal (the one offering 9X) to buy merchandise and pay with your gift cards.   Of course, don’t forget to apply any coupons or other discounts that you can find.  Earn 9X miles and 1% or more in Sears’ rewards.

In total you could earn up to:

  • 16 United miles per dollar
  • 6% in Plink points
  • 5% from your Discover credit card
  • 1% or more in Sears’ ShopYourWay Rewards points.
  • 9X from another portal.

While not all of the above rewards are equal, it is convenient to add up the rewards: 16X + 6X + 5X + 1X + 9X = 32X.

Questions and Answers


Q: How can I make sure to get the miles from this promotion?  I tend to have bad luck with portals.
Make sure to disable ad blockers, browser toolbars, and other plug-ins before shopping as they can interfere with the portal tracking.  Please see “How to ensure your portal points” for more.  Also, if you plan to buy lots of gift cards, spread the risk by making several separate purchases.  Make sure to go back through the portal each time.  Also, buy physical gift cards rather than e-gift cards since it is unknown right now whether e-gift cards will result in portal miles.

Q: Do I have to pay with my MileagePlus credit card to get 16X?
Nope.  You just have to be a MileagePlus cardholder.  Pay with whichever card gives you the best rewards.

Q: When I put a physical gift card in my cart, it says “Sold by Kmart and Fulfilled by Kmart” so I don’t believe I’ll earn miles for this purchase.
It’s true that physical gift cards are processed by Kmart, but many past experiments have shown that you will still get portal miles for clicking through to Sears and buying physical gift cards.

Q: Will I earn 5X with my Freedom card this quarter if I make a purchase at Sears through the United MileagePlus Shopping portal?
Yes, as long as the transaction is processed by Sears, you should earn the Freedom card’s 4th quarter 5X bonus.  Note that you probably will not earn this bonus for physical gift card purchases since those are processed by Kmart.

Q: How long will it take for my miles to post?
Most mile earning portals show pending results between 3 to 7 days after a purchase.  For very large purchases (>$1,000), it often takes longer.  Sometimes it can take up to 3 weeks or so for the transaction to show up in your account within a portal.  It will take considerably longer for the miles to actually post to your account for use.

Q: The T&C in the promotional email differs from the one on the portal’s website.  Which is correct?
Within the promotional email, it says: “Not eligible on gift cards, gift certificates or any other similar cash equivalents.”  On the website, though, it says: “Gift Cards eligible as of 10/4/13.”  My guess is that the promotional email has not been appropriately updated with the new terms.  Since the website’s T&C mentions a specific and recent date, I believe that to be the updated text.

Q: Can you buy Sears gift cards online with other Sears’ gift cards?

Q: Can you use Sears’ gift cards in-store to buy other merchant gift cards?
Yes, it is possible, but it is not necessarily easy. See “Upgrade gift cards” above.

Q: Can you combine multiple Sears’ gift cards into one?
I don’t know. I’ve been meaning to try this out in-store, but haven’t had a chance to.  Anyone else know?

Q: Can I use my Home Improvement gift cards to pay for items at Sears and get miles through this promotion?
Yes, that should work.  It used to be possible to buy physical gift cards from Sears this way too, but that stopped working.  You might be able to buy e-gift cards this way, though.  Please let me know how it goes if you try it.  Note that Sears puts a $1 hold on the card before processing it, so make sure to spend $1 less than your card’s balance.

Q: Is there anything worth buying and selling?
I haven’t researched this yet, so I can’t say for sure. Often, good bets are DSLR cameras where you get an additional discount if you throw in a camera lens.  Also look for popular tablets or laptops that sell at a competitive price.  Expect to lose some money if you do this.  Hopefully, though, the value of the miles earned will far outweigh the loss of money.

Q: Are there any great sales going on at Sears right now?
Reader suggestions?

Q: The terms say “Not eligible on purchases made with coupon or discount codes that are not found on this site.”  Is that true?
I’ve always received points from Sears when using coupon codes even if they were not shown in the portal, but there are no guarantees.  It’s certainly safer to use the discount codes displayed in the portal.

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 »


  1. […] Maximizing the 2 day Sears/MileagePlus 16X promotion By Frequent Miler. Today is the last day for this excellent promo. It even made me (allergic to shopping) take notice. I assigned task to Mrs. TBB to find stuff we can use and/or stack up and send me links.Waiting… […]


  1. How many gift cards can I use at once at checkout at Sears? I want to maximize the Plink rewards by buying $50 gift cards at a time, but want to buy a washing machine later at $700.

  2. Gabriel: On the checkout page it says

    “Available funds will be applied once your order is placed. Online redemption is limited to 15 gift cards per order.”

    So it sounds like you can use up to 15 which might workout perfectly for you. Havent tried to use more then 2 or 3 at a time myself though.

  3. @chris: I still see in my plink wallet. I’ve asked my friend who just signed up to try adding and he was able to do so. Please try again.

  4. if i keep buying $50 gift card, will i get in trouble with my credit card (fraud alert?)?
    Phat miles: how to add? i dont see the store listed (to add wallet). I did add Sears.

    • chris: Good question whether there will be a fraud alert if you do many $50 purchases. I don’t know. I’m planning to try it though.
      E: Some Kmart stores might be coded as groceries when you make in-person purchases, but it won’t count as a grocery for online purchases of gift cards.
      Jeremy: I don’t know. If you have the business card, log into the MileagePlus portal, search for Sears, and see what the offer is (12 or 16).

  5. @chris: I didn’t have it in my account when I signed up for Plink. You can send an email asking them to add Kmart to your account!

  6. @Chris

    We won’t know anything until about 5-7 business days. That’s how long transactions take to post. I took a chance. Will post back.

  7. Does Kmart count as groceries? Maybe can use the recent Barclay and Citi targeted promos with this since once of the cats is groceries?

  8. I am trying to decipher the “Sears Marketplace products with “Go to Site” button are not eligible. Not eligible on Sold by Kmart items or any other licensed partners” part. Does this mean that an item I want to buy, which is listed as, “Marketplace Item Sold by quality photo” won’t be eligible?

    • UK: As long as you can press “Add to cart” while still browsing, you will be fine. In some cases, an item may be listed that can’t be bought on, but has a “go to site” button instead (to take you to, for example). In those cases, you wouldn’t get miles.

  9. Copied the below from the Mileage plus website. Does this mean a Kenmore fridge would not earn 16x ??

    Please note these terms & conditions:

    Not eligible on purchases made with coupon or discount codes that are not found on this site. Only products with Add to Cart button are eligible. Gift Cards eligible as of 10/4/13. Not eligible on Home Delivery Charges, Auto Services, PA and Installation, Master Protection Agreements, Take With, Protection Plans, Sears auctions,, PartsDirect, Sears Canada, Portrait, Craftsman, Kenmore or Outlet purchases. Sears Marketplace products with Go to Site button are not eligible. Not eligible on Sold by Kmart items or any other licensed partners. Any return, exchange or other adjustment made at a physical store location for an on-line purchase may result in your purchase being deemed ineligible.

  10. @MilesHunter yes, I am debating if i should go e-gift card route or not…

    Why Kmart will not earn 5x from Chase Freedom? It is not listed on eligible nor illegible store. It only said Target and Walmart and membership warehouses (costco) that are not eligible.

  11. Is there any way to use HIGC’s for a purchase over $500?

    I realize I do have the option to do a bunch of $500 transactions to buy sears GC’s and then use them. I prefer not to go that route because I’m not 100% sure I will keep the appliances because the remodel is a good 6 weeks from appliances, so i might find better. But… if not, i don’t want to pass up the opportunity to get 12x on my appliances- so it’s kind of a speculative buy. If i end up going another way and return these, i don’t want to be stuck with $3500 in sears gift cards! (I already have the HIGC’s)

    In a related question, is there a way to use multiple HIGC’s online anywhere (HD, Sears, Lowes, whatever) when the purchase is >$500? I haven’t figured out a way, but that doesn’t mean someone else hasn’t…


  12. Hey Frequentmiler,
    The email says that gift cards not eligible however the website says “Gift cards eligible as of 10/04”. So do you think MPMall might backtrack and say not eligible since email mentions gift cards not eligible.

  13. If I have a United MileagePlus chase card and my SO has a discover card can I get the 16x cardholder referral bonus through the portal then pay for my purchase with their Discover card for another 5x?

    • Chris: What do you mean “Kmart confirmed”?
      Nate: As expected, e-gift cards show as purchases in the pending transactions. Physical gift cards show as Kmart. I just looked.

  14. @Jeremy,

    I logged into my account and I ONLY have the business explorer card, and YES YOU GET 16X!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Is there any reason *not* to try the double dip? I mean, order the GC today, get them tomorrow, and *worst* case, after buying stuff, you’d end up with 21x (with freedom). Best case that’s 37x. I mean, you still get points for ordering stuff with gift cards…

  16. Even if it is 100 miles per dollar, I would never order sears gift card cos it is useless for me and there is no visa or amex gift cards you can buy with it.

  17. FM: If i have $100 E-gift card, can i buy $100 sears Phy Gift card? I saw your posting somewhere saying I need to buy less because they put $1 authorization.

    • CHRIS: No, you can’t buy a Sears gift card online with a Sears gift card. The $1 authorization is if you use a Home Improvement gift card which looks to Sears like a Discover credit card.

    • Jayson: I believe that as long as you can click “add to cart” you should be fine even with tires. I’ve earned points from Sears in the past when buying tires. I assume that the auto service exclusion has to do with scheduling car service without first paying online.
      Rajesh: Thanks.
      jim: Look for BigCrumbs to bring back Amex gift card cash back in a week or so

  18. @FM

    I have lots of offers for online purchases from Citi and also discover card.

    Where can I order visa amex or MC gift cards online to get the promotional bonus miles?
    I wanted to use Citi card to get 2 miles per dollar on online purchases & Discover to get the 5% back on online purchases. Thanks

  19. @Jayson – You bring up a good point, that’s the exact reason I was looking as well, however it has me a bit nervous since the entire portion of shopping for tires is under the auto section.

  20. @FM:
    argh…missed the word “merchandise”. Lol…
    so, no exit plan except to buy something 🙂

    how about buying merchandise, return it buy asked for store credit. Can you sell sears store credit online?

    • chris: That would probably work, but I don’t like to promote buy and return schemes.
      asd: Some people think that incognito helps with portal tracking. I never do incognito, though, and I almost always get points so I wouldn’t risk it myself

  21. Check 2 LED TVs that I possibly interest to buy posted in slickdeals.

    Today, the price has gone up 10% from the amount posted in slickdeals.

    Granted the posting was last week.

  22. Have the Sears physical gift cards always been “Sold by Kmart”? I ask since the UA portal says “Not eligible on Sold by Kmart items or any other licensed partners.” But it’s still worked in the past?

    • Michael: yes, they have been sold by kmart for a long time, but it has still worked.
      Nathan: Yes, anything that can be added to the cart should work.
      Joshua: Yep, the deal is about as good as they get!

  23. What about items not sold by Sears. Certainly these can be added to the cart. These would qualify for basic 16X promo right?

  24. @FM yep just noticed for e-gift card purchase. Here’s crossing my fingers. I screenshotted the terms and conditions of the portal to provide evidence if the portal doesn’t give me the points. This is a DAMN good deal for a helluva a lot of UA miles. I have a kmart express gas station right next to the kmart in town which I can burn through gas easily.

  25. Do you know how many gift cards I can apply to an order? We need to buy a chest freezer so I wanted to buy e-gift cards first, but I wanted to do it in $50 increments so that I can maximize Plink as well. I’m going to need like 8 $50 gift cards if I do that though. Thanks so much for the help and awesome tips!!!

  26. @ toni Up to 15 gift card

    I just called Sears to verify my dozens of $50 orders. The rep said: I’ve seen more orders like this tonight. Wow! What’s going on? Some promo?

  27. Okay, I just answered my own question by calling Sear’s customer service. You can use 15 gift cards online in case anyone else was wondering!

  28. Q: Do I have to pay with my MileagePlus credit card to get 16X?
    A: Nope. You just have to be a MileagePlus cardholder.

    Do you really have to be a MileagePlus Cardholder? The website you linked to says “MileagePlus Member”.

    I am a MileagePlus Member, but do not have a MileagePlus Card (I.e. the Chase Mileageplus Card).

  29. Bit on buying new tires, figure I have to do it anyways before winter, might as well get 5x UR, 16x miles, 6% plink, and possible 16x miles again. Purchased 10x $50 eGC and figure I’ll put the additional change on CF just in case, as I’ve found for some portals this can be key. Looking forward to (hopefully) 2500 UR, $30 Plink points, and 16,000 miles 🙂
    So in spending $500 on tires, I’m getting back (as I value UR/United conservatively at 1.5 cpp) $277 in points and there’s a $40 manufacturer rebate as well. Can’t complain about $200 tires.

  30. I just received my United Explorer card today. How can I make sure that the system recognizes my card and I will earn 16x instead of 12x?

    The reason I ask is because I still see this ads: Explore how to earn award miles even faster! Apply for a MileagePlus® Explorer card.

  31. If I buy $10 physical gift cards on and have them mailed to my house in California, then would I be able to make a small purchase at Sears or Kmart, and then cash out the rest of the gift card? Or does a gift card have to have a minimum original value in order to be able to do that?

    • Brandon: yes, that should work.
      Rajnish: I messed up in the original post. I wrote 9th and 10th, but should have written 8th and 9th. Those were the dates in the promotional email.

  32. 1. I’m reading hear that many folks have already been placing orders, yet its not even 9 Oct yet. Still 30 mins to go in my central time time zone! Am i missing something.
    2. Where is this promo published on a sears or united mileage plus mall website?

    • Oh man, I messed up. The dates should be Oct 8 and 9th. I’ll update the post immediately.
      Howard: Individual Sears’ sales and offers have different expiry dates on the portal. What you were looking at was not the 12X bonus but something else.

  33. I logged into the shopping portal and I already see the 12x promotion and it expires 1/31/2014. So I think the 2 days only apply to the 16x bonus. Bought some physical sears GC on Discover 5% with Plink.

  34. ken – based on the email I received from Mileage Plus Shopping, I think FM has the dates wrong. The promotion only runs through Oct 9 and not 10.
    FM – thanks for all your work. Hoping to get over 100K miles from furniture purchases. I did not even know Sears sold furniture until today.

  35. Shopping site says 12x for me with Sears right now. I applied and got approved for the Chase United Business on Tues. Was REALLY hoping I got the card in the mail yesterday, but now waiting to see if it’s in the mail when I get home and then activate and see if that immediately turns it into 16x. My anniversary tonight so don’t have much time to be dealing with this tonight, ha! Sorry honey, there are lots of points on the line here…

  36. @Curtis

    You will not get 16x until after your first statement posted.

    I got my United Explorer personal card yesterday and I can see only 12x. I called to inquire United and that is what they told me.

  37. question: I purchased a $50 gc yesterday from Sears using my discover card. But this morning, I changed my registered card in PLink to my Chase freedom to get the e-gift cards. Will I be credited with plink points with my discover purchase last night? Thank you!

    • mona c: Great question. NO, you won’t get plink points for your discover card. The way it works is that it checks your credit card transactions in your currently assigned card and looks for any that match your Plink wallet items. Since transactions take a few days to post to your account, you would need to keep that card active with Plink to get the points. Suggestion: create a second Plink account with a different email address so that you have one Plink account for Discover and another for Freedom.

  38. I got ecard late this afternoon. I am trying to buy a TV from Sears. I don’t think they can charge my ecard until they ship the TV, may be tomorrow? Will I get another 16points/$?

  39. Anyone else having problems buying e-cards because they took away the card pictures to select from?? This is happening to my dad and me right now. No way to add it to my cart without a stupid image!

  40. Did anyone notice that when you click on the portal the text that used to say “gift cards valid as of 10/4” (or something like that) is now missing?

    It doesn’t seem to mention gift cards at all now on that portal text …but then email does say:

    Not eligible on gift cards, gift certificates or any other similar cash equivalents.

    This seems pretty iffy .

    It’s weird that text on the portal in reference to gift cards was removed…

    • Re the changed wording when you enter the portal that now excludes gift cards. Suggest you all take a hard copy of the screenshot message that took us from the UA MP portal into yesterday/ this morning that indeed said “Gifts Cards eligible as of 10/4/13”
      I presume FM can make a copy of the screenshot available – but if FM needs one to add to the blog page – then just email me and I’ll provide it.

      Yep – even the fraud dept lady I spoke with this morning was bemused by the sheer qty of orders for GC’s in past 24 hours – she hadn’t been briefed at all to expect the HUGE response by us FF point/ miles addicts!!

  41. Yeah that’d be great. I just wish these companies would spell stuff out more clearly.

    Are you buying physical gift cards?

    I’m running out of time I realize and feel like I should take advantage so thinking of buying physical gift cards and buying as large quantities as possible.

    Maybe buying like $2000-$3000 in physical gift cards

    Then hoping I can “upgrade” the cards in store to something I might use..or buy stuff periodically at Sears when items are on sale.

    I’m not really finding deals on stuff I would need on Sears right now.

  42. Looks like the deal is dead now…must of ended at midnight east coast time (9pm Pacific) ! …portal is now showing 4x ..

  43. Got off the phone with Sears. They claim it was a system processing error that cancelled ALL my orders. They were willing to give me 10% off if i reordered over the phone but no miles. rep was clusess about the mileage promo. I find it curious that i ordered on 10/8 yet sears waited until after the promo expired to cancel my orders. crooks!

  44. hi all- i just called mileageplus because i was credit 12x instead of 16x even though i am a mileageplus cardholder. i USED my FREEDOM card to make the purchases as many people did. has anyone had this problem? what is the solution? the rep told me i had to use my mileageplus card to make the purchases in order to be credited 16x, but it DOES NOT SAY THAT anywhere in the rules. appreciate the help awesome community members!

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