Sears gift cards and the mysterious case of changing terms and conditions

Sears has been offering amazing bonuses through shopping portals recently.  First they offered up to 16 miles per dollar through the MileagePlus Shopping portal, and now they’re offering 12 miles per dollar through the AAdvantage eShopping portal.  Here are links to some of my posts regarding these deals:

Each promotion has been quick: the first ran for two days, and the second runs for 3.  In either case, there wasn’t enough time to double dip by buying Sears physical gift cards and then using them through the portal for the same promotion.  But there has been enough time to buy and use e-gift cards.  The question of the day has been “will we earn points when purchasing e-gift cards?”

A year ago, the answer was “yes”.  Sears was the most reliable double dip opportunity that I was aware of.  But then they added a new clause to their portal terms and conditions: “Not eligible on gift cards“.  Since then, buying physical gift cards still resulted in points, but buying e-gift cards did not.

Then, a few days ago, Mommy Points noticed new text in the Terms & Conditions.  Instead of saying “not eligible on gift cards”, the terms said: “Gift Cards eligible as of 10/4/13.”  I took that to mean that, most likely, e-gift cards would earn points.

Then, the night before last, the terms changed again.  The statement “Gift Cards eligible as of 10/4/13” had disappeared.  I wasn’t too worried, though, because they had not put back the old text saying gift cards were excluded.  So, yesterday morning I wrote that there was still a chance of getting points for e-gift cards.

Then, sometime yesterday during the day, the terms changed again!  They have added a new, ominous sentence: “Not eligible on gift cards, gift certificates or any other similar cash equivalents.”  Uh oh. 

What’s going on?

Obviously someone deliberately had added the text about gift cards being eligible as of 10/4/13.  Was that an error that they corrected by removing that sentence and then adding a new one?  Or, did they allow gift cards for a little while before deciding it was a bad idea?  Or, does the system still allow gift cards, but don’t want people to know about it?  I have no idea.

As portal results from our recent bouts of Sears’ shopping start to trickle in over the next week or so, we’ll hopefully find out the truth of how the portal works with Sears regardless of what the terms & conditions say. For now, I’m much less confident than before that e-gift card purchases will pay out.  My best guess is that physical gift card purchases will pay out, but I’m unsure even on that point.  Of course, I’ll report back once we know more.

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.

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  1. You can count me as one very pissed off customer if the 16x isn’t paid. I will fight like hell, including filing a credit card dispute for a refund. It was VERY clear that the 16x miles would be given. This will be bait and switch if they are not paid.

    SEARS is very close to getting me to step foot in their store for the first time in ten years. If they screw me on this, it will be another ten.

  2. This is why I am hesitant on the points gathering with a lot of steps/work. I usually wait until others are successful before jumping in. Doing a lot of work for diminished returns is very frustrating.

  3. I hesitated to jump in on this deal because I have no use for Sears products at this time. I didn’t want to buy $1k worth of gift cards and than be stuck with them. How is everyone liquidating these gift cards?

  4. @Ron – as for me, I only went in for $500 figuring if it works out GREAT, and if not, at least I’ll get the 5x for Chase Freedom and I can use the $500 gift card for Xmas gifts….

  5. Wonder if they saw a dramatic increase in gift card orders?! 😉

    Hope they honor the ones ordered before the terms changed, but I do have my doubts about it being a simple process. Fingers crossed…

  6. Guys, another piece of bad news. I saw my temporary transaction show up for my buy of sears physical gift cards on my chase freedom account. It shows up as kmart.com. So I don’t think we end up getting 5x on that end either…

  7. @Gagan — This was known going into this, per comments to some of FMs other posts on this subject. Only the e-gift cards show up as sears.com purchases.

  8. Does the change in T&C (adding “Not eligible on gift cards, gift certificates or any other similar cash equivalents”) mean that I won’t earn 12x using gift cards I already have too, or just that I can’t buy new gift cards? Thanks!

  9. I need to buy a washer/dryer combo, about $1900 combined. I have some physical gift cards already from previous deals (I did get 9x points from AA portal a few months ago for buying physical gift cards), but need about $1000 more. I hesitate to buy e-gift cards from AA this time and physical gift cards obviously won’t make it in time. My plan is to buy multiple $100 and $200 e-gift cards from Staples using Ink and UR portal for Staples (5x), while taking advantage of Plink. A $100 Sears gc purchase gets 500 UR from Ink, 500 UR from UR portal, $3 gc from Plink, and 1200 AA if I make a purchase at Sears. Not bad, and as far as I can tell, very low risk.

  10. Saved a screenshot of the original terms, as well as each subsequent step of the purchase process. Hopefully it won’t be necessary to pursue any missing miles as I went for physical GCs instead of eGCs. As I still had GCs left over from the last Sears promo, I used these to make some necessary purchases for the second 16x.

  11. I was successful in double-dipping by buying e-GC then use the E-GC to buy Sears product through UR mall. Not so sure about United or AA mall. I made the purchase on 10/07/13. Both purchases already appeared on UR mall.

  12. I bought some e-GC and physical GCs thru United mall deal on first day. Still nothing showing there yet. Will report back if/when it does.

  13. General question about Plinking– I currently have another credit card account linked with my Plink account. I made some purchases yesterday and am expecting a lot of Plink points from Sears, which haven’t arrived yet. Does anybody know if I risk losing those points if I change the card linked to my Plink account before those points arrive? For example, if I now link Plink to my AMEX card for the Staples SYNC deal, could I potentially lose the incoming Plink points?

    • Dave: Great question. Yes, you’ll lose your Plink points if you switch credit cards before your Plink points arrive. So, wait until the points show up, if you can, before switching.

    • MilesHunter: Some of my transactions have posted now too including one e-gift card and one physical gift card! Great news!
      .
      WWW: It’s normal for the transactions to dribble in over time. I wouldn’t worry about it unless they’re still missing about a week from now.

  14. Hey Frequent Miler,
    I love your posts, and have been a silent follower for a while. I actually took part in this deal because I have Plink, a chase freedom card, and a United Mileage card, so I thought it was a perfect storm of opportunity. So I did my first 15 $50 gift card early in the day, and they went through fine. Then my next 15 later the evening of the 9th so I am worried I won’t get the miles. I foolishing also never screenshotted the “gift cards allowed as of 10/4/13,” so
    1. Could someone please send me a screen shot of that? My email is tsunamiz03@yahoo.com. Thanks!
    2. It seems like we might need to be arming up for a “discussion” with various parties.
    a. the United Mileage portal (do we call United directly about this, or a United Shopping portal rep, or Sears.com?). If so it might be helpful to post these numbers or stories of anyone arguing successfully (or unsuccessfully) for these miles so we can have the knowledge on our side. How long will it take for these miles to post?
    b. Plink, how long will this take to post? Anyone had to fight for Plink points and done so successfully?

    Lastly, not sure if you’ve posted about this (you probably have), but in case you haven’t the $500 or 1,000 free that you can send on Amazon.com from your credit card directly to another person is an amazing way to get credit card spend and get cash off of credit cards.

    Also PNC bank allows you to open a bank account, and fund it from a credit card up to $2,000, so it’s an amazing way to get a free cash advance.
    (full disclosure: I am a graduate student bridging my last year of tuition by opening several credit cards with X months at 0% interest.
    3. Now after doing this Mileage portal scheme with my chase freedom card though (this is my oldest card so I don’t have 0% interest on it), I would like to get the balance off of it without paying a 3% transfer fee, but the only way to do that is a chase Slate card. But it seems like I cannot transfer a balance from a chase card to another chase card sadly….

    Thanks all! Amazing find, thank you for posting.

  15. Guess I made the mistake of ordering too much? My $3000 order of $500 gift cards on the 9th still have not arrived by email on the 13th. Repeated calls keep saying they need another 24 hours to process the order. So I missed out on the immediate Mileage Plus Mall double dip, then figured I’d default to the AAvantage Mall for the second part once the cards actually arrived. Since I’m still waiting, I now missed that opportunity to use the gift cards, and guess i’ll settle for Ultimate Rewards Mall once the cards actually arrive. That is if the appliances sale is still going on, otherwise I might just have to hang onto the cards for a while. Are there currently any better offers than UR Mall? Thanks!

  16. Ordered 30 separate orders each for a $50 GC ($1500 total) on 10/9. Still waiting on:

    Discover: $75 (5% CB on online purchases)
    Plink: $90 (6% on each $50 purchase)
    MileagePlus shopping: 24,000 miles

    Nothing is showing on any of the 3…I’ll get nervous if I still don’t see anything in another week.

  17. Update on my progress.

    Ordered $1150 worth of e-gift cards in $50 batches.

    Discover: Nothing has shown up yet. I’m not sure if they won’t show up till next statement?

    Plink: Points have shown up, can redeem now.

    MileagePlus: No points from e-gift cards, however points from one of my purchases has shown up but not from my second purchase (made two purchases with the gift cards). Hopefully they’ll all show up soon.

  18. Mine have not posted yet either–I’ll give it a week—*while nervously checking mileageplus website every 10 minutes* 🙂

  19. It looks like the United portal is going to try to get out of giving me any miles for my purchase of Sears e-gift cards. I sent an email to the United portal asking about the miles and just got a response stating: We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. However, the merchant has not credited your account with miles because they have deemed this item ineligible per their terms and conditions stated on the MileagePlus Shopping web site. The email then quotes some terms and conditions with the following disclaimer: Not eligible on gift cards, gift certificates or any other similar cash equivalents.
    I foolishly didn’t get a screen shot of the terms and conditions when I made my purchase (October 9) If anyone has one could they email it to me at cefado1212@gmail.com. Thanks.

  20. I actually purchased physical merchandise for the AA Sears 12 mile promotion and after not receiving my miles still I filed a request with AAdvantage shopping. They just emailed to say that Sears states I did not use their portal to shop through (which is an absolute lie as I am very careful what I click on). I have the transaction numbers and all but not sure where to complain now. Has anyone gotten to the point where they are using a screen filming/capture program to record their transactions? It is nuts but what evidence do you have otherwise?

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