A week ago, I showed how it is possible to use Sears gift cards to pay for travel (see “Earn more miles (many more) for any flight, any hotel, any cruise“). In that post, I promised to follow up with the best ways to earn points, miles, and cash back when buying Sears gift cards. Here goes…
#1: Take advantage of portal promotions
In the past few weeks alone, Sears has held many portal promotions worth noticing: 16X via the United MileagePlus portal; 12X via the AAdvantage Shopping portal; and 9X via the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping portal. There was a brief window of opportunity during the United promo in which it was possible to earn points even when buying e-gift cards, but usually that’s not the case. Instead, buy physical gift cards to be shipped to your home. Even though they are processed by Kmart and even though the portal terms & conditions say that gift cards are excluded, many experiments have shown that most portals do pay out for Sears’ physical gift card purchases.
If there are no exciting Sears portal promotions, look for Lands End instead. Lands End gift cards work everywhere that Sears gift cards do, and Lands End specifically allows earning points on gift card purchases.
#2: Redeem Discover Cashback for Lands End gift cards
Discover lets you redeem cashback for partner gift cards and in some cases this can be a bargain. Lands End gift cards, for example, are available for 20% off. A $100 Lands End gift certificate will cost you only $80 in Discover cashback. This means that you can get 25% more value from your Discover rewards. See “Maximizing Discover rewards: real value from merchant gift cards.”
#3: Portal + Sears + Plink
Plink is a rewards program that awards points for shopping at certain merchants. Plink lets you link a single credit card to your account and automatically awards you when qualifying transactions appear on your credit account. Plink points are worth a penny each towards gift cards such as Walmart, Amazon, and the Tango card (which gives you access to many more gift card options). With Sears and Kmart, Plink offers $3 worth of Plink points for every $50 purchase. The key is to add Kmart to your Plink Wallet, and go through a portal to Sears to buy physical gift cards. If all goes well you’ll earn credit card points, portal points and Plink points.
Example: Use a Discover It card to go through Shop Discover to Sears and buy a physical gift card. You’ll earn 1% cash back from your credit card (or more during various promotions),
10% 5% cash back from Shop Discover, and the equivalent of 6% back from Plink for a total rebate of 17% 12%. See “Plinking Sears” for more details.
#4: Portal + Staples + Plink
Staples sells Sears’ e-gift cards online. To maximize rewards, add Staples to your Plink wallet, go through a shopping portal to Staples (e.g. uPromise offers 5% cash back), buy $75 worth of e-gift cards at a time (one $50 card and one $25 card), and pay with a credit card that earns 5X at office supply stores. In total, you could earn 4% back in Plink points, 5% back in cash from uPromise, and 5 points per dollar from your credit card. If you value your credit card’s points at 1.5 cents each, this amounts to a 16.5% rebate. See “Plinking Staples” for details.
#5: Buy via Scrip
Many schools fundraise by selling gift cards via the Scrip program. I’ve been told that Lands End gift cards are available to Scrip schools for 16% off. Whether or not the school shares that discount with you I supposed is up to the school. Either way, this may be a good opportunity to give back to your local school.
Did I miss any good options?