Sears 18X (or more) Southwest portal deal: everything you need to know

Thursday morning I posted a Quick Deal: Sears offering 9X through Southwest portal. Greater than 18X returns possible.  In this post I’ll describe options for getting outsized value from this offer.  This offer is good through Father’s Day (Sunday, June 15).

Basics

Online shopping portals provide a way to earn extra points, miles, or cash back when shopping online.  There are many different portals and most of them regularly change the rebates they offer for each merchant.  Occasionally we’ll see a much better than usual deal that’s worth writing about.  This one (9 bonus points per dollar through the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal) is very good, but it’s not amazing.  We have previously seen Sears as high as 16X through the United MileagePlus Shopping portal (last October), and 15X through the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping portal (two years ago).

In some rare cases, merchants will give the customer portal points (or miles, or cash back, depending upon the portal) both when buying gift cards and when using gift cards.  When this happens, it is possible to “double dip”.  Buy gift cards to get points and then use the gift cards to buy merchandise and get more points. In the case of this 9X deal, it is possible to get 19 points per dollar (or more):

  • 1X points from your credit card (or more, since some credit cards offer 2X points or more).
  • 9X points from buying gift cards.
  • 9X points from buying merchandise with the gift cards.
  • Total: 19X (or more)

 

Companion Pass

One of the more interesting opportunities in the points & miles game is the Southwest Companion Pass.  Anytime you earn 110,000 Southwest points in one calendar year, you get a pass which lets you bring along a companion at no extra charge (other than security fees) for an unlimited number of flights (paid or award flights) for the rest of this calendar year and all of the next calendar year.  And, significantly, points earned from the Southwest shopping portal do count towards the 110,000 points needed.

Why am I so sure that points from the portal count?  For one, two years ago I earned a companion pass by double dipping through the portal to buy (and then later sell) tablet computers from Sears.  And, I know that it is still working based on recent experience.  Notice that SWA shows that I’ve earned 1,260 qualifying points so far this year:

SWA_companion_pass_proof

All of those points came from an $84 purchase I made through the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal (during the JC Penney 15X deal):

SWA_companion_pass_proof2

 

Gift cards allowed

Sears has flip-flopped often about whether or not they allow gift card purchases to count towards portal bonuses.  Fortunately, Sears has recently flipped back (or flopped back?) to allowing gift cards, at least through Cartera run portals (which includes most mile-earning portals).  Big Habitat broke this news here.  Regarding buying gift cards at Sears, the portal now says:

“Eligible for rewards on purchase of gift cards effective from and after June 1, 2014.”

SWA_Sears9Xc

If you plan to buy gift cards to get points, make sure that text is still there before you buy (see the last sentence, above).  During a past deal, Sears changed the T&C mid-stream, twice.  For details, see: Sears gift cards and the mysterious case of changing terms and conditions.

Types of Gift Cards

There are four ways to buy gift cards from Sears.com and I believe they will all work towards earning points:

  • Gift cards by mail (physical gift cards): When buying these, text on the screen says “Sold by Kmart and Fulfilled by Kmart.”  This often makes people nervous about whether or not they’ll earn portal points.  In my experience, this approach always earns points even when the portal terms & conditions say no to gift cards.  Of course, this could change at any time, but that has been my experience as recently as October 2013.  Note that if you have any kind of automatic bonus from your credit card for shopping at Sears (such as a current Bank of America 10% offer), this will not count since your credit card will show the purchase as being from Kmart.
  • Gift cards by e-mail (e-gift cards): These are sold by Sears.  In past experience, if the portal says no to gift cards then e-gift card purchases do not result in points earned.  So, only buy these as long as the T&C explicitly states that gift card purchases are allowed.
  • Printed gift cards: I believe these to be identical to e-gift cards in terms of whether or not they’ll result in portal points.
  • Reload gift cards: If you have an existing gift card, you can reload it at Sears.com up to $500 maximum value.  At times this has worked for getting points even when the T&C says no.  That said, I don’t have any recent experience with this option to give a recommendation about it.

Thursday morning I started a small experiment to make sure each type of gift card works.  I bought one of each type (except for the printed type since I believe those to be the same as e-gift cards).  Unfortunately, it will probably be a week or so before I receive confirmation of points earned so it will be too late for this particular promotion.  However, it will be useful information for the next promotion that rolls around.

Gift card order verification

With most gift card orders, Sears calls to verify your identity before releasing the purchase.  If the process takes too long, you can expedite the process by calling Sears first.  Have your order number(s) handy and call this number:

1-888-396-5299

Be prepared to answer a number of questions to prove your identity.

Only 15 gift cards per order

Sears.com will accept no more than 15 gift cards per order when using gift cards to buy merchandise.

Combine with recent promo deal

Don’t forget that Kmart and Sears are still running a promotion in which you get a free $5 promo gift card when buying either $25 Kmart gift cards at Kmart or $50 Sears gift cards at Sears (both in-store).  Full details of this promotion can be found here: A deal that’s better than it looks.

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, 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. 

It’s even possible to buy travel (airfare, for example) with Sears gift cards, but its not easy.  For full details please see: Earn more miles (many more) for any flight, any hotel, any cruise.

Gift card upgrades and sales

If you’re not interested in Sears’ products or gift cards, 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 gift card rack containing gift cards other than for Sears and Kmart.  This 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 store registers 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!

Another option is to sell your gift cards to a reseller.  Physical gift cards often sell for more than e-gift cards.  Either sell Sears gift cards directly, or upgrade them to more valuable gift cards (such as gas gift cards) first.  You can find current resale rates at GiftCardGranny.com

Don’t forget to earn Shop Your Way Rewards points

Sears’ has its own loyalty program called Shop Your Way Rewards (SYWR) which typically offers the equivalent of 1% back for purchases (but sometimes offers even more).  Shop Your Way Rewards points can be used to pay for future purchases.  When I have several Sears’ purchases to make, I do them one at a time (when practical) so as to earn SYWR points that can be applied to the next order.

Don’t forget coupons

First, go to ShopYourWay.com, click on “coupons”, and click “Load to My Account” for each coupon that you may want to use.  Also check out the coupon codes listed in the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal.  Currently, they show the following:

  • SAVE15: $15 off tool orders of $75 or more
  • SEARS2014: $5 off orders of $50 or more
  • SEARS35OFF300: Extra $35 off Sears.com orders of $300 or more

 

Putting it all together

Here are a few opportunities that are made possible with this deal:

  • Buy things you need: This is the obvious option.  If there are things you were planning to buy anyway, you might as well earn lots of points doing so.  One caution: if you double dip and buy items with gift cards, you will not get an extended warranty or other protections from your credit card.  Sears does have a price matching policy so it is possible to do well even when they don’t appear to be competitive.
  • Buy gift cards for future use: If you know you’ll spend money at Sears, Kmart, or other related brands in the near future, you could buy gift cards now in order to earn the extra 9X points and then use those gift cards later either online or in-store.
  • Buy and sell merchandise: Example: buy $6,111 worth of merchandise to earn a companion pass.  Resell items that you don’t want or need.  If you lose 20% of your money through buying and selling, it will cost you $1,222 for 110,000 points (1.1 cents per point) + a companion pass.  Personally, I think that buying and selling has too much risk to go for it at this price point, but some might want to consider it.
  • Buy and sell gift cards: Example: buy $12,225 worth of gift cards to earn a companion pass and 110,025 points.  If you sell the gift cards at a 16% loss, your total cost will be $1956.  Better, would be to upgrade the gift cards to $100 Visa gift cards (each with a $5.95 fee) in-store.  Unfortunately, that means finding 115 $100 gift cards to buy.  That’s extremely unlikely.   

Questions and Answers

Please feel free to ask questions in the comments below, but please first read through these pre-written questions and answers:

Q: How can I make sure to get the miles from this promotion?  I tend to have bad luck with portals.
A:
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 you make a purchase.

Q: Do I have to pay with a Southwest credit card to get 9X?
A:
Nope.  Pay with whichever card gives you the best rewards.

Q: What about physical gift cards? Can I get points for those? 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.
A:
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.  Of course, they probably won’t be delivered in time for a double-dip.

Q: How long will it take for my points to post?
A:
Most point earning portals show pending results between 3 to 7 days after a purchase.  For very large purchases (>$500), it often takes longer.  Sometimes it can take up to 4 weeks or so for the transaction to show up in your account within a portal.  It will take considerably longer for the points to actually post to your account for use.

Q: Can you buy Sears gift cards online with other Sears’ gift cards?
A:
No

Q: Can you use Sears’ gift cards in-store to buy other merchant gift cards?
A:
Yes, it is possible, but it depends upon the cashier allowing it.  Most Sears’ stores now have gift card racks with gift cards from multiple merchants.  If you’re lucky, you may find $100 Visa gift cards available for $105.95. There have even been reports of Amazon gift card sightings, but my local Sears store doesn’t seem to carry those.  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!

Q: Can you combine multiple Sears’ gift cards into one gift card?
A:
Not online, but you may be able to do so in-store.  I reported on my experience with this here: Combining Sears gift cards.

Q: Can I use Home Improvement gift cards to pay for items at Sears and get miles through this promotion?
A:
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, or reload an existing gift card.  One caution: when using Home Improvement gift cards to pay, Sears’ fraud department may deny your order.  Personally, I don’t think it is worth the extra hassle to buy and use Home Improvement gift cards.

Q: Is there anything worth buying and selling?
A:
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?
A:
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?
A:
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.

Q: How many gift cards can I apply to one order online?
A:
15

Q: Do Sears Marketplace items earn points?
A:
Yes, as long as the “Add to Cart” button is there and you do not leave Sears.com you should earn points.

Q: Do tires count?  The T&C says Not eligible on auto services.
A:
Yes,tires are fine.  I believe that the auto services exclusion has to do with making an appointment online for automobile services that you haven’t yet paid for.

Q: Can I get points for Craftsman or Kenmore products?  The T&C says not eligible on Craftsman, Kenmore (and several other stores) purchases.
A:
As long as you buy the item from Sears.com, you should get points.  Those exclusions have to do with going to the other sites such as Kenmore.com, etc.

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 »

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Comments

  1. If you use Sears much, you should sign up for the free Shop Your Way Max trial which gives you free 2-day shipping. When you join full time for $39 it gives you $3 in points each month, and 2% back in Shop Your Way points. Also renewals are often discounted, I just was offered a one year renewal for $19 and used $3 in surprise points to renew for $16. I just bought some gift cards and will be looking for some Sears deals…

  2. Over the next few months I will complete my home renovations. I will need everything in the kitchen and a washer/dryer. Crazy to think that buying those goods through this portal deal could get me a free companion ticket!
    Too bad their father’s day sale prices are not as solid as memorial day and not as good as last Thanksgiving.
    Thanks for the heads up, even if it is just to be prepared for the next time.

  3. Since Jeff said it… Yeah. And headphones even more so. The 9x is nice, and doubling is good, but that is not where the action is at the moment.

    Does anyone know if we can use SYWR points to purchase items from the hidden rack of plastic treasures at sears? Haven’t actually tried that yet.

  4. Considering my AMEX BCP gets 3% back there, and my never ending list of things-a-new-homeowner-learns-about-the-hard-way-type items…..I think I’m going to be spending some time at Sears this weekend 🙂 thanks for the heads up on this deal!

  5. When clicking through the Portal, I landed on the Sears page and selected Gift Cards from the top. There is GCmall icon that appears. I clicked it. It took me to a \Sears\ GCMall landing page.

    Anyone tried buying VisaGCs this way and getting 9x points? If no one has, I will try it.

    • A reader tried this a while ago, but didn’t get points. Of course, that was before the portals explicitly said that gift cards were allowed so there is a tiny chance that this will work, but I’m pretty sure it won’t. When you click to shop for those gift cards you are taken to a different URL. You only get points from the portal when you add things to your cart from Sears.com.

  6. Just one data point…my local Kmart has gone \cash only\ on ALL gift cards, including Kmart’s own gift cards. There are big signs posted on all gift card racks. I thought that they might be referring only to the Visa gift cards and similar ones, but that’s not the case. I tried to purchase a $25 Kmart gift card to take advantage of the Father’s Day bonus $5 offer that FM wrote about last week, and I could only use cash. Hopefully this is limited to my store only and the rest of you can still use a credit card.

  7. Don’t forget to buy eGC’s using Home Improvement Gift Card (5x UR at OD/OM/ Staples) or the 2Q2014 5% CB with Discover card. Also for merchandise purchase the following codes that appear when passing thru the SW portal. This is a fantastic promo to bolster SWA points for free travel etc!
    Additional Offers & Coupons Coupon Code Valid Through
    Extra 5% off patio furniture and grill bundles already on sale plus free delivery on select orders $399 and up. 7/5/2014
    Close X
    Important offer details:
    You clicked on the offer: Save an extra $25 off when you purchase $250 or more for lawn and garden. Click here for single-use code.
    Please make note:
    Restrictions apply. See site for details.
    Continue to Sears.com

    Save an extra $25 off when you purchase $250 or more for lawn and garden. Click here for single-use code. 7/9/2014
    1 Day Sale & Values with Friday Preview! Online Only Extra 5 – 15% Off featured items + Hot Member Offers. 6/14/2014
    50% off great tools plus up to 50% off Craftsman mechanic’s tool sets and tool storage plus buy one get one Gladiator GearTrack or GearWall. 6/15/2014
    Close X
    Don’t forget your offer code!
    You clicked the offer: Save on tool gifts for Dad plus extra $15 off tool orders of $75 or more. To get this special offer from Sears.com, you must enter the offer code below during checkout.
    Your Offer Code:
    SAVE15
    Please make note:
    Restrictions apply. See site for details.
    Continue to Sears.com

    Save on tool gifts for Dad plus extra $15 off tool orders of $75 or more. SAVE15 6/15/2014
    Shop unbelievable pricing on all tires. Find a better price? We’ll match it. 9/1/2014
    Close X
    Don’t forget your offer code!
    You clicked the offer: Exclusive offer – extra $5 off Sears.com orders of $50 or more. To get this special offer from Sears.com, you must enter the offer code below during checkout.
    Your Offer Code:
    SEARS2014
    Please make note:
    Restrictions apply. See site for details.
    Continue to Sears.com

    Exclusive offer – extra $5 off Sears.com orders of $50 or more. SEARS2014 1/31/2015
    Close X
    Don’t forget your offer code!
    You clicked the offer: Exclusive offer – extra $35 off Sears.com orders of $300 or more. To get this special offer from Sears.com, you must enter the offer code below during checkout.
    Your Offer Code:
    SEARS35OFF300
    Please make note:
    Restrictions apply. See site for details.
    Continue to Sears.com

    Exclusive offer – extra $35 off Sears.com orders of $300 or more. SEARS35OFF300 1/31/2015

  8. I can’t find this quickly, but I seem to remember that if you use SYW rewards to pay for an item, the SW points are reduced by the amount you use (e.g. $50 item paid for with $10 gift card and $40 SYW rewards only earns SW ponts on $10). Is that right?

  9. FM, a quick note — Gift cards aren’t allowed on pre-orders. I had to scramble to find something new with my $500 GC after trying to apply it to a Samsung Galaxy Tab S.

  10. Uggh, it feels like you’re being interrogated and you are guilty until proven innocent when you call the Sears fraud line. But I guess it’s worth it.

  11. It certainly stackable with this, and with nearly 100% (or better with the headphones) points return. Someone asked the question below if you could still earn points when using points, and the answer is that it varies. BBQ offer here is a no, headphones were a yes when they were in Stock. Also, answer the question in your response to Jeff, there is no offer for the BBQ items to register for. The way to tell if items are eligible is on each products page, at the top of each page is ‘special offers available’. If you open this up, it will note if the item is included in the spend $50 get $50 back in points offer.

  12. Apologies, somehow my reply didn’t get linked to our conversation above when the first captcha didn’t go thru. BTW, happy Fathers Day FM.

  13. One data point FWIW. Today I was unable to purchase GCs at Kmart with a credit card (it’s never happened before; I did it earlier this week without incident). Don’t know if it’s due to a fluke, a new POS system, the types or combination of GCs I was buying (one $100 Visa GC and two $25 hybrid Kmart/Sears store GCs), my form of payment (BofA c/c), or something else. The cashier showed me the error message on her screen which said something like “cash or debit only.” I didn’t ask to try with another c/c (I have a sync-like 10% cash back offer on my BofA and only wanted to use that card); just thanked them and left.

  14. UPDATE:
    All three of my test purchases seem to have worked. That is, the shopping portal is showing 9X pending points for each of:
    * Purchase of physical gift card
    * Purchase of e-gift card (which I still haven’t received!)
    * Reload of existing physical gift card.

    This deal is expected to end today. If you still want to get in on it, I’d recommend finding an existing physical Sears gift card and go through the portal to Sears to reload the gift card up to $500 max value. In my case (which may not always hold true), I was asked security questions automatically online and the new balance was immediately available after that.

  15. What folks REALLY need to be warned of here is that Sears is NOT processing these gift card requests well. (I posted the details of my saga over on your “quick deals” page….) I passed through the security side of things just fine, for a simple $100 card….. but never mind repeated assurances I’d have the card in an hour, I’m not told that it could be 24 hours or longer — and that sometimes “glitches” occur between US based orders and a certain overseas (Filipino?) processing unit…. Wasted hours today of time and aggravation over this. Will think twice before EVER buying a gift card through a portal. Some of us have a life. (or did)

  16. I thought the companion pass cost 110,000 pts and we wouldn’t fly enough to make it worth it but now I understand and I am totally going for it! I outlined how to take full advantage of Southwest’s 1000 pt code at 1800flowers on my site. Everyone is getting $30 flowers/giftbaskets from now on!

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