How to earn points and what to buy with Sears gift cards

In the past several months, Sears has been offering outstanding rewards through online shopping portals.  For example, yesterday Sears very briefly bumped up their offer through the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal to 9X.  The thing that makes deals like these particularly appealing is that Sears specifically allows earning points on gift card purchases.  This opens up all kinds of fantastic hacks…

Sears_giftcards

One way to take advantage of a Sears portal deal is to double dip.  Go through the portal once to buy an e-gift card (or to reload an existing gift card), and then go through the portal a second time to use the gift card to buy stuff you need. And, when credit cards offer special bonuses at Sears, it is possible to triple dip: earn the credit card bonus once and the portal bonus twice.  See, for example, this Quick Deal from yesterday: 23 points per dollar at Sears!.

What if you really don’t want to buy anything from Sears.com?  It may still be worth buying Sears gift cards.  This quarter, both Chase Freedom and Discover cards offer 5X at Sears online (both limit 5X to a total of $1500 in spend for the quarter).  So, go through a portal for a 9X bonus (for example) and pay with your Freedom or Discover card to get an additional 5X.  14X rewards for buying Sears’ gift cards is pretty good!

But, now you have gift cards instead of cash.  Here are suggestions for what you can do with those gift cards…

Best uses for Sears’ gift cards

  • Buy things and services in person: I just need to get this one obvious one out of the way first. Sears gift cards can be used to pay for just about anything at Sears or Kmart.  You can pay with a Sears gift card for an oil change at the Sears’ auto center, for example.  I expect that the same is true at the Sears vision center.  Or, pay for groceries, prescriptions, and more at Kmart.
  • Buy things online, later: You may not need anything at Sears when a big portal bonus strikes, but you may find something worthwhile in the future at Sears, Kmart, or one of the many other affiliated stores (Sears Outlet, Craftsman.com, etc.).  Check CashBackMonitor to find the best current portal rates.
  • Buy airfare and other travel: It’s not necessarily easy to do, but I’ve found that it is possible to pay for airfare, hotels, cruises, etc. with Sears gift cards via Sears Vacations.  For details of my experience, please see “Earn more miles (many more) for any flight, any hotel, any cruise.”
  • Roll gift card credit into points: Sears has its own rewards program called Shop Your Way Rewards (SYWR).  Every now and then, they offer a deal for 100% back in points on certain products.  Setup an email alert on SlickDeals to be notified when these deals appear.  The great thing is that you can usually get portal points when buying items like these.
  • Buy other gift cards in person: While Kmart has made this increasingly difficult or impossible, it is still possible to use Sears gift cards at Sears (in person) to buy other gift cards.  In my experience, some cashiers don’t allow it, but most do.  Most Sears stores now have gift card racks near the registers which include gift cards for gas stations, Amazon.com, various restaurants, and more.  If you’re lucky, the $100 Visa gift cards might even be in stock (these cost $105.95).  Note that you cannot use Shop Your Way Rewards points to buy gift cards.

Sears_gc_rack_orig_from_back

Safety tip

When shopping for gift cards at Sears.com, you may be tempted by their ad for Specialty Gift Cards.

Sears_specialty_gift_cards

If you click the ad, you’ll be taken to GiftCardMall.com.  You will not earn portal points for this purchase.

Finding the deals

Use these tools to find and make the most of portal deals:

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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Comments

  1. Sears has been the single most lucrative points ‘provider’ for me in the last 5 years, even more than a pretty intense CC churning schedule. And I totally have FM to thank (thank you FM!), and while my most recent situation may be very specific and the vast majority of people will never encounter what I have, I thought I’d share what happened most recently in my pursuit of points.

    I took advantage of the bonus points on the AA portal to buy gift cards and then ordered a washer dryer that one of my tenants needed. I’ll let the link below explain (I wrote that blog post in the link at the Sears forums. yeah, who knew they had forums), but I’d like to summarize by saying that the ordeal that it has been dealing with Sears customer service has not been worth the 20k points I earned on the purchase. And until I found those Sears forums last night I thought that it was a fluke and that their entire company can’t be as awful as it seemed, but sure enough there are dozens of posts describing the same beyond awful experience that I did.

    Like I said, the vast majority of people aren’t buying washer dryers, or anything that would require any type of contact with Sears. But I definitely know that had I found those complaints on the Sears forum website I would never have ordered appliances there, no matter the bonus points.

    https://www.sears.com/community/forums/topic/unimaginably-poor-sears-customer-service/

    Excuse the dramatic/threatening parts in the email, I was just so incensed yesterday, heh.

    • I’ve read stories of bad customer service before, and it’s almost like there are two Sears. I really haven’t had trouble and keep buying appliances from them. I had a Kenmore washer serviced after 8 years and they honored the warranty portion no problem.

  2. I just don’t do THAT much shopping … at Sears or elsewhere. Buying a $100 Visa GC at a 6% premium – IF you can find them – is not so bad with a high enough portal bonus to offset that cost, but then you’re left with the inconvenience of unloading a stack of $100 GC’s.

  3. FM how do you set up the Slickdeals alert so I can be notified on basically 100% Shop Your Ways Rewards back on purchases? I have been on that site for years, but never figured out how to set up alerts.

    • 1. Go to Slickdeals and log in
      2. Click “Deal Alerts” at the top of the page
      3. Click “Add a Deal Alert”
      4. Have it search for either “Sears” or “SYW”
      5. To avoid getting too many emails, you might want a minimum thumbs up rating of 3 or so.

  4. Yup, the Sears “double dip” can be quite lucrative. As I think you know, Kohls seems to work the same way.

    If you’re a regular Sears shopper, I’d probably recommend having a Sears gift card “ready to go” when you see an item on sale that you want to buy (sites like slickdeals are great for locating deep-discounts at Sears). So buy the gift card when there’s a crazy portal sale. Then when you see an item you really want to buy, you can jump on it immediately.

    Sears does say that an online gift card reload will post within an hour, but I’ve had problems with this. I’ve had to call Sears to get the process completed. This is problematic when there’s a “hot item” that’s likely to sell out.

    Even without the Southwest portal deal, there are a bunch of cashback websites currently offering 6% back at Sears. So by buying the gift card first, you earn 12% cashback. When you buy merchandise (as opposed to gift cards) you often earn valuable Shop My Way points with Sears as well. Overall, I consider Sears to be like Kohls: a store that normally wouldn’t interest me much, but one that can be manipulated to produce some terrific deals.

  5. So…..forgive the stupid question, but do I still get the 9X bonus if I go through the SW portal but DON’T use a SW card?
    Example: I go to SW portal > Sears > buy a $500 Sears GC with Chase Freedom. Then go back to SW portal > Sears > use $500 GC to buy A Thing.

    My math tells me that gets me 9000 SW RR miles and 2500 UR points. Is this right? Or am I getting greedy here 🙂

  6. Sears is just one notch ahead of Walmart for ease of transaction and ability to stock their gift card rack……my Sears has no Gift cards so it is a non-starter for me…….I would love to see a post titled “MS Inspired Travel”…….where you point out in order of desirability various MS mother lodes of opportunity combined with a nearby resort……..

  7. I am not a fan of buying gift cards to spend later. If Sears were to file for Chapter 11, which could be very possible considering their financials, your gift cards are now worthless as you are now a creditor of the company in bankruptcy. Found this out the hard way with Linens & Things when they went bankrupt. Just a word of caution with store gift cards.

      • Were the Linens & Things gift cards IMMEDIATELY worthless? That would surprise me. Generally, the retailer gets permission from the bankruptcy court to honor gift cards. I’ve seen this happen several times.

        There obviously is some risk of a future Sears bankruptcy (the stock is currently trading for $27, so it doesn’t sound like it’s happening tomorrow, though). And there’s really no reason to hold a Sears gift card if you’re not looking on sites like slickdeals for deep discounts that are likely to quickly sell out. But if you are the type of person who regularly shops these online deals, having a gift card that earned you, say, an extra 10% off might be a good idea. I personally would be comfortable holding a Sears GC for $100 or less if I acquired it on a crazy portal promo.

        • Agreed. Borders gift cards did not become worthless overnight. You still had a chance to redeem them. Unless you have $5k in gift cards or something I don’t see that much risk.

  8. When FM says “Sears specifically allows earning points on gift card purchases” does that pretty much hold true across the board e.g., will UR mall give points for Sears e-GC purchase?

  9. May be a stupid question, but when unloading Sears GC’s on items like electronics, does it make a difference if I purchase something from Sears Marketplace sellers or does it have to be from Sears directly to get the portal points bonus?

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