Bet You Didn’t Know: 5x for physical Sears gift cards

By Julian, author of Devil’s Advocate..

If there’s one thing we can count on from Sears nowadays (and there literally might only be one thing we can count on from Sears nowadays), it’s impressive shopping portal bonuses.  Greg has reported on several of these recently and it’s likely we’ll see more in the not too distant future.

However, when you buy a physical Sears gift card online (as opposed to an e-gift card or reloading an existing card), the transaction is fulfilled by K-Mart instead of Sears. Why they do it this way is beyond me. I suppose it’s to give K-Mart some extra revenue, though it occurs to me that the last thing Sears should be doing right now is giving out “extra” revenue.

In any case, this quirk is a problem if you’re looking to stack the portal bonus with either the Chase Freedom or Discover 4th quarter department store bonuses, as neither considers Kmart to be a department store.  The good news is there are two ways to stack these bonuses and still end up with physical Sears gift cards:

1) Get a physical gift card ahead of time without much money on it (e.g., use an old one or buy one in store for $5), then go through the shopping portal to Sears and reload it up to a total of $500.  This transaction shows up as coming from sears.com and counts for Freedom’s 5x 4th quarter bonus.

2) If you don’t already have a physical gift card, remember that Discover is not only offering 5% cash back at department stores this quarter, but also 5% for online purchases. So a physical Sears gift card purchase that appears to be coming from Kmart will record as an online transaction for the 5% cash back.

I confirmed this during the recent AAdvantage 8x portal bonus for Sears. Here’s the Discover transaction for a physical Sears gift card bought online. Note the sale is listed as an “online” transaction coming from Kmart.com.

Bet you didn't know

Unfortunately Chase and Discover cap their bonuses at $1,500 in spend per quarter, so this deal isn’t infinitely scalable. But maxing out that $1,500 would result in $75 cash back with Discover and/or 7,500 Ultimate Rewards points with Chase, plus additional miles from the shopping portal.  So make sure you register for Chase and Discover’s 4th quarter bonuses and you’ll be ready for the next portal bonus.

Oh, and don’t hold onto those Sears gift cards too long. The way things are going over there, you’ll probably want to get that Kenmore washer/dryer while there’s still a place to buy them. I’d recommend declining the extended service plan though…

So... Did you know how to earn a 5X quarterly bonus in addition to portal rewards when buying Sears gift cards?

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About Devils Advocate

The Devil's Advocate learned the ins and outs of travel loyalty programs while flying more than 200,000 miles a year as a TV producer and director for World Wrestling Entertainment (and yes, of course it’s all real). He now splits his time between New York and Los Angeles and loathes New York winters only slightly less than Los Angeles traffic.

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  1. I needed a PS4 for Christmas. Bought a $10 gift card, then reloaded for $390 through Sears. Then I went through Chase UR to get the PS4 from Kmart (5 pts./dollar). That’s around 6,000 points for $400 (Chase 5x Bonus, Sears Portal, Kmart Portal). I know there are much better Sears/Kmart deals that pop up, but I needed Chase UR points quickly.

    Great stuff!

  2. When you want to reload an existing Sears card, that card need not be activated or loaded with a nominal amount (like $5, $10). I can confirm that you can get an empty Sears card from Sears and load it online. It will work just fine. I did that 6 times so far and roadblocks faced. My point is, when trying to maximize the portal earnings every $ spend counts.

    • That’s intriguing. Did you ask a cashier for an empty gift card or just “pocket” one? Not judging, just asking.

    • Hmmmm, it should have. Most people report receiving portal points for buying an e-gift card. Looks like there’s a report in the Laboratory noting the Southwest portal paid points for an e-gift card purchase just this past June. How long ago did you make your purchase?

  3. The Discover portal works and is unlimited for Sears during this quarter (might be restricted to Discover Card usage). Currently pays 10% CB.

  4. I assume you mean the 10% you’d get by stacking the 5% Discover portal with the 5% Discover quarterly bonus? In that case, yes, you’d have to use a Discover card. But usually you can get Discover portal cash back regardless of which card you use, so if you just wanted the 5% via the Discover portal, that’d work with any card.

    • When you look at Discover transactions online, it seems pretty clear that “Purchase Method” indicates whether a purchase was made online or the card was physically swiped or manually keyed. Either way, the Discover T&C state that “online shopping is defined as: the purchase of goods at online merchants” so it’d be obvious that “Kmart.com” is an online transaction. But I’m interested in what you think it means.

      • Purchase Method refers to the card transaction processing method (“online” vs “offline”). It has absolutely nothing to do with Internet shopping (“online shopping”).

        • Sorry, but I’m not sure what distinction you’re making. Yes, “Online” indicates how the transaction was processed, versus “Card Swiped” or “Manually Keyed” (though I don’t think I’ve ever seen it say “Offline” in that field). Not all “online” transactions would be eligible for 5% cash back as it has to be a transaction with an online merchant — for instance, loads to Serve do not qualify. But if it doesn’t say “online” then it’s pretty certain you wouldn’t get the 5% cash back regardless of the merchant. Hence I circled both the “online” purchase method and the “Kmart.com” online merchant in the screenshot.

        • Look up the meaning of the word “online” in the context of transaction processing. It does not mean “on the web”. Some Internet shopping transactions may not say “online” in the Purchase Method field, a PayPal purchase can say “manually keyed,” even though it obviously isn’t manually keyed and explicitly qualifies for the “online shopping” promotion.

    • No guarantees it’ll be the same on Black Friday this year, but assuming it is and your goal is cash back instead of miles, that might be an excellent plan!

  5. I haven’t double dipped yet. Let me make sure I’ve got this clear, at the risk of looking like someone who can’t read what is a very helpful post:

    1. Swing by Sears.
    2. Buy a $5 Sears gift card with whatever card I like.
    3. Go to sears.com through UR portal and use my Freedom to reload it up to whatever I think I need. This will get me 5X UR as it will post as a sears.com purchase even though it’s a “reload”.
    4. Use that physical gift card to purchase from Sears.com through another portal (checking evrewards) to get an incremental ?x.

    Net Result: 5X from UR with Freedom, and ?X from Electronically reloaded Physical card through portal shopping Sears.

    I’d just have to choose a portal that doesn’t require me to use their credit card for the 2nd dip to work. Right?

    • That is all correct, my friend. Note that if you wanted to get 10X UR points, you can actually use the same portal twice for the double dip, going through the first time to buy the gift card and the second time to spend the gift card. Personally, if I’m going through the same portal twice, I prefer to do the transactions on separate days if I can, just to make sure one doesn’t get deleted as a duplicate by some overeager human or computer. But if you can’t wait because it’s a one-day portal bonus, you should be fine anyway — other people don’t bother with that precaution and it works perfectly. So go for it!

      • “That is all correct, my friend. Note that if you wanted to get 10X UR points, you can actually use the same portal twice for the double dip, going through the first time to buy the gift card and the second time to spend the gift card.”

        I dont think you can double dip it this way as the second time you go through the portal you use sears gift card not freedom card, so you might not earn portal bonus I think.

  6. It’s YMMV but the electronic Sears registers will accept it if you find a cashier who’s willing to try it. I was able to find such a cashier just last week and had no problems buying both a Visa and a MC GC with a Sears GC. Make sure you hang onto the physical Sears GC even after it’s emptied so you can reload it during the next portal bonus.

  7. Interesting that this is exactly the opposite of what you said in your October 28 post:

    1) Go through a portal to buy Sears physical gift cards. You can find the best portal options here.

    2) Pay with either a Chase Freedom or Discover It card. Both offer 5X rewards this quarter (4th quarter, 2014) at Sears.com.

    3) Then, use the physical gift card in-store to buy other gift cards such as the ones shown above. NOTE: Not all cashiers allow this. And, not all Sears stores carry useful gift cards like these.

  8. Day 1 – bought $5 physical card at Sears; loaded additional $495 thru discover portal on Sears.com. Bought two $200 visas at sears.

    Day 2 – can not reload that same Sears gift card thru discover portal on sears.com. “Add Value” screen does not allow me to provide new load amount. Logged in with my password.

    Day 2 – bought 2nd physical card at Sears for $5. Cannot load it thru discover portal on Sears.com.

    Will try this as a guest. Maybe they are tracking usage by loging in?

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