Sears.com DOES count as a department store for Discover’s 5% category bonus. Here’s why we care…

Those who signed up for a Discover It card recently (and those who signed up as existing cardholders prior while they allowed that) have a remarkable opportunity: after 12 months, Discover has promised to double all cashback earned.  Since the Discover It card already offers generous 5% cash back in rotating categories and one of the best cash back portals around, there are plenty of opportunities to combine these promotions to earn fantastic rewards.  For example, in a previous post, I laid out how to take advantage of multiple Discover offers at once to get up to 70% cash back on Sears.com purchases.  For complete details, please see this post: Maximizing the Discover Double Cash promo: Huge rewards via online shopping!

Discover 5% at Sears.com

One key piece of the puzzle is the ability to get 5% cashback from Sears during the 3rd and 4th quarter 5% category bonuses.  In both quarters this year, Discover is offering 5% cash back for department stores, among other options:

Discover 5% at Sears.com

A few readers have commented that while Sears counts as a department store for in-person purchases, Sears doesn’t count for online purchases.  Here’s an example comment from an old post:

I love your blog and has been very very useful to me. But I would recommend you stop misguiding people about sears and discover portal earn rates.

sears.com = purchases code as merchandise and are not eligible for “home improvement” or “department store” 5% quarterly bonus

sears.com = purchases do get 10% discover deals bonus

sears instore purchase = you get 5% “department store” bonus

So max you can earn,without the double bonus at end of year, is 10% not 15%.

This would be a useful warning if it were true, but it hasn’t been my experience in the past.  Sears.com has always counted for 5% cash back during similar category bonus periods in the past, so why wouldn’t it count now?

With my recent purchases in which I reloaded Sears’ gift cards, my purchases coded as follows:

SEARS.COM 09300 W DES MOINES IA
CATEGORY: Merchandise
Merchant Category: DIRECT MRKTNG-COMBO CATALOG & RETAIL

Despite the coding shown above, I can now declare that Sears.com does count.  In my latest Discover card statement, we can see that my combined $1000 worth of gift card reload purchases from Sears.com did result in 5% cash back:

Discover 5% at Sears.com

And, yes, I also earned 10% cash back from the Discover portal.  So, combined, I earned 15% cash back from reloading Sears’ gift cards.  And, when I buy things from Sears.com using those gift cards, I always go through the Discover portal (which is offering 10% until August 31).  So, my cash back total comes to 25%, which will later be doubled to 50%.  And, in those occasions where I can buy items with 100% back in points, I’ll do even better (see: Roll gift cards into points for triple rewards).

Notes:

  • The 5% quarter bonus only works for purchasing e-gift cards, print-gift cards, or refilling existing gift cards from Sears.com.  By-mail physical gift cards will not work because the charge will come from Kmart, not Sears.
  • The 5% quarter bonus only works for Sears & Kmart gift cards bought from Sears.com.  Sears advertises additional gift cards sold by GiftCardMall, but these will not earn the 5% category bonus (and they will not earn portal rewards either).
  • You can buy other (non Sears/Kmart) gift cards in-store at Sears to earn the 5% category bonus, but then you cannot combine this with a portal bonus.

Why we care

For anyone signed up for the Discover Double Cash Back promotion, all cash back earned will be doubled after 12 months.  So, a 5% category bonus will really mean 10% in the long run.  And, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this and other deals can be combined for up to 70% cash back!  For full details of how to take advantage of this promotion, please see “Maximizing the Discover Double Cash promo: Huge rewards via online shopping!

How to get in on the deal

If you do not have a Discover It card, or you want a second one, you can still get in on the double cash back promotion by signing up for Discover It by September 30th.  You can find a referral link (from a friend of mine) on my best offers page.  This will get you both the double cash back offer and a $50 signup bonus (which will also be doubled at the end of the year).

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. @ Frequent Miler
    Did the transactions code as non-department store but then ultimately get credited? I recently did a e-gift card purchase that has posted as “merchandise” and does not have that “5% bonus” tag you sometimes get on the line when you make an in-category purchase.

    Is there a way to see current rewards activity?

    • Yes, see my comment below about how they were coded.
      I don’t know of any good way to see current rewards activity. Details only seem to become available once your statement closes.

  2. I think Sears/Discover may be on to the “double” dip or the large amount of gift card purchases through the portals. I’ve had success in the past, but my last two purchases at Sears.com for e-gift cards have posted as KMART.COM 07840 NAPERVILLE IL and I have not received any emails from discover congratulating me on my discover deals purchase like I have in the past. Maybe I got unlucky, but I didn’t do anything different than I have in the past (clearing browser cache, signing into discover, clicking on the correct links, etc…) Anyone else have this happen in the last 10 days or so??

    • I’ve done two purchases in the same time frame, and got Discover Deals notification e-mails on both (both posted as Sears.com). As mentioned above, they don’t look like they will earn the cc 5%, as they coded as Merchandise.

    • My purchases on 8/10 from Sears tracked appropriately, on both the GCs and portal for both the original purchase and the second time through the portal to use the GCs.

    • I’ve heard of this happening once before where the e-gift card (or reload of an existing gift card) was fulfilled by kmart instead of Sears. Its surprising to hear that there is some risk of this happening. It hasn’t yet happened to me. Thanks for the data point.

      • I think this is triggered by changing the look of the gift card to one that says Kmart rather than Sears. I purchased 3 gc’s through Sears.com, 2 with a Sears logo and one with Kmart. Received a charge for $1,000 from Sears and $500 from Kmart.

        • Thanks for your insight. I did select a different look this time around. I selected the top right card with the TV wrapped in a bow with the basketball, boots, and drill. While the picture only shows “SEARS”, the picture in my email shows both the Sears and Kmart logo. And of course it says “You’ve received a Kmart eGift Card”. Lesson learned: Only select the blue Sears gift card.

  3. I got the 5% last statement for buying e-gift cards from sears.com. How do I get the reloadabale Sears gift cards that can be reloaded via sears.com to maximize this quarter’s bonus?

  4. I should have mentioned in the post that my Sears gift card reload purchases show online as follows:
    SEARS.COM 09300 W DES MOINES IA
    CATEGORY: Merchandise
    Merchant Category: DIRECT MRKTNG-COMBO CATALOG & RETAIL
    .
    However, despite how it appears to be classified, it did qualify for the 5% department store bonus

  5. I can confirm that I also received the 5% department store bonus for reloading Sears e-gift cards on my recent Discover statement. Did the United 10x/10x double-dip which tracked/posted without issue. Just waiting for the United back to school bonus to post.

  6. Greg:

    Sears.com has a number of items sold bt third parties thru their website. Could not find anything in the lab where buying thru Sears from 3rd parties gets the discover portal bonuses. ANy info on this or experience with this? Thanks.

    • Yes, it works. As long as you’re still on Sears.com when you click “add to cart”, you should get portal rewards. It has always worked for me. That said, I try to avoid those items, if possible, since you can’t return those items to a local Sears

  7. How long does it take for the 10% CB portal reward to post? I purchased a sears e-gift card two weeks ago and the 5% CB posted within the days, but still no sign of the 10% portal CB.

      • Can you do a piece that is more definitive about how to track the Discover CB earning categories (CB from Discover Deals vs CB from the Discover card). AM I UNDERSTANDING CORRECTLY: that 1) the “Congratulations” email is a confirm for the “portal” CB recently earned, 2) that the potential long term doubling of that amount earned is never confirmed until 12 months later, 3) the CB earned from the Discover “card” used on the same transaction does not get confirmed until you see it on the next statement, 4) and that the doubling on that card CB is not confirmable unitl a year later?

  8. I can also confirm the 5% category bouns for Sears, but what I can’t confirm is getting the 5/10% portal cashback 100% of the time, wish Discover and American Express would start do what Chase does — provide details that are easy to find.

    Also I did not get a portal CB from overstock, called them yesterday and they told me they had no way to track click throughs, but to wait 60days and call back and they would adjust if needed

  9. FM, I do not see how you could get up to 70% back, because Discover deals excludes 10% rewards when you use SYW points. Did I miss anything? Thanks.

  10. Have you had success with the 100% back in points tracking for portal bonuses? I did a purchase recently where I had some Shop Your Way bonus points that I used, and it didn’t seem that I received the portal bonus for that purchase.

  11. Anyone know if an account conversion resets the 5% for the current quarter? Around the end of July, my account was converted from a Discover More to a Discover It (with the double cashback for 12 months promo). Unfortunately, I purchased my $1.5K in 5% categories in early July (this was done online at Sears, and I can also confirm that I did receive the 5%). If I had thought this through better, I would have deferred the $1.5K until after the conversion so that it would be doubled. I know there have been many Discover account conversions recently, so wondering if anyone knows whether the 5% eligibility for the current quarter gets reset upon an account conversion.

    • I don’t know, I don’t think so, but why do you care? If it resets, you get 10% +5% x 2 = 30%. If not, you get 10% + 1% x 2 = 22%. Clearly not as good, but still amazing.

      I’m more concerned as to whether or not the 10% posts. I got an email confirming the first few times, but it’s been silent since.

  12. Can I use Sears coupon code and still get the cash back? I have a 10% Sears coupon I received from previous order. I would like to know if it will void the CB if I use it. Thanks.

  13. Do you take advantage of this extensively FM? Or do you just use this Sears method for research for mostly your blog post? I know in one of your other posts you said that in reality you’re limited in things you can purchase that has 100% points. I was just curious as to how limited in terms of what you have done since you are the expert in this area.

  14. A beginner’s question: I want to buy a gift card for eBay. Let’s say I buy it at Home Depot through a Discover portal and pay with a Discover It card. Will it work or are gift cards (eBay/Amazon) not eligible?

    Also, if I buy a Staples gift card (as a good deal), can I walk in the store and buy an eBay gift card with it?

    Thanks, this is an interesting read 🙂

    • If Home Depot sold ebay gift cards online directly (vs. switching you to a different URL the way Sears does for giftcardmall purchases) then it would work. I don’t believe they do though.
      .
      Regarding Staples: many cashiers are trained not to let you buy gift cards with gift cards, but it sometimes works if they haven’t been trained or they don’t care.

  15. I read somewhere that Discover portal is cracking down on purchases made via their portal paid for with cards other than the Discover card. The 10% (x2) is too much to gamble, so I’ll probably just use my Discover for an actual purchase. Is the double dip basically dead?

    • I haven’t seen any good evidence of this crackdown. I haven’t had any trouble. That said, Sears recently changed their Terms & Conditions on a number of portals so I’m doing some experiments to see what still works and what doesn’t.

  16. Anybody have any experience with purchasing from searsoutlet.com in terms of qualifying for 5% back? Thanks in advance!

  17. FYI, I purchased a Sears gift card through the Discover portal, then went back through the website to purchase items using the gift card. I received a confirmation email from Sears. Then one from discover showing I would earn cash back for a purchase (I’m not clear if it was the gift card or the second purchase, I haven’t received another email from Discover and the amount was oddly either 9% or 11% of either of the purchases–not 5% or 10% as I would have expected). Anyway, mostly so far so good. Then 4 days after my initial purchase my orders were cancelled. The reason given was due to lack of inventory. I called the 800# given and was told there was plenty of inventory and that it was an error. But rather than fix it and send the item, they were going to refund the gift card. They told me if I wanted the item, I could repurchase it.

    Not sure what any of this means, but I definitely am lacking trust in Sears at this point!

  18. I tried to do this for q4 for discover sears reload and the 5% department store bonus did not show up. Only the discover deals.

  19. Have you received a confirmation email from Discover Deals portal for gc reload purchases this quarter?

    Last quarter I purchased 3 gift card reloads and received the confirmation email (titled “Congratulations, your extra Cashback Bonus is on the way”) within 2 days of purchasing each of them.

    This quarter it’s already been a week and I have yet to receive any confirmation at all.

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