Sears nixes portal rewards on gift cards. There may be hope yet.

Yesterday, via Quick Deals, we reported that Sears is no longer allowing portal rewards to be earned when buying gift cards.  Previously, many portals had the following Terms & Conditions for Sears:

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

Now, the same portals show these terms:

Not eligible on gift cards, gift certificates or any other similar cash equivalents.

They’ve also thrown in this little nugget:

Not eligible on online purchase made using Sears Shop Your Way points.

Note too that Sears usually handles all portals the same way.  Even if some portals do not yet have language like this, it is likely that they will work the same way as portals that do have the new terms.

Why this is bad

Sears has long offered an easy “double dip” opportunity:

  1. Go through an online portal once to buy gift cards
  2. Go through the portal a second time to buy merchandise and pay with your gift card. 

In this way it was easy to double portal rewards.  And, since Sears often offered excellent points (or cash) per dollar rates through portals, this was quite lucrative. 

Things got even better when Sears (or Kmart) occasionally offered 100% in Shop Your Way Rewards for purchasing items.  This allowed a triple dip:

  1. Go through an online portal once to buy gift cards
  2. Go through an online portal a second time to buy items offered with 100% back in points and pay with your gift card
  3. Go through the portal a third time to buy merchandise and pay with your Shop Your Way points.

And, then, things got ridiculously good when Discover offered to double all rewards earned for a year.  One could do the triple dip described above and then get all of those rewards doubled at the end of the year! 

With the two new clauses added to the terms, the possibilities for double and triple dipping seem to be dead.

A long, long time ago…

Here’s the thing…

Sears used to have similar language disallowing portal rewards for gift card purchases.  At that time it was true that e-gift card purchases did not earn portal rewards.  However, physical by-mail gift card purchases did earn portal rewards despite the terms.  Same story for gift card reloads: I found that I earned portal rewards despite the terms stating otherwise.

So…

Hope exists

It’s possible that double and triple dip opportunities still live. Based on the way things used to be, there’s a chance that some types of gift card purchases will result in points while others will not.

It will take some experimentation to see what works and what doesn’t.  Do e-gift card purchases result in portal rewards? How about gift card reloads?  What about using Shop Your Way points to purchase merchandise?  As usual, results of such experiments will be reported in the Frequent Miler Laboratory.  And, if you do any experimenting, please report your results there as well.

Caution

Even if we find that you can still earn portal rewards for certain types of gift card purchases, it’s important not to rely too heavily on those rewards.  If anything goes wrong, the portal’s customer service team won’t help you once they learn that you bought gift cards (or bought merchandise using Shop Your Way Rewards points)

Another possibility

Sears has flip flopped over time as to whether or not to allow portal rewards for gift card purchases.  It’s possible that they’ll flip back to allowing them sometime in the future.

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. I really hope they flip it back during the last quarter of the calendar year. Last year has been very very merry.
    I manufactured quite a bit last year with Sears’ help. If they don’t, I would say “A good run while it lasted.”

  2. Resale opportunities have been so lousy for pretty much the entire year…I’ve been buying the 100% back in points stuff (no resale value, but small electronics make GREAT donations to Toys for Tots) with an eye towards using the points for real stuff like car repairs, storm prep items, etc. and have a way too many points that need to be spent in the next week. Guess I need to be more conservative with the freebies since my 10yo car is proving to be trouble-free, lol.

    • There have been plenty of good resell opportunities. Sears has been a cash cow for a while for me. Sad to see they may be gone.

  3. My Discover deals portal bonus for e gift cards from Sears is certainly not dead as of last weekend…….YMMV……..

    • I didn’t get confirmation for an e-gc purchase on 8/22 so I sent an email to Discover yesterday and they just said to wait 30 days. Let’s see.

  4. This is terrible news… I’ve gotten CB email for 8/25, waiting on 8/26 and 8/27. Seems like this language just happened yesterday…

  5. Like AEG above, I receive my cashback email this morning for a 8/25 reload. I did some spending on the 26th, but no email on that one yet. At least I’m halfway there…

  6. Purchased some eGC on 08/26, delivered on 08/27 — haven’t received CB email yet. Although I did receive CB email for the order that I made using the eGCs on Aug 27. Worried…

  7. Emailed Cartera regarding missing miles. Here’s what they had to say:

    Thank you for the opportunity to be of assistance on your missing miles for the purchase made at Sears.

    We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. However, the merchant has not credited your account with miles because they have deemed this item ineligible per their terms and conditions stated on the Sears Shopping web site:

    “Not eligible on purchases made with coupon or discount codes that are not found on this site; Only products with “Add to Cart” button are eligible. Not eligible on Home Delivery Charges, Services, PA and Installation, Master Protection Agreements, Take With, Protection Plans, Sears auctions, Landsend.com, PartsDirect, Sears Canada, Portrait, Craftsman.com, Kenmore.com or Outlet purchases. Not eligible on Sold by Kmart items or any other licensed partners. Not eligible on Apparel Clearance. Any return, exchange or other adjustment made at a physical store location for an on-line purchase may result in your purchase being deemed ineligible. Not eligible on online purchase made using Sears Shop Your Way points. Not eligible on gift cards, gift certificates or any other similar cash equivalents.”

    Please let us know if you need anything else.

    Have a great rest of the day.

    **In order to answer your questions in a timely manner, please reply to this email with any further questions or additional information relating to this inquiry.

    THEY NEED TO STOP PLAYING AND HONOR GIFT CARD PURCHASES THAT WERE MADE PRIOR TO THE NEW RULES GOING INTO EFFECT!!

  8. I refilled two Sears gift cards thru the Discover portal on 8/28. Got the 10% cash back notification on 8/30. Used the Discover card to purchase. Discover’s terms for Sears do not excluded gift cards. Sears 10% ends today, so load up if you want the cash back thru their portal.

  9. Haven’t had a “Congratulations, your extra Cashback Bonus is on the way” email since Oct 9th.
    The statement that closed on Oct was supposed to get over $1000 (Adding up the cashback notification email in that statement period) in cashback but ended up being $35.xx. Looks like Discover changed their terms. My Sep statement cashback was over $1000 as well.

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