How to buy stuff that doesn’t suck with Shop Your Way Rewards

Shop Your Way If you read this blog often, then you probably know that it’s possible to earn triple rewards (or more) when buying stuff from Sears and Kmart.  Full details can be found in our Sears and Kmart Extreme Stacking post, but the general idea is this:

  1. Shop through portal to Sears or Kmart to buy Sears or Kmart e-gift card. Pay for e-gift card with credit card offering category bonus.
  2. Shop through portal to Sears or Kmart to buy items for 100% back in Shop Your Way Rewards (SYW) points (during promotions).  Pay with gift cards.
  3. Shop through portal to Sears or Kmart to buy stuff you want. Pay with your SYW Rewards points.

The first step can often be replaced with buying Sears/Kmart gift cards at a discount.  For example, we recently reported an eBay deal in which $100 Sears gift cards were available for $85.  The great thing about this (besides the discount) is the ability to further stack eBay deals (see: eBay extreme stacking).Too many expiring SYW points

By the time you’re done with the above steps, you’ll earn a credit card category bonus of some sort and triple portal rewards (despite the fact that most portals claim that gift card purchases or purchases made with points don’t count, in practice we have found that they do).  The exact value of “triple portal rewards” will vary since portal deals change regularly, but they can be substantial.

The biggest problem with this fun little portal merry-go-round is with step 3.  This is where you need to buy stuff with SYW Rewards points.  You can’t just sit on those points forever.  SYW points expire.  Points earned through regular purchases expire after a year.  That’s not bad.  But, those 100% back in points points expire much more quickly: sometimes 90 days, sometimes 60 days, and sometimes (shudder) they expire in only 30 days.

Our Lab Manager, Anita, suggested this post and sent the photo of toilet paper rolls stacked to the ceiling (shown to the right).  Obviously, her approach to dealing with expiring SYW points was to buy Cottonelle.  That was a good plan, but now that her garage, basement, and spare bedroom are full of toilet paper, she needs plan B.  She could switch to buying prune juice until shelf space opens up, but there are better options…

Where to use SYW Rewards points

Shop Your Way Rewards points can be used in-store or online to buy almost anything at Sears, Kmart, or Lands End.  However, there are some big exceptions:

  • Points cannot be used to buy gift cards (rats!)
  • Points cannot be used to buy Sears’ MarketPlace items (click the “Sears Only” tab to find items that can be purchased on Sears.com)
  • Points can be used to buy stuff from LandsEnd.com, but you won’t usually earn portal rewards when doing so.

Stuff that doesn’t suck from Sears.com

  • Appliances: Well, I’m sure that many appliances from Sears.com do suck, but for many years I subscribed to Consumer Reports and nearly always found Kenmore appliances at or near the top of their ratings.  Caution: if your appliance requires professional installation, don’t be surprised if the installation service sucks (YMMV).
  • Hardware store stuff:  Pretty much anything that can be found at a hardware store can also be purchased from Sears.  This seems to be a sweet-spot for Sears.  I often see hardware store-like stuff (tools, garage door openers, organizers, etc.) available at really great discounts.
  • Car stuff: I recently needed and bought four new Michelin tires from Sears.  I earned portal rewards for the entire purchase (including installation) and paid entirely with points.
  • Mattresses: Sears carries name brand mattresses, but I recommend waiting for their regular mattress sales to get a good deal.

Stuff that doesn’t suck from Kmart.com

  • Drug store stuff: Just about anything that you can buy at a drugstore can be found at Kmart as well.
  • Discount store stuff: If you usually buy things from Target, Costco, etc., it’s worth checking to see if you can buy the same stuff at Kmart.  If the prices are similar or better at Kmart, then go for it.
  • Video games: The selection isn’t great, and the prices can be fairly high, but with a good sale or a good coupon, you might do OK.

Stuff that doesn’t suck from LandsEnd.com

LandsEnd sells clothes and shoes.  While not everything is great, I think that the quality is substantially higher than most of the clothes and shoes found at Sears or Kmart.

What have you found that can be purchased with SYW points and doesn’t suck?

Please comment below.

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. Especially if you have kids, the clothes from Lands End are a good use of points. Their prices can be very different online and in store. At our local LE, when they are getting rid of stuff at the end of the season, it gets marked down much more severely than online. OTOH I got a tshirt (in season) for my daughter that was on sale on the website, but full price in store.
    I have a hard time using my points up on Kmart stuff, because I tend to use the “green” brands like Seventh Generation, for example, but they don’t carry very many of them.
    This is outside the scope of this post, but if you want to really want to maximize your points value, carefully plan your purchase with coupons from your SYWR acct. Theoretically they only apply one coupon per transaction, so if you’ve got $15 off $50 tool purchase and $10 off of $75 clothing purchase, you’ll probably need to do those two transactions separately. This is especially true for in store purchases.

  2. On the same note, buying casual clothes from Sears works great for me. There are a few specific brands that work so its worth it. Saving up to get new tires, thanks Greg.

  3. Thanks for the post Greg! When I notice my SYW points expiring I always seem to draw a blank for how to use them up. These are great tips!

  4. For some reason I was getting 10k bonus points per $70 order. After 5 orders in a single day Kmart axed my SYW account for good. The funny thing is that I was trying to liquidate a ton of GCs I had laying around and didn’t even care about the points. And I still have some GCs here. Oh well.

  5. I buy stuff to resell and usually pay with a combo of points and dollars. Sometimes you need to pay some in dollars to use a coupon to get more points like ($10 in points after $50 spent). I’ll sell anything, especially the Weekly Member Deals items.

  6. What I don’t like about using SYWR points for clothing is that in my state clothing isn’t taxed. So they are better used on taxable items to avoid paying taxes. (You paid taxes on the item you earned the points on, you shouldn’t need to pay tax again.) That being said, I use them for clothing too when I have expiring points.

    Also, I heard portals aren’t paying out when using SYWR points. I see BeFrugal has their website updated to say they don’t pay when using SYWR pts or even when using GCs to pay for the items. Not sure how the other portals are handling it. I don’t see it in the UPROMISE terms, but I have a big purchase to make by tomorrow and I sure would like to earn the portal cb.

    • Good point about clothing and sales tax.
      I haven’t had any problem with getting portal rewards when using SYWR points. I’ve used many different portals even when the terms claim that they don’t pay when using SYWR points, but I’ve always received the portal payout anyway. Of course, YMMV

  7. Similar to the Cottonelle scenario, I find that I can use most of the expiring rewards on coffee from KMart (usually Maxwell House 34 oz. tubs) since they are not ‘too’ overpriced, and like toilet paper, they will keep well in storage. Not sure if the rate of coffee consumption is greater than the Cottonelle, but I’m sure there is a happy balance 😛

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