Extreme Stacking the Sears Amex Offer

UPDATE 12/20/2016: Portals are offering cash back for gift card purchases through 12/22.  See this post for details.

UPDATE 12/15/2016: It appears that portals may no longer be working for gift card reloads.

Amex keeps pumping out great Amex Offers!  This time its for Sears: Spend $50, Get $10.  Valid online at Sears.com only.

sears-amex-offers-spend-50-get-10

$10 back doesn’t sound like much unless you followed my advice in the post “Holiday giving and getting: Prepare now.”  In that post, I recommended getting lots of Amex cards.  Note that doesn’t necessarily mean signing up for lots of new credit cards.  Instead, you can add authorized users to existing cards, or add subaccounts to Bluebird and Serve accounts.  Please read that post for full details.

One great thing about this Sears offer is that it is not targeted.  That is, until the deal reaches maximum capacity, everyone can add this offer to every one of their Amex cards.  The offer can be loaded to your account by logging into your Amex account, or via Twitter with hashtag “#AmexSears“.  For details on how to add offers like these to multiple cards, please see: The complete guide to Amex Offers.

At minimum, you can use this deal to get $10 off each $50 online purchase, but that wouldn’t be very exciting at all, would it?  Or, you can buy multiple $50 e-gift cards at Sears.com for 20% off ($10 off $50), and use them later online or in person at Sears, Lands End, or Kmart.  That’s a little better, but of course you can do more.

Here’s how to stack the stuffing out of this deal…

Step 1: Add the offer to all of your cards

This is the step that you must do immediately.  Each Amex offer has a secret maximum enrollment.  If this deal gets filled up before you enroll your cards, then you’re out of luck.

If you don’t have many Amex cards, it is possible that this offer will be around long enough for you to get some cards and then enroll them in this offer.  For details about options for getting more Amex cards, please see: Holiday giving and getting: Prepare now.  For details on how to add the offer to multiple cards, see: The complete guide to Amex Offers.

Step 2: Wait for portal experiment results

In the past, despite portal terms stating otherwise, it has been possible to earn portal rewards when buying Sears gift cards, when using Sears gift cards, and when using Sears SYW rewards points.  While I’ve regularly earned portal rewards when using gift cards or SYW Rewards points, it’s been a while since I’ve tested purchasing gift cards.  So, yesterday I kicked off new experiments:

After clicking through TopCashBack (which was offering 10% back at Sears yesterday), I tried each of the following:

  1. Buy e-gift card, pay with Amex credit card directly.
  2. Buy e-gift card, pay with Amex credit card through Amex Checkout.
  3. Reload gift card, pay with Amex credit card directly.
  4. Reload gift card, pay with Amex credit card through Amex Checkout.

As expected, all 4 purchases immediately received emails from Amex stating: “Great news! You just used your Amex Offer“.  In other words, I’m sure I’ll get the promised $10 from each of these purchases.  Whether or not I’ll also get 10% back from TopCashBack remains to be seen.

You may notice that I did not buy any by-mail gift cards.  The reason is that by-mail gift cards are processed by Kmart and will not trigger the Amex Offer.

Once I get results, I’ll update this post and the comments below.  To get notified, subscribe to this post by adding a comment (it doesn’t matter what you write), and check the box to “Notify me of follow-up comments by email.

UPDATE 12/15/2016: It appears that portals may no longer be working for gift card reloads.

UPDATE 11/29/16 6:25 PM: Tentative experiment results show the following:

  • Reloading gift cards results in portal cash-back (pending so far)
  • Reloading gift cards results in miles earned from a mileage portal (United)
  • Buying e-gift cards does NOT result in portal cash back (TopCashBack shows $0 pending)
  • Buying e-gift cards does NOT result in portal miles (United portal didn’t track purchase)
  • Using Amex Checkout is fine (and it’s much easier!).
  • Paying for an item entirely with a gift card results in portal cash-back (pending so far)
  • Paying for an item entirely with SYW Rewards points results in portal cash-back (pending so far)
  • Buying an item for store pickup results in portal cash-back (pending so far)

Step 3: Wait to see if Sears offers bonus gift cards

Last year, between 12/6/2015 and 12/25/2015, Sears and Kmart offered a $10 eAward card for each $50 gift card purchase.  I don’t know if they’ll run this promotion again, but its worth waiting to see.  12/6 was a Sunday last year.  If the pattern holds, we may see a promotion like this again on 12/4 or 12/11.

If this deal appears, we’ll publish a Quick Deal.  Make sure that you are subscribed!

UPDATE 11/29/16 6:25 PM: Since the experiment above showed that buying e-gift cards did not result in portal cash back, it’s unclear if we’ll be able to stack portal cash back with bonus gift cards. The key question is whether gift card reloads will earn bonus gift cards.

Step 4: Find the best current portal

When you’re ready to buy e-gift cards (or reload existing gift cards), first find the portal offering the best rewards for Sears. Portal rates change frequently, so I recommend checking CashBackMonitor for the latest rates.

We don’t know yet whether its still possible to earn portal rewards when buying gift cards, but it can’t hurt to try.  Make sure to click through the portal each time you buy a $50 gift card.

Step 5: Decide how you want to use your Sears gift card credit

We can stack deals further by rolling gift cards into SYW Rewards points, but first you have to decide how you’ll use your Sears gift card credit. There are at least two scenarios where SYW Rewards points cannot be used:

In-store, Sears cash registers allow purchasing gift cards with gift cards, but most staff members have been trained not to allow it.  If you want to give this a try (to buy Amazon gift cards, for example), then you’ll have to bring your gift card in-store.  SYW Rewards points cannot be used to buy gift cards.

Online, Sears Marketplace items (items sold by companies other than Sears or Kmart) can be bought with gift cards, but not with SYW Rewards points.

Continue if neither of the above apply to you…

Step 6: Roll your gift cards into points

Sears and Kmart frequently offer deals for 100% back in SYW (Shop Your Way) Rewards.  By clicking through a portal to Sears or Kmart to buy those items, you can earn additional portal rewards.  Plus, often its possible to apply coupons or stack offers so that you’ll earn more in rewards than you paid.  For details about this approach, please see: Roll gift cards into points for triple rewards.

Step 7: Buy stuff with points

SYW Rewards points can be used to buy stuff at Sears, Kmart, or Lands End.  In the past, I’ve had great luck earning portal rewards when using points to buy stuff from Sears or Kmart, but not from Lands End.

When buying items with points, you won’t earn any points.  So, at this stage, avoid coupons and deals that offer extra points.  Instead, go for coupons that offer a cash discount.  For convenience, here are a few coupon codes that often work:

  • SEARS5OFF50: Extra $5 off Sears.com orders of $50 or more
  • SEARS35OFF300: Extra $35 off Sears.com orders of $300 or more
  • KMART5OFF50: Extra $5 off Kmart.com orders of $50 or more
  • SPECIALK10: Extra $10 off Kmart.com orders of $100 or more
  • KMART10PSAVINGS: Extra 10% off Kmart.com orders of $75 or more

What’s possible?

We don’t yet know if all of these pieces will fall into place, but we can hope!  Let’s look at what we can expect if everything works as described above.  We’ll assume that portal payouts will average 10%:

  • Buy $50 e-gift card:
    • Get $10 from Amex Offer
    • Get $5 from portal
    • Get $10 promo gift card from Sears
  • Buy $60 in items that offer 100% back in rewards (pay with $50 gift card plus $10 promo gift card)
    • Get $6 from portal
  • Buy $60 in stuff you actually want from Sears or Kmart
    • Get $6 from portal

With the above scenario, every $50 you spend turns into:

  • $27 in cash rebates
  • $60 in stuff you may or may not want (the 100% back in points stuff)
  • $60 in stuff you do want

If we completely ignore the value of the 100% back in points stuff, we can see that we would get $60 worth of stuff we want for a total of $50 – $27 = $23.  That’s a 62% discount!

Is this realistic?  Is there any chance of this really working?  Well, I did even better last year on my way to buying a new set of car tires, clothes, and household staples.  So, yeah, I think its worth a shot!

See also: How to buy stuff that doesn’t suck with Shop Your Way Rewards and Sears and Kmart Extreme Stacking.

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. Great article, as always!

    I hope Sears doesn’t go bankrupt after I buy all these gift cards, would hate to get stuck with them!!!

  2. Some marketplace items can be bought with SYWR. I got some iPads at some point with them. Don’t know the exact criteria or whether it was a fluke.

  3. If I purchase a lot of $50 gift cards to purchase a high dollar item (ie appliances), is there a limit to the number of gift cards you can redeem during checkout? Thanks.

  4. so with your last comment about you buying tires…. i’m assuming the automotive center accepts Sears gift cards for purchases?

  5. TCB and Splender have did not track when I paid with points over the last couple weeks. Tried both ways, paying 100% points and putting $1 on cc. Maybe it was a fluke and ymmv, but watch out.

    • It depends. Some are competitively priced and others are not. You can usually use a coupon code like SEARS35OFF300 to get $35 off $300. If each tire is priced at $150, then you can make two separate orders of two tires each and apply that code each time.

  6. Results so far (these are tentative because cash back is only shown as pending so far):

    It doesn’t seem to matter whether you pay with an Amex directly or with Amex Checkout. Amex Checkout is much easier, so I’d recommend using that.

    Buying an e-gift card does NOT earn cash back through portal (TopCashBack tracked $0)

    Reloading a gift card DOES earn cash back through portal (TopCashBack tracked 6% cash back, but I expect that the extra 4% will show up sometime later)

    Buying item entirely with a gift card and having item shipped to store DOES earn cash back (BeFrugal shows cash back pending).

    Experiments in-progress:
    1. Do mileage portals work when buying e-gift cards?
    2. Do purchases made entirely with SYW Rewards points still earn cash back through portals?
    3. Do purchases made partially with SYW Rewards points still earn cash back through portals?

  7. Thanks for these experiments! Gearing up for a Sears tire purchase.

    Do you know if you can reload an e-giftcard with another e-giftcard?

    I will be maxing out the Amex offer on all my cards but still have a few hundred dollars I need to spend. I can either reload an e-giftcard with CC through a portal for 6% or buy a 5% discounted e-giftcard (e.g. Raise at 2% cb) and load it onto my main e-giftcard. I suppose I could also buy a physical card for 5x back (e.g. Staples) and reload that instead.

  8. On cashbackmonitor, I’m seeing relatively low Sears cashback today: the highest seems to be 5%. Is this just a lull? I was hoping for a few percentage points higher.

    • I’m seeing 7% at a couple of portals (Giving Assistant and Yazing). Also Discover is at 5% which = 10% if you’re in your first year of card membership.

      Of course, as you know, the rates do jump up and down as portals offer special deals.

  9. I’ve updated the post with these results:
    1A. Do mileage portals work when buying e-gift cards?
    No. United miles did not post
    1B. Do mileage portals work when reloading giift cards?
    Yes. United miles already posted

    2. Do purchases made entirely with SYW Rewards points still earn cash back through portals?
    Yes (cash back is pending, but I’ve never had it clawed back before)

    3. Do purchases made partially with SYW Rewards points still earn cash back through portals?
    Didn’t test since #2, above, was successful. I’m sure this would be too.

  10. in your email blast you guys say the amex offer works in store, but the terms say,

    Offer valid only on Sears.com. Not valid in-store. Valid only on US website. Includes purchases via merchant mobile app. Purchases made online for in-store pickup are excluded

    Can you confirm that it works in store? I would love to use it in store.

    • Yes, I noticed this too… in the last 3 days portals’ behavior has changes wrt Sears. TCB tracked at 0%, Ebates did not track at all. Both were tracking at 6% 3 days prior.

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