How to earn points and what to buy with Sears gift cards

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In the past several months, Sears has been offering outstanding rewards through online shopping portals.  For example, yesterday Sears very briefly bumped up their offer through the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal to 9X.  The thing that makes deals like these particularly appealing is that Sears specifically allows earning points on gift card purchases.  This opens up all kinds of fantastic hacks…

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One way to take advantage of a Sears portal deal is to double dip.  Go through the portal once to buy an e-gift card (or to reload an existing gift card), and then go through the portal a second time to use the gift card to buy stuff you need. And, when credit cards offer special bonuses at Sears, it is possible to triple dip: earn the credit card bonus once and the portal bonus twice.  See, for example, this Quick Deal from yesterday: 23 points per dollar at Sears!.

What if you really don’t want to buy anything from Sears.com?  It may still be worth buying Sears gift cards.  This quarter, both Chase Freedom and Discover cards offer 5X at Sears online (both limit 5X to a total of $1500 in spend for the quarter).  So, go through a portal for a 9X bonus (for example) and pay with your Freedom or Discover card to get an additional 5X.  14X rewards for buying Sears’ gift cards is pretty good!

But, now you have gift cards instead of cash.  Here are suggestions for what you can do with those gift cards…

Best uses for Sears’ gift cards

  • Buy things and services in person: I just need to get this one obvious one out of the way first. Sears gift cards can be used to pay for just about anything at Sears or Kmart.  You can pay with a Sears gift card for an oil change at the Sears’ auto center, for example.  I expect that the same is true at the Sears vision center.  Or, pay for groceries, prescriptions, and more at Kmart.
  • Buy things online, later: You may not need anything at Sears when a big portal bonus strikes, but you may find something worthwhile in the future at Sears, Kmart, or one of the many other affiliated stores (Sears Outlet, Craftsman.com, etc.).  Check CashBackMonitor to find the best current portal rates.
  • Buy airfare and other travel: It’s not necessarily easy to do, but I’ve found that it is possible to pay for airfare, hotels, cruises, etc. with Sears gift cards via Sears Vacations.  For details of my experience, please see “Earn more miles (many more) for any flight, any hotel, any cruise.”
  • Roll gift card credit into points: Sears has its own rewards program called Shop Your Way Rewards (SYWR).  Every now and then, they offer a deal for 100% back in points on certain products.  Setup an email alert on SlickDeals to be notified when these deals appear.  The great thing is that you can usually get portal points when buying items like these.
  • Buy other gift cards in person: While Kmart has made this increasingly difficult or impossible, it is still possible to use Sears gift cards at Sears (in person) to buy other gift cards.  In my experience, some cashiers don’t allow it, but most do.  Most Sears stores now have gift card racks near the registers which include gift cards for gas stations, Amazon.com, various restaurants, and more.  If you’re lucky, the $100 Visa gift cards might even be in stock (these cost $105.95).  Note that you cannot use Shop Your Way Rewards points to buy gift cards.

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Safety tip

When shopping for gift cards at Sears.com, you may be tempted by their ad for Specialty Gift Cards.

Sears_specialty_gift_cards

If you click the ad, you’ll be taken to GiftCardMall.com.  You will not earn portal points for this purchase.

Finding the deals

Use these tools to find and make the most of portal deals:

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