It has been reported by multiple news outlets that Sears will likely declare bankruptcy, possibly as soon as this week. We don’t yet know exactly what that will mean for gift cards and Shop Your Way points, but it certainly won’t mean rainbows and sunshine. I’d suggest spending what you have rather than waiting because it is possible that the days are numbered on points and gift cards.
When Toys R Us went under, gift cards were valid for a specific period of time before stores closed, but they stopped accepting the cards long before the the doors closed for good. I would imagine that the liability of outstanding points and gift cards is significant — so I’d not want to be left holding the (empty) bag.
While rumors of Sears’s demise have persisted for many years, reports this time around look more reliably grim. One quote from this CNBC article says, “The firm simply has no reason to exist.” That’s too bad as I’ve certainly loved having Sears around over the years — from walking the store with some level of amazement over the variety of stuff as a kid to great deals I scored on electronics and Kitchenaids over Black Fridays past to a double/triple dip that led to earning my first Southwest Companion Pass in just a couple of days. With the holidays coming, I already feel a little nostalgic for the decorations and music in my closest major store, which shuttered last year.
As a consumer, I’ll be sorry to see Sears go simply for the fact that competition is what creates good deals and values — I want to see Amazon and Walmart have as much competition as possible. Unfortunately, it seems that Sears became unable to compete despite longstanding efforts.
Of course, it’s still possible that this will turn around. That’s doubtful, but nothing has been made official yet. Still, it’s inadvisable to hold onto Shop Your Way points or gift cards longer than necessary, and I would recommend buying anything major with a card that offers purchase protection / extended warranty rather than a gift card in the event that you need to make a return or get a repair as we don’t know if or when Sears may stop accepting returns.
Also keep in mind that outstanding portal rewards for Sears may not be paid out if the store goes under. According to commenters at Doctor of Credit, that happened in the past with Radio Shack. Again, the store may not fold and there may be no issue here — but it’s worth being aware that it can happen.