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

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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.

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