Sears Quintuple Dip Results, and why I should have bet more on Discover

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In December, I published “A fantabulous but risky quintuple dip.”  Those with Discover It cards that were enrolled in the Double Cashback promotion, had an amazing opportunity for Extreme Stacking. Sears Quintuple Dip At the time, all of the following deals could be stacked together into one mighty Sears Quintuple Dip:

My approach to the Sears Quintuple Dip

  • I clicked through the Discover Deals portal to Sears and bought Sears e-gift cards.  I bought 8 $100 gift cards and one $50 gift card.  I paid with my Discover It card.
  • I used all of my gift cards (plus some that I already owned) to buy items available for 100% back in points.  Some of the purchases were made through the Splender cash back portal (which was offering 7% cash back at the time).  Most were made through Discover Deals (which was offering 10% cash back at the time).  In many cases, I applied coupons so that I actually earned more than 100% back in points even after accounting for sales tax.
  • I used many (but not nearly all) of the earned Shop Your Way points to buy things I needed: clothes, shoes, household staples, and new car tires.  For each purchase made at Sears.com or Kmart.com, I first clicked through a portal.  Some of the purchases were through Splender.  Others were through the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping portal.

Sears Quintuple Dip Results

Now that I have my February Discover statement, I can confirm that almost everything worked as I hoped and expected:

  • I bought a total of $850 in Sears e-gift cards and expected $170 worth of promo e-gift cards.  Instead, I received only $150 worth.  If I had noticed this in December, I expect that I could have emailed Sears’ support to get the additional $20.  Still, for $850, I had $1,000 in Sears’ gift card credit – that’s not bad!
  • I paid the $850 with my Discover It card.  Thanks to the 4th quarter 5% Discover It bonus category (which included Department Stores), I earned 5% cash back for these purchases: $42.50.
  • By shopping for the gift cards through the Discover Deals portal (which was offering 10% back at Sears at the time), I earned $85 in Discover Cash.
  • When I clicked through Discover Deals and paid for merchandise with Sears’ gift cards, I correctly earned 10% cash back for the total merchandise price before taxes.
  • When I clicked through Splender and paid for merchandise with Sears’ gift cards, I correctly earned 7% cash back for the total merchandise price before taxes.
  • I earned the expected 100% back (or better) Shop Your Way Rewards points for each purchase.
  • When I clicked through Spender or the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal and paid for merchandise with Sears’ Shop Your Way Rewards points, I correctly earned the amount of cash back or points expected, based on the total purchase price.

While I can’t yet confirm this, I expect that the Discover Cash Back earned will all be doubled at the end of my Double Cash Back 12 months.  Since I earned a total of $187.78 in Discover Cash Back, I should end up with a total of $375.56From Splender, I have a total of $98.74 that is either pending or now payable.  So, across the cash back portals, I expect to end up with $474.30 in cash back.  That’s more than half of my original spend!  And, that’s not all: of the items that I bought for 100% back in points, some were given away during the holidays, but many others have been sold through Fulfillment by Amazon.  I didn’t earn back anywhere near the items’ original purchase prices (nor did I expect to), but any return from those items is a net positive since I bought them primarily as a way to earn extra portal rewards.

Discover Deals all the way

At the time of this deal, Discover Deals was offering 10% cash back for Sears.  Combined with the Double Cash Back for 12 months deal (for those enrolled in it), that brought the payout for Sears up to 20%.  That was way better than any alternative portal.

So, why didn’t I make all purchases through Discover Deals?  In my prior post about this deal, I wrote the following:

  1. For Sears and Kmart, the Discover Deals list of exceptions includes “gift card purchases and redemption.”  In my recent tests, I have (after a very long wait) received email confirmations that I will receive Discover Cash Back for purchases of gift cards, purchases made with gift cards, and purchases made with SYW Rewards points.  So, it does not appear that these terms are being enforced, but they are more restrictive than most other portals which do not ban the use of gift cards.
  2. There is evidence that Discover sometimes claws back portal cash back when the Discover card is not used to pay for an order.  See: Quick Tip: Discover claws back portal purchases made with non-Discover cards.  This means that you could risk losing your rewards if you go through this portal and buy items with gift cards or with SYW Rewards points.
  3. The Discover Deals portal has been altogether flakey lately.  See: What’s the deal with Discover Deals?

In other words, I had good reasons for hedging my bets with other portals.  What if I had spent everything through Discover Deals though?  If the portal had worked for all purchases, and none had been clawed back, then:

  • $850 spend resulted in $1,000 in Sears’ gift cards and $127.50 Discover Cash Back (10% from portal + 5% from credit card).
  • $1,000 in gift card spend on 100% back in Shop Your Way rewards items would have resulted in ~$100 Discover Cash Back.
    (Since I actually earned more than 100% back in points, the total spend could have been higher than $1,000. That would have made up for the fact that the sales tax portion of the purchase does not earn rewards)
  • $1,000 spend on merchandise paying with Shop Your Way Rewards would have resulted in ~$100 Discover Cash Back
    (No sales tax is charged for items purchased entirely with points)

Total Discover Cash Back before doubling: $327.50

Total Discover Cash Back after doubling: $655

Final out of pocket cost for $1,000 worth of merchandise (car tires, etc.) plus $1,000 worth of 100% back in points items (apple charging cables, etc.): $850 – $655 = $195.  That’s ridiculous.  And, that’s why I should have chanced the Discover portal.

See also

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