Maximizing value from Shop Your Way gift cards

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Shop Your Way is Sears and Kmart’s rewards program.  Over time, though, it has branched out to become more of a general purpose rewards program.  It’s possible to earn and redeem Shop Your Way points without ever making any purchases with Sears or Kmart.  Recently we learned that it’s possible to redeem Shop Your Way points for merchant gift cards.  And I explained why that’s big news for anyone with Citi ThankYou points.

All that said, this is only a big deal if its possible to acquire useful gift cards.  Here’s what I found…

Basics

  • Website: shopyourway.com/giftcards
  • Gift card values range from $1 to $120.  Most of the available gift cards are in the $5 to $30 range.
  • Shop Your Way points are each worth one-tenth of a cent towards rewards.  So, to buy a gift card, you need to add three zeros to the end of the dollar amount to figure out how many Shop Your Way points are required.  For example, if you want a $30 gift card, it will cost you 30,000 Shop Your Way points.
  • Points transfer from Citi ThankYou Rewards nearly instantly (wait a minute or two after initiating the transfer)
  • Gift cards are emailed nearly instantly.  With all of my tests I received my purchased gift cards by email within a few minutes.
  • Not all Shop Your Way points work.  A couple readers have reported that some Shop Your Way points collected from other means (besides transferring from Citi) were not available to purchase gift cards.  One reader specifically mentioned that this was true of points earned on his Shop Your Way credit card.

Useful gift cards

You’ll find the full list of gift cards below, but I’ll point out a few that I think are likely to be the most useful to the most people:

  • Walmart: Available in denominations ranging from $10 to $30
  • eBay: Available in denominations ranging from $10 to $30.
    (note that eBay does not allow buying gift cards with gift cards)
  • Hotels.com: Available in denominations ranging from $10 to $30
  • Southwest Airlines: Available in denominations ranging from $25 to $45
  • iTunes: Available in denominations ranging from $10 to $30
    (note that iTunes gift cards can now be used for Apple store purchases)
  • GameStop: Available in denominations ranging from $5 to $25
  • StubHub: Available in denominations ranging from $25 to $45

Dealing with low denominations

One big problem with the available gift cards is that the maximum value you can get for any one card is sometimes very low compared to the amount you’ll likely need.  For example, the biggest value Hotels.com gift card you can get is $30. My guess is that most hotels will cost you more than $30.  The way to deal with this (if it’s possible at all) varies by merchant:

Load gift card balance to your account

Some merchants let you deposit gift cards into your account so that the funds are readily available when you shop with them.  This is how Amazon.com works, for example.  Too bad Amazon gift cards aren’t available through Shop Your Way!

Merge gift cards

Some merchants let you merge multiple gift cards into one.  One example is Hotels.com (go here and then click on “balance services”).

Apply multiple gift cards to a single order

Many merchants let you use multiple gift cards to pay for a single order.  Be careful to check this before buying multiple gift cards.  Usually there’s a limit to how many gift cards can be applied.

My Experiments

In order to test out buying gift cards with Shop Your Way points, I transferred Citi ThankYou points to Shop Your Way.  The process was quick and easy.  The points transferred within a minute or two.

Walmart

I first bought a couple of Walmart gift cards: one for $30 and the other $20.  I then easily loaded those gift cards to my Walmart account (under payment methods).  I know from the past that Walmart limits you to 5 or 6 gift cards in your account, so it might be hard to use this approach to buy more than $300 or so at a time.  Next, I used my two Walmart gift cards to buy a single $50 Delta e-gift card.  I received the Delta gift card by email within about 15 minutes.

Hotels.com

I didn’t expect any problems with this, but I tested it just in case.  I bought a small value Hotels.com gift card.  As soon as it arrived, I merged it into another Hotels.com gift card that I already owned.  No problem.  To merge Hotels.com gift cards, go here and then click on “balance services”.

Gamestop

I saw that Gamestop.com sells some gift cards online for pickup in store.  Unfortunately, I didn’t notice that they were out of stock of the cards I wanted.  So I bought a $25 Gamestop gift card with my Shop Your Way points and then tried to use that to buy a gift card I really wanted.  Since all of the cards I wanted were out of stock (Amazon and Shell gas), I put a random $50 game-related digital gift card in my cart to see if the system would let me pay with a Gamestop gift card.  There was no problem with applying the $25 to my order.  And it appeared that I could apply more gift cards too (it’s unclear if there’s a limit).  I didn’t go through with the order since I didn’t really want that gift card.  I’ll have to swing by Gamestop in person to get something I really want.

Gift of Choice

This was the most exciting option, but also the most disappointing.  Gift of Choice gift cards are awesome, in theory, since they can be exchanged for whatever gift card you really want.  They seem to have a huge library to choose from and include popular choices like Amazon, Target, Delta, BP, Shell, etc.  Here’s the site to see for yourself.

The bizarre thing is that the Shop Your Way website shows that the only possible denomination you can get is $1.  Meanwhile, the Gift of Choice website makes it clear that gift cards start at $10 and it’s unclear that there’s any way to use more than one Gift of Choice gift card.  In other words, it appears that $1 Gift of Choice gift cards are completely worthless.

Undaunted, I decided to use $1 in points to see what would happen.  Could I figure out a way to use that gift card anyway?  Unfortunately, I couldn’t even test it.  The system returns an error when I try to buy these cards:

Bad request
Denomination invalid, min: 25, max: 25, increment: 1

All Shop Your Way Gift Cards

$1 Gift Cards (1,000 points = $1)

Gift of Choice, JumpStart School of Dragons

$5 to $25 Gift Cards (5,000 to 25,000 points)

AMC Theatres, Applebee’s®, Bakers Square, Barnes & Noble, Baskin Robbins, Bath & Body Works, Bed Bath & Beyond, Bloomin’Brands, Bonefish Grill, Boscov’s, Burger King, Buy Buy Baby, California Pizza Kitchen, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Casual Male XL, Champs, Cheryls.com Gifts, Chili’s, Chipotle, Christmas Tree Shops, Chuck E Cheese’s, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store®, Domino’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Eastbay, Express, Famous Footwear, Foot Locker, Footaction, Forever 21, GameStop, Guitar Center®, Hot Topic, IHOP, Jamba Juice, Kids Foot Locker, Krispy Kreme®, Lady Foot Locker, Lids, Lowe’s, Maggiano’s, O’Charley’s®, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Omaha Steaks, On the Border, Outback Steakhouse, Red Lobster, Ruby Tuesday, Spafinder, Stein Mart, The Cheesecake Factory, Torrid, ULTA, Village Inn

$10 to $30 Gift Cards (10,000 to 30,000 points)

Aeropostale, American Eagle®, Ann Taylor, Atom Movie Tickets, Auntie Anne’s, AutoZone, Bass Pro Shops, Bertucci’s, Bubba Gump, Buca di Beppo, Burlington, Caribou Coffee, Chart House, Chico’s, Cinemark, Dave & Buster’s®, eBay, Google Play, Groupon, Hotels.com, iTunes, Landry’s Restaurants, McAlister’s Deli, Morton’s Steakhouse, Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack, Panera Bread, Papa John’s Pizza, Petco, Regal Cinemas, REI, Saltgrass, Schlotzsky’s Deli, Sephora, Soma Intimates, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Taco Bell, TGI Fridays, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Topgolf, Walmart, White House Black Market, Yankee Candle®

$15 to $35 Gift Cards (15,000 to 35,000 points)

DoorDash, Jiffy Lube®, rue21, Uber, UberEats

$20 to $40 Gift Cards (20,000 to 40,000 points)

Clarks, Fogo De Chao, Gander Outdoors, Rubio’s Coastal Grill

$25 to $45 Gift Cards (25,000 to 45,000 points)

Belk, Black Angus Steakhouse, Crate & Barrel, Dean & DeLuca, DSW, Grubhub.com, Holland America, iFly Indoor Skydiving, Overstock, Piccadilly, Seamless, SHOWTIME®, Southwest Airlines, Stitch Fix®, StubHub, The Home Depot, The North Face, Under Armour®

$50 to $70 Gift Cards (50,000 to 70,000 points)

Columbia, Home Chef Meal Kits, Princess Cruises, Ray-Ban, Saks Fifth Avenue, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF Fifth, Soothe

$100 to $120 Gift Cards (100,000 to 120,000 points)

Carnival

Conclusion

The ability to buy gift cards with Shop Your Way points is valuable, especially for those with Citi ThankYou points which transfer 1 to 12 to Shop Your Way (20% more value).  My experiments showed that the process really works and you really can end up with valuable gift cards.

Gift of Choice gift cards would be really exciting, but currently the system is broken and it doesn’t let you buy them.  I’m hoping that this will get fixed in two ways: 1) they’ll raise the minimum value of these cards; and 2) the fix the current bug that prevents buying them.

Even without Gift of Choice, though, Shop Your Way offers a large selection of useful gift cards.  With merchants like Walmart and eBay, in particular, it should be possible to buy almost anything.

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