What to do with those Sears gift cards…

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Last week the Southwest Airlines shopping portal (Rapid Rewards Shopping) offered 15 points per dollar when shopping at Sears.com.  I wrote a number of posts with ideas for capitalizing on the promotion. The key was to buy gift cards for 15 points per dollar and then to sell the gift cards, or to use the gift cards through the shopping portal to get another 15X.  For many, this appears to have worked well, but some people ran into issues:

  • A few people received messages from Sears that the ordered merchandise was out of stock.  These messages arrived too late to get 15X by buying something else.
  • Sears outright cancelled some orders without explanation.
  • One reader reported trouble from PlasticJungle.  When he tried to sell his gift cards, PlasticJungle canceled the order.

If you find yourself stuck with gift cards that you don’t really want, here are some options you have:

Use gift cards for day to day expenses

First, to get the obvious one out of the way: Sears gift cards can be used at Sears, KMart, Lands’ End, Sears Outlet, MyGopher, Crafstman, etc.  Most Kmart stores carry groceries, pharmaceuticals, and other commonly needed goods.  Simply moving some of your regular spend to these stores can go a long way in lowering expenses you would normally incur at other stores.

Upgrade gift cards to ones you actually want

Many KMart and Sears stores will let you use Sears gift cards to buy gift cards from other merchants.  Use this technique to save at gas stations, restaurants, or even for travel (KMart often carries Marriott and Southwest Airlines gift cards).

Don’t call

It seems to be universally true that when people call Sears or KMart to ask if they can buy gift cards with gift cards, they are told no.  However, it usually works (but not always) when you go ahead and try in person.  I’ve found that it helps to buy just 2 or 3 gift cards at a time.  It also doesn’t hurt to load your cart with other items as well.  I don’t think it’s a glitch that allows you to do this.  Take a look at the Terms & Conditions that you agreed to when you bought the gift cards.  I’ve bolded the important part:

This card is issued by SHC Promotions LLC and is redeemable for goods and services at participating Sears, Roebuck and Co., Lands’ End, The Great Indoors, and Kmart store locations in the U.S., P.R., Guam and U.S.V.I., and at sears.com, kmart.com, landsend.com and Lands’ End catalogs. Not valid for purchase of third party debit or prepaid cards. Not redeemable for restaurant, Olan Mills Portrait Studio transactions or for cash, except where required by law. Cannot be applied to credit accounts. Lost, stolen or damaged gift cards may only be cancelled and replaced with proof of purchase.

Notice that they explicitly exclude 3rd party debit and prepaid cards, but not gift cards.  I’ve seen this myself at the register.  The register has no problem with regular gift cards, but if you try to buy an American Express or Visa card with a Sears gift card, the register won’t allow it.

Upgrade and sell

Some KMart stores carry BP gift cards.  BP cards can usually be sold to gift card resellers for 91 or 92 cents to the dollar.  Currently, Plastic Jungle lists the buy price for BP cards at 91 cents to the dollar.  If you start at TopCashBack before selling to PlasticJungle, you can earn another 4% cash back (4% of 91% = 3.64%).  This amounts to a 5.36% loss.  If you got 15 points per dollar for buying Sears gift cards, then selling your gift cards in this way is equivalent to buying Southwest miles for only .36 cents each.  That’s an incredible bargain!  I will admit, though, that upgrading and selling gift cards can be a slow, painful process, but if you’re stuck with Sears gift cards this may just be the best way to go.

Other ideas?

If you have other ideas for how best to use Sears gift cards, please comment below.

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