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Popular department store chain Sears offers two credit cards with rewards programs for purchases. Let’s examine the benefits and drawbacks of each, as well as see how they stack up to other cash back alternatives.
As one of the most popular department stores in the United States, Sears has preserved a reputation for quality goods, including home appliances, tools, clothing, jewelry and more. And as a way of thanking their loyal customers for choosing Sears, the company offers its customers two retailer credit cards that come with a great perks through its Shop Your Way rewards program: The Sears Credit Card and the Sears Mastercard. In this article, we’ll cover the benefits of each credit, some of the drawbacks you should be aware of, and credit card alternatives that might be a better choice overall.
Overview | Sears Credit Cards
To begin, apply for a Sears stored-brand credit card in-store or online. Each of the 2 store-branded cards has their own applications, one for the store-branded no-frills credit card and one for the Mastercard. Qualified applicants will either be approved instantly, or there may be a waiting period of 7 to 10 days to determine the creditworthiness of applicants.
Once approved, you’ll be issued the corresponding store-branded credits (issued by Citibank): the Sears Credit Card and the Sears Mastercard.
Sears Credit Card
First, cardholders of the basic Sears Credit Card are limited to use the credit card in stores under the Sears Holding brand, including:
- Sears (and Sears.com)
- Sears Essentials
- Sears Grand
- Sears Hardware
- Sears Auto Centers
- Sears Hometown Stores
- Sears Repair and Product Services
- Sears Dental
- Sears Portrait Studios
- Sears Optical
- Sears Flowers
- Lands’ End (and landsend.com)
The primary benefit of using the Sears Card is that cardholders gain the option of special financing on certain products. Depending on whether the product meets certain qualifying criteria, this includes home appliances, automotive merchandise, electronics, fitness equipment, and tools. Essentially, the Sears Card offers deferred interest, which enables cardholders to pay off an item interest-free for 6 months (or other time frames),however, if the balance of the item is still in effect, the original interest of the item will be charged despite how much you’ve already paid on the item.
The second main reason to apply for a Sears Card is the access to exclusive savings. Cardholders are given access to a number of money-saving perks, including special deals, savings coupons, invitations to Sears cardholder-only events, and the ability to earn points through the Shop Your Way program/portal when making purchases with the credit card.
Sears Shop Your Way Mastercard
The Sears Shop Your Way Mastercard offers card holders the same benefits of the Sears Card above, but also enables you to make purchases anywhere Mastercard is accepted. Upon signup and approval, the Sears Shop Your Way Mastercard earns a $20 statement credit if cardholders make a $30 or more in eligible purchases within 30 days of the account being opened. Cardholders are automatically enrolled in the Shop Your Way rewards program and are eligible for a wide variety of bonus benefits, which includes:
- 5% points back at gas stations (standalone stations only)
- 3% points back at grocery stores and supermarkets
- 3% points back at restaurants and dining
- 2% points bach at Sears & Kmart locations
- 1% points back everywhere else Mastercard is accepted
The Shop Your Way program allows cardholders to use the points earned on Sears online platform, exchanging points for various rewards online on Sears’ brand of retailers (and online), as well as earn rewards for products ranging from Nike, Peapod, Under Armor, and Gas Buddy. Additionally, there are several tiers of Shop Your Way, which can be earned by making multiple purchases or reaching spending thresholds:
- VIP Silver: Make 11 purchases totaling $800 in a calendar year OR Spend $2,500 in a calendar year
- VIP Gold: Make 20 purchases totaling $1,500 in a calendar year OR Spend $5,000 in a calendar year
- VIP Platinum: Make 30 purchases totaling $2,000 in a calendar year OR Spend $10,000 in a calendar year
Each tier comes with its own rewards, including free oil changes, VIP rewards, 25% appliance repair, more points earning potential, birthday month rewards, and more. For a full-list of tier-based rewards of the Shop Your Way program, click here.
There are some limitations to these points earning potential. The 5% and 3% points earned only is applicable to the first $10,000 spent. After this limit is met, any amount after that will only earn 1% points back. Second, while these benefits are lucrative, they are only valid for the first 12 months after the card has been approved–after the first year, all of the bonus perks are gone.
|Sears Credit Card||Sears Shop Your Way Mastercard|
|Cash Back Benefits||No cash back|
Special financing (select products)
|5% points back at gas stations|
3% points back at grocery stores
3% points back at restaurants
2% points back at Sears & Kmart
1% points back everywhere else Mastercard is accepted
Earn a $20 statement credit if you make $30+ in eligible purchases within 30 days of opening an account
|APR||27.49% (variable)||27.49% (variable)|
|Average FICO Score to Qualify||620 and above||650 and above|
The Drawbacks of Sears Credit Cards
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of the Sears credit cards, it’s important to know that these cards come with some serious drawbacks. First, the APR (currently at a variable 27.49%) can quickly become a nuisance for those looking to finance a large purchase or who like to keep balance on their statements to build credit. Second, for those that travel, you should know that purchases made abroad come with 3% fee–something that can put a damper on your next vacation when you reach for Sears Credit Cards. Last, the Shop Your Way Rewards program can be a bit complicated to understand and fully take advantage of bonuses that expire within 12 months.
How Sears’s Credit Card Compare to Alternative Programs
Before applying for Sears’s credit cards you should explore all-purpose cards that will offer more spending flexibility and favorable rewards programs. Three we recommend are:
Chase Freedom Unlimited
If you are looking for an all-purpose card then Chase Freedom Unlimited will perfectly fit your requirements. The card does not have any combined or rotating category restriction. What you get is 3% cash back (3x points per dollar spent) on all your purchases within the first year, up to $20,000 spent. The estimated value that can be earned is up to $600.
After the completion of the time-frame or if the limit is reached you receive cash back at 1.5% for all the purchases.
While you receive cash back rewards, you could also qualify for the introductory purchase and balance transfer offers which is a 0% APR for 15 months and then a variable APR(17.24%–25.99%) rate. In comparison to the Sears card, the APR rate on Freedom Unlimited is lower.
If you are averse to paying an annual fee then this card will meet your need. There is no annual fee when you apply for Freedom Unlimited.
The rewards points do not expire, points can be combined with other cards, and you can encash the points into other forms such as a statement credit, gift cards or for travels.
Other perks that come with this card are purchase protection, extended warranty, travel accident insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver, travel and emergency assistance, lost luggage reimbursement and trip cancellation/interruption insurance.
Blue Cash Everyday from American Express
Blue Cash Everyday card can get you cash back on the daily usage categories. Tracking the cashback you earn using this card is straightforward and can be done by login to your account.
You can get 3% cashback on purchases made at US supermarkets, up to $6000 per year, after which you earn 1% cashback in this category.
You’ll get a 2% cash back at selected US department stores and at US gas station purchases.
All other purchases earn a 1% cash back.
The cash back is in the form of reward dollars that can be redeemed anytime in various forms like gift cards, shopping, and statement credit. To kick start reward earnings Blue Cash Everyday card offers $150 in statement credits after you spend $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your membership.
Current APR offers is 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, after which variable APR, 15.24% to 26.24% is applicable.
You can also book hotels for low rates through amex.travel.com. If you are planning to make a large purchase then you could consider the Plan It benefit which would allow you to create up to 10 active payment plans for your purchases (To know more about the Pay It Plan It click here https://www.americanexpress.com/us/credit-cards/features-benefits/plan-it/prospect-plan.html)
Besides these, you also get car rental insurance, roadside assistance, travel accident insurance, return protection, extended warranty and purchase protection benefits.
Capital One Quicksilver
Whether you choose a credit card with reward categories or a card with none, it is a choice you must make based on your personal spending habits. However, If you do not like being bound to categories then Quicksilver Cash Rewards is a worthy candidate.
Quicksilver Cash Rewards card does not have an annual fee and offers 1.5% cash back on every purchase that you make. New card members may be able to earn a $150 bonus once they spent $500 on purchases within 3 months of opening their membership.
Transactions that you make abroad using this card does not have a foreign transaction charge. In addition, there is no expiration date on the rewards you collect as far as your account remains active. The rewards earned can be used to acquire a gift card or get a recent purchase erased against their points or you can have the rewards as a statement credit.
Quicksilver Cash Rewards has a relatively longer APR period than some of the other cash back cards. The intro APR offered on this card to new members is a 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months and beyond that variable APR (16.24% – 26.24% variable).
The cardholders can also get access to exclusive sporting events, culinary experience and concerts, click here to know more about upcoming events https://www.capitalone.com/credit-cards/benefits/access/.
Apart from the above-mentioned advantages you also receive travel accident insurance, extended warranty, 24/7, 365 days concierge service. New cardholders can use CreditWise to monitor their credit scores.
The Bottom Line
Sears’ store-branded credit cards offer some great rewards if you’re a loyal shopper to the beloved department store and its wide array of goods. However, with significant drawbacks–especially the significant APR and the complicated rewards program–you may want to investigate stronger alternatives available for most qualified applicants with similar FICO score requirements, including better cash-back rates, no foreign transaction fees, and simplified rewards structures.