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Once the largest retailer in the world, Sears has been closing hundreds of stores due to decreasing sales. They even recently closed their last store in Chicago — the city where Sears was headquartered for more than 100 years.
You may have originally opened a Sears-branded credit card for the special financing offers available — but lately the appliances that can benefit from special financing have dwindled. Sears and Whirlpool ended their relationship last year, and now there is talk that Sears may sell off its popular Kenmore brand, too. This means you will need to pay for washers and dryers and other pricey appliances from brands like KitchenAid, Maytag and Jenn-Air elsewhere by your bill’s due date or risk high interest charges.
With all of the changes, Sears shoppers may be wondering if it’s worthwhile to open a Sears-branded credit card or if they should look to alternative credit cards. While Sears has two offerings available — the Sears Mastercard® and the Sears Card®, we recommend avoiding the cards all together since alternative cards provide better rewards programs and more robust benefits.
In this post, we’ll review the benefits you can receive from using a Sears-branded credit card and provide other options.
Both Sears credit cards offer rewards programs that are subpar when compared with other cashback and rewards cards. However, if you’re gung-ho on applying for a Sears-branded credit card, here are the rewards you’ll receive for each card:
Sears Card®: This card is a store card, so it can only be used in-store and online at Sears and Kmart, which is also owned by Sears Holding Corp. You earn 1 point for every $0.10. That’s an effective 10 points per dollar spent. Note: If your purchase amount is not a multiple of $0.10, and ends in $0.05 or more, you’ll earn one point, but if it ends in less than $0.05, you won’t earn an additional point. For example, a purchase amount of $10.75 will earn 108 points, while a purchase amount of $10.74 will earn 107 points.
Sears Mastercard®: Earn 2% in points at Sears & Kmart, 1% on all other eligible purchases. And, during the first 12 months from the date of account opening, earn 5% in points at gas stations and 3% in points at grocery stores & restaurants (on the first $10,000 of combined gas, grocery and restaurant purchases, 1% thereafter). Plus, there’s a new cardmember special offer: Earn a $20 statement credit when you spend $30 in eligible purchases in the first 30 days from account opening. Excludes deferred interest and major purchase plan purchases. Valid on new accounts opened 5/3/18-9/12/18, online applications only.
Unfortunately, points don’t have flexible redemption options — you can only redeem points through the Shop Your Way® program for select merchandise. That’s compared with other cards that let you redeem for gift cards, statement credit, direct deposit, travel and more.
Benefits of a Sears-branded credit card
The Sears Mastercard® and the Sears Card® offer a few perks that are exclusive to cardholders:
- Special financing offers: When you visit sears.com/credit, you’ll see various special financing offers for eligible purchases such as home appliances, electronics and fitness equipment that can provide you with no interest for a set time period as long as your balance is paid in full prior to the term’s end — or else deferred interest takes effect.
- Monthly deals and special offers: You can benefit from up to 10% off select purchases when you use your card in the store or online at sears.com/credit.
- Other perks: Cardmember events, coupons and additional Shop Your Way® offers.
What to watch out for: Deferred interest
Common to many store cards, deferred interest is a pesky retroactive interest charge you may incur if you take advantage of a special financing offer and don’t pay off your balance in full before the promotional interest-free period ends. If you fail to pay off your balance by the end of the given period, you will incur all the interest you would’ve been charged during the interest period.
Here are the deferred interest terms for the Sears Mastercard® and the Sears Card®:
“No interest if paid in full within the promotional period. Interest will be charged to your account from the purchase date if the purchase balance is not paid in full with in the promotional period.”
To avoid deferred interest charges, make sure you pay your entire balance in full before the promotional interest-free period ends. Continuing to carry a balance post-special financing period defeats its purpose and may cause you to fall into debt, since the interest rate is high at 26.99% variable APR for the Sears Card® and 26.99% variable APR for the Sears Mastercard®.
Alternatives to a Sears credit card
For financing purchases
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express offers an intro 0% for 15 Months on purchases (after, 12.99% - 23.99% variable). That’s helpful if you plan on making purchases and carrying a balance month to month. And, if you already have an existing balance on a non-Amex credit card, you can transfer it within 60 days from account opening and benefit from the intro 0% for 15 Months on balance transfers (after, 12.99% - 23.99% variable). There’s also a great $0 balance transfer fee. Additional perks include a rewards program where you can earn 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x), 1x points on other purchases. Additionally, there’s a welcome offer of 10,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. Terms apply.
For flat-rate cash back
The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer offers cardholders the ability to earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. That’s a great rate for all purchases and provides you the ability to earn more rewards compared with the Sears-branded cards. Plus, there’s a $0 annual fee. There is also exclusive ticket access to concerts, sporting events and dining experiences provided through Citi® Private Pass®. Terms may apply.
Read our roundup of the best cashback cards here.
Sears’ numerous store closings and discontinued brand relationships should make you hesitant to open one of their credit cards. After all, the Sears Mastercard® and the Sears Card® are just OK credit cards that offer occasional discounts on select items and the ability to earn rewards while shopping at Sears. However, you can do better with cashback and rewards cards that offer a better flat rate of 2% or 2 points per dollar spent for all purchases.
The special financing offers available when you use your card may seem like a good way to pay for purchases over time, but they can quickly end up costing you more money. Balances that remain unpaid past the end of the no-interest term incur deferred interest with a high 26.99% variable APR. We recommend sticking to a 0% intro APR card if you need to finance purchases, since many cards from the top banks don’t have deferred interest.
The information related to The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express has been independently collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.