|Rewards Rating:||2.7 / 5|
|Annual Percentage Rate:||0.2|
|Issuer Customer Experience||3.3|
In a Nutshell:
The Sears Shop your Way MasterCard offers an exceptionally high 5-percent rewards rate on your gas purchases, making it one of the most rewarding gas cards — if you don’t mind spending your rewards at Sears or Kmart. This offer is no longer available on our site.
Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
Citi Customer Service Ratings
Other Notable Features: Monthly savings and special offers at Sears, special financing in select categories, $0 fraud liability, extended warranty, price protection
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It seems as though the Sears MasterCard’s “5-3-2-1” promotion has done pretty well for the retailer — after a year-long run, Sears has decided to make its “5-3-2-1” promotion a permanent fixture on its MasterCard.
Basically, all Sears MasterCard holders, new and existing, can now earn 5 percent in points on eligible gas station purchases and 3 points per dollar on restaurant and grocery purchases. The 5 percent bonus on gas purchases is really the centerpiece here, because it mirrors the 5 percent offers on several competing store cards, and because – actually – 5 percent is a very high rewards rate for gas purchases.
The cap on the gas, restaurant and grocery bonuses is also very high. The 5 and 3 percent bonuses apply to up to $10,000 in combined purchases. For cardholders on the quest for the ultimate credit card discount on gasoline purchases, the Sears card’s “5-3-2-1” promotion may be enough of an incentive to sign up and try the card.
Unfortunately, despite the enticing offer, the Sears Shop Your Way MasterCard comes with so many snags that it’s difficult to recommend this card to anyone other than a frequent Sears shopper.
Great bonus on gas, groceries and restaurants … with a limit
The highlight of the Sears Shop Your Way MasterCard is its “5-3-2-1” offer, which translates into the following rewards: 5 percent in points back on eligible gas purchases, 3 percent in points back on eligible restaurant and grocery purchases, 2 percent in points back on eligible Sears and Kmart purchases and 1 percent back on all other purchases.
As mentioned, the 5 percent rewards rate on gas purchases is an exceptionally large reward, matched by very few other credit cards. 3 percent back on restaurant and groceries is also high. A cardholder who exclusively uses the card for purchases in all these categories can stack up a large number of points.
A big drawback: Redemption of the rewards is very limited. Despite Sears’ frequent use of “percent” in its promotional materials, these are not cash back rewards. Shop Your Way points can only be applied as a discount to purchases made at Sears, Kmart and other participating retailers. Though the bonus is large, it doesn’t have much value unless you shop with one of these retailers.
On the plus side, the Shop Your Way loyalty program is very generous with its base points. The program offers 10 Shop Your Way points on qualifying purchases to every member of the program, regardless of whether they own a Sears MasterCard. These points can be combined with the rewards points on the Sears MasterCard, providing a better incentive to use the card.
No annual fee or membership fee
It should be noted that neither the Sears MasterCard nor the Shop Your Way rewards program requires a fee to join. Warehouse club credit cards and the Amazon Prime card, for instance, are promoted as no-annual-fee cards, while obscuring the fact that the card is paired with a program that charges a large membership fee. Though these cards may offer a higher rewards rate than the Sears MasterCard, their membership fees cut into the value of their rewards.
The biggest drawback to the Sears Shop Your Way card is its large number of restrictions. As previously noted, points only apply to purchases at Sears and a handful of retail partners. Points also have a very short shelf life, expiring after just 12 months. On the plus side, Sears does make points pretty simple to redeem for frequent Sears shoppers. There is no point minimum and – once the points reach your account – you can apply them immediately to an online purchase or upon checkout at a participating retailer.
Discounts and special financing offers
The Sears MasterCard includes monthly promotions that allow cardholders to earn additional points on certain items. For instance, a promotion in a particular month may offer cardholders a 10 percent bonus on home appliances. Cardholders can add this bonus to their base points and the 2 percent bonus that they earn with their Sears MasterCard to accumulate even more points.
While there are some good deals to be found on the Sears credit card’s offers site, cardholders should take extra caution with the card’s special financing deals. Cardholders are promised 0 percent interest on certain categories of purchases if they pay off all of the interest within a designated time period. The fine print reveals that these are deferred interest deals. In other words, if you don’t pay off the entire amount of the purchase (down to the penny) before the period expires, you will be charged the full amount of interest for the entire period.
A few purchase protections
The card comes with a few additional benefits, including extended warranty and price protection, that can help protect your purchases when you use the card at Sears and other retailers.
Why get the Sears MasterCard?
- You’re looking for a credit card with a high rewards rate on gas purchases.
- You shop frequently at Sears or Kmart.
- You’re looking for discounts on merchandise rather than cash back.
How to use the Sears MasterCard:
- Be sure to use the card on the day that it is activated, to earn a $20 statement credit.
- Use this as your go-to card for gas, restaurant and grocery purchases.
- Points expire after 12 months. Be sure to redeem them before then.
- Visit Sears’ website for credit card members to earn additional bonuses on select categories of merchandise.
- Avoid carrying a balance on this card as the APR tends to be high.
- Read the fine print on the card’s special financing offers. The interest is deferred, which means you will owe the full amount of interest on an item if you fail to pay it off by the end of the promotional period. (See: How to avoid big costs of deferred-interest financing deals)
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