Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
& Kellie Jez
Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which we receive financial compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). However, the credit card information that we publish has been written and evaluated by experts who know these products inside out. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse. This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers that are on the market. See our advertising policy here where we list advertisers that we work with, and how we make money. You can also review our credit card rating methodology.
We may be compensated when you click on product links, such as credit cards, from one or more of our advertising partners. Terms apply to the offers below. See our Advertising Policy for more about our partners, how we make money, and our rating methodology. Opinions and recommendations are ours alone.
Though the news surrounding Sears and Kmart stores closing isn’t very positive, the Transformco company — created in 2019 to acquire brands from the Sears Holdings Corporation — continues to have brands that remain well-established anchors in the network of American department stores.
The downtrend in brick-and-mortar shopping is clearly related to an uptick in e-commerce, and many department stores are scrambling to keep up — Sears included. As die-hard Sears and Kmart shoppers have likely recognized, marketing priority has moved more toward the Shop Your Way loyalty program and the perks that come with its associated credit cards.
So how can these cards benefit you? And are they worth it, or is there a better option for your wallet?
This review will detail both Sears credit cards, including the benefits and the drawbacks of each, as well as fees. We’ll discuss the application process and how to management of your account. We’ll also explain the Shop Your Way rewards program and more!
|Sears Card®||Sears Shop Your Way Mastercard®|
|Main Benefits||🗓 Special financing (select products)|
💰 Exclusive savings
🔐 Account protection
|🎁 Welcome bonus|
⛽️ 5% points back at gas stations**
🍏 3% points back at grocery stores**
🍕 3% points back at restaurants**
🛍 2% points back at Sears and Kmart
🎉 1% points back everywhere else Mastercard is accepted
🗓 Special financing (select products)
💰 Exclusive savings
🔐 Account protection
|APR||25.24% variable||25.24% variable|
|Late Fee||Up to $40||Up to $40|
**Through December 31 each year for the first $10,000 (combined across categories)
Sears has 2 store-branded credit cards, both issued by Citibank: the Sears card (the basic store card) and the Sears Shop Your Way card. Both cards can be utilized at Sears and Kmart locations and on the Shop Your Way platform.
Hot Tip: As you can see from the table above, a big perk of the Sears Shop Your Way card is that it can also be utilized anywhere Mastercard is accepted.
This is the definition of a basic store-branded credit card. It doesn’t come with many perks, and it can only be used within the Transformco family of stores and on the Shop Your Way platform.
Let’s delve into the (minimal) benefits.
Hot Tip: A note about special financing: KNOW YOUR TERMS. There’s a big difference between “no interest for 6 months” and “no interest if paid in full within 6 months”. The latter is what we call deferred interest; we’ll chat more about that in the Fees & Drawbacks section below.
In addition to the basic card perks above, Sears Shop Your Way cardholders also have the benefit of flexibility when it comes to viable purchase locations since this card can be used anywhere Mastercard is accepted.
Additionally, cardholders are automatically enrolled in the Shop Your Way Rewards program (more details below) and are eligible for category bonus benefits as shown in the table above.
Regardless, for the sake of being thorough, we’ll outline the bonus category structure here.
As you can see in the image above, the terms and conditions place a limit on the amount of spending that can earn bonus points between the gas, grocery, and restaurant purchases. The 3% to 5% points-back applies only to your first $10,000 spent annually, resetting on December 31 each year. Any amount after the $10,000 will only earn 1% back.
And of course, you should always read your terms and conditions as there are certain exceptions to every rule.
For example, only true stand-alone gas stations are eligible to earn 5% points back. You’ll only earn the base points (1% back) at those associated with grocery stores, wholesale clubs, and superstores. Other exclusions like this apply to the bonus categories, so read the T&Cs carefully!
At the time of this writing, the Sears Shop Your Way card is offering a sign-up bonus (so to speak). This promotion allows cardholders to earn a $40 statement credit if they make $50+ in eligible purchases on their card within 30 days of the account being opened. It’s important to note that this promotion is available for online applications only.
If you want to earn rewards beyond 1% to 2%, there are better cards out there for you — we’ll discuss some of them below in the Alternative Rewards Cards section.
All credit cards come with a slew of fees and drawbacks, so how do the Sears cards stack up?
|Sears Card||Sears Shop Your Way Card|
|Purchase APR||25.24% variable||25.24% variable|
|Balance Transfer APR||N/A||25.24% variable|
|Balance Transfer Fee||N/A||$10 or 5% of each transfer amount (whichever is greater)|
|Cash Advance APR||N/A||27.15% variable|
|Cash Advance Fee||N/A||$5 or 5% of each cash advance amount (whichever is greater)|
|Foreign Transaction Fee||N/A||3% of each purchase transaction|
|Minimum Interest Payment||$2||$2|
|Late Fee||Up to $40||Up to $40|
The first things we notice about the fees are the high purchase APRs.
At a purchase APR of 25.24% variable, shoppers could get into trouble swiftly if they tend to carry a balance on their account. This is especially true if they’ve opted for a special financing offer with deferred interest.
We mentioned earlier that you need to be very clear about your terms and conditions with special financing. There’s a BIG difference between “no interest for 6 months” and “no interest if paid in full within 6 months.” The latter indicates you’ll be subject to deferred interest. In Sears’ case, what we’re seeing is that pretty much all of its special financing offers utilize deferred interest.
So why is deferred interest so bad?
It doesn’t have to be if you pay off your purchase in full within the promotional period. In that case, no interest will be applied. However (and it’s a big however), if you don’t pay off your balance in full within the promotional period, interest charges will be imposed on the starting balance at the APR for regular purchases retroactively from the date of purchase. In this case, 25.24%.
If you don’t know already, here’s a heads up that you should never utilize the cash advance option on a credit card if you can help it.
Not only will you be charged the associated fee (either the flat rate or %, whichever is greater) but you also won’t get a grace period on the cash advance. So interest begins accruing on the balance as soon as the transaction is completed — even if you pay your balance in full when your billing statement comes. You’d basically have to pay off the cash advance within 24 hours to avoid a ridiculous APR.
And let’s not even get started on balance transfers!
If you’re a traveler, there are plenty of credit cards out there that won’t charge you foreign transaction fees at all… so that’s kind of an added kick in the pants, not to mention the fact that this isn’t even close to being the best travel card for you, for a multitude of other reasons.
The main drawback of these cards (outside of the high fees and penalties) is the complicated rewards program. We go pretty in-depth on the Shop Your Way Rewards program section below, so here we’ll just say that while it gives you a lot of options for earning points, you don’t have a ton of options to redeem them.
Besides, most people can earn tons of points even without having a Sears credit card.
Actually, with respect to the rewards program, having the basic Sears card won’t really give you any added benefits at all. And the Sears Shop Your Way card? As we already mentioned and will reiterate throughout this review, the 3% to 5% bonus structure maxes out with $10,000 spent annually. After that, it’s zip, nada, no bonuses, though you’ll continue to earn 2% on Sears and Kmart purchases and 1% on everything else.
As you can probably already tell from the post thus far, we’re not big fans of the Sears cards. Unless you’re a VERY loyal Sears or Kmart shopper, there are likely far better options out there.
For example, below are cash-back credit cards that would earn you more than the Sears credit cards.
Plus, many are 0% interest credit cards, whereas the Sears cards have sky-high APR rates.
This all-purpose cash-back card offers great bonus categories, including bonus points for every purchase you make!
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is easily one of the best cash-back credit cards on the market. There aren’t many no-annual-fee credit cards that offer multiple great bonus categories like 5% back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% back on all other purchases.
When paired with other Chase cards in the Ultimate Rewards family, you can transfer that cash back into points if you wish – making it one of the most lucrative cards in your wallet.
Alternatively, if you’re a traveler or are looking to travel more, then consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which is one of the most popular travel rewards cards out there.
You’ll earn 1 point per $1 spent on all everyday purchases and 2 points per $1 spent on ALL dining and travel purchases.
A fantastic travel card with a huge welcome offer, good benefits, and perks for a moderate annual fee.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® card is one of the best travel rewards cards on the market. Its bonus categories include travel, dining, online grocery purchases, and streaming services, which gives you the opportunity to earn lots of bonus points on these purchases.
Additionally, it offers flexible point redemption options, no foreign transaction fees, and excellent travel insurance coverage including primary car rental insurance. With benefits like these, it’s easy to see why this card is an excellent choice for any traveler.
It appears there are 2 separate applications for the Sears credit cards. So unlike some other store rewards cards, prospective applicants do get to decide which they apply for.
This information was a bit murky online, so I called Citibank’s Application Services department, who confirmed this was the case. If an applicant is denied for one of the cards, they will need to submit another application for the alternate card.
Each card can be applied for either online or in-store.
Neither Sears nor Citi discloses the exact credit score requirements for approval on these cards, but most sources agree that the basic Sears card is easier to get, with most applicants in the “fair” range being approved.
This means you’ll need a better score (likely in the “good” to “excellent” range) to be approved for the Mastercard version, though this is not always the case, with some outliers reporting approval with poorer scores.
It should be noted that there have been some reports of basic Sears cardholders being “upgraded” to the Sears Shop Your Way card, although qualification requirements to achieve the upgrade are undisclosed.
Please note that this section discusses account management for the Sears credit cards. For management of the Shop Your Way Rewards program points, please refer to that section below.
Cardholders can utilize the co-branded Sears-Citibank online platform to manage their account.
If you’ve just been approved for your card, you’ll first need to register your card and create an account. After this initial registration, users can simply log in with their user ID and password.
Within the platform, cardholders have the ability to:
Hot Tip: Sears does have a mobile app, but you can’t manage your card with it.
This shopper loyalty/e-commerce platform is pretty convoluted, but we’ve attempted to hash out the most important basics for you here.
When it comes to the Sears credit cards, applicants who are approved will be automatically enrolled in the Shop Your Way Rewards program when they open their new account.
In contrast to many other online platforms built to simply manage a rewards account, the Shop Your Way platform also provides customers with an opportunity to earn points by shopping through the platform (much like a shopping portal), as well as link other credit cards to earn through additional partners.
Users can also make a profile, create catalogs, and utilize a type of “newsfeed,” but we won’t expand on those here since they’re not vital to how the credit card earning and spending works.
There are multiple ways to earn points in the Shop Your Way program:
Hot Tip: We emphasize here that cardholders are earning points, because the program markets this as “CASHBACK in points.” Don’t let this fool you — this is not a true cash-back card or program.
As we mentioned above, utilizing the Sears Shop Your Way card for gas, grocery, and restaurant purchases will earn you 3% to 5% bonus points within the percent-back structure annually, up to the first $10,000 in purchases, then 1%.
You don’t actually have to have a Sears-branded credit card to earn Shop Your Way Rewards points at Sears and Kmart (although you’ll earn 2% back at these 2 stores by utilizing the Sears Shop Your Way card there).
In-store, Shop Your Way Rewards members can simply give their account number, email address, or phone number associated with the account during checkout to earn points. Similarly, online shoppers can provide this at checkout.
Remember that as with all rewards programs, restrictions on some purchases may apply — so read your terms carefully if you’re questioning whether a certain purchase will earn you points.
This is where things get pretty interesting from a credit card rewards platform perspective.
Most cards simply use a rewards platform for monitoring/managing a rewards account. However, the Shop Your Way program was designed before Sears teamed up with Citibank, and therefore it existed before these 2 cards coming into play. The platform acts like a shopping portal, where members earn bonus points just by using it.
That’s why technically, neither of the Sears credit cards are needed to create an account or earn points through the platform. Of course, consumers will need some sort of credit card to check out — either of the Sears cards could be used for that purpose, but they aren’t required.
Once signed up to the program, users simply shop within the portal to earn points through online partners.
Hot Tip: Does Shop Your Way give the best percent of cash-back in points or would you prefer to earn real cash-back? It pays to shop around and check rates at various cash-back shopping portals, like Rakuten.
Yet another huge divergence from other credit card rewards programs, the Shop Your Way platform not only gives shoppers the ability to link non-store-branded credit cards to the program, but actually encourages it with a path called Card Link.
As another way to earn points through Shop Your Way, rewards members can link up to 5 eligible credit cards to the program (which at this time includes some Mastercards and some Visa cards). When a cardholder makes a purchase with one of these cards at any participating partner (in-store or online), points are earned and automatically added to the user’s account, which can take up to 7 days.
Shop Your Way boasts over 11,000 participating Card Link partners including stores, restaurants, GasBuddy, etc., encouraging its members to earn points in places they’re probably already shopping.
Hot Tip: You can find additional details on this confusing program at the FAQ here.
Shop Your Way even advertises earning points through booking travel, entering sweepstakes, utilizing special coupons, etc.
Lastly, Shop Your Way utilizes a type of dynamic bonus points called FREECASH, which is given to shoppers as a sort of thanks for being a loyal rewards member. The FAQ indicates that:
“FREECASH are limited time offers that have specific requirements, like a minimum purchase, a quick expiration date or a certain category of items to redeem them on. FREECASH are only redeemable at the Redemption Partner where the points were earned. A FREECASH in points offer can be used with your Shop Your Way Points, but can’t be combined with Sears card offers, other FREECASH in points offer or certain coupons and promo codes.”
Now that you know all about earning rewards, what are they worth?
Shop Your Way Rewards members generally earn 10 points per $1 spent (unless under a bonus structure or special promotion).
Within the program, 1,000 points is equal to $1 in value.
As a rewards member earns, points are automatically stored in the member’s account, and the balance can be accessed at any time via the online platform or mobile app.
Rewards aren’t “issued” in any form of a certificate, but instead your monetary value earned is available to apply at the checkout process through the online platform, or in-store by providing your member number, email, or phone number.
According to Shop Your Way, points have different periods of validity based on how they are received. The terms and conditions for each program will indicate expiration dates, and Shop Your Way should also let you know when the points will be expiring.
Points earned via the Sears credit cards are valid for 12 months from the date they are awarded.
Make sure to frequently check your Account History page to see what points you’ve earned and when they expire.
Once you’ve earned your rewards, you’ll be able to redeem online or in-store at Sears and Kmart.
When making a redemption online, members will want to be logged in to their account to access their points. When making a redemption in-store, the member will want to provide the sales assistant with their account number, email, or phone number.
At the time of purchase, shoppers may choose whether to apply all or just some of their rewards points.
If you haven’t yet registered, you will need to do that first — then each time you come to the online platform you can simply log in.
For individuals who have an account before applying for a Sears card, or for those who have been automatically enrolled via credit card application approval, Shop Your Way indicates:
“If you provide your Shop Your Way member number at the time your Shop Your Way Mastercard is approved and opened, the account will be linked to your Shop Your Way member number. If no Shop Your Way member number is provided at that time, you will be automatically enrolled in Shop Your Way, assigned a Shop Your Way member number and linked to your Shop Your Way Mastercard account.”
In summary, it seems the Sears credit cards don’t provide all that much bang for your buck when it comes to savings.
The basic Sears card only provides the opportunity for special financing and exclusive savings offers, which aren’t all that lucrative. The Sears Shop Your Way card does have a bonus points earning structure, but it has an annual maximum that once hit drops your percent-back to 1%.
Additionally, the Shop Your Way program is pretty complicated, with tons of ways to earn points but few ways to redeem them.
What’s even more disappointing from a Sears cardholder perspective? You don’t even need to have a Sears card to earn points — you can link any eligible Mastercard or Visa.
And all those drawbacks don’t even include the high fees and penalties associated with these cards.
Unless you’re a die-hard Sears and Kmart shopper who plans to seriously engage in the Shop Your Way Rewards program, there are likely better cards out there for you.
The answer kind of depends on which card you’re approved for. In our opinion, the basic Sears card isn’t of much use — there are many alternative cards out there that can afford you the same benefits and then some.
If you can get the Sears Shop Your Way card and you’re a loyal Sears and Kmart shopper (plus you plan to utilize the Shop Your Way Rewards program enthusiastically), this could be a decent card for you. However, there are many drawbacks, including high fees and penalties and a bonus points earning structure with the Sears Shop Your Way card that maxes out annually. Again, there are likely other cards that could afford you similar benefits (and then some).
That depends on which Sears credit card you have.
The basic Sears card can only be utilized at Sears, Kmart, and the Shop Your Way online platform.
The Sears Shop Your Way card can be utilized anywhere Mastercard is accepted.
Most credit card review sites agree the basic Sears card requires a credit score in the “fair” range for approval, while the Sears Shop Your Way card requires a credit score at least in the “good” range.
Those with “good” to “excellent” credit could very likely be approved for either card. However, for those with such favorable credit scores, there are plenty of alternative credit cards that would provide superior benefits.
No, neither of the Sears cards have an annual fee. That being said, there are certainly other significant fees and penalties to watch out for. At the time of writing these FAQs, that includes a hefty 25.24% variable purchase (and balance transfer) APR, as well as a 27.15% cash advance APR.
Prospective cardholders should always read the terms and conditions related to the card in question before deciding to apply.
If you have a basic Sears card, it gives you the option of special financing on some purchases as well as access to special discounts and savings… so it doesn’t really do much.
The Sears Shop Your Way card comes with the special financing options, exclusive discounts and savings, the ability to utilize the card anywhere Mastercard is accepted, and a category bonus points earning structure.
Both Sears credit cards are issued by Citibank.
No, Shop Your Way’s partnership with Uber ended May 31, 2019.
No, Sears no longer owns Land’s End and no longer sells its apparel or gear.
No. Sears Holdings Corporation filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2018 and some of its retail assets, including Sears and Kmart, were acquired by Transform SR Brands LLC.
Was this page helpful?