October 10, 2013
UPDATE: T&C now says “Not eligible on gift cards, gift certificates or any other similar cash equivalents.” That wasn’t there this morning!
As I reported earlier today through my QuickDeals page, Sears is currently offering 12 miles per dollar for shopping through the American Airlines AAdvantage eShopping portal. This promotion ends Saturday, October 12th. By stacking multiple types of rewards, it may be possible to earn up to 36 points per dollar with this promotion. I’ll explain how, but please note that some of these steps are risky (in that you might not earn points) or painful (i.e. a lot of work)…
Step 1: Go through portal to Sears. Buy e-gift cards.
This is the riskiest part since past experiments have shown that Sears does not pay out points for e-gift cards bought through online portals. Recently, though, the terms & conditions that used to say that gift cards were excluded was changed to say “Gift Cards eligible as of 10/4/13.” Last night, that clause disappeared, but it still does not say that gift cards are excluded. So, my best guess is that e-gift cards will work, but it is really just an educated guess right now. It will be a few days before we know for sure.
If your e-gift cards don’t arrive in about an hour, call Sears at 1-888-396-5299 to verify your purchase. Have your order number handy.
Earnings: 12X (maybe)
Step 2: Pay with Freedom or Discover card
The Chase Freedom card is offering 5X this quarter for Amazon.com and select department store purchases, Sears included. Since e-gift cards are sold by Sears, these purchases should qualify. The Discover card is offering 5% back this quarter for online purchases, so these purchases should qualify for that as well. With either card, make sure to sign up for the quarterly bonus. Also note that both cards offer 5X only for up to $1500 in spend each quarter.
Step 3: Plink
Before buying anything, you can sign up for Plink and put Sears (and Kmart too) in your Plink Wallet. Link the credit card you plan to pay with to your Plink account. Plink offers a maximum of 300 points (worth $3 towards gift cards) for each Sears purchase of $50 or more. If you spend exactly $50 per transaction, you can earn the equivalent of a 6% rebate in the form of Plink points. So, you could buy e-gift cards $50 at a time to maximize your Plink earnings. For each transaction, make sure to click through from the AAdvantage eShopping portal to hopefully ensure your 12X points from step 1. Yes, this is the painful part of this whole thing.
When using e-gift cards, Sears allows a maximum of 15 gift cards to be applied to one order. So, if you plan to make very large purchases at Sears.com, this $50 at a time trick may not work for you.
Step 4: Go through portal to Sears. Buy merchandise.
Once you have your e-gift cards, you can go back through the AAdvantage eShopping portal to Sears and buy Sears’ merchandise. Anything with an “Add to Cart” button that doesn’t take you away from Sears.com should qualify for points. No, you cannot buy gift cards online with your gift cards.
Don’t forget to apply coupon codes to your order. Here are the codes from the AAdvantage eShopping portal:
- Patio furniture, $30 off $150: 30SODL
- Clothing and accessories, extra 15% or 10% off: COLUMBUS
- Hottest outfits (whatever that is), extra 10% off: OUTFIT10
- Tools, extra $10 to $60 off $75: SEARSTOOLS
- Tools, extra $15 off $75: SAVE15
- Lawn & garden orders, $20 off $200: FALL20
- Appliances, extra $50 off $300: 50OFF300
- Any Sears items, extra $5 off $50: SEARS2013
Other coupons might work, but you will risk the possibility of not getting portal miles if you apply them. Personally, I prefer to stick to the ones shown in the portal.
Step 5: Earn Shop Your Way Rewards points
Sears’ has their own loyalty program called Shop Your Way Rewards (SYWR) which typically offers the equivalent of 1% back for purchases. Shop Your Way Rewards points can be used to pay for future purchases. When I have several Sears’ purchases to make, I do them one at a time (when practical) so as to earn SYWR points that can be applied to the next order.
Add it up
Let’s look at how it all adds up:
- E-gift card purchases: 12 AA miles per dollar
- Freedom card: 5 points per dollar; or Discover card: 5% cash back
- Plink: 6% Plink points
- Merchandise purchases: 12 AA miles per dollar
- Shop Your Way Rewards: 1% SYWR points
- Total: 12X + 5X + 6X + 12X + 1X = 36X
Questions and Answers
Q: How can I make sure to get the miles from this promotion? I tend to have bad luck with portals.
A: Make sure to disable ad blockers, browser toolbars, and other plug-ins before shopping as they can interfere with the portal tracking. Please see “How to ensure your portal points” for more. Also, if you plan to buy lots of gift cards, spread the risk by making several separate purchases. Make sure to go back through the portal each time.
Q: Do I have to pay with an AAdvantage credit card to get 12X?
A: Nope. Pay with whichever card gives you the best rewards.
Q: What about physical gift cards? Can I get points for those? When I put a physical gift card in my cart, it says “Sold by Kmart and Fulfilled by Kmart” so I don’t believe I’ll earn miles for this purchase.
A: It’s true that physical gift cards are processed by Kmart, but many past experiments have shown that you will still get portal miles for clicking through to Sears and buying physical gift cards. Of course, they won’t be delivered in time for a double-dip.
Q: Will I earn 5X with my Freedom card this quarter if I make a purchase at Sears through the AAdvantage eShopping portal?
A: Yes, as long as the transaction is processed by Sears, you should earn the Freedom card’s 4th quarter 5X bonus. Note that you probably will not earn this bonus for physical gift card purchases since those are processed by Kmart.
Q: How long will it take for my miles to post?
A: Most mile earning portals show pending results between 3 to 7 days after a purchase. For very large purchases (>$1,000), it often takes longer. Sometimes it can take up to 3 weeks or so for the transaction to show up in your account within a portal. It will take considerably longer for the miles to actually post to your account for use.
Q: Can you buy Sears gift cards online with other Sears’ gift cards?
Q: Can you use Sears’ gift cards in-store to buy other merchant gift cards?
A: Yes, it is possible, but it is not necessarily easy. At Sears, you would have to find the secret gift card rack (please read “The mysterious case of the secret gift card rack” for details). The secret gift card rack often has $100 Visa gift cards available for $105.95 as well as a number of merchant gift cards with no fee. There have even been recent reports of Amazon gift card sightings! I’ve never had any trouble using a physical Sears gift card or a printed e-gift card to buy other gift cards at Sears.
Kmart is a different story. Kmart’s rule is that you cannot buy gift cards with gift cards. In practice, though, some cashiers allow it. Some stores are hard coded not to allow Amex, Visa, and MasterCard gift cards, though, so go for merchant gift cards instead. Maybe throw a few into your cart with a bunch of groceries just to be safe. Also note that Kmart requires a manager override to apply e-gift cards, so stick with physical gift cards if you plan to go this route!
Q: Can you combine multiple Sears’ gift cards into one gift card?
A: Not online, but you may be able to do so in-store. Reader Ron Bonnell reports success at Sears, but not at Kmart.
Q: Can I use my Home Improvement gift cards to pay for items at Sears and get miles through this promotion?
A: Yes, that should work. It used to be possible to buy physical gift cards from Sears this way too, but that stopped working. You might be able to buy e-gift cards this way, though. Please let me know how it goes if you try it. Note that Sears puts a $1 hold on the card before processing it, so make sure to spend $1 less than your card’s balance.
Q: Is there anything worth buying and selling?
A: I haven’t researched this yet, so I can’t say for sure. Often, good bets are DSLR cameras where you get an additional discount if you throw in a camera lens. Also look for popular tablets or laptops that sell at a competitive price. Expect to lose some money if you do this. Hopefully, though, the value of the miles earned will far outweigh the loss of money.
Q: Are there any great sales going on at Sears right now?
A: Reader suggestions?
Q: The terms say “Not eligible on purchases made with coupon or discount codes that are not found on this site.” Is that true?
A: I’ve always received points from Sears when using coupon codes even if they were not shown in the portal, but there are no guarantees. It’s certainly safer to use the discount codes displayed in the portal.
Q: How many gift cards can I apply to one order online?
Q: Do Sears Marketplace items earn points?
A: Yes, as long as the “Add to Cart” button is there and you do not leave Sears.com you should earn points.
Q: Do tires count? The T&C says Not eligible on auto services.
A: Yes, I think tires are fine. I believe that the auto services exclusion has to do with making an appointment online for automobile services that you haven’t yet paid for.
Q: Can I get points for Craftsman or Kenmore products? The T&C says not eligible on Craftsman, Kenmore (and several other stores) purchases.
A: As long as you buy the item from Sears.com, you should get points. Those exclusions have to do with going to the other sites such as Kenmore.com, etc.