Who is This Credit Card Best For?
Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain
Looks for good quality at a fair price while buying for the household
Loves being the first to try something new
Frequently shops with a particular merchant and wants to be rewarded for their loyalty
If you like shopping at Sears and Kmart and a big chunk of your budget goes to gas and food, a Shop Your Way Mastercard may be a worthwhile way to save money at your favorite stores. The reward rates for gas, grocery and restaurant purchases is quite competitive, even among general rewards cards. But, there’s a major restriction. The points are only good toward purchases with Sears, Kmart, and Land’s End stores, so this card is exclusively for loyal fans of those stores who have good credit.
You should also keep in mind that Sears Holdings Corp. went bankrupt in 2018, and the new parent company has continued to face financial challenges and close stores.
High rewards rate on gas and food
Points can’t be used outside the Kmart-Sears network
Points expire after one year
- High rewards rate on gas and food: You’ll get points equal to 5% of your gas purchases and 3% of your grocery and restaurant purchases. These everyday expenses can really add up, and rewards rates don’t usually get much better than this, especially on an ongoing basis. You’ll only earn this rate on the first $10,000 you spend in those categories combined each calendar year, but that’s a relatively high limit as earning opportunities go.
- Points can’t be used outside the Kmart-Sears network: You’ll earn points wherever you use your credit card, but you can only redeem them for purchases at Sears, Kmart, Land’s End or other stores in the network. This includes brands like Sears Auto Centers, Sears Hometown & Outlet Stores, and Sears Optical.
- High APR: Retail cards tend to have high variable APRs, and if you have good credit, you can probably get a general rewards card with a lower interest rate. Unlike many credit cards, the Shop Your Way Mastercard gives all cardholders the same rate, regardless of creditworthiness.
- Points expire after one year: While many cards offer rewards that never expire, Shop Your Way points are only valid for 12 months after the end of the calendar quarter when they’re earned. For example, points earned in November 2019 would expire on December 31, 2020.
Sears Holdings filed for bankruptcy in 2018. The Sears and Kmart chains are now owned by Transformco, which continues to struggle and has been shutting down stores across the country. Citing a weak retail environment, the company announced in November 2019 that another 96 Kmart and Sears stores will be closed by February 2020, with going-out-of-business sales beginning in December. Transformco will continue to operate 182 stores.
Shop Your Way Mastercard Rewards Sign-Up Bonus
If you open an account online by March 31, 2020, you’ll earn a $40 statement credit when you spend $50 on eligible purchases in your first 30 days. Some general rewards cards pay $150 or $200, and the minimum spending requirement is still achievable at $500. Still, this bonus isn’t bad, considering some retail cards don’t offer anything.
Purchases don’t qualify toward bonus spending if they are made on a deferred interest or major purchase plan.
Earning Points & Rewards
You’ll earn points equal to 5% of your eligible purchases at gas stations and 3% of your eligible purchases at grocery stores and restaurants, up to a combined maximum of $10,000 total per calendar year (about $834 a month). For qualifying purchases at stores in the Sears-Kmart network, you’ll earn 2% back in points, and for all other spending, you’ll earn 1%.
You can also earn points, at various rates and for select periods, when you shop with thousands of partner retailers who participate in the Shop Your Way Card Link program. The rewards rates for these vary from 1%-15% or more of your purchase (in points) and these points typically expire more quickly than the ones discussed above (within 60 days, for instance). For some partner restaurants, these points are in addition to the 3% you’ll earn for using the card at any restaurant.
Some purchases may not qualify for the rewards you’d expect. The 5% rate doesn’t include gas purchased at superstores, supermarkets, convenience stores, or warehouse clubs. And the 3% doesn’t include grocery or restaurant purchases made at warehouse clubs, restaurant purchases if they’re made inside a department store, or groceries bought at superstores, convenience stores, and gas stations.
Points can only be used to buy things at stores within the Sears network (including Kmart and Land’s End,) but the value is just like cash back. For instance, if you spend $100 on gas, you will get the equivalent of $5 back in points that can be redeemed for $5 worth of items within the Sears network. (Be aware that the way Sears translates Shop Your Way points adds an unnecessary layer of confusion. For that $100 in gas, you’ll get 5,000 points, but at a value of 0.001 cent per point, the points are worth $5.)
It can take up to a week for your points to be available, and then you can redeem them in-store or online.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
To maximize your savings, use the Shop Your Way app or website to monitor the latest on rewards opportunities, special discounts and digital coupons that can be loaded directly into your Shop Your Way account. And make sure you redeem your points before they expire because you’ll kick yourself if you waste valuable rewards.
If you think you’ll spend more than $10,000 a year on gas and food, consider pairing the Shop Your Way Mastercard with a cash-back card that lets you earn unlimited rewards that can be used wherever you want. And if at all possible, pay your balance in full each month. Otherwise, the finance charges you incur could wipe out the value of any rewards you’ve earned.
Sears offers deferred interest promotions from time to time, but make sure to consider the risks before participating. While you’ll avoid finance charges if you pay your balance in full by the end of the promotional period, you’ll be charged interest retroactively if you haven’t paid it off. In other words, interest will be added to your account dating back to your initial purchase.
The Shop Your Way Mastercard is issued by Citibank, which got an “about average” rating in J.D. Power’s 2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Study. On the plus side, the Shop Your Way app is quite extensive, offering much more than just your points balance. You can find out about nearby deals, write reviews on products, and even tell your friends which part of the store you’re in.
This card has industry-standard security features such as zero fraud liability.
Shop Your Way Mastercard’s Fees
The Shop Your Way Mastercard’s fees are pretty standard for co-branded retail credit cards. It’s worth noting that you’ll have to pay a 3% foreign transaction fee if you make purchases in other currencies.