Sears has existed on the US retail landscape for over 120 years. It turns over hundreds of millions of dollars a year, and while it has been going through some hard times of late, it still remains one of the biggest retailers in North America and the Sears credit card is available to anyone looking for a store card/credit credit.
But how does that store card stack-up against others on the market?
Sears Credit Card vs Store Card
Sears have a MasterCard credit card and a store card. There are multiple ways in which these cards are similar, which we will discuss shortly, but there are also ways in which they differ, such as:
- Credit Score Required: A “Good” rating is required for the MasterCard: a “Fair” is needed for the store card.
- Warranty: The MasterCard doubles the warranty on Sears items. The store card does not.
- Shopping: The MasterCard can be used like any other credit card. The store card can only be used in Sears.
- Interest: The MasterCard has a slightly higher APR on purchases.
Sears Credit Card: The Rewards Scheme
There is a rewards scheme on the Sears credit card known as the Shop Your Way scheme. However, this does not operate in the same way as other credit card rewards schemes and it is not at all generous. What’s more, 90% of the points you earn will expire after 90 days; the remaining points will expire after 1 year.
You need to opt-in to this scheme and it just doesn’t return a great deal of cashback.
Other perks that come as part of owning this card and being on this scheme include:
- You will get advanced notice of upcoming sales.
- You can show your ID if you forget your card.
- You can access your account online and add extra users if you have family members who shop at Sears.
- Fraud protection is offered, with no liability for unauthorized use.
Many premium rewards cards will give you a substantial bonus in the form of cashback when you spend a certain amount of money on the card within the first three months. This is not the case with the Sears credit card.
Instead, you will get $10 off your first purchase if you use the store card and $15 off if you use the credit card, as well as 6 months interest-free financing on purchases that you make on the day you are approved.
This is used to lure people in when they make big purchases in-store. It’s a “did you know…” lead that no doubt results in countess customers opting to signup for the card, assuming that it’s a win-win.
But a credit card is a credit card, and not only are there hidden charges and high interest rates, but every time you sign up for a card like this your credit score takes a hit. In other words, this is not something you should signup for on a whim just because it’ll give you some money off a new appliance. It’s something you need to put a lot of thought into, something you need to run some calculations on to see if it works for you over the long term.
One of the biggest benefits of the Sears credit card, and one that a applies to both the MasterCard and the store card, is the access to a number of offers, which are listed every month.
These change regularly, but they typically provide cardholders with a 5% discount on items from the Sears store. Some of the previous offers have included:
- 5% off select home appliances.
- 5% off furniture over $599.
- 5% off electronics over $599.
This is a nice addition and a welcome one, but it’s worth noting that if you don’t pay off your card every month then the interest you will accrue will offset the discounts that these offers provide, and quite significantly so.
Sears Credit Card: The Fees and Interest
Speaking of interest, the Sears card charges a 26.49% APR variable on purchases and on balance transfers. The amount you pay on the store card is a little less at 25.49%, but it’s still a significant amount.
To put that into perspective, it means that if you have just $400 in your account over the course of a year then you will pay $100 in interest. Credit cards are notorious for high interest rates, but this is bordering on a payday loan and there are far better options out there.
There is also a late payment fee of $37 on both of these cards and cash advance fees of 27.40% (store card) and 28.50% (MasterCard). When using the Sears MasterCard abroad or in foreign currencies you will also pay am additional 3% of the total amount.
Sears Credit Card Review
We didn’t include the Sears credit card on our list of the Best and Worst Store Cards and we don’t think it’s good enough or bad enough to be in either of those categories. In many ways it is similar to the Best Buy Store Card and the Walmart Store Card, and therein lies the problem, because while it can be beneficial to some customers, the vast majority will benefit more from using another credit card.
If you use the Sears MasterCard like any other credit card then you are exposed to a high interest rate, as well as fees for foreign transactions, late payments and more. There is no annual fee, which is good, but most customers will find that cards with annual fees are still a better option and will save them more money in the long run.
If you shop at Sears a lot, pay off your balance every month (thus incurring no interest charges) and don’t make cash advances or foreign transactions, then this may be a good option. If you don’t spend a great deal of money in Sears, there are better rewards cards out there, and if you let your balance run over every month then there are lower interest cards out there.
It’s horses for courses, as they say—you need a good card for your situation, and for the vast majority of users the Sears credit card will simply not be a good fit.