Why The Shop Your Way Credit Card Is The Best Store Card Ever

The Sears ‘Shop Your Way’ Mastercard may be the best store credit card ever and the so-called “credit card experts” don’t even know it.

Interested in more credit card information? Here are what I consider the Top 10 credit cards and their current welcome offers, sign-up bonuses, and more.

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Do a Google search for any of the following phrases related to this card:

  • Shop Your Way credit card review
  • Sears credit card review
  • Citi Shop Your Way credit card review
Googling Shop Your Way card reviews
(Image from Google)

You’ll end up with a long list of credit card experts giving this particular card mediocre ratings. And while those ratings may be justified for the average person, that’s not necessarily true for a reader of The Money Ninja.

You’re financially-savvy and deserve more than a superficial analysis.

Today, I’ll show you why this Shop Your Way credit card is the best store credit card available – even if you don’t shop at Sears or Kmart (I don’t).

Ninja Note: I’m not getting paid for writing this review, nor is Sears sponsoring this post. The card is really just that good.

What Are Store Credit Cards?

Store credit cards are co-branded credit cards between the retail company and issuing bank. If you’ve shopped at a store and a cashier asks if you would like to open a credit card during check-out, then you’ve run across store credit cards.

Normally, I’d never recommend anyone to open a store credit card. Why?

They stink.

Most of them offer poor sign-up bonuses like getting 10% off your first purchase (I’m looking at you Home Depot and TJMaxx).

There’s no reason to apply for one when credit card sign-up bonuses for traditional rewards cards offer you anywhere from $250 to $1,000.

On top of the meager sign-up bonus on store cards, the rewards program are generally poor, the interest rate is sky high, and the credit limit can sometimes dip below $500.

No thanks.

So what makes the Shop Your Way card different?

‘Shop Your Way’ Mastercard Overview

Shop Your Way credit card by Citi
(Image from Citi)

The Shop Your Way Mastercard, issued by Citi, is a co-branded rewards card that is meant for Sears and Kmart shoppers. Although it’s technically a store card, it’s also a credit card that can be used anywhere Mastercard is accepted.

That’s actually a good thing because Sears has been struggling to turnaround its business for years and declared bankruptcy in 2018 – who knows when the last time you’ll be able to shop at Sears will be.

I won’t spend too much time giving you an overview of the card and its rewards program – it’s not the main reason why you should consider it.

Let’s go over the basics first before I blow your ninja socks off.

$225 Sign-Up Bonus

If you apply for the card during the current promotional period, you’ll earn a $75 statement credit for every $500 you spend, up to $225 in statement credit. All spending in the first 90 days count towards this welcome bonus.

That’s effectively a 15% discount on all your spending up to $1,500 in purchases. It’s better than other store card offers, but nothing out of the ordinary compared to the best credit cards out there.

Earning Points & Rewards

Shop Your Way card earning rate by category
(Image from Citi)

The Shop Your Way credit card earning structure is very good on this card. You’ll earn:

  • 5% back in points on eligible purchases at gas stations*
  • 3% back in points on eligible purchases at grocery stores and restaurants*
  • 2% back in points on eligible purchases at Sears and Kmart
  • 1% back in points on all other eligible purchases

Ninja Note: *These categories will earn at the rates stated on the first $10,000 of purchases – after that they will earn 1% back in points until the next calendar year.

Shop Your Way Rewards Program

Points can be used to redeem for gift cards at major retailers through the Shop Your Way portal or 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’ll get the equivalent of $5 back in points that can be redeemed for $5 worth of items.

Why Is The ‘Shop Your Way’ Credit Card The Best Store Card?

On the surface, the Shop Your Way store card doesn’t seem like much.

The sign-up bonus isn’t great and while the rewards program is good, it’s not “oh my god, I need to apply for this” good.

So why am I declaring this card the best store card available when all the other financial experts say otherwise?

Because this card offers exceptional targeted spending bonuses.

Targeted Spending Bonuses

Targeted spending bonuses are special offers that are sent to you in order to encourage you to use your card more often.

Once you’re a cardholder and several months go by, you’ll start receiving targeted spending bonus offers via email.

Sometimes you’ll receive more than one in the same month and they’re stackable with one another.

To show you the potential of this, here’s a real life example of the 3 targeted offers I got within the same time period of one another:

Offer #1: Earn 20% In Statement Credits On Utility Purchases

  • Earn 20% in statement credits on eligible utility purchases each month for three months
  • Spend at least $100 or more each month on utilities
  • Maximum total statement credit of $75 each month

Utilities are classified as merchants that provide electricity, gas (natural or propane), home heating oil, water supply services, trash collection services, cable or satellite television, and radio programming.

Shop Your Way offer - 20% statement credits on utility purchases
(Image from Citi)

This is incredible!

You can get $75 back a month by spending at least $375 in utilities. That’s $225 in statements credits over 3 months for spending $1,125 in that time frame.

For those who don’t have that much in utility bills monthly, you can prepay ahead of time.

Say you have a $50 monthly cable bill. You can overpay $200 and the cable company will deduct the credit amount from your account each month until you owe them money again. In this example, you’re paying for the next 4 months of service upfront.

Many utility companies give you an option of paying by credit card. Those that don’t usually have a workaround.

For instance, if you can’t pay your electric bill with your card, you can sign up for a free service like Arcadia that will let you pay your electric provider through them using a credit card.

Offer #2: Earn 10% In Statement Credits At Gas Stations, Grocery Stores, And Restaurants

  • Earn 10% in statement credits on eligible gas station, grocery store, and restaurant purchases each month for three months
  • Spend at least $400 or more each month across gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants
  • Maximum total statement credit of $150 each month

This is another hot deal that is even hotter by using a little creativity.

Shop Your Way offer - 10% statement credits at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants
(Image from Citi)

In order to get the the maximum $150 in monthly statement credits, you need to spend $1,500 each month in those categories. I recognize that there are a number of people who don’t spend that much every month on food and gas.

But you don’t have to.

Just because one of the category is grocery stores doesn’t mean you have to load up on food to make this deal work – you’d probably lose money from all the spoiled food that you couldn’t eat it fast enough.

Grocery stores sell more than groceries. Did you know a lot of them sell gift cards?

My local Whole Foods sells Whole Foods gift cards. I’ve bought $1,500 of their gift cards before and just spend it down every week until I use it all up. The card only cost me $1,350 (after the $150 statement credit) so every time I shop, it’s like getting an automatic 10% discount.

What if you don’t want to buy specific grocery gift cards?

Well, the gift card section at supermarkets offer a lot more options other than their own cards. My local Market Basket store carries gift cards from companies like Amazon, Uber, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Delta, and AirBnB.

Sometimes, they even have 10% off sales on select gift cards. This means you can get 20% off of the actual cost by combining the store sale with the credit card promotion!

That $1,000 home improvement project with Lowe’s is now $800. Your $100 Uber ride is just $80 now.

Market Basket 10% gift card sale
(Image from Market Basket)

Ninja Tip: Stacking multiple offers to grab a great discount now for future spending is a key strategy in maximizing your money’s worth.

Offer #3: Earn $125 In Statement Credits On Eligible Purchases Totaling $2,000

  • Earn $125 in statement credits on eligible purchases totaling $2,000 or more a month for three months

Ok, this is getting ABSOLUTELY ridiculous.

Shop Your Way offer - $125 statement credit on $2,000+ purchases

This offer is not asking you to spend more money. Between the other two offers, you’re already going to spend at least $2,000 in that time period (these offers are all combinable).

You’re getting $125 for doing nothing.


Adding It All Up

Let’s summarize what the opportunity looks like with the 3 overlapping offers:

Target OfferSpending TotalStatement Credit
#1 = 20% on Utilities$1,125$225
#2 = 10% on Gas, Groceries, Restaurants$4,500$450
#3 = Spend $2,000 & Get $125$0 (already spent $2,000 from previous 2 offers)$125
Total =$5,625$800

You’re getting back $800 on your $5,625 of spending for a return of 14.22%.

Tell me a card that’s giving you 14.22% cash back.

You can’t.

Keep in mind that this cash back rate doesn’t take into consideration the card’s reward program. You’re getting an additional 5% back in gas, 3% at grocery stores & restaurants, and 1% back everywhere else on top of what we just analyzed.

The real rate of return is north of 15.22%.


The Bottom Line

Sears may be going the way of the dodo bird, but this card is very alive.

I hope you can see now why the Sears Shop Your Way Mastercard is unequivocally the most valuable store card – by a long mile. The three offers I’ve written in detail above are just a small fraction of the many similar deals the card has given me over the years.

As always, do what’s best for your financial situation. Don’t get this card if you tend to carry a balance or have trouble paying your bills. The interest rate is high and you’ll cancel any benefits you’d get by taking advantage of the targeted offers.

DO get this card is you’re looking to maximize your finances.

About John Pham

John Pham is a personal finance expert, serial entrepreneur, and founder of The Money Ninja. He has also been fortunate enough to have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, and U.S. News & World Report. John has a B.S. in Entrepreneurship and a Masters in Business Administration, both from the University of New Hampshire.

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21 days ago

I had a sears card long ago and now regret closing it. If I get this now is it very reliable that I’ll start getting offers after 7-8 months?

Heather M.
Heather M.
6 months ago

I have met the spend on three different offers that they have not paid me for, even after 12 calls to customer service where everyone agrees I should get it and keeps promising it will post, but it doesn’t. This has been going on since January. Check your accounts carefully, they will cheat you.

7 months ago

Agree 1,000%. My husband got this card at our local Sears store (shortly before it closed!) around 2017 or 2018 when he was purchasing some work pants. We’re not usually the type to sign up for store cards, but it was truly a good sign-up offer based on what we were buying, and our budget was pretty tight at the time. Little did I know that getting that card would be one of the best financial decisions we made! I signed up for my own card after the targeted spending offers started rolling in on his, and we’ve gotten offer after offer after offer ever since! We’ve probably gotten over $10,000 in statement credits so far, and that’s not even counting the free refrigerator filters (before the Raise.com partnership) and the THOUSANDS in gift cards from Raise.com with our points. I’ve gotten almost all my family members to get the card, and it drives me absolutely crazy that they don’t take full advantage of all the targeted spending offers!

11 months ago

Yes, I am so in love with this card. I can’t believe it flies under the radar like it does. Since April 2022, I have received $815 in statement credits and cashed out for $800 worth of Walmart gift cards. And I still have $55 waiting to cash out. It’s incredible! Salivating at my email when I see they’ve sent a targeted offer!

Clinton Hughes
Clinton Hughes
11 months ago

This is 100% the best card out there for cash back. For years I’ve been maxing out their targeted bonuses and if I had to guess I’ve gotten $4-5k back in cash. Every quarter I wonder if this will be the last but the targeted spending offers just keep coming.

11 months ago

How in the world are they not losing money like crazy on us?

1 year ago

Best deal I have ever seen. This is using the Shop Your Way Mastercard in combination with gift cards and CD’s for a savings of 26.5%.

Current deals I have on this credit card are as follows:
Cash back at grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants is 5%.
Statement credit for grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants is 15%.
18 month no interest on purchases over $500

Safeway points are worth 1% to 1.6% depending on how you spend them. I usually buy gasoline with mine.

Here is how it works out. Buy $1000 (or any amount over $500) in amazon gift cards at the store in Safeway and earn Safeway points. Credit your account at amazon with the gift cards and bought at Safeway. Buy Safeway gift cards at amazon with your amazon gift cards. Spend your Safeway gift cards at Safeway for your normal shopping to earn additional Safeway points. Postpone the payment of the $1000 in gift card purchases for 18 months and deposit that $1000 in a 18 month CD paying (currently) 3%.

It works out like this:
Buy $1000 in amazon gift cards = $50 cash back from SYW.
Get 15% statement credit from SYW = $150.
Get 1% worth of Safeway points for $1000 purchase = $10 value.
Get 1% worth of Safeway points when you spend the $1000 in Safeway cards you bought from Amazon = $10 value.
Earn 3% on $1000 from the 18 month CD = $45
Total earned on the $1000 purchase is $265 = 26.5%

This method also works at all Safeway stores such as Vons and Albertsons. You need to be very disciplined with your credit to make this work. I love saving money, but enjoy the game even more.

Diane Bishop
Diane Bishop
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen

I agree that it’s the best deal I’ve ever seen. Generous statement credits on top of cashback points that can be used to buy gift cards for a large variety of stores and restaurants – hard to beat that combination, unless you get a card with an astronomically high welcome bonus.

10 months ago
Reply to  Stephen

I like it but you lost me at “Postpone the payment of the $1000 in gift card purchases for 18 months”. How does one postpone payment?

7 months ago
Reply to  Josh

This was another targeted spending offer. Get 18 month interest free financing on purchases over $549.

Rob Hill
Rob Hill
1 year ago

I gave them one star due to their horrible customer service, both online through messaging and on the phone via the number on the back. I created a new email account as my old one was full of spam and I want to delete it. I have changed that email over and over, sent complaints over and over only to be told to contact tech support via the number on the card. Tech support says it’s fixed, but it never is. I reply to messages sent to the wrong email yelling and cussing in capitol letters to stop using that email!!!! This has gone on for months. I think my only option now is to cancel my online account, then start a new one, just like I had to do a few years ago. What a bunch of inept morons!!

1 year ago

I have requested many times my statements from an account that was reported as fraud. I have yet to get the statements despite numerous requests and assurances that they would be forthcoming. I was told I could access them through my synchrony login etc. They are not available. I am tired of this companies run around. DO NOT APPLY FOR OR USE THIS CARD. They are deceitful in not only their statements but interest charges as well. I pay my statement balance in full every month yet they are still charging me interest.

Diane Bishop
Diane Bishop
1 year ago
Reply to  Charisse

I’ve never had a problem like what you described. Maybe it’s because my SYW MasterCard was issued by Citibank, not Synchrony?

2 years ago

From January to June 30th I was getting 15% back on gas groceries and restaurants. Minimum of $500 spending. Maximum. $150 statement credit. Then they were throwing in spend $750 and get $50 every couple months too. I was getting $200 a month back on $1000 spent. Insane.

2 years ago

Is it possible to send points from Sears Mastercard Card (with ThankYou Rewards) to Citi Rewards+ Card? If yes it would give 10% Points up to the first 100,000 points redeemed per year..

1 year ago
Reply to  Alex

No, you can’t. The SYW points are only for use at sears company stores. You can also exchange them for a variety of gift cards. I usually get Walmart gift cards, but there is Target, Amazon and many others. At this time, you cannot exchange for cash.

2 years ago

Absolutely, been taking ADVANTAGE of these deals for years ! GREAT WAY ! TO DONATE NEW CLOTHES,(think socks) to local shelters.

John Hicks
John Hicks
2 years ago
Reply to  John Pham

No ,just a give back, on the give back. Was told by local homeless shelter, socks,belts,shoes, were at the top,along with personal items.
She informed me these folks are on their feet all day.

2 years ago

I have had the shop your way card for many years but rarely used it. It had been sitting in my drawer for a long time.

Once they started offering these bonus categories, I started using it again. It has become my primary card over the last couple years. The shop your way points were pretty much useless because there were no sears or kmart stores in my area. The bonus offers still made the card a great deal.

Now that they have partnered with Raise.com you can use the points to buy gift cards. Problem is Raise only has a limited variety of gift cards. One trick is to use the points to buy a Walmart gift card. Then use the Walmart card to buy gift cards for another store such as Safeway that Raise does not offer. There is no transaction fees as long as you don’t try to buy a Visa, Mastercard or American Express gift card.

I have been touting the benefits of the shop your way card to friends and family for years, but they just don’t understand what a good deal it is.

2 years ago
Reply to  John Pham

I don’t know how they can continue to provide such great bonus offers. Getting a 20% statement credit for utilities for 3 months is just insane. Typical credit card fees (charged to the company letting you pay by credit card) are a few percent of the purchase. By giving you 20% back plus the shop your way points, they must be loosing money on that deal. Every time I think that the game is over, they send me a few new bonus offers. I have noticed that the threshold for the offers (to me) is getting higher. It is difficult to spend $2K over 30 days to get a $75 statement credit. Still a great card even if you do not take advantage of all the offers.

2 years ago

You are absolutely spot on with your assessment of the Sears SYW MC. I have not encountered another CC that offers so many great cash back offers that are directed towards existing card holders