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.
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
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?
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.
So what makes the Shop Your Way card different?
‘Shop Your Way’ Mastercard Overview
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.
If you apply for the card before January 30, 2021, you’ll earn a $40 statement credit when you spend $50 or more on the card in the first 30 days after you’re approved.
I’ll take the $40. It’s better than other store card offers, but nothing to write home about.
Earning Points & Rewards
The earning rate 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 from 8/1/20 to 10/31/20
- 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.
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 from 7/1/20 to 9/30/20
- 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.
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.
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 made from 8/18/20 through 10/16/20
Ok, this is getting ABSOLUTELY ridiculous.
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 Offer||Spending Total||Statement 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|
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.
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%.
- Sears SPW Spending Offer: Get 10% Back On Gas + Groceries + Restaurants
- Sears SPW Spending Offer: 10% Back On Online Purchases
- Sears SYW Spending Offer: Earn $100 For Spending $2,000
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.