Sears or Kmart are probably not offering the cheapest price when you compare with the other major department stores. However, Sears and Kmart’s common loyalty program called Shop Your Way Rewards (SYWR) is a great program for giving you back in store credit called SYWR points. You will be able to use SYWR points for future purchases at Sears and Kmart. It is free to join. When you take a full advantage of it, SYWR has a potential to beat the best price of other stores.
Earn 10 points on every dollar you spend on qualifying purchases. The purchase of gift cards is not eligible for earning points. 1000 points is worth $1. So, it is 1% back in store credit.
Double or 5X base points with Sears credit card
You can easily double or 5X the base point by paying with Sear credit card or joining Shop Your Way Max (SYW Max.) Sears MasterCard and Sear store card (Sears CCs), these credit card’s benefits are almost the same. One of the benefits is that paying with Sears CCs doubles base points on Sears purchases, multiplies base points by five on Kmart purchases. (it’s like 2% back on Sears, 5% back on Kmart purchases.)
Double base points by joining Shop Your Way MAX
Sears and Kmart offer a free-shipping program called Shop Your Way Max (SYW MAX.) Most of the items are eligible for free shipping. Some large or bulky items are excluded. Once you become a member, base points you earn will be double. As of 2014, an annual membership fee of SYW Max is $39. But somehow, they just give you free 3000 points ($3) every month. $3 x 12 months =$36 will be back in points!
You will receive bonus points from both Sears CC and SYW MAX in the same transaction. For example, if you are a member of SYW MAX and buy $100 merchandise with Sear CC at Kmart, base points will be 1000. And bonus points for using Kmart CC will be 4000. Plus, bonus points for being SYM MAX will be 1000. Total points you earn on this purchase will be 6000 (=$6.) It’s like 6% cash back.
Basically, there are two types of coupons, “Discount” and “Point.” It’s simple. You can get discount with “Discount” coupons, so you will pay less. With “Point” coupons, you pay the same price, but you will receive bonus points. Coupons have restrictions to apply. Some coupons can apply to items in a specific category, some coupons can’t apply to clearance, sale items, etc. It is important to review your order before placing an order. Online, on the final page, there is “Review Order” button right next to “Place Order Now” button. Check the price and the details of SYWR points to see if a coupon is applied. In store, you can load coupons to your SYWR account and then purchase in store. Coupons may apply automatically. To make sure of it, you have to ask a cashier before paying. If you think it’s bothersome or shameful, you’d better avoid purchasing in store.
There are three VIP status, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. To obtain VIP status, you will have to spend $2500 for VIP Silver, $5000 for VIP Gold, and $10,000 for VIP Platinum in a calendar year. The purchase of gift cards and SYWR point redemption are not qualified spending for VIP status. Your account will be automatically upgraded when your total spending reaches each minimum spending requirement. Once you obtain VIP status, you will keep the status until the end of the following year. If you spend $2500/$5000/$10000 in the following year, you will be in VIP Silver/Gold/Platinum next year. Total qualified spending for VIP status resets to zero on December 31. For example, if you spend $6000 in total in 2014, you will be VIP Gold until the end of 2015. And if you don’t spend more than $2500 in 2015, you will be no longer VIP in 2016.
Benefits of VIPs
Here are the basic benefits of VIP Status
- You automatically receive 20% in Points on all computer accessories
- Exclusive VIP Member offers throughout the year.
- Enjoy a 5%/10%/15% points special bonus day each quarter. (Silver/Gold/Platinum)
- Treat yourself to 5%/10%/15% points on all qualifying purchases during your birthday month. (Silver/Gold/Platinum)
- $4.99 oil change with free tire rotation at Sears Auto Centers twice/3 times/4 times a year. (Silver/Gold/Platinum)
The higher VIP status is, the more points you can earn on special bonus days and in your birthday month. Please note that in order to receive 5%/10%/15% points, you need to load a coupon that is sent to you by email and apply it at checkout. You can use the same coupon many times during the promotion period. Special bonus day is only one day long, but you can use a birthday coupon over and over during your birthday month!
VIP member always gets more. Here are other useful coupons.
- Get $10 back in points (10,000 points) when you spend $50
- Get $20 back in points (20,000 points) when you spend $75
I don’t know the requirement to receive these coupons, but they send me every 2 or 3 weeks. And, unlike regular coupons, VIP coupons (above two, special bonus day, and birthday month coupons) can be applied to almost all items.
This is a new one. I believe it just started in 2014. Here is how it works. You can select one of the exclusive offers. And then you will receive VIP CHOICE Benefits certificate by email. Print for in-store purchase or load and apply at checkout for online purchase. It sounds like the same as VIP coupons, but the offers are so special, such as 100% back in points when you purchase Dell Laptop Model# xxx or $40 back in points when you spend $50 or more in apparel at Kmart.
I don’t how many times a year they release new offers. According to their website, they say, “CHOICE Benefits change seasonally.” They also say, “CHOICE Benefits are limited in quantity, so choose your favorite today before it’s gone!” That is true. Popular offers become all taken very quickly. You will receive an email when the next VIP CHOICE release date is close. Visit the VIP CHOICE page on a release date and choose your favorite. You don’t have to check out at that moment, but just click and claim your benefits so you can get it later.
How to Become VIP effectively
Since the purchase of gift cards are not qualified spending for becoming VIP, I don’t think there is a special easy way to obtain VIP status. However, there are items that help you obtain VIP status. SYWR program offers a lot of points when you purchase some items. There is always something. You can find in their websites. Look for a link “Member Exclusive” or “ShopYourWay Exclusive.”
For example, Kmart sells this headphone for $12.50, and SYWR gives you $10 back in points. The base point is 125 points. If you are a MAX member, you will get another 125 points. And if you pay with Sears CCs, you will get 125 x 4 = 500 points. Plus, let’s say you clicked a link of shopping portal site that offers 10% cash back. The cash back will be $1.25. So, you pay $12.50 + tax and earn $12 in points and cash back. If you use Sears gift cards instead of credit cards, it could be a better result. You can easily find their gift cards with around 10% discount. When you use the gift card for the purchase, you may as well get $1.25 discount in advance. You won’t receive 500 point, but will receive base points and MAX bonus (125+125 points.) The total of cash back and points will be $12.75! (And don’t forget that headphone is yours!)
You can redeem your points both in-store and online. You can’t redeem for the purchase of gift cards. In-store, you will need a PIN to redeem more than 10000 points ($10). You can choose any amount in 10 (points) increments. Point redemption is applied pre-tax total. So, if you pay the whole amount with points, there is no sale tax. Please remember you should click through a shopping portal site on every purchase. It doesn’t matter if you redeem points partially or fully, portal sites use list prices to calculate the cash back.
When you pay the whole amount with points, you earn zero points. If you buy lots of “Member Exclusive” items (such as the headphone’s example above), you may have lots of points and probably want to redeem them. Let’s say you buy another headphone. To earn $10 bonus in points, you will need to pay at least $10 out of your pocket. So, redeem 2500 points and pay $10 + tax with GCs or CC. Again, shopping portal sites use $12.50 to calculate the cash back. If a portal site offers 10% cash back, you earn $1.25 no matter how many points you redeem.
Please note that SYWR points have expiration dates. They are various. In general, base points and MAX or Sears CC bonus are valid for one year. Points earned through promotions and by using coupons are valid for 90 days from the date you earned them. And some points are valid for much shorter period. You can check the expiration date of your point at shopyourway.com.
I think Shop Your Way Rewards is the best loyalty rewards program because of the volume of points you can earn. None of other programs don’t give you back that much. Some “Member Exclusive” items give you back enough points to make items virtually free. It is fun to buy only those items over and over. And you may obtain VIP status before you know it. And the benefits of VIP makes the program even greater!