Complete Shop Your Way Mastercard Review


Advantages

  • Very competitive rewards for everyday purchases

  • Bonus rewards for purchases at partner restaurants and stores

  • No annual fee

The inconvenients

  • Reward earnings are capped

  • Loyalty points may expire

  • Refund options are limited


The benefits explained

  • Very competitive rewards for everyday purchases: The Shop Your Way Mastercard is exceptionally rewarding when it comes to everyday purchases. The 5% cash back points you can earn on gas purchases and the 3% cash back points available for meals and groceries are some of the most competitive rewards rates on the market.
  • Bonus rewards for purchases at partner restaurants and stores: Shop Your Way is a free membership rewards program that allows you to earn points when you shop at Sears, Kmart and partner merchants. When you sign up for Shop Your Way and link your Shop Your Way Mastercard to your account, you can earn up to an additional percentage of cash back at participating partner stores and restaurants. This is in addition to the card’s base gain.
  • No annual fee: Annual fees can affect the value of points, cash back, or miles you earn with a rewards card. This card has no annual fee, however, you don’t have to worry about it.


Disadvantages Explained

  • Reward earnings are capped: One important thing to know about this card is that the rewards are not unlimited in all categories. The 5% on gas and 3% on dining and groceries is limited to the first $10,000 of combined purchases in these categories each calendar year. Once you hit the $10,000 spend mark, you will continue to earn rewards on those purchases, but at a 1% return rate.
  • Rewards points can expire: Unlike some rewards cards that allow you to accumulate points until you decide to use them, the Shop Your Way Mastercard sets a deadline for redemptions. Points earned with this card expire after 12 months.
  • Refund options are limited: With some rewards cards, you can redeem points for travel, cash back, statement credits, gift cards or merchandise. This card offers only one way to redeem points: for brand name merchandise sold by Kmart and Sears. This is a downside if you’re looking for more flexibility in how you can put rewards to work.


The Shop Your Way Mastercard is ideal for someone who regularly shops at Sears and Kmart and bills for everyday purchases, such as gas and groceries. This card may be right for you if you’re looking for rewards that you can apply to future purchases at Sears or Kmart, versus other uses, such as travel or statement credit. Depending on how often you shop and charge your daily expenses, you can easily save a decent amount of money by earning a percentage of what you charge in points.


Buy your way Mastercard Unique offer

The Shop Your Way Mastercard has a unique offer, but it’s structured differently than you might expect with a typical rewards card.

Instead of earning a set number of points for meeting a minimum spend requirement, you can earn a $75 statement credit. To receive this credit, you must spend $50 or more on qualifying purchases within 30 days of approval to open a new account.

This is a limited time offer and valid until January 28, 2023. And it’s only available to new cardholders who apply for the card online.


Reward Earnings Details

When you use this card, you get a percentage of your purchases back in the form of points. There are four different tiers of rewards, depending on what you charge:

  • 5% discount on gasoline
  • 3% cashback at restaurants and grocery stores
  • 2% back at Sears and Kmart
  • 1% cashback on all other purchases

There are a few things to remember here for earning rewards with this card. First, the 5% and 3% refund categories are capped at the first $10,000 of combined purchases each calendar year. So once you reach this limit, your rewards rate will revert to 1% until the start of the following year.

Also, not all purchases qualify for the 5% or 3% reward rates. For example, gasoline purchased from supermarkets or warehouse clubs earns 1% instead. The same goes for groceries purchased from warehouse clubs or supermarkets.

However, you have the opportunity to increase your rewards earnings by shopping through the Shop Your Way Card Link program. This program allows you to use your card to earn additional rewards at partner merchants including GasBuddy and Hotels by Shop Your Way.

Shop Your Way membership is free, and if you are not already a member, you will be automatically enrolled when you sign up for the Shop Your Way Mastercard.


Reward Redemption Details

Redeeming rewards is simple, as there is only one option. When you log in to your Shop Your Way Mastercard account, you can browse available merchandise and redeem your points for shopping. Options range from everyday items like paper towels to major appliances and electronics.

Again, remember you only have 12 months to redeem points after earning them, otherwise they will expire.


How to maximize your rewards

Maximizing rewards is all about being strategic with how you spend and taking advantage of opportunities to earn extra points as a Shop Your Way member. With that in mind, here’s a quick look at two different scenarios to get the most out of this map.

Average case

In the average case, let’s say you spend $2,000 a year on gas and $3,000 combined on groceries and restaurants. You would earn 19,000 points on these purchases. Add $3,000 in purchases at Sears and Kmart and $1,000 in miscellaneous purchases and you’ll increase your total rewards to 26,000 points, worth $260 based on our valuation of $0.01 Shop Your Way points.

Ambitious case

Earning 26,000 points isn’t bad. But let’s say you spend $3,000 a year on gas and $7,000 on groceries and restaurants. You would earn 36,000 points on these purchases alone. If you spend $10,000 a year at Sears and Kmart and $5,000 on miscellaneous purchases, you’ll bring your total rewards to 61,000 points, worth $610 according to our points assessment.


Standard Benefits

  • Exclusive coupons through the Shop Your Way program
  • Online and mobile account access
  • Zero liability in case of fraud


Cardholder experience

The Shop Your Way Mastercard is issued by Citi, which received a score of 805 out of 1,000 in JD Power’s 2021 US Credit Card Satisfaction Study. This resulted in them being ranked 6th out of 11, a below average result. For perspective, the average among domestic card issuers was 809.

Managing your account is as easy as logging in online or through the Shop Your Way mobile app. You can also manage your account by phone at 1-800-991-8708.


Security functions

This card comes with the standard security features you expect from a rewards card. This includes chip security protection and a zero fraud liability guarantee.


Fees to watch

The fees associated with the Shop Your Way Mastercard are typical of other store-branded rewards cards. There is no annual fee, but there is a 3% foreign transaction fee. You will also pay fees for cash advances and balance transfers.

In addition to fees, it is important to consider the regular variable APR for purchases and balance transfers. The relatively high APR of this card could make it costly to carry over a balance from month to month.


Our opinion

The Shop Your Way Mastercard could be a good choice for someone who is loyal to Kmart and Sears and wants to earn rewards that they can use for future purchases at those stores. This card is also great if you regularly spend on gas, food, and groceries and want to earn a competitive reward rate on those purchases. Due to its relatively high APR, however, it wouldn’t be your best bet if you regularly carry a balance.

The biggest catch, though, is that you can only use your rewards for Sears and Kmart purchases. For this reason, you might want to consider keeping a regular cash back rewards card as a backup so you have more leeway when it comes to redeeming rewards. It’s also a good idea if you spend more than $10,000 a year on gas, food, and restaurants and want more than 1% back on those purchases.

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