Is the Sears Solutions MasterCard a Ripoff?

Posted by CreditCardGuru

Next time you’re at this department store and the clerk asks “Would you like to apply for a Sears MasterCard?” make sure think long and hard before saying yes.

Sears Solutions CardGetting a card from a store you frequently shop at seems like a logical choice, right? Not necessarily.

The ironic truth is that you’re worse off with Sears Solutions MasterCard versus an unaffiliated Visa/MasterCard that has no relationship with their store. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the good, bad, and ugly and decide for yourself…

The Good for 2013

Relatively easy to qualify for – Sears actually offers two MasterCards; one is managed by Citi and the other thru HSBC. The application is the same for both, but the latter is given if your credit is in the dumps. In other words, Solutions MasterCard is specifically for customers who are trying to rebuild their credit.

The exact credit score needed for Sears Solutions isn’t publicly disclosed, but one can safely assume that the minimum FICO they want is somewhere in the 600’s, if not lower, because it’s not hard to qualify for. For those with a scandalous credit history, it’s a good option.

But be warned: you still need at least marginally fair credit to qualify for their MasterCard. If you have bad credit, the best you might be able to get will be the regular Sears credit card (which is not a MasterCard).

Free credit score (sort of) – Not many benefits come with this credit card, but there is one that is worth mentioning; you get free access to your TransUnion TransRisk score once per month. This is not to be confused with FICO, because it’s totally different.

TransRisk is only an “educational” score for consumers that is generated using a completely different formula. That means your TransRisk score may or may not be substantially different than your FICO.

Here’s a review/complaint I saw on MyFICO about this type of score:

TransRisk score review on MyFICO

In other words, it’s not always a good correlation with your FICO (which lenders use).

The Bad for 2013

Possible annual fee – The application isn’t clear about who will and won’t be charged the annual fee. All I see in the cardmember agreement is this:

annual fee range

So it’s possible you might not have a fee – or – you may get whacked with up to a $59 fee. I’m guessing that where you land will depend upon your creditworthiness and those with better credit won’t get charged.

Either way, at least Sears is being fair and will refund the fee if you cancel with the first 90 days and don’t use the card:

fee refund rules

Horrendous Customer Service – Sears doesn’t publish much about their cards online. In order to see stuff, you have to login with your account. So in order to find out about it, I had to hit up the customer service phone number (which is 800.819.5298 if you’re curious).

After pressing a million buttons, I was connected to a foreign rep. I kept explaining I wasn’t calling to apply and only had questions, but he didn’t seem to grasp that concept! Finally he gave me another phone number to call, which ended up being the phone number for the GM credit card instead!

I called back the first number again and was finally able to get thru to someone who was still a foreigner, but at least she understood what I was saying. All that hassle just to ask basic questions like what the interest rate is? That’s outrageous.

Many reviews I’ve seen express similar complaints about the customer service. There’s also a lot of nasty things said about how the online bill pay and statements are handled.

Laughable Rewards Program – The only reason I’m not putting this in the “ugly” category is that – in Sear’s defense – at least they’re offering something for rewards. Unfortunately that something is quite dismal.

You only earn 1 point per dollar spent. This includes purchases at Sears – surprisingly they don’t give you any bonus points for shopping at their stores. Here’s what you can redeem them for:

rewards program

If you do the math, it means the most that Sears Solutions MasterCard rewards are worth is about 1%. This is a total joke considering that many store cards offer up to 3-5% for when you shop at their store. Unfortunately, this card does neither!

The Ugly For 2013

Ridiculous Interest Rate – This one is in the ugly category but admittedly, it’s not a big surprise since most store cards offer outrageous APRs. What Sears gives you on this MasterCard is the following:

  • Standard APR: The phone rep I spoke with said the standard APR is up to 29.99%. She didn’t specify whether or not it’s possible to get a lower rate with good credit. If you get 29.99% as your standard APR, that is almost 50% higher than what you will get on major credit cards from banks (which usually have a max purchase APR of around 20-23%).
  • Promotional APR: She said those with good credit may be able to get a promotional rate that is 0% for the first year on purchases. Others will get a less lucrative offer. What’s really unappealing about this is that it uses deferred interest – that means if you don’t pay off the full balance before the promotional time period, afterward you will get hit with interest charges retroactively going back to the date of purchase!

Is it a ripoff or not?

I’ll let you be the judge and answer that question yourself. But whatever you decide, you can’t apply for it online. Sears only accepts applications in-store for their Solutions MasterCard.

Here are some alternatives you may wish to consider, depending upon your creditworthiness:

Review written or last updated for 2013


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Editorial Disclosure: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

9 comments... read them below or add your own

  1. Charles March 14, 2014 at 9:41PM

    Sears Master card is the worst credit card I have used. Their bill is really confusion and sometimes you got strange charge or interest on your bill. I will stop using it and never use it again.

  2. Jason March 4, 2014 at 4:30PM

    A SEARS Credit Cards IS the worst credit card you can have. It is structured so it really hard to make you payment on time by slow processing you electronic drafts, and not allowing you to pay and the store. To further screw you, if you do get them on the phone, they only accept payment by check, no Debt, no credit card… well until you start threatening them, then they will magically take your debt. Thank God I only had the account for a year. They can give you ALL the points in the world because with penalties and interest you end up paying double the price of the item. BTW, they never even sent me a physical card. There is nothing SEARS or anyone else sells worth putting it on a SEARs card.. whatever it is just save up don’t go down the Sear card rabbit hole.

  3. LINDA October 22, 2013 at 6:29AM

    Totally disagree. My husband have had the Citi Mastercard for years. We gave just received our 3rd $1000.00 card from our points. I paid a one time fee of $25.00 that doubles my points for gas,groceries, Pharmacies, sears or Kmart purchases. We have gotten a lot of FREE things.
    I gave had no trouble redeeming points. Sorry that you guys are so unhappy. Other cards we have had give you almost nothing for your points.

  4. dominick February 21, 2013 at 4:21PM

    got the sears solutions card aug 2012 paid the 59 dollars. now they are canceling the card and want me to go with the orchard bank card which doesn’t give rewards. they should at least refund my 59 dollars because that broke the agreement which was for 1 year. lots of people are affected and the cc co is scoring 59 bucks a pop on us folks with less than good credit.

  5. Corey February 19, 2013 at 3:02PM

    What’s really funny is this article advising people on the Sears Solutions card because starting April 1, 2013 it doesn’t exist anymore and you haven’t been able to apply for it since the beginning of February.

    • lpatterson September 23, 2014 at 1:31PM

      Haven’T u heard. sears solution card has been moved to capital one bank. for more information call. The truth is at hsbc. Always was a cardmember always made a on time payment too.just give me my checking acct back after the credit loan is paid. Because all i used is the mastercard frm sears outside of the store.

  6. Ashley January 6, 2013 at 7:57AM

    Honestly, all store cards are a rip off. Cut out the middleman and go direct, store credit is the most ridiculous thing ever and just leads people down the path of debt.

  7. Ed. January 5, 2013 at 3:46PM

    I think you made a mistake in the calculation. You said 5000 points for a $60 gift card but you computed it as 6,000 points for a $50 gift card = $0.0083 per point.

    • Michael January 5, 2013 at 11:47PM

      Thanks for catching that!

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