Though the Sears Gift Card cannot be used as freely as network-branded cards, it is more versatile than most retailer-issued cards because it is not limited to Sears stores. The card can also be used at Kmart and Land's End -- both online and in-store. Sears also provides purchase and delivery flexibility. Sears gift cards purchased online can be delivered electronically, by mail, or even printed out directly from the website. They can be purchased in denominations ranging from $10 to $500, and Sears also offers the option to schedule electronic delivery for a later date.
Like select other top retailers, surveys point out that the Sears card is one of the best options for avoiding gift card gotchas. They are free of fees and expiration dates, and Sears will replace funds if the card is lost. While previous reviews ranked Sears as one of the best electronic gift cards, 2011 surveys reveal increased competition among e-card retailers, and Sears dropped in the rankings. For a gift card that can be used in many locations, reviewers suggest a network-branded gift card such as the American Express Gift Card (*Est. $3), which now has no expiration date or fees, other than the upfront purchase fee.
CreditCards.com surveys 63 top retailers, restaurants, airlines and credit card companies, and while it doesn't rank cards, it does list features provided by each. Sears and Kmart were both listed as card sellers that do not charge dormancy or maintenance fees. Also, these cards do not expire, are reloadable, offer online balance check, can be delivered electronically or shipped for free, and card funds will be replaced if lost or stolen.
Review: 2011 Gift Card Comparison Chart, Juan Rodriguez, Kate Tomasino and Matt Schulz, Oct. 26, 2011
Sears-owned Kmart and Land's End gift cards rank among the top 10 best electronic gift cards, with scores of 98 out of 100. The plastic Sears gift card scores only 86 -- still a competitive score, but not as good as Gap, for example. Sears gets knocked for lacking informative web pages like an FAQ page or online listing of gift card terms. Sears gift cards also can't be used to pay off Sears credit.
Review: ScripSmart's Top Scoring Gift Cards, Editors of ScripSmart.com, As of Nov. 2011
RSR Research surveyed the top 100 online retailers to determine the best electronic gift cards in 2011. While Sears performed well in the 2010 survey, ranking among the top five, it is notably absent from this list, reprinted at MarketWatch.com. Home Depot, Best Buy, Williams-Sonoma, Gap, L.L. Bean and Amazon.com rank highest for their electronic gift cards.
Review: RSR Research Finds 40 Percent of Top 100 Online Retailers are Missing a Multi-Billion Dollar Opportunity, Pauline Louie, Oct. 19, 2011