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Today in my local grocery store I saw displays of Halloween candy. I checked my phone’s calendar for the date. Mid-August. You know what Halloween candy means — Christmas and the holiday season is almost upon us. (Forget Black Friday; Holiday retail displays tend to go up the day after Halloween, November 1.)
How much money do you have saved up for Christmas shopping this year? If the answer is a big fat goose egg, don’t despair. It’s not too late to start saving, and the Sears Christmas Club Card can help.
Launched for the first time last year in mid-August, the Christmas Club card encourages (and rewards) saving, while driving Christmas sales to Sears and K-Mart stores.
How this card works
This is not a debit card, credit card or a gift card. It’s a completely new card concept.
Customers can load any amount onto the card, starting with $5, and continue adding to it between now and November 15. You can add funds at any Sears, Kmart or Sears specialty store, as well as online.
But Note: You must activate the card prior to October 31.
For any money you put on the card, Sears rewards you with an additional 3 % on the card. Since even the best online savings account right now offers less than 2 % interest, this is a great way to get some free money for the holidays.
The biggest drawback to this card is you’re forced to spend the money at Sears or Kmart. This means you could spend extra money by missing out on the lowest prices elsewhere, including online stores.
Another drawback is that, unlike a savings account, you don’t earn more cash the longer you keep your money on the card.
Also, you may not receive the 3% on the card until November 24. Your 3% reward is based on the amount you have on the card on November 15.
How to get more cash back
One way to beat the system is to put your holiday shopping money into an interest bearing online savings account, and then activate a Sears Christmas Club card just prior to October 31. You can start the card with as little as $5, but make sure all the money you want to add is on the card by November 15.
This way, you’ll get 3% in addition to whatever interest your money has already earned.
Also, you can make a list of how many gifts you want to buy at Sears or Kmart and their approximate prices, after comparison shopping, so you won’t have money left over on the card you don’t want to spend at those stores.
Benefits to the Sears Christmas Club Card
There are obvious benefits to this type of savings plan. You’re earning 3% cash back, set aside some money for holiday shopping, and the money on the card never expires, so you can use it for after-holiday sales, back-to-school shopping, or whenever you want.
Sears makes it easy to load money onto the card, and easy to use the card at any Sears, Kmart, or Sears specialty store.
Since a few Craftsman tools are always on my husband’s Christmas list, I may look into activating a Sears Christmas Club Card and earning cash back.