New Sears Card Offers Credit Score Access
By: Brian O'Connell

On any list of high-end retailers, you likely won’t find Sears (Stock Quote: SHLD).

The retail giant has long been a value play for shoppers more than it has been a high-fashion, glamour stop at the mall, like a Nordstrom’s (Stock Quote: JWN) or a Neiman Marcus (Stock Quote: NMG).

So maybe Sears has to try harder, as it’s doing with its new store rewards credit card that offers you free access to your credit score on a 24/7 basis. The card comes with a new “credit score simulator tool” to educate consumers on how credit scores are calculated and how they can take steps to raise their credit scores.

The new Sears MasterCard (Stock Quote: MA) also provides discounts to cardholders, along with a deferred interest option.

A visit to the Sears Web site, along with a follow-up call to a customer service representative, lays out the credit card details.

With the card, you get access to a Transunion Transrisk credit score that is updated monthly, accessible online, and with no cost to the cardholder. According to the Web site, you have to log in to to find your score information. Cardholders can also sign up for monthly e-mail notifications. A bonus: Usually when you (or anyone else) checks your credit score, your score gets dinged a few points. But with the Sears MasterCard, all updates won’t count as an inquiry that might lower your credit score.

The credit card’s simulator tool enables cardholders to get a grip on their credit scores, with a user-friendly “A-F” letter grade set-up that ranks different metrics used to calculate your credit score. The feature also includes easy-to-use charts (that’s Sears description, anyway) that explains the relationship between credit grades and credit scores. “Improving one or more of your credit grades is an easy way to protect your credit and financial health,” the site says.

The Sears credit score simulator also has built a feature that explains how cardholders can raise their credit score by improving on 14 everyday financial behaviors.

The Sear MasterCard has a multi-tiered interest rate system that weighs changes to the prime rate, shopping behavior and cash access usage.

Sears says the APRs may vary each billing period based on changes to the prime rate.

It breaks down like this:

  • The purchase APR equals the Prime Rate plus 17.15%.
  • The cash access APR equals the Prime Rate plus 18.15%.
  • The default APR equals the Prime Rate plus up to 22.15%.

Sears says it reserves the right to raise your rate via a default APR based on the “seriousness of your default with us and your credit history.”

At least, you have to give Sears points for creativity. Check the card out for yourself here.

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