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Sears, i beg your pardon filed because that bankruptcy protection earlier this week, is moving toreassure consumer that it’s open for business and accepting Sears gift cards in ~ its stores.

Still, anyone v a Sears gift card have to use the soon since of the hesitation surrounding any type of financial reorganization.

“Sears, Kmart, and also Shop Your method are open up for business and ready to offer you,” the retailer posted virtual in a letter to its customers.

“We are honoring customer programs," the letter adds. "Our product warranties, defense agreements, guarantees, Shop Your means loyalty program, and also promotions proceed as normal. We proceed to sell and also accept gift cards, and also you can keep earning and also using Shop Your way points.”

The firm also claims the bankruptcy filing will not affect the Sears credit Card and also Sears Mastercard.

Memories of toys "R" Us

Still, consumers may remember what occurred with one more financially troubled retailer—Toys "R" Us—earlier this year.

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In March, the toy retailer announced it to be liquidating the 735 shop after attempting to reorganize under bankruptcy protection. As component of the liquidation, playthings "R" Us provided its gift map holders simply 30 days to redeem their continuing to be balances before the cards were rendered worthless.

Toys "R" us customers flocked to stores and to the retailer’s website to buy its quickly dwindling merchandise.

And though the Sears situation is, for now, different from the one for playthings "R" Us, consumers shouldn"t wait to use their Sears gift cards.

No factor to Wait

“For consumers currently holding gift cards: use them!” says Christina Tetreault, an elderly staff lawyer at consumers Union, the advocacy division of customer Reports. “It’s unclear what the future holds because that Sears. But for now, the cards are embraced at Sears stores, so over there is no factor to wait and plenty of factors to use your exceptional Sears gift cards now.”

In the event a liquidation of Sears becomes crucial in the future, you don"t want to be stuck to gift cards that would be difficult, if not difficult to redeem.

If Sears to be to nearby its doors for great before you had a possibility to redeem your gift card, you would be forced to record a case with a bankruptcy court.

“The court would ultimately decide whether Sears need to honor its gift cards, and if so, for exactly how long,” claims Tetreault. “It might take years for cardholders to recuperate funds—if they gain anything in ~ all.”

Consumers should additionally monitor the bankruptcy reorganization. Sears has collection up a bankruptcy site here with crucial information and also updates because that consumers and also investors.

Also, make certain to check your state consumer protection agency, which may have actually information and advice. State attorneys general sometimes intervene on gift map holders’ behalf.

Last, save your eye ~ above the competition. In part cases, they might offer to accept Sears cards or carry out a discount because that cardholders, as Brookstone did once Sharper image filed because that bankruptcy in 2008.

The toys "R" Us and Sears instances reinforce our standing advice ~ above this subject: Stick v cash and skip the gift cards.

“We’ve always advised offering cash end gift cards, and also there’s no reason now would be any kind of different,” Tetreault says. “Cash is rarely forgotten around in the earlier of a drawer, and it’s welcomed just around everywhere.”

Another reason to protect against gift cards completely is that some vendors won’t change them if they’re shed or stolen, or they’ll replace the cards just if you register them. And in most states, gift cards deserve to expire after five years.

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You must avoid all gift cards, not simply ones authorize by retailers, Tetreault says. Bank-issued gift cards—those carrying a significant credit card company logo, such as American Express, Mastercard, or Visa—come with a significant drawback. Although they deserve to be used at any seller that accepts the brand that card, they commonly have fees as soon as you purchase them. And also after the first year, they might have extr charges because that the cardholder, including monthly service and also dormancy fees.