Sears managed their own credit card program initially. The cards could be used only at a Sears retail outlet store or when buying items from one of the highly popular Sears catalogs.
The threshold for creditworthiness was traditionally lower for department store credit cards than for cards from major lending banks.
The cards were meant to encourage consumers to shop with that particular retail chain. For banks, credit cards were a for-profit enterprise so the focus was not the same.
What is a FICO Score?
Prior to the 1980’s your credit rating was based on information in the file of major credit bureaus. The reports were somewhat open to interpretation and one bank might view your credit report as a good risk while another bank would place you in a high risk category.
The report was composed of your work history, income history and the history of how you paid your bills. If you paid all your bills in a timely fashion you might have an R1 rating.
A late payment or two would not damage your credit horribly if you had a large credit history but those accounts would have lower “R” ratings.
The worst you could have would be an R9 which would indicate none of your bills were paid on time or that you had defaulted on financial obligations.
When you applied for a credit card or a loan, the lender would look first for the “R” rating on your file and then might look further to see your payment record.
The lender’s representative often made a judgment call on whether to approve your application or not. This was especially true if you applied for a car loan, personal loan or a mortgage.
Back then, there was no reason to ask for the FICO score it did not exist. In the 1980s’ the Fair Isaac Company introduced software to help credit bureaus and lenders more easily and quickly determine the credit risk of loan and credit card applicants.
Your credit report contains current accounts, credit inquiries made, payment history and personal income/job history and will reflect any foreclosure, repossession or bankruptcy in your past. It is literally a report of your financial activity.
The FICO score needed for Sears card is not part of your credit report. It is a calculation based on the info in the report and is compiled by assigned weights to various financial activities. Payment history is very important to your three digit FICO score but other factors are also assigned percentages.
- 35% Payment history
- 30% Total amount of debt
- 15% Length of credit history
- 10% New Credit
- 10% Types of credit
The three digit score that is finalized will be used to judge your financial worth every time you apply for a loan or credit. Some lenders will require a FICO score above 650 to approve a credit card application while sub-prime lenders may accept 580 or even lower scores.
Sears offers several branded credit cards. The cards are provided by major lenders who underwrite the accounts for Sears. Commercial use and home improvement credit cards carry fairly high spending limits and thus require higher FICO scores to qualify.
Sears also offers its own MasterCard managed by Citibank. This card can be used as any MasterCard but has the bonus of special deals offered for Sears customers.
The last card with the Sears name is a credit card account that can be used only to make purchased in a Sears retail location or from a catalog produced by the company.
The FICO score needed for Sears card is not publicized by the company. As a rule, a FICO score of 680 is likely to be approved by Sears.
For the credit account used only for Sears retail purchases, the FICO score needed for Sears credit cards may be as low as 620 according to some financial experts.
Knowing the requried FICO score for Sears card would be useful but the exact numbers are not released to the public. You can reasonably assume a score of 680 or above will likely be approved. For FICO scores of lower than 680, approval is possible but the interest rate may be higher as the FICO decreases.