Consumer Payment Card News

Sears Sale

Sears is having the sale of the century and its not Craftsman tools, DieHard batteries, Kenmore appliances, or Lands End clothing. Sears is looking to sell its credit card business to raise cash to get back to what it does best, namely, sell stuff. Sears started its credit card business more than 40 years ago to help drive retail sales. The Sears Card became synomous with “Easy Credit.” It ended up delivering more profits than the rest of Sears’ businesses. Last year, Sears credit card business generated more than $1.5 billion of operating income while its retail-related businesses delivered $1.2 billion in operating income. In 2000, Sears began offering a MasterCard to upgrade existing Sears store credit cardholders to a general purpose credit card. As a result, the Sears MasterCard has become the 10th largest VISA and MasterCard program in the USA. Among all credit card issuers, including American Express and Discover, Sears is the 12th largest U.S. issuer. In 2002, the Sears MasterCard program grew from $5 billion to $12.3 billion in credit card loans last year, making it one of the fastest growing bank credit card issuers in the country. But, the economy turned sour over the past two years. Sears is now facing the challenge of managing a huge and rapidly growing credit card business with 25 million cardholders in an environment where many consumers are having trouble paying their bills. If you have between $5 billion and $7 billion in cash laying around, plus access to the credit markets you might be able to take advantage of the sale of the century.

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