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Sears Plans to Accept Outside Credit Cards

July 30, 1993|GEORGE WHITE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Hoping to attract more customers, Sears, Roebuck & Co. said Thursday that all of its 1,800 U.S. and Puerto Rico stores will accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express credit cards beginning Aug. 1.

Currently, Sears accepts only its own credit card--SearsCharge--and the Discover Card in most locations. Since last November, 140 Sears stores in selected cities, including San Diego, Dallas and Miami, have also been accepting the other major charge cards on an experimental basis. Sales at those stores were 3% to 5% higher than average during the test period, Sears said.

Sears, the department store chain ranked third in sales, is among the last of the major retailers to adopt a liberal credit card acceptance policy. For example, Kmart, the second-ranking retail chain, accepts MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover. And Wal-Mart, the No. 1 chain, refuses American Express but accepts the other three major cards.

Sears was a player in the credit card industry until late June, when it relinquished control of the Discover card business in the spinoff of Dean Witter Financial Services, which includes the Dean Witter Reynolds securities firm and the Discover card operation.

Sears will continue to accept Discover cards and "we will continue to aggressively market SearsCharge," said Perry Chlan, a Sears spokesman. Credit card purchases account for more than 60% of the sales at Sears stores.

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