Home > Personal Finance > Sears Introduces Vacation Layaway Program

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Sears is getting into the vacation business. The retailer launched a new site last week called SearsVacations.com that lets consumers book hotel stays, flights, cruises and other travel accommodations online.

It also lets consumers pay for vacation packages via layaway. The layaway or flexible payment option can be applied to a two-vacation package that features a full week resort stay and a cruise of varying length. Consumers can take each trip separately or pair them together for an extended stay within an 18-month time frame. They can pick which destinations and/or cruise line they would like to patronize.

Payments are made once a month for twelve months. The base price for the package is $999, which requires a $99 deposit and twelve subsequent payments of $75.

Contrary to what you may have heard, there is no interest or fees added to the purchase if you put it on layaway. International Cruise & Excursions, Inc. (ICE), the retailer’s partner on this business venture, does charge a $9 processing fee per installment to customers who book a vacation through them directly, but this fee is waived for those who go through SearsVacations.com.

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Free Tool: Credit Report CardSome call-in center reps were unaware of the fee waiver at the beginning of the roll-out, says Sears Spokeswoman Shannelle Armstrong-Fowler says.

Customers have ten days following the purchase to cancel. After that, the purchase is non-refundable.

Armstrong-Fowler says the service was a natural extension of Sears business model, since it has been a go-to source for “stay-cation” products, like barbecues or camping gear, for years.

While the waiver of the processing fee does make the offer attractive, consumers might want to think twice about whether they really can afford the trip.

Having said, both the two-package deal and the site itself are worth checking out if you’re looking to purchase a vacation you can pay off in full. As part of its launch, Sears is running a special offering 100 Vacations for $399 or less. For instance, those looking for a quick getaway can book a three-day Carnival cruise to the Bahamas for as little as $169. The sale ends July 31, 2012.

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Image: Chi King, via Flickr

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