Don't Pay More! Guide to Price Matching and Cheat Sheet
All the deals and sales this time of year are awesome. Well, except for when they are overwhelming to the point of paralysis. You know what I mean. It's this track playing on repeat in my mind: "Wow, that's a good price. I wonder if it's the best price we'll see this season. Should I buy it now or wait?" (See also: Never Pay Full Price for These 25 Things)
Finally, an end to that endless spinning in my head. It's called price matching. And, retailers' price matching policies are likely more generous than you might realize. Let's first understand how price matching works, then get into the more generous part before identifying a simple way to cash in this holiday season.
Price Matching 101
You want to buy an item from Retailer A. Then you notice that the exact same item, same model number and everything, is advertised for less at Retailer B. At this point you have two choices:
- Load up the car with all the kids and drive across town to Retailer B so you can get the lower price. (Insanity factor rises for the sake of saving a few bucks);
- Go into Retailer A with proof that Retailer B has a lower price. Retailer A honors that lower price and sells you the item at the price you would have paid Retailer B. (This is called price matching.)
"Alex, I'll take #2 for $200." Me, too. It preserves my sanity and ensures great prices both. Who doesn't love a sanity and deals 2-for-1?
Now the More Generous Part
Price matching is not only relevant at the point of purchase. Price matching can be done post-purchase. (See also: Get the Best Deal on Airfare Even After You Buy)
By post-purchase I mean that if you buy something today, later on you see it for less elsewhere, then you can still get the lower price. Show proof of your purchase and proof of the lower price and voila, you get the difference back. Awesome, huh?
How Much Time Do You Have?
This alphabetical list of retailers is a cheat sheet for you on how much time you've got to make a post-purchase price matching claim. Plus, I've linked to each retailer's policy for your light reading enjoyment. (See also: Amazon Deal Hacks You May Not Already Know)
- Amazon (only on TVs): 14 days
- Best Buy: During return period which varies by product; all purchases now through December 31, 2013 can be returned until January 15, 2014 (see return policy for details).
- Costco: Does not price match
- Kohls: 14 days
- Home Depot: Point of purchase only (Policy)
- JCPenney: Point of purchase only
- Lowe's: Point of purchase only Policy
- Macy's: Does not price match
- Office Depot: 14 days
- OfficeMax: During return period which varies by product from 14-30 days (see return policy for details).
- Sam's Club: Does not price match
- Sears: 14 days (Policy)
- Staples: 14 days (Policy)
- Target: 7 days (Policy)
- Toys R Us: 7 days
- Walmart: Post-purchase through 12/24 with Christmas Ad Match (excludes Thanksgiving and Black Friday)
- Walmart: Point of purchase only via regular Ad Match includes Thanksgiving and Black Friday
The Fine Print
As you browse each store's policy you'll notice a certain amount of "yes we offer price matching but not on that item or on that day" type fine print.
The two biggest exclusions in that fine print are these timeframe exclusions and retailer exclusions.
Most stores do not offer price matching on/around Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving Day weekend).
Many retailers specify which other retailers' prices they are willing to match
Specifics vary by retailer, so take a second to familiarize yourself with policies for the two stores you're most likely to shop this season. (See also: Black Friday Savings Tips From the Experts)
One Step to Making This a Reality
Whew, that was a lot of information, wasn't it? Now, what in the world are you supposed to do with it?
Do this right now: Pull out an envelope and write "Price Matching Receipts" on it. That's it. Now, when you buy something this season that costs over $100, put the receipt in that envelope. That's more than half the battle right there.
Once you've done that, I know you'll keep a loose eye on the sales flyers and holler, "Give me my money! The other guys have it cheaper," when the time's right. I look forward to hearing how much you save. (See also: How to Get 5% Cash Back During the Holidays)
Editor's note: Check out Carrie recently talking about Black Friday and holiday shopping tips on a local CBS news station.
Be sure to subscribe to Carrie's free 40 Days of Holiday Savings email course. You'll get one, easy-to-do money-saving tip in your inbox daily. For year-round savings, check out Carrie's blog, PocketYourDollars.com, and her book, Pocket Your Dollars: 5 Attitude Changes That Will Help You Pay Down Debt, Avoid Financial Stress, and Keep More of What You Make.