With the holiday season well underway, savings-minded shoppers are on the lookout for the latest deals, scouring print ads and testing coupon codes in search of the lowest prices.
Here's one more strategy to add to your savings toolkit: Price matching, an underused customer service perk that could lead to deep discounts at your favorite store this holiday and beyond.
We've scoped out the price matching policies of some of the most popular online and brick-and-mortar stores, along with rewards cards to stack at each to ensure you're getting the best deal possible.
See related: Holiday shopping and credit card guide 2019
A short guide to price matching
What is price matching?
Simply put, price matching is when a store offers to match a competitor's lower price on the same item. If a store offers price matching, all you'll usually need to do to claim your discount is present proof of a competitor's lower price within the timeframe specified by the store's price match policy.
But what if you splurge on a big-ticket item, only to see the store you bought it from slash its price a week later? Luckily, price match guarantees are often bundled with price adjustment or price protection promises, which allow you to get the difference back if an item's price drops soon after your purchase.
Price protection sometimes pops up as a benefit included with rewards credit cards, but this perk has been vanishing from cards lately, making the policies of individual retailers all the more important to consider.
How does price matching work?
Most major stores offer some form of a price match or price adjustment guarantee, but each carries its own unique restrictions. Some stores will only price match at the time of purchase, while others offer price adjustments on competitor prices even after a purchase. Some will only match their own website's prices or those of competitor websites, but not local stores.
Generally, though, the following requirements hold true across stores:
- The item must be identical, often down to the model number
- The item must be sold by a direct competitor, as defined by the store
- The item must be in-stock at the time of your price match request
- The item can't be part of a special clearance or promotion
- Low prices based on typographical errors are excluded
We've looked at the price match policies of some country's largest retailers, including Best Buy, Walmart, Amazon, The Home Depot and Target. Here's how they stack up.
Does Best Buy price match?
Yes. Best Buy promises they “won't be beat on price” and mostly backs up that claim, offering a price match policy that's straightforward and easy to understand.
The store will price match local retail competitors (and their online stores) as well as “key” online competitors at the time of your purchase. While any retail store within a 25-mile radius of your local Best Buy store will count as a local competitor, the list of online retailers that count as “key” competitors is more limited. Only items sold on Amazon.com, Crutchfield.com, Dell.com, HP.com and TigerDirect.com are eligible for a price match at Best Buy. Additionally, Best Buy does not price match between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday.
You can also request a price adjustment if Best Buy lowers the price on an item in-store or online during the store's return and exchange period. However, the length of this period varies depending on which type of product you purchase and your My Best Buy Elite status.
Enjoy a longer price adjustment period with the Best Buy credit card
Based on Best Buy's return and exchange period chart, you should be able to request a price adjustment on most items within 15 days of purchase, regardless of your Elite status. My Best Buy Elite and My Best Buy Elite Plus members, however, get 30 days to request a price adjustment on most items.
If you have the My Best Buy® Visa® card from Citi, spending $3,500 in a calendar year will automatically give you Elite Plus status (as well as 6% back in rewards on Best Buy purchases).
How to request a price match at Best Buy
To request a price match at Best Buy, simply speak to a Customer Specialist at the time of your purchase and they will review and verify your price match request. Be sure to bring in a competitor's ad or the relevant website address to show proof of price.
Save more at Best Buy with the right credit card
Using a rewards credit card is another way to stack discounts and ensure you get the lowest possible price at Best Buy. Consider the Chase Freedom® card: Through Dec. 31, 2019 you'll earn 5% cash back on all purchases made with your Freedom card via Chase Pay or PayPal (on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter, then 1% cash back). Luckily, Best Buy is one of a limited number of retailers that accept Chase Pay.
If you don't mind sticking to BestBuy.com for your purchases, the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card is another good option, since you can choose online shopping as one of your bonus cash back categories:
See related: Make the most of an online shopping bonus category
Does Walmart price match?
Yes, but only in some cases. Walmart.com offers price matching on identical items sold by select online retailers, including Amazon.com, Bestbuy.com, Target.com and more. You can request a price match on just one item per day and the item must be in-stock at the competitor's website and on Walmart.com at the time of your request. Walmart will also match Walmart.com and Jet.com base prices for identical items available in a Walmart store.
Notably, though, Walmart does not price match in-store prices or offer price adjustments on items purchased from Walmart.com that later decrease in price. No price matches are offered on items related to Black Friday or Cyber Week either.
How to request a price match at Walmart
To request a price match, contact Walmart.com Customer Care before you place your order so that they can verify your item's eligibility.
What happened to the Savings Catcher?
While Walmart's online price match policy is decent, its lack of in-store price match options is especially disappointing considering Walmart once had a terrific price match tool – the Savings Catcher – that would automatically price match local retailers. Unfortunately, the Savings Catcher was discontinued in May of 2019, because, according to Walmart, it was no longer necessary since the store already offers the lowest prices in most cases.
Save more at Walmart with the right credit card
Since Walmart.com accepts both Chase Pay and PayPal, the Chase Freedom card is a good option here too, thanks to its 5% cash back rate on Chase Pay and PayPal purchases through Dec. 31, 2019 (on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter, then 1% cash back).
You could also consider the new Capital One Walmart Rewards Mastercard, which offers 5% cash back on Walmart.com purchases (including grocery pickup and delivery) and 2% back on in-store purchases. You'll also get 5% back on in-store purchases for the first 12 months when you use the Walmart Pay digital wallet at checkout.
See related: New Capital One Walmart cards: Are they worth it?
Does Amazon price match?
No. Though Amazon is known for its deep discounts on many items, it doesn't offer a low-price guarantee. In place of a price match policy, the online retail giant's help page on price matching simply reads: “Amazon.com consistently works toward maintaining competitive prices on everything we carry.”
Amazon once offered a price protection guarantee and would refund you the difference if an item you bought dropped in price, but the company ended that policy in 2016. To be fair, this makes sense given Amazon's pricing model, which is based on massive amounts of data and sees product prices changing constantly throughout the day (the site sees as many as 2.5 million price changes per day).
Who price matches Amazon?
Since it often has some of the lowest prices available on any given product, you may be surprised at how many stores are willing to match Amazon's prices. This is especially useful to know in case you find and item in a store and don't want to wait for an Amazon delivery.
There are just a few caveats to keep in mind. First, almost all stores that price match Amazon specify that the item must be “sold and shipped” by Amazon.com. This means they will not price match any Marketplace or third-party sellers. Additionally, some stores note that they will only match items for which the manufacturer specifically lists Amazon as an “authorized dealer.”
Here are just a few of the stores that price match Amazon:
- Academy Sports + Outdoors (they'll beat Amazon's price by 5%)
- Advance Auto Parts
- Bed Bath and Beyond
- Best Buy
- Dick's Sporting Goods
- Fry's Electronics (they'll beat Amazon's price by 10%)
- The Home Depot
- JCPenney (they'll beat Amazon's price by 5%)
- Staples (they'll beat Amazon's price by 10%)
Since so many stores price match Amazon, you may not need to choose between getting the lowest price on an item, getting it the same day or checking it out in person.
Save more at Amazon with the right credit card
If you're already an Amazon Prime member or think it might be worth joining, your best bet for saving on Amazon.com purchases is the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card, which offers 5% back on Amazon.com and Whole Foods purchases, as well as 2% back on restaurant, gas station and drug store purchases. It also comes with a $70 Amazon.com gift card when you sign up.
If you're not sure whether Amazon Prime is worth it, however, you may want to consider a more flexible cash back card, like the Discover it® Cash Back card, which offers 5% cash back in several quarterly rotating categories (on up to $1,500 in combined spending and 1% cash back thereafter).
Discover's cash back calendar lists Amazon.com purchases as eligible for 5% cash back through Dec. 31, 2019 and from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, 2020. Even better, Discover will match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.
Does The Home Depot Price Match?
Yes. The Home Depot will price match any other retailer, both in-store and online for identical, in-stock items.
The store's price match policy for online purchases takes into account the total price of an item, including shipping and delivery fees. So if, for example, a competitor is offering an item at $50 plus $10 shipping, The Home Depot will match a total price with shipping of $60. Additionally, price matching doesn't apply to service pricing, such as installation labor.
You can also request a price adjustment at The Home Depot for items that drop in price within 30 days of your purchase.
How to request a price match at The Home Depot
To request a price match in-store, simply bring a competitor's print ad, a printout or a photo to the register for validation at the time of your purchase. For online orders, contact customer service before making a purchase and provide details including brand name, model number and any relevant links so that they can confirm the item qualifies for a price match.
Does The Home Depot still guarantee it will beat competitor prices by 10 percent?
Sadly, no. You may have heard about a previous version of The Home Depot's price match guarantee, which promised that if you found a current lower price on an identical, in-stock item from a local retailer's store or website, The Home Depot would not only match that price, but beat it by 10%. Indeed, many articles still tout this benefit when discussing The Home Depot's price match policy. However, The Home Depot has ended this policy and will now only match competitor prices, not beat them.
Save more at The Home Depot with the right credit card
If you see a lot of DIY projects on the horizon, consider a rewards credit card that will get you cash back bonuses or other rewards on spending at home improvement stores. While The Home Depot has its own store credit card, The Home Depot Consumer Credit Card, it doesn't offer any ongoing rewards for store purchases. If you're not loyal to The Home Depot, the Lowe's Advantage Credit Card is probably a better option, since it automatically gets you a 5% discount at Lowe's at checkout.
In terms of flexibility, though, your best bet is the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card. It offers 3% cash back at a variety of quarterly rotating bonus categories, including gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores and home improvements and furnishings, plus 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (on up to $2,500 in combined spending in 2% and 3% categories per quarter, then 1%).
It's one of the only cards to include home improvement stores as a bonus cash back option (Bank of America specifically lists The Home Depot as eligible, along with other stores like Lowe's, Harbor Freight Tools and Ace Hardware). Plus, if your spending habits change, you can switch your bonus category selection once per calendar month.
Does Target price match?
Yes. Target offers a very generous price match policy, matching both local retail competitors and qualifying online competitors. The store even price matches most grocery items.
Local retail competitors include any retail store located within a 25-mile radius of your local Target store. Additionally, Target's list of eligible online competitors is quite long, including Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, Costco.com, DicksSportingGoods.com, SamsClub.com, Walmart.com, Wayfair.com and more.
You can request a price match when you buy or within 14 days of a purchase. Notably, Target offers price adjustments based on competitor prices even after a purchase, so if you bought something from Target and see it listed for less at another store soon after, you can get the difference back.
As expected, your item must be identical and in-stock at the time of your request, and price matches and adjustments are not allowed for prices valid from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Week. Additionally, while you can apply manufacturer coupons to an item after a price match is made, Target coupons and Target Circle offers can't be used with price match.
How to request a price match at Target
To request a price match, simply bring in a competitor's print ad (Target's policy specifies bringing the “entire printed ad”) or digital equivalent so that Target can verify the item's price. Original receipts or packing slips are required for price adjustments on purchases already made.
Conveniently, Target store price matches and adjustments can be handled at the store at any checkout lane. For online purchases, you'll need to call Target.com Guest Services.
Save more at Target with the right credit card
Your best bet for saving at Target is the Target REDcardTM, which offers 5% back on the spot at Target and Target.com. This comes in the form of an instant discount as opposed to cash back or rewards. Perhaps even more valuable is the card's shipping benefit – you'll get free shipping on every purchase and free two-day shipping on hundreds of thousands of qualifying items.
If you're looking for a more flexible rewards card that can be used outside of Target, though, a flat rate cash back card is a good option, since Target is often excluded from many credit card bonus categories (it doesn't qualify as either a grocery store or a department store in most cases).
See related: Best flat rate cash back credit cards
Is price matching worth it?
As you can see, many stores offer some form of a price match or price adjustment guarantee. Indeed, some will not only match a competitor's price, but will beat it by as much as 10%. Even so, retail industry analysts say only 5% of consumers make use of these policies.
While tracking prices and taking advantage of store price matching policies can save you a significant amount of money over time, it can be a bit of a headache, since you'll have to check prices at multiple stores and, in most cases, be ready with proof of a lower price before you make your purchase.
But if you're a fan of a particular store or have a chance at scoring even more savings through a loyalty program or with a cash back credit card, you'll have to decide whether the discount you'll receive is worth jumping through the hoops.