Price-Match Policies: Which Retailers Make the Grade

October 22, 2013 by Kyle
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(Updated 12/05/16) If you’re not doing your homework and looking for the best price then you’re losing out big time as many large retailers will not only price match, but some will even beat a competitor’s price by up to 10%.

Price-Match Policies: Which Retailers Make the Grade

Best Advice: As I mentioned before, hands down I think the RedLaser smartphone app is the best way to find the lowest price. Once you know what the best price is then refer to this article to determine what store will match or hopefully beat that price. Also, to maximize your savings, be sure to use the Rather-Be-Shopping.com iPhone app to redeem a coupon directly from your phone.

The main reason to price match is of course to save money, but also convenience. If you’re already in the store you’re not going to want to drive all over town to save a few bucks. So by knowing and using the stores price match policy, you can hopefully get the best prices in one spot. Also, stores like it because it keeps you in their store in the hopes you’re going to buy other items that may not be the best value. But since you’re on my blog you ain’t going to let that happen, right?

Best Buy (Grade: A)

As I have documented previously, the Best Buy price matching policy is one of the better ones around these days. Here is how it breaks down:

  • Best Buy will match the lower price of both a local competitor or a major online retailer. Doesn’t matter how small the local competitor is, they will match the price.
  • Have either the ad of the competitor with you or know their website url. Just go to the customer service desk at Best Buy and they will either look up the site or call the store in question to verify the lower price. The retailer must be within a 25 mile radius of the Best Buy store.
  • Their online price matching policy is what sets them apart. They will match the online price of the following retailers: Amazon.com, Bhphotovideo.com, Crutchfield.com, Dell.com, HP.com, Newegg.com, and TigerDirect.com. Do your homework first, then go get the best price.
  • What about Costco? If you have a Costco (or Sam’s Clucb) within a 25 mile radius of your local Best Buy they will also match their price.
  • What about price matching after your purchase? Yes, Best Buy will also match prices post purchase if they lower their price within 15 days of your purchase.

Costco (Grade: Incomplete)

While Costco does not have a price match policy per-say, I do have a couple tricks you should know about:

  • Costco 30 day price adjustment policy. Let’s say, for example, you buy a 50 inch HDTV from Costco and within the next 30 days you notice they have dropped the price by $150. Just bring your receipt back in and they’ll show you the money. This happens OFTEN! Keep checking the price when you go in for toilet paper and dog food.
  • Workaround after 30 days: Costco won’t like me saying this but if the price of your HDTV drops after the 30 days, you can always return the item and re-buy it at the lower price. Remember that you have a 90 days return policy on electronics at Costco.

Home Depot (Grade: B)

Home Depot is famous for their 10% price match guarantee. Before you try to get a screaming deal on that table saw you have been dreaming of, here is the nitty gritty to be aware of.

  • If you find a local competitor beats the Home Depot price, you are eligible to get the product for 10% lower than the competitor’s price.
  • Exclusions: Special orders, bid pricing, volume discounts, open-box merchandise, labor and installation, sales tax, rebate and free offers, typographical errors and online purchases.
  • From a Consumerist article, a Home Depot employee tells us that store associates are able to discount an item by up to $50 without contacting a store manager. He also says that he’ll drop the price if the customer says he has seen it lower elsewhere, even without any visual proof. This is a strategy worth pursuing, especially when starting your next home improvement project.
  • Does Home Depot price match online pricing? No, as of October 2013 they do not.

JCPenney (Grade: B-)

The price match policy at JCPenney is worth mentioning as well.

  • Find a better price on an identical item from a retailer in your local area? Just bring in their ad and get the same price.
  • The list of exclusions is very reasonable: Sephora, Salon, Optical, Portrait or Custom Decorating.
  • Do they match online pricing as well? Heck NO. Bummer.

Kohl’s (Grade: C-)

Kohl’s also has a fairly decent price match policy. NOT! Here is how it attempts to work:

  • Bring in a copy of the competitor’s ad (with the current date on it) to your nearest Kohl’s store and they’ll give you the lower price.
  • Here is my beef with this policy. How many ads have the date stamped on them? Also, what if you see the lower price in another store and not on an ad? Can I take a picture of the price and bring that in? They don’t say.
  • Bottom-line: Kohl’s really needs to revamp their price match policy as it was clearly written in 1962 when they were founded.
  • Does Kohl’s match online pricing as well? Nope. Hence the C- grade, well, along with the other part.

Lowe’s (Grade: B)

Similar to the folks who wear orange aprons, Lowe’s also has a 10% “price beat” guarantee. Here are the nuts and bolts:

  • Just find a better price at a local competitor and they’ll beat it by 10%.
  • If a local store is offering a particular product at a clearance price, Lowe’s will match that price immediately.
  • Exclusions include: installation labor, special order, discontinued, clearance, liquidation or damaged items. Limited to reasonable quantities so you can’t price match 24 cordless drills apparently.
  • They also have something called ‘Price Protection’ which guarantees you the lowest price when shopping online and using the in-store pickup method. For instance, if your local Lowe’s store has an item cheaper than the Lowe’s website then that is the price you’ll get.

Office Depot (Grade: A-)

Office Depot also has an excellent price matching policy which includes online pricing. Here are the details:

  • Just show them the lower price from a competitor on the same exact product and you’re golden. Also, if you go home and then find a better price, just bring your receipt back within 14 days and cha-ching, they’ll show you the money.
  • Also, they have an excellent online price match policy. From their website, here are the online stores they will price match: “Staples.com, OfficeMax.com, BestBuy.com, Reliable.com, Quill.com, Sears.com, Target.com, KMart.com, Costco.com, or SamsClub.com or their corresponding printed catalog.”
  • Exclusions are fairly standard and include print services, delivery costs, clearance and liquidation products, and special orders.

Target (Grade: A)

Target also has a kick-ass price matching policy with many little twists and turns. Here is what you need to know:

  • They’ll match both local competitors prices as well as 29 online retailer’s pricing.
  • It must be the same exact product, down to the color and weight.
  • Online stores that Target will price match include the following websites: Amazon, Babies ‘R’ Us, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, Buy Buy Baby, Costco, CVS, Diapers.com, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Drugstore.com, GameStop, JCPenney, Kmart, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Newegg, Office Depot, Petco, Petsmart, Sam’s Club, Sears, Sports Authority, Staples, Toys ‘R’ Us, Ulta, Walgreens, Walmart, and Wayfair. Also, if you find a better price at Target.com they’ll match that price too.
  • Online price matching is good for up to 7 days after purchase. ALWAYS hold on to your receipt!
  • Major exclusions include: “Prices that only display on a website after guests log in. Clearance, closeout, damaged product, used, refurbished, open packages or liquidation sales.

Sears (Grade: Re-do, To Messy to Understand)

Sears seems to have a price match policy that tries to confuse the heck out of you to the point where you just go shop somewhere else. Maybe this is why they are on the verge of disappearing forever…

  • So the Sears price match policy starts out pretty straight forward. They’ll match any local competitor’s price either at time of purchase or within 14 days of purchase. Just bring in price evidence to any sales associate and you’ll be golden. OK, so far, so good.
  • But now we get to the online pricing part and I am left scratching my head. From the Sears website: “If you find a lower online price on an identical brand and model number currently available from a local competitor’s retail store honoring its own online price and the item is currently available for sale and delivery in your area, Sears will match the price of the merchandise.” Huh? What the heck? This was clearly written to sound really good but can anyone actually understand it?
  • So does this mean they’ll only honor an online price if the store in question has a brick & mortar store with the same price? So isn’t this just a regular price-match? I have a MBA with a specialization in e-Commerce and I don’t have a clue. How is the average consumer going to noodle it through?
  • Until this is explained to me in regular English I can’t give Sears a grade. Any help would be much appreciated!

Walmart (Grade: B+)

Being the largest retailer in the world it should come as no surprise that Wally World also has a price match policy. But it really isn’t that great:

  • Walmart will match the price of any local brick & mortar competitor.
  • You do NOT need the ad to get the price match. This is cool, but it makes me wonder how the heck they verify the price. Anyone know?
  • Items must be absolutely identical. Exclusions include BOGO items, closeout prices, and I am assuming tropical fish.
  • They do NOT honor Internet pricing. Come on Walmart, really? Get with the 21st century will ya.
  • New Info (11/14/14): Walmart reports that they WILL price match Amazon.com for the Holiday shopping season. Look for this to become permanent. “About half of the stores were doing it anyway,” said Greg Foran, head of Walmart’s U.S. business.

When it comes to the best price matching policies, the clear winners are Best Buy, Target and Office Depot as they’ll all match online and in-store pricing from competitors. Hopefully more retailers will start doing this in the future as it really gives consumers more negotiating power. Also, before you head to the store, be sure to look for an in-store printable coupon to lower the price tag even more.

Ask the Reader: Have you used any of these price matching policies to your benefit? Are there any other stores that have price matching policies that deserve to be added to this article? Please let me know and I’ll be sure to add them and give them a grade!

By Kyle James

Photo credit to m01229.

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25 Comments on "Price-Match Policies: Which Retailers Make the Grade"

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Thanks for this great review! I’m just familiar in Walmart I know they sell lots of affordable products.

Hey Clarrise, nice to see you here again.

The prices in Walmart are good for sure, especially their loss leaders, but they could be made even better if you price match and haggle a little bit!

Holy Cow Kyle…great post and research!!!

With the exception of Best Buy, where I bought my TV and Hi-Def off the air antenna a few years ago, I haven’t set foot into nay of the stores you mentioned, preferring to buy what I need locally or used at a thrift shop.

That being said, it’s still good to knwo that there are some major chains that respect customer service!

Take care and thanks again fr the hard work. All the best.

Lyle

Thanks Lyle, appreciate the feedback. Hope all is well north of the border!

It is!! 🙂

Lyle

The best part about Walmart’s price matching policy is that the cashiers don’t even verify anything. They just take your word for it!

I have to disagree with you about Best Buy. Everything about Best Buy sucks.

“I have to disagree with you about Best Buy. Everything about Best Buy sucks.”

OK, what’s the story??

That’s a good overview. Out of the stores listed, I mainly go to Target so glad they have an A. Plus I have the red card so I’ll get the price match and another 5% off. I tried price matching Amazon at Staples, but they said I couldn’t because it was not Amazon…it was an Amazon merchant. That makes sense I guess…that’s probably how it works at other places right?

Aww, good point on Amazon merchants Andrew. I guess that does make sense but a major bummer at the time I’m sure. I’ll have to add Staples to my post!

Thanks for the comprehenive info Kyle. It really helps to know this sort of thing before going shopping

I didn’t realize that Costco price matched within 30 days!

Also, not all electronics have a 90 day policy. I bought a router through them online and it was terrible so I ended up returning it after 90 days as that one was not one of the restricted electronics. I think only TVs, cell phones, cameras, and computers fit that policy.

Great info, thanks Tara. Costco use to let you return TV’s after 90 days too but that policy was widely abused and they were forced to dial it back.

I noticed that an item (exercise bike) I had purchased at Costco.ca was now on sale.
I called and asked if I was entitled to the price difference. I was expecting a negative reply as I had purchased the item more than a month earlier. I was told that, as long as I made the request while the promotion was running, I would receive the price difference regardless of when I made the purchase.
So, $200 richer, I am very happy.

You state in this article that Best Buy has the best price matching policy…. However HH Gregg appliances and electronics has the same price matching policy with a 30 day timeframe. They don’t even limit you to one time like best buy does

hhgregg actually has a 90 DAY PRICE PROMISE….

they match anyone bestbuy does but give you 90days for price protection!

Office Depot will match their online prices if it’s cheaper. I just pull up the product on my smart phone. They will not match to amazon.com. I have tried and it’s against the store policy. I don’t know if it’s just my store or if it’s a corporate policy.

Magnolia Hi-Fi will price match but you need to ask the sales manager. I wanted a T.V. that was $5999.00 at Maganolia. I found it online at Walts T.V. for $4499.00 with free shipping and no sales tax. Magnolia matched the price but I paid sales tax. It was all good though because I financed it along with some other equipment with 0% over 24 months. That T.V by the way, was deeply discounted 6 months later to $2599 after the manufacturer discontinued making T.V.’s to concentrate on projectors instead. Last time I checked the T.V. was selling for $1600-$1800 till they were all gone. I also learned that the best time to purchase is after the Super Bowl and before September.

Different Walmarts have different standards of difficulty to get a price match. It depends on the manager. I use Walmart price match for most if our food purchases and save more than 50% but you have to understand their “rules” which often change with managers. If they are trying to not honor the match policy they can get very picky. Some say we dont honor that because it says small and ours are not small (avocados, etc.) Or it says “fresh” but ours was previously frozen… if they are tightening the rules they will demand to see the ad, for example.

If the ad is per piece (5 for a $, for example) and walmart sells it by the pound it is not a match. Many do not realize they match storebrand for storebrand, is often the best buy in the ad. A standard example from last week was head lettuce .69 where walmarts orice is $1.48 and Avocados 3 for $1 when Walmarts price was $88 each. Sometimes the match price is only a few cents but it is more often a third the price. I average a 50% savings.

Just wanted to mention that Staples Inc. has an excellent price match policy.
http://www.staples.com/sbd/content/help-center/pricing-and-promotions.html#10003_6

Costco: instead of returning your old item in Costco, buy the same item again and return it on the old receipt. You get to keep your conscience as well as get the overpaid money and Costco doesn’t have to deal with the used stuff. This way, everybody’s is happy.

We have done price match at Walmart and never had a problem.

It would be nice if costco would just let you return and rebuy the same item. What Uma said may be true on some items (buy a new one and return the old on on the new receipt, BUT if they actually check Serial Numbers (most high end electronic have serial numbers that the manufacturers check to allow credit, and many retailers include this on the receipt. If they do check the serial (I dont know if they do) you can not do this (even though it would be in costcos interest to allow it).

For example games systems like Xbox have a scanable barcode with serial info.

The Wal-Mart in our neighborhood matches Amazon.com pricing. They have done it for me several times. Also, I have called Wal-Mart online and they have also matched Amazon’s Deal of the Day price. So, I guess Wal-Mart has it’s big boy pants on.

Walmart/Bestbuy match amazon if it is shipped/sold by amazon. Check the Prime box in the search result to limit results to amazon products. Walmart also matches their own online prices. Worth checking.

Sears is laughable… they refuse to price match *their own* website.

Item is $20 online, and shows as being in-stock at my store; but the shelf price is $35. Staff refuse to adjust the price at the register, meanwhile insisting that “we do honor online pricing”.

The catch… you have to order online, wait for their catalog staff to fetch the item off the shelf where you’re standing, then meet them in the back of the store at catalog pickup. That’s just being petty and difficult.

I’m cool if they have online pricing you have to request, but forcing me to place an online order for an item that’s in my hand is beyond stupid.

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