Price Matching Policies Made Simple for Top Retailers

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Price matching can be a big money-saver, but you need to be able to navigate the fine print. For example, I saved more than 50 percent recently on a camera memory card purchase when Target matched Amazon’s $16.56 price, knocking down Target’s original price of $34.99. Ever better: I didn’t have to wait for shipping.

But before I got this match, I had to know a few important details: Target only matches online prices from a few sites, which include Amazon.com, not any price you can dig up. The item also had to be sold and shipped by Amazon, so items sold by third-parties whose orders are merely fulfilled by Amazon don’t count.

Unfortunately, other retailers can be this complicated or even more so with their price-matching policies. So here’s a guide to making price matching as easy as possible based on your retailer of choice.

Price Match General Rules of Thumb

While every store has its own policies for matching prices, if they match them at all, there are a few general rules to consider before heading to the store:

  1. Research what they’ll match. Stores might match only local competitors or select online stores. Some match their own online prices, others don’t. (I’ve included much of this information on current policies below).
  2. Check for category exclusions. Stores that match prices don’t always do so on every product they sell.
  3. Understand what you need to do to get a price matched. Some stores will accept information on your smartphone, others ask for printouts, and some require the ads.
  4. Check on price adjustment policy. Some stores will match prices after your purchase if you find a lower price later. Most of these policies are limited to a set number of days.
  5. Check updated policies. Stores change their price-matching policies all the time. Check their websites for the most up-to-date information.

Now that you know the basics, here’s more on the current price-matching policies of the largest U.S. retailers.

Retailers That Match Prices

Target

Matches own online prices? Yes.
Matches other stores’ online prices? Yes, for select retailers only.
What you need for price match: Printout or ad on smartphone.

Target’s policy is to match certain online retailers, including a rarely seen match of Amazon.com. Customers can bring in a printout or pull up the page on their smartphone. On my recent trip, the customer service representative verified the Amazon.com price for my item using an iPad.

Target’s price-match policy is limited to “one competitor online price match per identical item, per guest.”

There are a few other rules in the fine print about what prices Target will match.

See Target’s policy here.

Best Buy

Matches own online prices? Yes.
Matches other stores’ online prices? Yes.
What you need for price match: Print ad or website information.

Best Buy currently offers a “Low Price Guarantee” that will match prices at local competitors as well as several online retailers, including Amazon, Newegg and more.

Like Target, you’re limited to one match per identical item.

See Best Buy’s policy here.

Walmart

Matches own online prices? No.
Matches other stores’ online prices? No.
What you need for price match: Some proof of price.

Walmart matches local competitors’ deals. This includes prices in ads or other prices that can be proved in Walmart’s store. You do not need to have the ad with you, but you will need some way for them to verify the price.

Walmart will match grocery prices, too, as long as it’s for the same item or is sold in similar weights or quantities for produce and meat.

Walmart does not guarantee its own online prices in stores, but you can order online and pick up in a store for free.

See Walmart’s policy here.

Lowe’s

Matches own online prices? Yes.
Matches other stores’ online prices? Local competitors only.
What you need for price match: Print ad.

The best benefit of Lowe’s price matching? They’ll take 10 percent off any price you can find at a local competitor and prove with an ad or printout.

See Lowe’s policy here.

Home Depot

Matches own online prices? Maybe (depends on store).
Matches other stores’ online prices? No.
What you need for price match: Not specified.

Home Depot’s policy mirrors that of competitor Lowe’s: 10 percent off local competitors’ in-store or online prices.

Home Depot does not state that it matches its own online prices, but some shoppers report success getting stores to do so.

See Home Depot’s policy here.

Sears

Matches own online prices? Yes.
Matches other stores’ online prices? Sometimes.
What you need for price match: Printed form that includes shipping cost.

Sears will match competitors’ prices but only after shipping cost is factored in. Sears doesn’t match online-only store prices, like Amazon or Newegg.

Other reports claim that Sears will only match prices from stores that match Sears’ prices, but I couldn’t verify that claim.

See Sears’s policy here.

JC Penney

Matches own online prices? No.
Matches other stores’ online prices? No.
What you need for price match: A print ad.

JC Penney requires a print ad to match prices of competitors, which can be a bit of a hassle. But there are some silver linings in their policies.

Yahoo! notes that store managers were willing to make exceptions to JCP’s written policies in some cases.

JC Penney’s return policy lets you return any item for any reason at any time. Even though they might not match prices, you’re theoretically protected since you can return your items if you find a lower price.

Even though they don’t match their own online prices, JC Penney does offer free in-store pickup of online items at the low price.

See JC Penney’s policy here.

Kohl’s

Matches own online prices? No.
Matches other stores’ online prices? No.
What you need for price match: Print ad.

Kohl’s will match competitors’ prices with a print ad only. Reportedly shoppers can’t use coupons along with a price match.

See Kohl’s policy here.

What’s your experience been with matching prices? Have any good tips to share?

Published or Updated: April 21, 2014
About Jeffrey Trull

Jeffrey Trull is a freelance writer and blogger with a passion for helping others
pay down debt, save money, and spend on what they love. His work has
been featured on Money Talks News, MSN Money, and MainStreet.

Comments

  1. If you do the research, you will actually find that price matching policies hurt consumers overall. This seems very counter-intuitive at first, but I believe it’s true.

    If many companies participate, then there is no real advantage to lowering prices because you will screw the competition. In retaliation they can lower the prices on another item. What your left with is a price war.

    If they implement price matching, then they can encourage each other to keep the prices higher overall for a majority of their products. It is almost like legal price-fixing…

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