What is price matching?

If you don’t consider yourself a hard-core shopper, you may not think much about price matching. But it can be a useful tool, especially if you’re loyal to a store or brand — or you simply want to make your life more convenient and save both money and time.

So what is price matching? It’s a policy of many chain retail stores that if a competitor has a lower price on an item you want, it will offer the same price. Read on for more details.

How Does Price Matching Work?

In a nutshell, let’s say that you visit Store A, and you have with you a coupon from Store B for a box of pasta. You really don’t feel like driving to Store B, but you need to buy it and it’s a great sale.

So you pick up the pasta at Store A and then go to the customer service department or the register with your coupon. You show it to them. If they have price matching, they sell you the pasta at the price that Store B is selling it for.

While pasta savings only account for 50 cents or a dollar, if you’re buying something expensive, like a TV, and you save $50, you can start to see how price matching could work out well for you. Especially if Store A, your favorite store, offers a rewards program that gives you points for purchases.

Which Retailers Have Price-Matching Programs?

Many of the biggest brands in retail have price-matching programs. After all, they want you shopping at their stores — and not their competitors. You may be wondering, “Does Amazon price match?” The retail behemoth isn’t among the companies that do, but many other businesses will price match if you find an item on Amazon. As noted, you will generally find these programs at internationally and nationally well-known stores with brick-and-mortar locations. With that in mind, here are some details on 10 big-brand stores offering price-matching programs:

— Walmart and Walmart.com

— Target

— Home Depot

— Lowe’s

— Best Buy

— Kohl’s

— JCPenney

— Staples

— Michaels

— PetSmart

Walmart and Walmart.com

The giant international retailer has limited price matching in its stores, but its website does price matching. It’s a little confusing, but if you are in a brick-and-mortar Walmart store, it will only do price matching with Walmart.com.

Worth noting: Walmart.com offers an extensive list of the stores it will price match items against: Academy.com, Amazon.com, Autozone.com, Babiesrus.com, Basspro.com, Bedbathandbeyond.com, Bestbuy.com, Cabelas.com, Chewy.com, Dickssportinggoods.com, Dollargeneral.com, Familydollar.com, Homedepot.com, Jcpenny.com, Kmart.com, Kohls.com, Lowes.com, Michaels.com, Newegg.com, Officedepot.com, Oreillyauto.com, Pepboys.com, Petco.com, Petsmart.com, Sears.com, Staples.com, Target.com and Walgreens.com.

More details available at the Walmart Help Center.

Target

If you find an item that is cheaper at a local competitor or select online stores, Target will match it. And here’s something worth remembering: If you buy an item at Target and then find the item for less in Target’s advertisements or a competitor’s weekly ad, as long as it has been no longer than 14 days, Target will match it.

Worth noting: Target, too, has a full list on its website of stores it will price match with. That list is: Amazon.com, Bedbathandbeyond.com, Bestbuy.com, Barnesandnoble.com, Buybuybaby.com, Costco.com, CVS.com, Diapers.com, Dickssportinggoods.com, Gamestop.com, Jcpenney.com, Kmart.com, Kohls.com, Macys.com, Newegg.com, Officedepot.com, Petco.com, Petsmart.com, Samsclub.com, Sears.com, Staples.com, Ulta.com, Walgreens.com, Walmart.com and Wayfair.com.

Home Depot

Home Depot’s website doesn’t say much about its price matching, just that it will do it. “Our Price Match Guarantee includes the price of the item(s) plus shipping cost. Price Match items must be available from competitor to ship to customer’s location. We will only honor requests submitted directly from the person who made the purchase,” the website reads.

Worth noting: The website also — like every big brand — points out that there are exclusions to its price matching. For instance, if a competitor is selling “open-box merchandise as well as reconditioned, refurbished or previously discounted products,” you’re not going to get a price match.

Lowe’s

Lowe’s has a lot of information on its website about price matching; it seems to take the practice pretty seriously. It competes against retail stores that are local — and online-only stores.

Worth noting: Lowe’s does a good job of explaining the nuts and bolts of price matching: “Present a Lowe’s store associate with a printout, local ad, photo, smartphone display or app showing the competitor’s lower price.” Lowe’s sells certain brands that never qualify for a price match: Dacor, ICON, Fisher & Paykel, Monogram, SMEG, Liebherr, Weber, Kichler and Nest. There are other non-surprising exclusions. You can’t price match installation labor.

Best Buy

Does Best Buy price match? Yes, and the main thing to remember (this is the case among many stores) is that the item needs to be identical to the product you want to buy at Best Buy. As the website says, “The product must be a matching brand, model number and color to qualify.”

Worth noting: Some of the stores that Best Buy will price match against include Amazon.com, Crutchfield.com, Dell.com, HP.com and TigerDirect.com. One of its big exclusions is competitors’ contract cellphones and service prices.

Kohl’s

Kohl’s doesn’t make a big deal of it, but its website says, “Upon request, Kohl’s stores will match a competitor’s in-store price and will also match Kohls.com pricing (which sometimes varies from Kohl’s store prices) on an identical item as outlined below. Kohl’s stores do not price match competitors’ online pricing.” So no online price match.

Worth noting: Kohl’s has a long list of “excluded merchandise” that it won’t price match, including Levi’s and Lands’ End clothing, and Dyson products, among others. You can learn more at Kohl’s customer service website.

JCPenney

As it says on its website, “We offer our price match guarantee on any retailer’s in-store and online prices. The only exclusions are marketplaces, third party sellers such as deal websites, and auctions. Our price match guarantee includes items sold by Amazon.com but not by a third party on Amazon.com.”

Worth noting: JCPenney offers is price matching for items sold every day of the year, including Black Friday. That’s pretty rare. Most stores will have in their fine print that they do price matching except during certain times of the year, especially right around Thanksgiving.

Staples

Staples has a pretty rigorous policy and will match any retail store with a brick-and-mortar location and website. It will also price match Amazon, as long as the item comes from Amazon.com and isn’t sold by a third-party seller.

Worth noting: If you notice a lower price from a competitor within 14 days, Staples will give you a refund. As usual, there are some exclusions, like tech services and print and marketing services, and it won’t price match expenses like taxes and warranties.

Michaels

The arts and crafts and home decor store has a bold price-matching program. As it declares on its website, “If you find a current lower price on an identical, in-stock item from any brick-and-mortar retailer, or any of the online retailers listed below, we will match that price, and then beat it by 10%.”

Worth noting: It has similar exclusions as other stores. For instance, it won’t compete against a third party selling on Amazon.com, and it won’t price match classes or custom-order products.

PetSmart

Yes, your pets can take advantage of price matching as well. The PetSmart website says, “If you find a product that’s in stock at a PetSmart store for a lower price at a competitor’s store (excluding competitors’ online sites and catalogs) or on www.petsmart.com, PetSmart will match the price as long as the identical product is in stock at our store. Proof of the lower price (receipt, advertisement or other confirmation) is required.”

Worth noting: It has exclusions, too, like not matching prices advertised at clearance, liquidation or other special events. Also, it price matches on pet supplies but not actual pets or services, like grooming.


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