Guide: 7 Easy Ways to Save on In-Store Shopping
It’s easy to save money when you shop online because you have a world of information and resource at your fingertips. Sadly, shopping in person is not always as lucrative thanks to a lack of shopping portals, easy comparison tools and promo codes. This shopping guide includes 7 easy ways to save on in-store purchases. Let me know if I skipped over your favorite app or method in the comments.
Buy Discounted Gift Cards Before Shopping
There are so many online retailers that sell discounted gift cards nowadays for almost any store you can think of. If you know, ahead of time that you’ll be shopping somewhere specific, you can purchase a discounted gift card for in-store use and either print it out or add it to your mobile wallet. Just note that discounted gift cards sold on exchanges typically have a limited period of time for which the online seller guarantees them. Thus, if you’re not sure you’ll be making a purchase within the guarantee window, you’re better off using a different method to save on your in-store purchases because if something goes wrong with the card you’ll be out of luck.
I always look at Gift Card Granny or Gift Card Wiki to see what the current discounted rates are for specific retailers. Another thing to look out for is sales on already discounted gift cards. Sites like Card Cash and Gift Card Spread are always having sales like this one.
Yet another avenue you can use to buy discounted gift cards is to use credit cards that earn bonus rewards at retailers that sell 3rd party gift cards. For example, you can purchase a plethora of gift cards for in-store use at Staples with cards that earn extra points at office supply stores, like the Chase Ink Cash or Amex Business Cash. Purchasing gift cards at grocery stores with cards like the Amex Blue Cash Preferred is another good option.
Use a Coupon App To Check for In-Store Coupons or Promo Codes
There are plenty of apps to assist you with savings, but to see in-store deals I use Coupon Cabin and RetailMeNot. I’ve written about RetailMeNot before in a different context, but this app is one of my favorites. I always check both before I purchase anything in-store because it will tell you if there is a coupon available for your purchase or a promotion code to apply at check-out to save you money.
Use the United Milage Plus X App
If you don’t have time to purchase a gift card before you go to a store, you can still get miles from the purchase. MileagePlus X is a mobile app that allows users to earn United award miles when shopping or dining at participating retailers. Basically, at check-out when the cashier gives you the final total, you enter the amount in the MPX app and it instantly generates a gift card which you use as payment. Each retailer offers miles per dollar, so the amount of miles you receive is based on your order total, just like shopping portals. Check out “How to Use the United MileagePlus X App and Earn Bonus Miles for Every Day Spend” for an in depth look at the app.
Shopping Portals or Apps that Offer In-Store Cashback
United, Alaska and Ebates shopping portals offer cashback when shopping in store and paying with a linked card. Unfortunately, the offering is extremely limited and the cashback amounts are very small compared to the online shopping rates. All of these portals offer the same exact stores, so it’s not a very exciting option, but it’s better than nothing if you happen to be making a spur of the moment purchase. It’s also very easy and fast to link a card using your phone, so you really don’t need to plan ahead.
Retailers that price match offer a really simple way to save money in store, find a better price elsewhere, they match it or beat it! The best part of price guarantees is that they don’t preclude you from using any of the methods above aside from in store coupons in some cases. My new favorite price match policy is JC Penney, not only will they match any competitors price and give you an additional 5% off, but they allow you to apply any applicable coupons after the price match. One thing to note is that the added coupon discount is only on in-store price matched products. For online purchases, you can either use a coupon or the 5% extra price match, but not both. For other stores with great policies, check out this post.
Store Specific Loyalty or Rewards Program
These days, it seems like just about every store you shop at has their own mobile app to go along with their own in house loyalty or rewards program. While learning the ins and out of each program can be daunting, it definitely helps to become a member of programs tied to stores you regularly shop at. Also, you’ll be the first to know of special offers or promotions that you might miss if you’re not a member.
The best part of programs like this is that the rewards you earn are generally stacked on top of any other rewards on cashback, so it’s a win-win situation. I like to pair the Office Depot rewards program with my Ink Cash. PDX Deals Guy did a great write last year on how to use the Kohls’ Loyalty program for major savings “A Kohl’s Deal Primer: Using Ninja Tricks to get roughly 50%+ off!”
Use the Right Credit Card
The last tip is probably the easiest and most straight-forward way to save in store: use the right credit card. If you have a card that earns 3-4% back on restaurants, use that while eating out. Capital One Savor and Uber Visa are a few examples. If you have an Amex offer for grocery stores, use that card when food shopping. You get the point. Always keep an eye out for spending offers where you get extra points for using the card or targeted promotions for shopping at certain places or spending certain amounts.
As with most things, you’ll do better with a little bit of planning ahead. Since life doesn’t always work like that, sometimes we have to (or just want to) make spur of the moment purchases. You can still save! Don’t limit your value by sticking to one or two of the methods above, be creative and try to see if there are ways to stack 3 or 4 of the above savings ideas.