If you only rely on mainstream ads or the sale signage in stores to guide your shopping, you’re likely missing out on some serious savings. However, if you’re willing to do a little bit of legwork, you can successfully sidestep full prices — at least part of the time.
The majority of retailers offer at least one type of savings opportunity, and the best ones offer several. From loyalty programs to price-matching strategies, find out how you can save with these top hidden retail deals from the experts.
Join the Loyalty Program
“By joining the retailer’s loyalty program, you’ll receive details about upcoming sales and potentially have the opportunity to earn points toward future purchases,” said Trae Bodge, smart shopping expert at TrueTrae.
Some of the best loyalty rewards programs for your wallet include Sephora’s Beauty Insider, DSW VIP Rewards, Nordy Club by Nordstrom, and myWalgreens.
Use the App
“If the store has an app and you’re a regular customer, download the app for access to savings,” said Bodge.
Retailer apps might also have other valuable features. For example, the Macy’s app allows you to scan price tags for real-time prices before you get to the register. Plus, you can turn on push notifications so you’ll never miss a sale or exclusive offer, and all your rewards data is available at your fingertips.
Sign Up for Texts
“If you don’t mind receiving texts from a particular retailer, text alerts often have more generous discounts than deal alerts sent by email,” Bodge said.
Retailers that send out offers via text include Old Navy, IKEA, Ulta, Target, Dollar General and Macy’s. If you get tired of receiving these offers, you can simply unsubscribe.
Use a Third-Party App
“In addition to a store app, use a deal app as well,” said Bodge. “For example, by using the CouponCabin app, you could find cashback offers or exclusive deals that can often be combined with other store offers.”
Other popular digital shopping apps include Honey, RetailMeNot and Ibotta.
Get the Store Credit Card
“If a favorite retailer has a credit card, peruse the benefits to determine whether the card is worth signing up for,” advised Bodge. “These cards usually come with exclusive benefits, like automatic discounts or the ability to earn points towards purchases down the road. It’s very important to note that these store cards should be paid off in full every month due to their high APRs.”
Some of the best store credit cards are the Capital One Walmart Rewards Mastercard, Target RedCard and the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card.
Shop With the Right Card
“If you’d prefer not to have too many credit cards, make sure you have a card that allows you to earn points on your purchases,” said Bodge. “If not, it might be time to switch to one that does, like the new Bread Cashback American Express, by Bread Financial. This annual fee-free card allows you to earn 2% cashback on all purchases, which will really pay off over time!”
Don’t Forget the Clearance Section
“Whenever you visit the store, take the time to swing by the clearance section,” Bodge said. “You never know what you might find!”
Target, Walmart and Best Buy all offer clearance sections in their retail locations and online.
Leave Items in Your Online Cart
“You can also try the tip of leaving your products in your cart for a day or two,” said Laura Jimenez, an expert retailer with decades of experience and owner of Ishine365. “This simple move could get you a good discount. This is because most retailers hate unsettled deals and thus would do anything, including offering coupons, to have the deal closed.”
Stack Coupons if Allowed
“Using coupons is one of the best ways of getting discounts online,” said Jimenez. “There are instances where you can have more than one coupon code. This will guarantee you maximum savings.”
You can also stack coupons at certain retailers when you shop in-store.
Take Advantage of Price-Matching Programs
Many retailers offer price matching, including Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Lowe’s and Home Depot. Price matching generally means that a retailer is willing to match the price if a customer finds the same item for a lower cost elsewhere. However, not all retailers are equal in the way that they run these programs.
For instance, some retailers won’t price match items listed on the websites of other retailers. So make sure you’re aware of the rules and exclusions for the particular store where you’re shopping before you check out.
More From GOBankingRates