7 more ways to save

Last reviewed: July 2010

No matter your shopping destination, you can hold onto more money by taking advantage of these ways to save:

  • Sign up for e-mail or mobile alerts. You might be notified of impending sales, receive coupons not readily available to everyone, and learn whether the products you want are stocked and available, which could save a trip to the store. Many retailers let you buy items online and pick them up locally, also a time-saver.
  • Get rewarded for shopping. Some chains have a points-based reward program that entitles charge-card customers to a day of discounted shopping. The more points you accrue, the more you save. Others simply extend discounts of as much as 30 percent off all merchandise if you pay with a store credit card. The programs might also offer free shipping and gift wrapping, invitations to private shopping events, and returns without a receipt.
  • Consider a store charge card. If you plan a big-ticket buy, open an account to receive, say, an extra 10 percent off. Then pay the balance immediately and cut up the card. But don't open an account if it will encourage you to overspend.
  • Check websites frequently. Many retailers feature daily specials and update their inventories of clearance items.
  • Upgrade your membership. Warehouse-club shoppers who pay for a premium membership (such as Costco's Executive or Sam's Club Plus plans) are eligible for cash back on credit-card purchases or extra savings on services such as roadside assistance, check printing, and travel.
  • Sniff out bonus savings. When you shop online and are ready to check out, you might notice a little box that asks whether you have a discount or promotional code. Those underused codes can provide extra discounts, instant savings if you spend more than a certain amount, or free or upgraded shipping. It's always worth checking to see whether there's an applicable coupon available. You'll find codes on third-party websites such as CouponWinner.com, PromotionalCodes.com, Savings.com, ShoppersResource.com, and Webcouponcodes. Or you can check the chains' own sites, where discount codes are increasingly being posted.
  • Haggle. Only about one-quarter of shoppers try bargaining, according to a nationally representative survey we conducted last year, but those who do are usually rewarded. More than 80 percent of respondents who haggled over apparel or jewelry and about 70 percent of those who haggled over appliances or electronics reported success. Be patient and nice (don't demand a discount), ask a manager (who has more authority than a sales clerk), avoid eavesdroppers (so that others don't demand a similar deal), point out any blemishes as a bargaining chip, and offer cash. (Merchants don't like to pay transaction fees to credit-card companies.)