Can You Get a Deal After You've Paid Full Price?

It might not be too late to save some money, even after you've checked out

Person holding cash with a dotted line going through the cash indicating savings Photo Illustration: Lacey Browne/CR, Getty Images

You finally bought that item you’ve had your eye on. But the next morning, you get an email about a sale on that same product. If only you’d waited one more day, you could have spent less. 

This scenario can leave you feeling disappointed or even annoyed, but if you’re willing to put in a little effort, you may be able to get some of your money back.

Some retailers will refund the difference without a second thought. Others may even honor a sale price from another store. Or you might be able to get some money back through your credit card company. And even if none of these do the trick, there may be one final option—return your purchase and buy it again at the discounted price.

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We asked our audiences on Twitter and in our Facebook group, Consumer 101, whether they’d had any luck getting partial refunds and it turns out quite a few have had luck saving money after making a purchase. Almost everyone who had successfully gotten a partial refund pointed out that they needed their receipt. Some said that they opted to simply return the full-price item and purchase it again while it was on sale.

So where should you start?

Check the Return Policy

Especially when you’re buying a big-ticket item, it’s a good idea to know the specifics in case plans change and you need to return or exchange your item—or, in this case, take advantage of a sale or lower price. Every retailer has its own policy, so aside from saving your receipt, be on the lookout for the following details:

• Length of return window.
• How the refund will be issued (e.g., store credit or cash).
• How and where you can make a return.
• Whether you’re responsible for shipping costs if returning via mail.
• Whether the company has a price-matching policy.
• Length of price-match window (when applicable).

Reach Out to Customer Service

Some retailers have policies in place for partial refunds, but others do not. No policy does not necessarily mean no refund, but you may have to do a bit more work to get money back.

For example, Amazon claims to not honor price adjustments and partial refunds, as prices can fluctuate pretty frequently. However, one of the respondents on Facebook indicated they were able to get some money back after contacting Amazon’s customer service, as they could have just as easily returned and repurchased for the lower price, so it’s always worth asking. When I reached out to customer service via chat, I was told they could not just refund the difference and that I would have to return and reorder to get the discounted price.

In many cases, the retailer will refund the difference of what you paid versus the sale price, as long as your purchase was within a specified time—often 14 days. If they can’t or won’t refund to the original form of payment, you may be issued a store credit. This can be perfectly acceptable when it’s a retailer you shop frequently, but if you’d rather have the money back, try one of the next two steps.

Contact Your Credit Card Company

Depending on what cards you have, your credit card benefits may entitle you to file a claim and get a partial refund directly from them instead of the retailer.

The specifics will vary from company to company, but there are often limits on how much you can get back in a single claim and annual caps on claims. And the window of time you have to file a claim can vary—for instance, some credit providers will honor a claim for anywhere from 90 to 120 days after the purchase, which is more generous than many retailers’ policies.

Start the Return Process

If customer service is a dead end and you don’t have price protection through your credit card, you can always try returning the full-price item and buying it again at the sale price.

Some retailers may only refund the current value of the item, rather than the full price paid, if you do not have proof of what you spent (so always save your receipts and online order confirmation). This can also vary depending on how long it’s been since you made the purchase, whether the item has been removed from its original packaging or otherwise been used, and if the retailer charges a restocking fee.

You’ll also want to look into different return options, especially if you’ve ordered online. Some retailers cover return shipping costs for items ordered online, but others may take this out of your refund. This may make the eventual savings too minimal to be worth all the effort.

If possible, returning something in-store may be the better solution. Plus, if they have the item in stock and available for the sale price, you can get a new one with no wait time. Do keep in mind, however, that refunds may not be immediately credited to your account, especially if you’re getting the refund back to a credit or debit card versus cash or as store credit.

Stores With Partial Refund Policies

Many major retailers will adjust the price of an item if a customer can show it’s available elsewhere for less when they check out. 

A number of popular stores, however, do have policies for post-sale considerations, whether you find a better price elsewhere or the item goes on sale where you bought it. Some may only price-match specific retailers, others only their own pricing, so it’s important to review the refund and price-matching policy wherever you shop. 

Here’s a closer look at the policies of some of the top retailers across the country. Bear in mind that these are select details, and each company has additional information that is worth reviewing further.

Bed Bath & Beyond: You can request a partial refund for up to 14 days after a purchase if the item goes on sale at BB&B. They will also price-match if you find the product cheaper at another retailer within the same time frame. This excludes clearance and seasonal items, as well as prices from marketplace sellers.

Best Buy: Partial refunds are possible if you find an item on sale at Best Buy within the return and exchange period, which varies by product and member status. 

buybuy BABY: This company is owned by Bed Bath & Beyond, and it follows the same policy.

Costco: You have 30 days to request a partial refund if Costco lowers the price of an item you purchased from Costco.com. If you made the purchase at a brick-and-mortar location, you’ll have to visit the in-store customer service department to see if you can get some money back. And the warehouse store does not price-match with other retailers.

Crutchfield: After you’ve bought an item, you have a 60-day window to request a price-match via phone or chat if its price drops at Crutchfield. The retailer does price-match against most items sold and shipped by Amazon, Best Buy, B&H Photo Video, and Sonic Electronix, but only at the time of purchase and not afterward.

Home Depot: If an item you bought at Home Depot goes on sale or a competitor has a lower price, you can contact customer service to get a partial refund up to 90 days from the date of purchase. The window of time depends on the item—for example, Home Depot only grants partial refunds for appliances for 30 days after purchase. And if you made your purchase online, you have to seek a partial refund through Home Depot’s online customer service. There are exclusions, as well, such as clearance and seasonal items, third-party seller pricing, and custom-ordered items among others.

JCPenney: You can request a partial refund for 14 days after a purchase if you find the item available for less at JCPenney or another retailer. The company does not honor prices listed on Amazon and other marketplaces by third-party sellers, but everything else is fair game.

Kohl’s: While Kohl’s does have a long list of exclusions, such as certain ineligible products and items purchased as part of a sale (e.g., buy one, get one free), you can still request a partial refund for up to 14 days after purchase as long as you have the receipt. You’ll have to head back to the store where you bought the item, or contact customer service if you bought it online. The company’s price-match policy only includes in-store pricing for competing retailers, so online prices are not honored, and you’ll need proof of the other retailer’s pricing.

Macy’s: You have just 10 days to submit a request to Macy’s for a price adjustment, and the company recommends your request be done through email (customerservice@macys.com). There may be restrictions on certain items. For instance, Macy’s will only refund up to $100 on a mattress if you find a better price at another retailer, and only retailers with brick-and-mortar locations will be considered. You will also need to provide proof of model specifications, as Macy’s requires the item to be an exact match to qualify.

Staples: Staples matches prices from its competitors if you can show proof of a lower price elsewhere at checkout in-store only, or will provide a partial refund within 14 days of making a purchase of an item that goes on sale in-store or at Staples.com.

Target: If you find a better price at Target or a qualifying online competitor, Target will refund you the difference for up to 14 days following your purchase. You can bring in proof of the lower price to a brick-and-mortar location or contact customer service over the phone to get a partial refund for online purchases. And during the 2021 holiday season, from Oct. 10 through Dec. 24, Target is extending its price-matching policy. If anything you buy goes on sale for less during this time, you can request a refund of the difference.


Head shot of CR Shopping Deals Editor Samantha Gordon

Samantha B. Gordon

I am an avid writer, editor, and consumer with an unusually deep love for finding amazing deals on amazing products, especially when those things can make my life, or yours, a little easier. When I'm not critiquing deals to find the best of the best, you can find me crafting on a barstool with a fancy cocktail or editing a science fiction novel (also with a cocktail). Follow me on Twitter (@sam_the_editor).