Clever Tricks To Save You Money At Target

Whether you prefer to call it Target or the faux-French nickname "Tar-jay," the Minnesota-based retailer is one of the most recognized names in retail, and with good reason. The brand's history dates back to 1902 as a seller of dry goods and by 1962, the transformation to its current discount store persona was complete. Nowadays, shoppers can pick up groceries, furniture, electronics, clothing, and more — all under one roof.

With almost 2,000 Target stores located in all 50 states, the odds are good you have one located nearby. In fact, 75% of all homes in the United States live within a 10-mile radius of a Target store. Perhaps you're a fan of its "cheap chic" designer collaborations and popular in-house brands like Goodfellow & Co. or Open Story? Or maybe you just appreciate the fact that Target is a good corporate citizen, like making donations and organizing volunteer programs for the community? Whatever your reason might be to shop there, if you're a Target frequent-flyer, Money Analysis has some tips on saving that you'll definitely want to know about.

Open a Target credit or debit card

Target offers loyal shoppers its own co-branded debit or credit card, called the Target Circle Card. Wait, what? Many consumers previously recognized this offering as the brand's REDcard, but it was renamed Circle Card in April 2024. While most experts typically recommend against store-branded credit cards, the Circle Card holds serious appeal, provided that you're a frequent and loyal Target shopper. That's because the cards have no annual fee, yet deliver a 5% discount on almost all Target purchases made online or in-store, though a certain few exceptions do apply, such as pharmacy items. Besides an unlimited 5% discount, Circle Card holders also receive free two-day shipping from Target.com, as well as an extra 30 days to return purchases that didn't work out.

Reportedly, a new Mastercard-affiliated Circle Card can be used for purchases anywhere, not just within the Target ecosystem. That increases the credit card's appeal and usefulness, but the rewards from spending are still pretty mediocre. Since you can only get approved for a finite number of credit cards based on your income, credit score, and other factors, consumers might consider opening a Target debit card instead. The debit version of Circle Card doesn't even require a credit check for approval; funds are withdrawn directly from your checking or savings account, like any other debit card. Because debit card benefits are the same as the credit card, this is a great option if you love Target.

Join the Target Circle loyalty program

If adding another credit or debit card to your portfolio isn't appealing right now, consider joining Target's loyalty program, Target Circle, to save money while shopping at Target instead. Members receive 1% cash back from all purchases made on Target.com or in-store. However, Circle credit or debit card holders should note that the 1% cash back can't be combined with their 5% discount. In other words, you can't "double dip" and get both a 5% discount and 1% cash back.

Another lucrative perk of Target Circle are coupons, which are issued to loyalty members based on their purchase history. These discounts, applicable to hundreds of products, are frequently in the 10% to 50% off range. As well, Target Circle members will receive an annual discount of 5% on most online or in-store purchases on their birthday each year. Whether or not you have the Circle credit or debit card, it's a no-brainer to join Target's free-of-charge loyalty program if you find yourself shopping there with any frequency at all.

[Featured image by Ajw4jesus15 via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | CC BY-SA 4.0]

Look for clearance items

A while back, Money Analysis blew the cover off some tricks for finding clearance deals at Walmart. Anecdotally at least, Walmart's arch rival Target makes sniffing out clearance bargains more straightforward. How much can you expect to save? A typical range for clearance discounts is 30% up to 70% off the original pricing, though certain popular items like laundry detergent aren't likely to linger around long enough to reach the maximum discount level.

Of course, there's the tried-and-true life hack of searching online for clearance bargains and indeed, Target's website makes this process easy with a clearance tab on both the "Categories" and "Deals" drop-down menus. For in-store shopping, the Krazy Koupon Lady recommends that deal-seekers acclimate themselves with the markdown schedule at their local store(s). For instance, some stores may mark down toys on Tuesdays, while a different location will mark the same items down on Thursday.

Additionally, Krazy Koupon Lady suggests politely asking store employees for their insight on the clearance calendar for different category items. Once an item is marked down, it'll typically be further reduced every two weeks, though a high volume of particular items may be reduced more aggressively, such as seasonal decorations.

Get a bonus gift card

Savvy consumers can search for items that reward certain purchases with a bonus gift card; these offers are typically found under "deals" on Target's website or they're specially marked in stores. For example, at the time of writing, Target was rewarding shoppers with a $10 gift card for purchasing a quantity of three household items in one transaction. That's a great deal for essentials like paper towels, trash bags, and many other essentials that you'll need to stock up on anyway. Historically, typical gift card bonuses range from $5 to $20.

If you're finding most of the good gift card opportunities online, note that members of Target's Free Circle 360 program — a paid program (think of Amazon Prime or Walmart+) that offer free same-day delivery on orders over $35, free two-day shipping, and an extra 30 days to return items — get free shipping on online orders. Ditto for holders of the Circle credit and debit cards. Everyone else will need to spend at least $35 to get free (and likely slower than two-day) shipping, though this shouldn't be a serious obstacle to snagging free bonus gift cards. That's because buying items in the multiples required to trigger the free gift card is likely to total more than $35 anyway.

Take advantage of price matching

It's never a great feeling to buy something, only to then see that same product advertised for less elsewhere. Fortunately, Target shoppers have 14 days from the time of purchase to request a price match if the same item is being sold from another retailer for less. Though to be clear, you don't have to wait until after purchasing to ask for a price adjustment — you can do it at the time of your initial purchase as well. Therefore, it pays to do a quick internet search while you're still in the store if you suspect your item of choice may be available for less somewhere else. That way, you'll score the convenience of not going to another store and the lower price, both.

Target's price-match policy is fairly liberal, however, there are a few caveats to be aware of. If you see an item that's priced lower on Target.com than it is in the physical store, Target will match the lower price. Ditto for advertisements from local brick-and-mortar stores, provided that a membership isn't required to qualify for the lower price. Finally, Target will match a large list of online retailers. Naturally, that list includes its primary competitors, Amazon and Walmart, but many others are also fair game for price-matching, like Best Buy, The Home Depot, and Walgreens, just to name a few. You might never have buyer's remorse again.

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