How To Get The Best Deals At 10 Major Retail Chains

Everyone wants a bargain, which is why more Americans shop at discount chains like Target and Walmart than at any other type of big store. But a new survey of more than 30,000 subscribers by the Consumer Reports National Research Center reveals that folks are also finding low prices at department stores, warehouse clubs, and general-merchandise retailers. We recently reported on why consumers shop where they do.

Here’s how to get the best deals at 10 major retail chains.

Costco
The warehouse club ($50 a year for basic membership) doesn’t accept manufacturers’ coupons but distributes its own and offers instant rebates. If you spend a lot at Costco, consider upgrading to an executive membership ($100). You’ll get 2 percent back on almost all purchases, to a maximum rebate of $500 a year.

Dillard’s
Use a Dillard’s credit card to earn shopping passes good for 10 percent off all purchases made in a single day up to $1,000. You get one discount pass when you sign up for the card if you spend at least $100 that day. Each $750 you spend in a calendar year earns you another discount pass. When your credit-card purchases in a calendar year top $2,000, you’ll qualify for free shipping and other cost-saving perks.

JCPenney
Maybe best-known for its “white sales,” JCPenney discounts clearance merchandise 40 to 80 percent on its outlet at jcpenney.com. You can also sign up for e-mail or mobile alerts on coupons, weekly deals, and events.

Kmart
The discounter is under the same corporate umbrella as Sears and specialty retailers Lands’ End and The Great Indoors. All four share the Shop Your Way rewards program. You earn points equivalent to 1 percent back, which you can “spend” at any of the four stores. Unemployed? Apply online for Kmart’s Smart Assist savings card, which offers 20 percent off more than 1,500 items for six months.

Kohl’s
Use a Kohl’s credit card to get 15 to 30 percent off all merchandise. Once you spend $600 in a year you qualify for “pick-a-day” savings six times a year. Special promotions include $10 in “Kohl’s Cash” for each $50 spent on a single shopping trip.

Macy’s
Open a Macy’s charge account and get a 15 percent discount on the day you’re approved and the next day. Cardholders also qualify for special sales and coupons.

Sam’s Club
Regular membership in Walmart’s warehouse club spin-off is $40 a year. Upgrade to the Plus Membership ($100 a year) to get additional automatic savings on select products and services.

Sears
If you buy something at Sears and find it at a lower price at another local store within 14 days, Sears will match the price and give you 10 percent of the difference. Look for the “deal of the day” on the Sears website, and on Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail alerts.

Target
Shoppers using a Target REDcard credit card (the store’s or through Visa) or a REDcard debit card this fall will receive 5 percent off at checkout. Pay for five prescriptions with a REDcard and get a coupon for 5 percent off on a future shopping trip.

Walmart
The discount giant has an everyday low-price strategy, with bigger bargains on “price rollback” merchandise. Check walmart.com or sign up for e-mail alerts on special offers and new price rollbacks.

This column appeared in Consumer Reports Money Adviser.