How to Become a Bargain-Hunting Pro at Walmart

Discover the best ways to save big on your purchases at Walmart. Learn how to identify discounted prices, where and when to look for clearance items, and many other secrets that will lower your bill at the checkout counter.

Shopping at Walmart is a no-brainer for a lot people.

And it's easy to see why.

90% of Americans live within 15 minutes of a Walmart.

This gives us easy access to groceries and a wide selection of household goods–at bargain prices–all in one place.

That's a combination that's pretty hard to beat.

Those two factors—convenience and competitive pricing—have been a successful business recipe for Walmart.

In fact, the huge number of stores partly explains how Walmart is able to offer such low prices.

By buying directly from vendors in enormous volumes, the company is able to get the lowest possible price, which is then passed on to us via the great deals it offers its customers.

With its affordable prices, Walmart is a magnet for bargain-hunters looking to save on their day-to-day shopping.

But even Walmart prices can be cut down even further—if you're savvy enough.

For many people, finding clearance items at Walmart is a welcome opportunity to save even more.

But what if you knew how to find them regularly, ensuring you save big more frequently?

I love the idea of finding those small, everyday savings on a regular basis.

I see them as a great way to lower your expenses and put money away for something special, or just to invest.

And that's as true now as it was when I was younger and just scraping by—a dollar saved is a dollar in your pocket.

I have overcome my own financial problems and for the last 20 years I've been helping consumers understand personal finance issues while providing the tools and solutions they need to effectively to reach financial freedom.

To help you get there, we've done our research on all the ways you can save at Walmart and put together some of the best bargain-hunting tips here in this article.

Walmart versus. Average Supermarket Customer Satisfaction 2008-2017

We're going to teach you which kinds of deals you can get at Walmart, and how to spot them.

We're offering the smartest hacks on how to save big— all conveniently packaged for you—just like how Walmart does it!

Shop Smart

Learn the Walmart price codes to know when to buy

If you're serious about getting the lowest price on your purchases, then you need to get a handle on Walmart's price codes.

Here's how they work.

Prices ending in 7 are the original price. When you see a price ending in 7 (for example, $9.97), that means that it hasn't been marked down—it's the original price for the item.

Prices ending in 5 indicate the first markdown. A price ending in 5 (for example, $9.25) indicates that the price has been reduced once.

If you're looking for a deal, this could be a good opportunity to grab it.

At this point, take notice of how much stock they have on the shelf for this item.

If the price ends in a 5 but there are still hundreds of units on display, you can probably hold out for a further price drop.

If there are only a couple of units on the shelf, though, the item might not make it to the final markdown, so you need to grab it now if you want it.

Prices ending in 1 are the final markdown. If you want the absolute best deal, wait for the price to be changed so it ends in a 1 (for example, $8.91).

That indicates that it's the final markdown price and will get you the biggest savings.

Never miss out on a sale with price protection

Savvy shoppers know it's always a good idea to hold on to your receipts for a while after purchase.

One reason for this is shopper-friendly policies like the price protection that Walmart offers.

Did you grab that new crockpot at $45.75 on Tuesday, only to see the price drop to $39.91 on Friday?

Not to worry—price protection has got your back!

Just bring your receipt to customer service within a week to get the difference refunded.

Make sure to do your price checks within a week or purchase, as that's how long the price protection policy lasts.

Indulge in free in-store samples, and discounts

When a company or brand launches a new product or a new variant, it often sets up an in-store sample stand to introduce it to shoppers.

Watch out for these as you wander the aisles at Walmart and so you can get a chance to try out some delicious new flavors.

Some stores will also list upcoming sample events on their website, so make sure to check there.

Now we all know that a mini-cup of three Greek olives isn't going to replace your dinner for the day, but that's not the angle here.

More than likely, any sample stand will be also be handing out coupons for a solid discount on its wares.

$2 off a $6 jar of those Greek olives?

Now we're talking!

Get in on the coupon game and potentially get money back

Even though Walmart has great deals available every day, it doesn't mean you can't aim to bring them down ever further.

Your friend in this endeavor?

Coupons!

Walmart has a very generous coupon policy that includes honoring most competitors' coupons and refunding you money if your coupon discount is higher than the price of the item.

That means if you buy a stick of deodorant at $1.25 and you have a coupon for $1.50 off that item, you'll get an on-the-spot $0.25 credit toward your bill.

So keep your eye out for coupons in the mail, online, or at the store to make sure you squeeze every possible bit of savings out of your grocery shopping.

Just note that all print-at-home and manufacturers' coupons must have a scannable coupon code.

Get the lowest price in town with price matching

Price matching is a tool that any serious bargain-hunter needs to have in their arsenal.

While Walmart has started to cancel its price matching policy in some markets, there are still plenty of stores where it is available.

All you need to do is ask at the checkout or Customer Service counter to find out if it's available at the store near you.

If it is, then you could be in line for some big savings.

Price matching is available in-store and online, so you'll have the opportunity to save no matter how you shop.

In-store, all you need to do is pull up a lower advertised price on an item (it needs to be identical to the one you're buying) on your phone and show it to the cashier.

They'll adjust your bill downward to match that price on the spot.

Besides checking competitor sites, make sure to also check Walmart.com—sometimes there's a price difference between in-store and online—so you can make sure you're getting the best one every time.

Policies on price matching have recently changed, but check with your store before dismissing a chance at a lower price.

If you're shopping online, you just need to go to the Customer Service page, or call 1-800-925-6278 to request your online price match.

Get to know your store so you can find the best deals

Walmart seems to like keeping shoppers on their toes by marking down prices throughout the week.

And while it may seem a bit haphazard at first, if you spend some time to track prices and explore the Walmart you shop at the most, you'll start to see some patterns.

Markdowns apparently happen in two ways: the individual store decides to drop the price, or Walmart headquarters tells its stores to lower a price.

Price drops from headquarters are rumored to happen during the middle of the week, often in the morning.

Store-specific markdowns can happen anytime during the week, which is why getting to know your store really well is so important.

Some people even advise directly asking department managers at your Walmart how and when they drop prices—you may come away with some valuable nuggets of information!

So the next time you're at Walmart, take a moment to look around and note where the clearance items are located and which items are discounted on that day of the week.

U.S. Walmart Stores by Type 2018

You'll often find clearance items toward the back of a department.

This isn't because Walmart wants to hide the deals from you—it's a strategy they employ so that you have to walk past all the full-price items first (and hopefully buy some).

You'll also find clearance items at the end caps (the shelving at the end of an aisle).

Rumor has it that discounted electronics are sometimes hidden away on the lowest shelves of the glass cases in that department.

Spend a bit of time getting to know your store, its items, working staff and procedures, and you'll be able to make a beeline for the clearance items the next time you visit.

If you only have time to shop one day a week, Good Housekeeping magazine has suggested that Tuesdays are the best day for discounted prices at Walmart.

The early bird catches the deals

One proven way to save, particularly on groceries, is to get to the store early.

Sure, setting your alarm an hour earlier may not sound appealing, but if you're serious about saving, this is a sure-fire way to make it happen.

Meat and produce that are nearing their sell-by dates are usually heavily discounted and put out for quick sale early in the morning.

The same is true of day-old baked goods.

And if you think a tactic like this is just penny-pinching, check out this example to see how your savings can really add up:

Let's say you buy two loaves of bread and one six-pack of muffins every week.

And let's assume that a loaf of bread is usually priced at $2.50 and the muffins at $3.25.

If you buy the bread and muffins at the day-old discounted prices of $1.50 and $2.00 respectively, then you would save $3.25 every week, or $169 a year.

As long as you're quickly consuming these items before they expire or actually go stale, this is a great way to lower your grocery bill.

Mark your calendar for great seasonal deals

While deals pop up daily at Walmart, there are a few times during the year when they really go all out and offer big discounts.

Walmart has been recognized as one of the best places to find deals on Black Friday.

In fact, many shoppers see Walmart as the perfect one-stop Black Friday destination, with pretty much everything they need under one roof.

Prices also see a big drop in July as the store aims to compete with Amazon's Prime Days.

Back to school season (August and early September) is another good time grab big discounts, while Mother's Day and Valentine's Day always see plenty of deals on great gifts for your loved ones.

Go Online for Savings

Catch savings with the Walmart app's automatic price matching

The Walmart app is a great all-around tool for shopping at the store, with features that allow you to check in-store and online prices and availability, make a shopping list, and check out the latest offers, like their weekly ad.

But the real star of the show is the app's Savings Catcher feature.

All you do is scan your Walmart receipt into the app (you can also enter the receipt number into your online account), then let Walmart take care of the rest.

The Savings Catcher will compare what you paid for that cast-iron skillet to prices at other local retailers, and if it finds a lower price, you'll get a credit for the difference in the form of a gift card.

It'll compare prices at local retailers, including current advertised sale prices.

If it finds a lower price, Walmart will credit you the difference on a e-gift card.

Deliver deals to your doorstep to save time and money

Online shopping is a great way to save time and money, and Walmart has been working hard to make it an enjoyable experience for its shoppers.

The biggest plus, besides the convenience, is that Walmart offers free two-day shipping for online orders over $35.

Enjoy the benefits of online retail competition. The world of online shopping is an exciting one to be a part of, as companies are constantly coming up with new ways to improve their service and one-up their competitors.

Walmart is no exception, having enthusiastically moved beyond its brick-and-mortar stores to go all-in on online retail to compete with a host of other companies aiming to take a share of the huge and ever-growing e-commerce market.

In particular, the competition between Walmart and Amazon should lead to some interesting, shopper-friendly developments, so watch this space!

One example we're starting to see is Walmart's recent collaboration with ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft to offer same-day delivery of grocery purchases.

Another money-saving advantage of shopping Walmart online is that you'll be able to avoid those tempting in-store impulse buys—no more candy bars staring you in the face at checkout!

Explore the website to find even more deals

We've mentioned that it's important to explore your store and get to know where and when to find discounts.

The same holds true for Walmart's website, where you'll find a number of pages dedicated to listing the latest deals, clearance items, and other cost-saving options.

One of the quickest ways to do this is to type "clearance," "discount," or "refurbished" into the website's search bar.

This will bring up a host of great deals for your consideration.

In the left-hand navigation menu you'll also find a section that lets you filter for "Special Offers" like clearance, rollback, and reduced price items.

Get a handle on where to find Walmart's online discounts and you'll be on your way to savings in no time!

Pick up discounts when you opt for in-store pickup

Another great option for online shoppers, particularly if you haven't purchased enough to meet the $35 minimum for free delivery, is the free same-day in-store pickup that Walmart offers.

You can shop online, then make a quick trip to the store to pick up your items, free of charge.

And for groceries, the free pick-up is a curbside service, so you don't even have to walk into the store!

Also watch for items with the "Pickup Discount Eligible" tag while you're shopping online.

If you live quite nearby, opt for in-store pickup, so you can cash in on some significant savings.

Use third-party apps to add to your savings

There are countless apps out there that will help you save even more on your shopping, at Walmart and elsewhere.

We can't run through them all here but will list a couple of standouts below for you to consider.

Earn points directly on your credit and debit card purchases. Sign up with Drop and you'll earn points on any qualifying purchases you make on your cards.

You can the redeem those points for gift cards from popular retailers.

Top 15 U.S. Retailers 2017

Share your receipts to get cash back. Ibotta is a free app that let you earn cash back on your purchases, simply by uploading a photo of your receipt for certain items.

The app tells you the specific offers and how much cash back you can earn.

Recent examples include 25 cents back on a purchase of Tic Tac gum, 50 cents back on a box of Chex rice cereal, and $1 back on Que Pasa chips and salsas.

Your money accumulates in the app until you decide to cash out with a gift card or via PayPal credit.

Get discounted gift cards. Check out GiftCardGranny.com for discounted gift cards from hundreds of stores, including Walmart.

More Dollar-Saving Tactics

Dig into the dollar deals for serious value

With inflation always pushing prices higher, there aren't many things you can still buy for a dollar.

Luckily, Walmart has a number of everyday items that it prices right at a dollar—think smaller sizes of deodorant and shampoo, among others.

Look for these throughout the store and take home essentials at a price that will put a smile on your face.

Keep your eye open for store brands to lower your spending

Many of the lowest-priced items you'll find at Walmart are the company's store brands, like Great Value and Parent's Choice labels.

These brands offer deeply discounted pricing versus the bigger brand names, often with the same product quality and effectiveness.

So if you can live without the fancy brand name face cream, get the store brand to lock in your savings.

Put it on plastic, Walmart plastic, to get cash back

If you're a hardcore Walmart shopper, it may make sense to get a Walmart Mastercard credit card.

As a decent cash back rewards card, it gives you 3% back on all Walmart.com purchases, 2% back on Murphy USA and Walmart gas purchases, and 1% on everything else.

There's no annual fee, and you get a $25 instant cash back bonus if you spend more than $25 on the first day your account is opened.

So if you're shopping online for electronics, like a new phone or tablet, and find what you want on Walmart.com, you'll be in line for $6 cash back on that $200 purchase.

While a personal loan with good terms is a great option for locking down big-ticket items, using a credit card for smaller purchases can make good sense.

As with any credit card, it's an opportunity to build up your credit score by showing you can use your credit responsibly—and using the card for regular, day-to-day purchases like groceries is looked on positively, so long as you keep up on your scheduled payments.

Another card option is the Walmart Moneycard, a prepaid debit card that offers some attractive benefits.

It offers the same cash back rewards as Walmart's credit card, up to a maximum of $75 per year.

There's also a Moneycard App that helps you track your purchases and spending, so you can be smarter with your money.

Go the refurbished route for deep discounts

Walmart may not be the most obvious place to find used items, but that's partly because they refer to them as "refurbished."

The main categories here are electronics and household items like appliances, and they'll often come with some of the manufacturer's warranty still in place.

You can find a barely used microwave, vacuum cleaner, or tablet at discounted prices that will leave more money in your wallet.

So before you go taking out a personal loan to buy a brand spanking new KitchenAid, see if you there's a refurbished option that might just do the trick at a significantly lower price.

It's time to start saving even more than usual at Walmart

Now that we've shared with you some of the best Walmart saving hacks we found, you should be able to save even more money on your day-to-day purchases on Walmart.

Go ahead and test the following easy saving tactics:

  1. Explore your store, finding clearance items, day-old discounts, and free samples.

  2. Get out your coupons and potentially get money back.

  3. Go online for low prices, free shipping, and curbside pick-up.

  4. Put it on plastic, go the refurbished route, and don't be afraid to try out house brands.

Have you ever used any of these tactics?

Which one has helped you save the most?

Are there other tips you know that you'd like to share with us?

Tell us in the comments below!


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