It’s always a major bummer when you buy an item at a store only to see it being sold cheaper somewhere else the next day. Fortunately, many consumers offer ad matching, price match, and lowest-price guarantee policies that allow you to ask them to match a competitor’s lower price, meaning you can save that money without having to shop across different stores.

Often, these price differences aren’t much–only a few dollars or cents. But just like couponing, if you plan properly and invest a bit of time and energy into the process, utilizing price match and lowest-price guarantee policies can add up to a significant chunk of change once the receipt paper starts rolling. However, these policies are not always easy or obvious to take advantage of, so here are just a few tips to help you start using them to manage your money.

  1. Only price match identical items

Let’s start with an easy one–you only want to price match identical items. Sometimes, the difference is really clear. For example, you can’t bring in a high-end LG television and ask a business to price match it to a more budget-friendly RCA TV just because they’re both 42-inch models. However, sometimes it gets less obvious–like not being able to price match a different flavor of the same yogurt brand. 

The key should always be in reading the barcode. You’ll want to ensure that the UPC number (the number at the bottom of the barcode) matches between the product you’re trying to buy and the produce being sold elsewhere for a lower price. If they’re identical, you’re far more likely to have a retailer work with you to honor the lowest-price guarantee.

  1. Have your (local) proof of lower prices ready

A store will rarely, if ever, just “take your word” that a competitor has a lower price–they want proof! This one should be fairly obvious too, but you’d be surprised how many people fail to consider it and walk in saying “so-and-so is selling this for cheaper; can you match that?” with no evidence. They may be correct, but without proof, a store can’t be expected to honor it.

So when you’re preparing to ask for a price match, make sure you’re bringing some evidence with you. It could be a physical flyer for the competing store showing the advertised lower price, or it could be a competing store’s web page displaying the price you want matched (make sure the policy allows for that, though). And keep it local, too–prices of goods often fluctuate depending on the region, so many stores require that the competitor’s price be valid locally before matching it.

  1. Sale prices may not count–so plan accordingly

While not a universal rule, most retailers typically don’t honor competitors’ special promotional offers in their price match guarantees. So if you see a too-good-to-be-true offer at a different store–like a holiday sale price, a buy-one-get-one (BoGo) offer, or a clearance sale–don’t expect to bring that back to your favorite big-box store and have them shower you with savings. 

In these instances, you’re probably better off just buying the item from the competitor, especially if it’s not too out of your way. However, before you do this, make sure you do your due diligence to make sure that this deal is even the best offer. Your preferred store may have a similar sale happening or coming up soon, or may simply offer the item for cheaper from the get-go.

  1. Read the fine print on the price matching policy

Price matching and lowest-price guarantee policies are the types of programs that plenty of businesses love to advertise, because it keeps you coming back to their store rather than branching out to a competitor. But, because these businesses are, well, businesses, you better believe that they’ll find every loophole they can to not actually honor a lower price.

So take a few minutes to dig into that fine print and familiarize yourself with all the stipulations before you head to the store–you might find that price matching isn’t honored if the competitor is out of stock of the item, if it’s an online retailer, if the lower-priced item is a floor or demo model, or any other number of possible caveats. These don’t mean your money-saving efforts are futile, but it does mean that you’ll want to read every detail of a price matching policy closely to ensure that you’re not wasting your time. 

  1. Be patient and kind, every time

The last–and golden–rule of price matching? Be a decent person and treat the people you’re talking to with respect and kindness. This is true no matter what, but especially when a (likely low-paid) retail worker is going out of their way to make a price match work for you. 

Price matching may be a store or company policy, but the truth is simple: you’re asking for help from a human being, and the more polite and patient you are, the more likely they’ll be to be cooperative and get you what you want rather than dragging their feet or feigning ignorance. 

And while it’s always fine to request to talk to a manager if you need clarification or feel there’s a misunderstanding, the same rule applies–in 2023, “the customer is always right” is far less powerful than it once was, and managers often prioritize an employee’s well-being over a rude customer’s demands.

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Price matching isn’t always quick or easy–but if you’re willing to go through the hassle, the savings can often be well-worth your time and energy. Having said this, savings at a store may not always be enough to make ends meet. At Spotloan, our simple online application process can help you qualify for the money you need, even if you have bad credit or need a loan quickly. All you have to do is go fill out our application to see if you qualify, and you could receive a decision within minutes. Fill out our application now!