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I’m a Frugal Shopper: 6 Best Tips for Scoring Deals at Department Stores


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As a frugal shopper, you always seek ways to stretch your dollars further. You get a rush of adrenaline each time you save significant money on a shopping trip. It doesn’t matter if it’s at the grocery store, Home Depot or even a department store.

GOBankingRates asked three frugal shoppers — Samantha Landau, consumer expert at TopCashback; Trae Bodge, smart shopping expert at TrueTrae; and Melissa Cid, consumer savings expert for — to dive into some of the best tips to help you save money at department stores.

Before you take your next trip to Kohl’s, Nordstrom or any other department store, ensure you are fully prepared with these money-saving tips.

Shop Strategically Around Sales

One of the easiest ways to save money when shopping at department stores is to understand when your favorite stores run sales of different products.

“Strategically time your purchases by researching the sales cycles at your favorite retailers,” Landau said. “Stores typically follow the same calendar of sales each year. For example, Nordstrom’s hosts an ‘Anniversary Sale’ in mid-July, and Bloomingdale’s hosts a ‘Friends and Family’ event a few times a year — including one in early spring. Syncing up your shopping spree with these events allows for more effective budget planning.”

However, not all department stores have a continuous sales cycle. Instead, they will continuously run sales throughout the year. If your store does this, you can feel confident that you’ll always get the best deal possible.

Use the Right Credit Card

Many people avoid credit cards because of the trouble they can cause if you’re not careful. However, rewards credit cards can be a great way to save money strategically. Many credit cards will offer a flat rate for all your purchases. However, some cards will allow you to earn extra rewards or cash back on certain purchases, including at department stores.

“Get familiar with the credit cards in your wallet and what benefits they offer,” Bodge said. “A simple Google search will reveal which of your credit cards offers benefits for shopping at department stores, groceries, gas, etc. If you find that your credit cards are lacking in benefits, consider switching to a better card.”

Stack the Savings

In addition to shopping when your favorite store has a sale, you can stack other saving opportunities. For example, if you’ve had your eye on a pair of pants, you could wait for them to go on sale and then use a coupon the store might be offering. You can use a rewards credit card to take the savings even further.

“Sign up for loyalty programs and email lists to receive coupons, special offers and notifications of major sales,” Landau said. “In addition to applicable discounts, make sure you’re using the right credit card when shopping.”

Use a Shopping Portal When Shopping Online

If you’re doing your shopping online, make sure you use one of the many online shopping portals available. Simply head to a site like TopCashback or Rakuten, search for the store you want to shop at and click through to their website. This will allow you to earn additional cash back on your purchase.

“If you’re shopping online, make sure you’re using a cash-back site,” said Landau. “If you’re not using one of these tools, you’re essentially leaving free money on the table.”

Use Discounted Gift Cards

Something that many people don’t think about is that you can save money on purchases by using discounted gift cards. Websites like Raise sell other people’s unwanted gift cards at a discounted price — like a $500 Macy’s gift card for $480.

However, if you can’t find a discounted gift card for the store you want to shop at, you can purchase a regular-priced gift card from Gift Card Granny and earn cash back.

“An unexpected way to save at department stores is to buy yourself a discounted gift card and then shop with it,” Bodge said. “Sites like Gift Card Granny have gift cards for Macy’s, Belk, Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack, where you can earn $2.50 cash back or more. The discounts can vary, so it’s always worth a shot.”

Hold Onto Your Receipts

After your shopping trip, make sure you hold onto your receipts for a short time. Some stores will actually honor the lowest price if an item you purchased goes on sale.

“Keep your receipts for price adjustments if the item goes on sale or a new coupon becomes available,” said Cid. “Kohl’s and JCPenney allow price adjustments within 14 days of purchase and Macy’s within 10 days. You can do the adjustment in-store and sometimes even on the phone.”

The Bottom Line

The next time you head to your favorite department store, use a few of these tips, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much money you can save.

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