As shoppers line up and count down the hours before stores open on Black Friday (or on Thanksgiving, depending on the store), some will come prepared with ads -- but not from the stores where they are waiting. Price-match policies at some retailers promise to honor deals advertised by competing stores and occasionally online competitors, as well. But read the fine print first. Some retailers suspend their regular guarantees for the big shopping day. Even if a store continues price matching during the post-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy, do not expect retailers to honor "door buster" deals or other limited-time offers. Price-matching policies tend to be restrictive, with long lists of exclusions, and apply only to specific items. Here's a look at price-matching policies from some of the country's biggest retailers, many of which exclude Black Friday.
The electronics retailer matches prices posted by nearby competitors and several online stores, but it excludes items discounted from Thanksgiving Day through 11:59 p.m. the following Monday.
These two home improvement retailers go beyond price matching. If a shopper brings in a current ad for an identical item from a local competitor, both Lowe's and Home Depot will beat the price by 10 percent. There is no mention of exclusions for Thanksgiving or Black Friday in either store's guarantee.
Price matching is available to shoppers who bring in a current, local ad that shows an item's retail or sale price. There are exclusions for some brands, such as Levi's, Nike, Boss, and Dell. Kohl's does not match competitors' online prices or Kohls.com prices. No dates are explicitly excluded, but implementation may depend on the store.
These office supply chains (both owned by Office Depot) match prices offered by competitors including bricks-and-mortar retailers' websites, Amazon, and Reliable.com. However, holiday sales events, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, are excluded.
The office supply vendor will price match local ads, Amazon, and retailers that have both online and offline stores. The guarantee is good for 14 days after purchase. However, Staples does not match Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales.
Target will match prices from local retail competitors and 30 online retailers this holiday season. But its policy excludes ads from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday.
Walmart matches prices offered by local competitors and select online stores, including big names such as Amazon. However, the retailer's ad-match guarantee does not extend to Walmart.com purchases between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.
One other possible option: Use a credit card with a price protection feature to make Black Friday purchases. If you find a lower price within 60 days (or sometimes up to 90 days), you may be eligible for a refund of the difference. Citi's Price Rewind program, for example, specifically includes prices advertised as part of Black Friday or "door buster" sales. Be sure to note the circumstances that must be met to qualify for a refund and set up price alerts for the items you buy. Citi requires that card holders submit an item to be tracked and pay for it in total with an eligible Citi card. Discover, MasterCard, and some Chase cards offer a similar benefit.