Target Shopping Secrets
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18 Insider Secrets for Big Savings at Target

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Target Shopping Secrets
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Zeroed In

Target customers are known for their loyalty, and for good reason. Once they get a feel for the store and its website, Target shoppers realize that there are tons of ways to save real money that newbies might not know about. Target likes to give back to its customers — you just have to know the inside tricks. Here are some of the best. (Looking to shop and save today? Be sure to check out The Top Deals at Target Right Now.)

Step Inside the Circle
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Join the Circle

Target replaced its popular Cartwheel savings program with Target Circle last year. Like Cartwheel, it allows access to hundreds of discounts, both from Target itself and individual manufacturers — just check the Target app to see what's on sale and have the clerk scan your barcode at checkout to apply any savings. You'll also earn 1% back on all purchases, redeemable later, unless you're shopping with a RedCard.

Get a REDcard
Target

Get a RedCard

Like many retailers, Target has its own credit card. But you can also apply for a RedCard that links to your existing debit card, helpful for shoppers who might be tempted to overspend with a traditional credit card. You'll still save 5% every time you shop (this replaces the 1% Target Circle cash back) and receive benefits like free two-day shipping and exclusive RedCard savings. For instance, a recent offer allowed RedCard users to take 10% off one item, then still claim their regular 5% discount on top of it.

Scope Out Free Gift Card Deals In Store
Scope Out Free Gift Card Deals In Store by Mike Mozart (CC BY)

Scope Out Free Gift Card Deals In the Store

Target frequently offers bonus gift cards when shoppers buy particular items. For instance, recent deals have included a $10 gift card after spending $50 on select food and beverages, and a $5 gift card after buying three select skincare items. If you really need to stock up, go ahead: Target won't limit you to one gift card. So in the case of the first deal, you could buy $100 in qualifying food and beverages and get $20 in gift cards, or $150 and get $30, and so on.

Try the Store Brands
Target

Try the Store Brands

Still spending big on familiar name brands? With its ever-growing range of store brands, Target is one of the best places to break that pricey habit. In the grocery aisles, try out the Market Pantry and newer Good & Gather brands. For home basics, look for Up & Up, Smartly, and Made By Design products. How much you'll save depends, of course, but here are a few recent examples: A 16-ounce box of Market Pantry pasta for 85 cents compared with $1.29 for Barilla, a 750-count box of Up & Up cotton swabs for $3.19 compared with $4.69 for Q-Tips, and a 9-by-5-inch Made By Design nonstick loaf pan for $5 compared with $8 for Wilton.

Guarantee the Best Deal With Price Match
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Get the Best Deal With Price Match

If you buy something at Target and then see it on sale somewhere for less in the next two weeks, Target will reimburse you for the difference upon request through its price-matching program. This is true whether you see the cheaper item in a competitor's local print ad, on the website of competitors including Amazon or Walmart, or on Target.com.

Rain Check on Sold Out Items
pedphoto36pm/istockphoto

Take a Rain Check on Out-of-Stock Sale Items

If a sale item you want is out of stock, Target will give you a rain check, which is good for 30 to 45 days, depending on your state. There are some exclusions, but rain checks are good at any Target store, and Target will offer substitutes whenever possible if the original item never comes back.

Target's Bullseye's Playground Section
Alice K./Yelp

Shop Bullseye's Playground

Formerly known as The One Spot, Bullseye's Playground is Target's name for the highly visible discount bins at the front of stores. Bullseye's Playground is filled with stuff mostly priced between $1 and $5. Check there for the cheapest holiday goods, as well as non-holiday seasonal deals, like discounted back-to-school supplies. Don't live near a store? Bullseye's Playground is now online.

Target's reusable bag
Target

Use Reusable Bags

Like so many of today's corporations, Target is eager to show off its green movement bona fides. Aside from touting the use of sustainable cotton in its clothing and reduced packaging on its boxed products, Target gives shoppers a 5-cent discount for each reusable bag they bring and use.

12.30.10
12.30.10 by Shelly Munkberg (CC BY-NC-ND)

Print Coupons at Home

Target counts itself among the stores that accept online coupons, including those from a manufacturer and other valid sites, that its customers can print at home. Target will accept printed Internet coupons as long as they have a barcode that can be scanned and they're not for free items that don't require a purchase.

Target.com Free Shipping Free Returns sign
Target.com Free Shipping Free Returns sign by Mike Mozart (CC BY)

Take Advantage of Free Shipping

If you do your shopping online, there are two ways you can get free two-day shipping from Target. First, simply spend $35 — that's enough to qualify for free shipping on most orders. The other way is to pay for any order, no matter how much you spend, with a RedCard.

Look for the Red Sticker
Thrift Shopper J./Yelp

Look For the Red or Yellow Stickers

Target shoppers would be wise to train their eyes to look for red or yellow stickers, which are reserved for clearance items. When you see one, look in the lower right hand corner to see what the price is, the lower left hand corner to see what it was, and check the upper right hand corner if you don't want to do math — that's where the tag states the percentage you'll save.

Target Murfreesboro, TN 3
Target Murfreesboro, TN 3 by Mike Kalasnik (CC BY-SA)

Choose Your Shopping Days Wisely

According to All Things Target, different days bring different clearance discounts at Target. Shop for electronics and accessories on Monday, women's clothing, and pet food on Tuesday; men's clothing, health and beauty items on Wednesday; housewares and sporting goods on Thursday; and auto goods, cosmetics, jewelry, and hardware on Friday.

Target Drive-Up
Gary W./Yelp

Check For Order Pickup, Drive-Up or Same-Day Delivery Deals

Brick-and-mortar retailers have suffered as more people buy online, so Target has been trying to make shopping more convenient with its free in-store order pickup, free drive-up, and fee-based same-day delivery programs. To entice more shoppers, it frequently offers exclusive deals for anyone who tries them out. Recent deals included a $20 gift card after spending $100 on select baby care items, and a $10 gift card after spending $40 on certain household essentials.

Target Registry
Target

Nab Deep Registry Discounts

Are wedding bells ringing soon? Got a baby on the way? Heading off to college? Even if you don't expect friends or family to buy you gifts, it's worth creating a registry with Target because the store will give you a very nice registry-competition discount: 15% off everything not already purchased. For weddings, the discount is made available the week of the big day; for babies, it's typically eight weeks before the listed due date; for college, it's one week after the registry is created.

Celebrate Your Birthday or 'Anniversary' With Discounts
Paopano/istockphoto

Celebrate Your Birthday or 'Anniversary' With Discounts

You say it's your birthday? If you didn't get what you wanted, don't fret — just head to Target and get it for a song. Target Circle members will get 5% off a shopping trip when it's their birthday, and RedCard holders will be emailed a coupon for 10% off a shopping trip on the anniversary of opening their account (fine print: you must be signed up for Target marketing emails, and the RedCard account must be in good standing).

Target coupon book
Target coupon book by Stephanie Fink (CC BY-NC-ND)

Stack Coupons for the Best Deals

Unlike some stores, Target is fairly easy-going about allowing shoppers to stack coupons and discounts. Shoppers may use a manufacturer's coupon, Target coupon, and Target Circle offer on the same item. Of course, you can wrangle an even deeper discount by using these coupons and offers on items that are already on sale. For your grand finale, pay with your RedCard for another 5% off.

Target Weekly Ad
Target

Review the Weekly Ad

Don't head to Target blindly, hoping what you need will be on sale. The store makes it easy for you to track the best deals by checking out its weekly ads, which are always available online. Unless otherwise noted, deals run from Sunday through the following Saturday, and online shoppers can simply click on the ad to put items directly in their cart.

Target Subscriptions
Target

Set Up a Subscription

You may have heard of Amazon's Subscribe & Save program, which gives users a price break on items they agree to re-order at set intervals. Target.com has its own version, called Target Subscriptions. Sign up to have items like diapers, detergent, and pet food, sent at intervals as short as every four weeks or as long as twice a year. You'll get a 5% discount and free shipping, and RedCard users save an additional 5%. Target also sends an email prior to every shipment, so users can easily log in and skip the ones they might not need.