Competitive Ad Price Matching: How to Save Even More on Your Grocery Bill

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I have a lifetime of experience in thrifty grocery shopping and cooking. But I also pointed out that as my income has increased over the years, I've become lackadaisical about “the little things”. It takes time (a little) to be a frugal grocery shopper. Coupons, price books, lists, collecting various ads from every store in town….blah. Who has time for this, right?

Well, as also previously mentioned, I've had to re-think my spending since becoming a single mom. But saving time is as important to me as saving money. A colleague recently reminded me about a savings opportunity that really doesn't take that much time: Competitive Ad Price Matching.

Wal-Mart will match the ads of any store in their “local trade territory”. If you live in a metropolitan area, you should be able to work this so that you're getting rock bottom price on every grocery item you purchase.

The Wal-Mart policy specifically states: is committed to providing low prices every day, on everything.* So if you find a lower price from an online retailer on an identical, in-stock product, tell us and we'll match it.* Additionally, if you recently bought something from and it is now listed at a lower price, let us know.

*The following limitations apply:

  • The item must be identical, (i.e., size, model, quantity, brand, color)
  • The item must be in-stock at the online retailer's website and on at the time of the price match request
  • We will price match one item per customer per day (limit does not apply to orders to New Mexico, unless the purchase is for resale)
  • We will not offer rain-checks for items that are not currently in stock
  • The item must be sold and fulfilled by one of these online,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Sorry, we don't match:

  • Stores in Alaska and Hawaii do not Price Match other store prices or online prices
  • Prices from, or on behalf of Marketplace and third-party sellers
  • Discounts applied in checkout
  • Offers advertised as percentage off or dollar off (e.g., “15% off” or “$5 off”)
  • Auctions prices or those requiring memberships
  • Prices that cannot be determined independent of other items, e.g., fees, shipping charges
  • Bundle offers, rebates, coupons, mail-in offers, offers that include financing
  • Prices that require a minimum quantity purchase
  • Items that other retailers have listed as clearance, close out, liquidation, special hour/flash/limited quantity offers
  • Damaged, used, or refurbished items
  • Price errors
  • In-store prices
  • Prices as a result of Pickup Discounts
  • No price matches to other retailers for prices shown from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber-Monday

Some tips for making the most out of competitive ad price matching:

Collect All of Your Sales Flyers

In some areas, you'll get them in the mail on certain days of the week (usually Wednesdays). You can also see if the ads come in a newspaper, usually on Wednesday. You CAN print them from the grocery store websites, but be aware that most Wal-Mart stores will only honor prices shown on the actual store ad.

Prepare Your Work

Remember that you have to take your ads with you. Save time by circling (permanent marker, highlighter, etc….) the items that you'll be buying. This will help you to avoid having a line of grumbling people behind you as you shuffle through papers at the checkout.

Know Your Store Policy

It's good to have a printed copy of the store policy and have it with you when you shop. I've only had to “whip it out” once, but it's useful to have it handy just in case.

Competitive price matching makes the Target Lady very happy.

The Type of Item Matters

Meat, produce, bakery, and dairy items usually have to be worded exactly. Store brand items are matched with Wal-Mart's store brand items (doesn't have to be the exact name). You can't get use the .50 cent store brand price on a can of corn to get Green Giant Corn, for example.

Note that packaging doesn't have to be exact. This particularly helps me. If lean ground beef is priced at my local market at $1.99 per pound, it's usually in a package of 2+ pounds (not handy for me). But I can take my ad to Wal-Mart and get my ground beef for that price in a one-pound package.

Separate Items to Save Time

When you're checking out, separate your price match items from your regular price items.

I usually load my regular priced items on the conveyor belt first, and then load my price match items. If I have time, I'll even organize them by store. Be prepared with your ads so that you can show the cashier each item as she scans it.

Save More with Coupons

Yes, you can use coupons when price matching!

It's important to note that competitive ad price matching is NOT exclusive to groceries. You can use electronics store ads, clothing store ads, discount store ads, and more. Imagine the savings if you use this practice on every single thing you buy!

Bonus Tip: Best Time to Buy Groceries is Sunday Evening

Buy your groceries on Sunday evenings. The crowds will be smaller. The fresh items that must be sold before the end of the day will be going on sale just before closing. Most importantly, you can use that day's coupons from the Sunday newspaper together with the store sales—which generally run from Wednesday through Tuesday.

Does anyone know if other stores have a competitive ad matching policy? Have you ever encountered any problems when you do price matching?

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  1. Printable Coupons says:

    Bills are already a pain so we’re hoping that we can lessen our grocery and shopping expenses.. These are good tips, coupons along with making a list, avoid bringing the kids because they always grab something that they like and use coupons… 🙂

  2. Bed Bath & Beyond will also take expired coupons (like the ones in the Sunday paper for 20% off)

  3. Saidah - A Proverbs says:

    All of these tips work good in theory but unfortunately for me, the Walmart in my area is very restrictive regarding adhering to these policies. The acceptance of coupons is one policy in particular that my local Walmart has trouble with. The Walmart in my area will not accept a coupon if it covers the full price of an item. It Bounty is $1 and I have a $1 one roll of Bounty coupon, they will reject the coupon. They also limit (5) coupons per transaction. I have showed them a printed copy of their policy but they were not interested in viewing it.

    I rarely shop at Walmart because of this reason. I’d much rather shop at my local Publix where they are much more coupon friendly.

    Thanks for all of the great info PT.

  4. Tiffany Willis says:

    Good to know, Jenna! I do enjoy good quality sheets and towels, so will file that bit of info.

  5. A lot of home supply stores (Linens-n-Things and Bed, Bath and Beyond) match competitors coupons. We save them and then when we need more towels / sheets, etc, we cash them in.