The Golden Rule at Consumers’ Checkbook? Shop around! Our researchers often find big store-to-store price differences for the same items.

Sometimes, you might prefer to buy from a retailer that doesn’t offer the lowest prices. For example, you might want to stick with a local company or one that offers great service, reliable delivery, or a generous return policy. Or maybe you want to make sure a helpful salesperson gets their commission.

If you’re shopping in-store and find a lower price elsewhere, ask for a price match. Many stores will honor lower prices offered by competitors. For online shopping, many retailers have procedures you can use to obtain a discount if an item is available for less elsewhere.

Another way to ensure you get the lowest possible price: After making a purchase, keep an eye on the store’s prices for a few weeks. If you ask, many stores will refund the difference between what you paid and any new lower price. Most price-adjustment periods range between seven and 30 days.

Our researchers checked for price-matching and price-adjustment offers with about 100 major retailers and found that most offer consumer-friendly policies (summarized below).

Amazon and Walmart do not play the price-matching game, and neither offers price adjustments. (Walmart for decades did match its competitors’ prices but stopped doing so about five years ago.)

The policies we report are those we could find on company websites. It’s possible that some companies authorize their personnel to provide discounts outside of stated policies in order to close sales. Also, our survey included only large retailers, but in our experience local chains and independents often match competitors’ prices, if asked. Note that we collected this info in January 2024; retailers often drop, add, or amend their pricing policies. A final caveat: Some retailers expand their price-adjustment policies and/or deadlines during the winter holiday season.

Companies that offer price matching and adjustments know that few shoppers will take advantage of them. Most shoppers are unaware that these price-matching policies exist at all, since few retailers advertise them. While some stores prominently tout things like “lowest prices, guaranteed,” none loudly broadcasts that it matches lower prices or provides post-sale adjustments. They know that even shoppers who know about price-matching policies likely won’t use them because it seems like a pain to research prices online, track down an employee or manager, explain the price difference, point out the store’s policy, and ask for the lower price.

But how hard is it? Our researchers sought price matches and adjustments from several major retailers and found it was typically quite easy to obtain savings. For example:

  • We found a pair of Vince men’s Fulton sneakers for $225 at Nordstrom, but got it to match Bloomingdale’s lower price of $168.75.
  • Home Depot lowered its price for a Frigidaire model #FRTD2021AW refrigerator from $728 to $639 after we asked it to match Lowe’s price.
  • Many stores will apply coupon savings post-sale. The day after spending $5,000 on furniture at Arhaus, a Checkbook staffer received a 10-percent-off coupon. The store agreed to refund that amount.
  • One of our researchers bought a pair of Billie jeans at J. Crew for $128; the store refunded her $52 after the jeans went on sale a few days later and she asked for a price adjustment.

Usually, our shoppers quickly receive lower prices simply by pulling up competing offers on their phones, showing them to store personnel, and asking for a price match. Sometimes we get directed to customer service counters to complete the transaction, but often the lower price is provided right at the checkout register.

Getting post-purchase price adjustments is usually even easier and typically involves either making a quick phone call or starting an online chat.

We found that some retailers’ price-matching policies come with ridiculous limitations. Among those we checked, Sephora’s was the silliest: Its policy states it will match lower in-store prices of Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue, but only if those competitors’ lower prices are non-sale ones. What?!

Among the companies we surveyed, eBay was the only one that offers a true lowest-price guarantee—but with numerous caveats. Buy an item advertised as an “eBay Deal” or “top product,” and it promises to issue a digital coupon equal to 10 percent of the price difference if you find it sold for less by any of seven major competitors (including Amazon or on eBay itself) within 48 hours of purchase. The coupon is good for 30 days.

But even the most generous price-matching policies come with limits. The most common exclusions:

  • Items must be identical, including color and all technical specs. Many retailers avoid price competition—and having to match lower prices—by offering exclusive products not available elsewhere.
  • Some stores will match prices only when asked to do so in-store and only if you can show that the item is available from a competitor operating a nearby physical store.
  • The retailer offering the lower price must have the item in stock or available to ship immediately.
  • Most policies exclude pricing from membership warehouse clubs, such as Costco.
  • Retailers that will match prices offered by Amazon will do so only if the item is sold and shipped by Amazon itself, not one of its a third-party “Marketplace” sellers.
  • Most electronics stores exclude cell phones from their price-matching policies.
  • You can’t combine offers. Stores won’t price-match lower prices that result from using coupons, bundled deals, or members-only discounts.
  • Most won’t match a price if it’s identified as a clearance or discontinued item.

Also note that we list only price-matching policies for retailers that honor other companies’ lower prices. For in-store shopping, many retailers will match their own lower online prices, upon request.

Stores’ post-purchase price-adjustment policies typically have fewer restrictions than their price-matching policies; most simply state that if they later offer an item for less, customers can ask for the difference as a refund or store credit.

If a store doesn’t allow price adjustments, you can return an item, get a refund, and then buy it again at the lower price. That might be worth the hassle for small items sold by Amazon and other companies that offer convenient returns, but most consumers won’t want to return and rebuy a fridge bought a few weeks ago.

Our final advice: When shopping, don’t fall for “on-sale” traps. The discounts advertised by nearly all retailers are misleading. Our researchers spent 10 months tracking sale prices at 24 major retailers and found that 21 of them ran continuous fake sales, claiming to offer discounts off “regular” or “list” prices they rarely, if ever, charge. Even if a sign says “Save 60 percent,” it probably is meaningless and probably not a good deal. The only way to know whether you’re paying a fair price is to shop around.
 

Major Retailers that Offer Price Matching or Price Adjustments:
 

Abt

Will make price adjustments for up to 30 days after purchase.
 Will match competitors’ lower prices for up to 30 days after purchase. “If you find a better price on any product at another retailer, we’ll meet or beat their price.”

Advance Auto Parts/Carquest

No post-purchase price adjustments.
 Will match competitors’ lower prices at time of purchase only. Must show an original ad or catalog from a competitor operating a local store. Also matches online prices of “most competitor websites,” but policy does not specify which companies.

America’s Tire

Will make price adjustments for up to 30 days after purchase.
 Will match competitors’ lower prices for up to 30 days after purchase.
“We’ll beat the competition’s lower, installed price… We will not be undersold.”

Ann Taylor/LOFT

Will make price adjustments for up to seven days after purchase.
 Sells an exclusive product line and therefore has no price-matching policy.

Apple Store

Will make price adjustments for up to 14 days after purchase.
 Does not match competitors’ lower prices.

Ashley Furniture

Will make price adjustments for up to 30 days after purchase.
 Will match Amazon’s lower price at time of purchase only. “If you find a lower price on Amazon.com for an identical, in-stock product, tell us and we’ll match it.”

Athleta

Will make price adjustments for up to 14 days after purchase.
 Sells an exclusive product line and therefore has no price-matching policy.

Banana Republic

Will make price adjustments for up to 14 days after purchase.
 Sells an exclusive product line and therefore has no price-matching policy.

Bass Pro Shops

No post-purchase price adjustments.
 Will match lower prices at time of purchase only of competitors that operate local stores and online prices of specific competitors, including Academy, Amazon, Dick’s, Gander, L.L. Bean, REI, Scheels, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Tackle Warehouse, Walmart, West Marine, and items sold directly by manufacturers.

Bath & Body Works

Will make price adjustments for up to 14 days after purchase.
 Sells an exclusive product line and therefore has no price-matching policy.

Bed Bath and Beyond

Will make price adjustments for up to seven days after purchase.
 Will match competitors’ lower prices for up to seven days after purchase for its loyalty club members only. Matches prices of Amazon, Hayneedle, Home Depot, Jet, Staples, Target, Walmart, and Wayfair.

Best Buy

Will make price adjustments during return window for product.
 Will match competitors’ lower prices at time of purchase only. Matches in-store and online prices of major competitors, including Abt, Amazon, Apple, B&H, BJ’s, Costco, Crutchfield, Dick’s, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Menards, Micro Center, P.C. Richard,  Sam’s Club, Target, and Walmart.

Big Lots

Will make price adjustments for up to 10 days after purchase.
 Will match competitors’ lower prices for up to 10 days after purchase. Competitors must operate local stores. Numerous other exclusions, including no price matching of items discounted under other companies’ loyalty programs.

Bloomingdale’s

Will make price adjustments for up to 10 days after purchase.
 Does not match competitors’ lower prices.

Camping World

Will make price adjustments for up to 14 days after purchase.
 Will match competitors’ lower prices for up to 14-30 days after purchase. “If you should find a lower price at the time of your purchase or within 30 days after the purchase date (or within 14 days at our retail locations)...we’ll match it.”

Carter’s

Will make price adjustments for up to 14 days after purchase.
 Sells an exclusive product line and therefore has no price-matching policy.

The Children’s Place

Will make price adjustments for up to seven days after purchase.
 Sells an exclusive product line and therefore has no price-matching policy.

The Container Store

Will make price adjustments for up to seven days after purchase.
 Does not match competitors’ lower prices.

Costco

Will make price adjustments for up to 30 days after purchase.
 Does not match competitors’ lower prices.

Crate & Barrel

No post-purchase price adjustments.
 Will match competitors’ lower prices at time of purchase only. Matches in-store and online prices of Bed Bath & Beyond, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Sur La Table, Pottery Barn, Target, Williams Sonoma, and Amazon.

Crutchfield

Will make price adjustments for up to 60 days after purchase.
 Will match lower prices at time of purchase only.
“We’ll match the delivered price on the manufacturer’s website for most items.”

Dell

Will make price adjustments for up to 30 days after purchase.
 Will match competitors’ lower prices at time of purchase only. Matches prices of Amazon, Apple, Best Buy, B&H, Newegg, HP, Lenovo, Micro Center, Office Depot OfficeMax, Staples, Target, TigerDirect, and Walmart.

Dick’s Sporting Goods

Will make price adjustments for up to 14 days after purchase.
 Will match competitors’ lower prices for up to 14 days after purchase.
Matches prices of any competitors operating local stores and major online competitors, including Academy Sports, Adidas, Amazon, Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Champs, Fanatics, Finish Line, Foot Locker, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Nike, Nordstrom, Target, and Under Armour.

eBay

Will make price adjustments for up to two days after purchase.
 Will match competitors’ lower prices for up to two days after purchase.
110% price match for items it sells as “eBay Deals” or “top product” offers sold for less by Amazon, Best Buy, Home Depot, Jet.com, Target, Walmart, and Wayfair. Issues a 30-day digital coupon.

Footlocker

Will make price adjustments for up to 10 days after purchase.
 Does not match competitors’ lower prices.

GameStop

Will make price adjustments for up to 15 days after purchase.
 Will match lower prices at time of purchase only of
Amazon, Best Buy, and Target.

Gap

Will make price adjustments for up to 14 days after purchase.
 Sells an exclusive product line and therefore has no price-matching policy.

Guitar Center

Will make price adjustments for up to 45 days after purchase.
 Will match lower prices for up to 45 days after purchase of
“bona fide online or brick-and-mortar retailers whose business is the sale of first quality musical instruments, equipment and accessories which are authorized to sell those items, including the item at issue, by substantially all of the manufacturers whose items they sell.”

Harbor Freight Tools

Will make price adjustments for up to 30 days after purchase.
 Does not match competitors’ lower prices.

Hobby Lobby

No post-purchase price adjustments.
 Will match competitors’ lower prices at time of purchase only.
“We do honor competitors’ ads in-store if a specific price is listed and we stock the exact same item… Sorry, competitors’ ads are not honored online.”

Hollister

Will make price adjustments for up to 14 days after purchase.
 Sells an exclusive product line and therefore has no price-matching policy.

Home Depot

Will make price adjustments for up to 30 days after purchase.
 Will match competitors’ lower prices at time of purchase only.
“If you find a current lower price on an identical, in-stock item from any other retailer, we will match the price.”

HP

Will make price adjustments with no time limit.
 Will match lower prices at time of purchase only
of “any nationally recognized online retailer, such as Dell.com, Lenovo.com, Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, TigerDirect.com, Newegg.com and Staples.com.”

IKEA

Will make price adjustments for up to 14-90 days after purchase, depending on product.
 Sells an exclusive product line and therefore has no price-matching policy.

J. Crew

Will make price adjustments for up to seven days after purchase.
 Sells an exclusive product line and therefore has no price-matching policy.

JCPenney

Will make price adjustments for up to 14 days after purchase.
 Will match competitors’ lower prices for up to 14 days after purchase.
“We offer our price match guarantee on any retailer’s in-store and online prices.”

Joann

No post-purchase price adjustments.
 Will match lower prices at time of purchase only
of local competitors and select online retailers including Amazon, Cricut, Dollar General, Family Dollar, Hobby Lobby, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Michaels, Office Depot OfficeMax, Party City, Staples, Target, and Walmart.

Kohl’s

Will make price adjustments for up to 14 days after purchase.
 Will match lower prices at time of purchase only of
local competitors that operate physical stores if shown a printed copy of an ad. Numerous brands and types of merchandise are excluded from its policy.

Lenovo

Will make price adjustments for up to 30 days after purchase.
 Will match lower prices at time of purchase only
of Amazon, B&H, Best Buy, Dell, HP.com, Micro Center, Newegg, Office Depot OfficeMax, Staples, and Walmart.

Lowe’s

No post-purchase price adjustments.
 Will match competitors’ lower prices at time of purchase only.
“If you find a qualifying lower price on an exact item, we’ll match it.”

Macy’s

Will make price adjustments for up to 10 days after purchase.
 Does not match competitors’ lower prices.

Michaels

Will make price adjustments for up to seven days after purchase.
 Will match competitors’ lower prices for up to seven days after purchase.
Matches prices of local competitors that operate physical stores and online prices of Athome.com, Hobby Lobby, Home Depot, Joann, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Office Depot OfficeMax, Party City, Popshelf.com, Staples, Target, and Walmart.

Micro Center

Will make price adjustments for up to 30 days after purchase.
 Will match competitors’ lower prices at time of purchase only
. “We are able to price match most major retailers and manufacturer websites.”

Neiman Marcus

Will make price adjustments for up to 10 days after purchase.
 Does not match competitors’ lower prices.

Newegg

No post-purchase price adjustments.
 Will match competitors’ lower prices for select items for up to 14 days after purchase. M
atches online prices of Amazon, Best Buy, CDW, Crutchfield, Dell, GameStop, Office Depot OfficeMax, Staples, Target, and Walmart.

Nordstrom

Will make price adjustments for up to 10 days after purchase.
 Will match lower prices for up to 10 days after purchase
of Amazon, Bloomingdale’s, Finish Line, Foot Locker, Macy’s, Mr Porter, Neiman Marcus, Net-a-Porter, Saks, Sephora, Shopbop, Ulta Beauty, and Zappos.

Office Depot OfficeMax

Will make price adjustments for up to 14 days after purchase.
 Will match lower prices for up to 14 days after purchase of
Amazon, Best Buy, Staples, Target, Walmart, and copy and custom printing jobs from FedEx Office or The UPS Store.

Old Navy

Will make price adjustments for up to 14 days after purchase.
 Sells an exclusive product line and therefore has no price-matching policy.

O’Reilly Auto Parts

No post-purchase price adjustments.
 Will match competitors’ lower prices at time of purchase only.
Will “match the price of most local competitors.”

Osh Kosh B’gosh

Will make price adjustments for up to 14 days after purchase.
 Will match lower prices at time of purchase only if
shown a “Google Local Inventory Ad (‘LIA’) advertised price in any of our retail stores on identical items.”

Pep Boys

No post-purchase price adjustments.
 Will match competitors’ lower prices for up to 30 days after purchase f
or in-store sales only. We “will match any local competitor’s currently advertised or everyday price.”

PetSmart

No post-purchase price adjustments.
 Will match competitors’ lower prices at time of purchase only.
Matches prices of local competitors and online competitors, but NOT Amazon or eBay.

Pottery Barn

No post-purchase price adjustments.
 Will match lower prices at time of purchase only for
items “sold by Amazon or sold on Amazon by the manufacturer, Giggle, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Saks, Neiman Marcus, Pish Posh Baby, The Tot, and Target.”

REI

Will make price adjustments for up to 14 days after purchase.
 Does not match competitors’ lower prices.

Sephora

No post-purchase price adjustments.
 Will match NON-SALE in-store prices of
Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Saks at time of purchase only.

Soma

Will make price adjustments for up to 14 days after purchase.
 Sells an exclusive product line and therefore has no price-matching policy.

Staples

Will make price adjustments for up to 14 days after purchase.
 Will match competitors’ lower prices for up to 14 days after purchase.
Matches prices offered by Amazon and “sold by any retailer who sells products in both retail stores and online under the same brand.” Except for Amazon, does not price match online-only retailers.

Target

Will make price adjustments for up to 14 days after purchase.
 Will match competitors’ lower prices for up to 14 days after purchase.
Matches prices listed in local print ads or available online with Amazon, Apple, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, Chewy, Costco, CVS, Dick’s, GameStop, Home Depot, JCPenney, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Macy’s, Newegg, Office Depot, Petco, PetSmart, Sam’s Club, Staples, Ulta, Walgreens, Walmart, and Wayfair.

Tractor Supply Co.

Will make price adjustments for up to 30 days after purchase.
 Will match lower prices for up to 30 days after purchase
of “any competitor’s online or in-store price on any identical item…”

Victoria’s Secret

Will make price adjustments for up to 14 days after purchase.
 Sells an exclusive product line and therefore has no price-matching policy.

Williams Sonoma

No post-purchase price adjustments.
 Will match prices at time of purchase only
“of new products sold directly by Amazon (excluding third party sellers), Sur La Table, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, and Crate & Barrel. We also match the prices of items sold directly by our vendors on their sites.”

World Market

Will make price adjustments for up to 10 days after purchase.
 Does not match competitors’ lower prices.

 

No Deal:

We also checked with the following companies for price-matching and price-adjustment policies but they either don’t provide them or don’t have explicit programs in place:

Amazon • American Eagle • ASUS • AutoZone • Barnes & Noble • B&H Photo Video • Burlington • CDW • Chewy • CVS • DSW • Duluth Trading Co. • Ethan Allen • FYE • H&M • HomeGoods • L. L. Bean • LensCrafters • Lululemon • Marshalls • Nike • Pearle Vision • Petco • Pier 1 • Rite Aid • Ross • Sam’s Club • Sherwin-Williams • Sierra • TJ Maxx • Ulta Beauty • Walgreens • Walmart • Wayfair • West Elm • Zara