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I spent hours trying Target’s price-match guarantee and saved $2.83. It was a huge waste of time, and here’s what I’d do instead.

Selfie of Ananya at Target.Selfie at Target

Ananya Vahal/Insider

  • Ananya Vahal visited her local Target to see how much she could save with its price match policy.
  • She only had six items on her shopping list, but spent two hours trying to price match them.
  • Vahal said the experience was frustrating for her, the cashier, and the customer behind her in line.

US Economists have been warning Americans about an approaching recession for years, so it’s always a good idea to look for ways to save money. Fortunately, Target’s price match policy is designed to do just that. It’s supposed to help customers get the best price in the market at every Target store by matching the lower price of certain retailers.

I try to use coupons whenever I can, but I had never used the price match policy at Target. During a recent trip to my local store, I finally decided to try my luck. 

Target price matches with almost 30 retailers from around the country. Some of its biggest competitors such as Amazon.com and Walmart are on the list. However, other popular chains like Kroger and Publix aren’t.Target store from outside.Target store from outside.

Ananya Vahal/Insider

Source: Target

I entered the store with my shopping list of six items and grabbed a bright red Target shopping cart. I was mostly shopping for produce and personal goods like Kleenex and vitamins.Empty Target shopping cart in parking lot in front of Target store

Bill Sikes/AP

The first thing I saw was some La Marca Prosecco on sale right in front of the entrance. It wasn’t on my list, but it’s one of my favorite alcoholic beverages, so I immediately pulled out my phone to check if it was cheaper at other retailers.Cases of Lamarca Prosecco on sale at Target.Cases of Lamarca Prosecco on sale at Target.

Ananya Vahal/Insider

I Googled “La Marca Prosecco,” and there were other retailers selling it for cheaper, but I had to find one that Target would price match with.Screenshot of Lamarca Prosecco Google search.Screenshot of Lamarca Prosecco Google search.

Google

I couldn’t remember the names of all the retailers listed on the website, but I knew Walmart was on the list. My search showed that it was cheaper at Walmart, but only by a penny.Screenshot of Lamarca Prosecco on the Walmart website.Screenshot of Lamarca Prosecco on the Walmart website.

Walmart

I decided saving a penny wasn’t worth the extra effort, so I continued shopping. I went to the bathing suit aisle next and found a top I liked for $23.00.Bathing suit top for sale at Target.Bathing suit top for sale at Target.

Ananya Vahal/Insider

I Googled the swimsuit brand and found it on Amazon.com. I thought I was finally going to get a good deal. Unfortunately, just like the Prosecco, the bathing suit was listed on Amazon for $22.99 — just one penny less.Screenshot of bathing suit top selling on Amazon.com.Screenshot of bathing suit top selling on Amazon.com.

Amazon

At this point, I’d been at the store for about 20 minutes and was frustrated that I’d spent so much time searching for items to price-match, just to be disappointed.A Target store employeeA Target store employee

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

I went to the cosmetics section to look for some nail polish. This wasn’t on my shopping list, but I thought I’d try my luck. I found a brand and color I loved — Sally Hansen Insta-Dry nail polish for $5.29.Sally Hansen Insta-Dry nail polish at Target.Sally Hansen Insta-Dry nail polish at Target.

Ananya Vahal/Insider

I pulled out my phone and found the exact nail polish at Ulta.com for $4.89. Finally, I’d found an item worth price-matching — I could save $0.40.Screenshot of Sally Hansen Insta-Dry nail polish at Ulta.com.Screenshot of Sally Hansen Insta-Dry nail polish at Ulta.com.

Ulta

Next on my list was deodorant. I found the Dove deodorant on sale for $6.99 each. It’s a bit pricey, so I was hopeful that I could find a better price online.The deodorant aisle at Target.The deodorant aisle at Target.

Ananya Vahal/Insider

I Googled the exact name of the deodorant and found it at Walmart for $5.97. I was excited to put another item in my cart that I could save more than a penny on. Things were looking up.Screenshot of Dove deodorant on Walmart.com.Screenshot of Dove deodorant on Walmart.com.

Walmart

Next on my list was Kleenex. This was my most frustrating search. I couldn’t find any retailer that sold the exact product. Amazon and even Kleenex.com sold the boxes with different amounts of tissues in them, different amounts of boxes in each pack, or with slightly different product descriptions.Kleenex aisle at Target.Kleenex aisle at Target.

Ananya Vahal/Insider

Items have to be exactly the same for Target to price match it. After about 15 minutes of Googling, I gave up and walked away from the Kleenex. I ordered it from Amazon.com for cheaper (in a slightly different packaging).Screenshot of Kleenex on Google search.Screenshot of Kleenex on Google search.

Google

Next, I headed over to the pharmacy section for some vitamins. It was easy to find the exact ones I was looking for. It was selling for $12.49.Vitafusion vitamins at Target.Vitafusion vitamins at Target.

Ananya Vahal/Insider

I pulled out my phone and Googled the exact brand of vitamins. Once again, Walmart was the winner with the lowest price. The website had it on sale for $10.88. This was the most significant price difference I’d found and I was excited to save $1.61 on it.Screenshot of Walmart.com selling Vitafusion vitamins.Screenshot of Walmart.com selling Vitafusion vitamins.

Walmart

Next on my list was some produce. I looked for Avocados first. I found a bag of four Hass avocados for $2.99.Hass avocado bag for sale at Target.Hass avocado bag for sale at Target.

Ananya Vahal/Insider

I Googled the item and this time, the lowest price was Kroger. They had a bag of four Hass avocados on sale for $2.69. I was happy to save another $0.30. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten that Kroger is not on the list of accepted retailers for price matching.Screenshot of Kroger.com selling Hass avocados.Screenshot of Kroger.com selling Hass avocados.

Kroger

Next, I needed some plain white yogurt — a staple in my home and every other Indian household. I only found one brand of plain yogurt, Stonyfield. It was selling for $4.59 and it was a brand I liked so I pulled out my phone.Stonyfield yogurt at Target.Stonyfield yogurt at Target.

Ananya Vahal/Insider

Once again, my Google results showed that Walmart had the lowest price. It was selling the exact item for $4.46 — a $0.13 differenceScreenshot of Walmart.com selling Stonyfield yogurt.Screenshot of Walmart.com selling Stonyfield yogurt.

Walmart

After almost two hours of shopping and Googling items on and off my shopping list, I only had five items in my cart and was exhausted so I headed over to the cash registers.Target shopping cart with five items.Target shopping cart with five items.

Ananya Vahal/Insider

I usually use self checkout because it’s faster. Unfortunately, for price-matching I had to get in line at the register and prepare to be the annoying customer who holds everyone up.Target cash register with a line of people.Target cash register with a line of people.

Ananya Vahal/Insider

The line wasn’t too long. Only one unlucky customer stood behind me. As I approached the register, I hoped this wouldn’t take too much time.Target cash register.Target cash register.

Ananya Vahal/Insider

I approached the cashier with my five items and asked if she’d be able to help me with price matching. She said, “yes.” Then, she asked me which items I wanted to price match. I said, “all of them” with a guilty smile on my face. She didn’t look too excited.Items on a conveyor belt at a Target register.Items on a conveyor belt at the Target register.

Ananya Vahal/Insider

I took out my phone and pulled up the link for the avocados. Immediately, she reminded me that Kroger was not an accepted retailer for price matching. I had completely forgotten. The list of retailers excludes many major stores so it’s hard to remember.Screenshot of qualifying retailers for the price match policy from Target.com.Screenshot of qualifying retailers for Target’s price match policy.

Target

Next, I pulled up the Stonyfield yogurt link from Walmart.com. The cashier accepted this price and made changes on the cash register monitor. She did the same thing for the Dove deodorant and the vitamins.Cashier pressing buttons on monitor at Target cash register.Cashier pressing buttons on monitor at Target cash register.

Ananya Vahal/Insider

It wasn’t an easy click or scan. She had to tap several buttons on the screen and change each price manually. Her smile dimmed and my guilt grew.Cashier pressing buttons on monitor at Target cash register.Cashier pressing buttons on monitor at Target cash register.

Ananya Vahal/Insider

I felt so bad making her change all the prices. Before pulling up my last link, I asked whether Target price matches with Ulta. She said, “no.” Later, when I checked, I realized Ulta is on the price-match list. I could’ve saved $0.40 more.Nail care aisle in Target.Nail care aisle in Target.

Ananya Vahal/Insider

I quickly paid, grabbed my items, and left without making eye contact with the customer behind me who was probably just as frustrated with me as the cashier.Target exit doors.Target exit doors.

Ananya Vahal/Insider

When I got home, after two hours of shopping, I looked at the five items I purchased. I saved a total of $2.83. Was this $2.83 worth the two hours I spent at Target? No. Was it worth the frustration I caused myself and the cashier? No.The five items I bought at Target.The five items I bought at Target.

Ananya Vahal/Insider

If I bought a more expensive item with bigger savings it might’ve been worth it. I also might’ve found more savings with a longer list. But I’d need to do research before heading to the store.A Target employee holding a clip board.A Target employee holding a clip board.

Bernard Weil/Toronto Star via Getty Images

If you don’t have time to research and are only looking for a few everyday items, the Target price match policy might cause you more trouble than it is worth.Target price match guarantee.Target’s price match guarantee page on the website.

Target

I realize Target already has competitive prices. It almost has the same prices as Walmart (sometimes just a penny more). So with price matching, I didn’t save much.Outside of Target store with employeeOutside of a Target store.

Associated Press

Either way, it takes too much time. The next time I’m in Target, I won’t be price matching. I’ll just stick to using coupons and picking up items that are on sale or already priced low.The deodorant aisle at Target.The deodorant aisle at Target.

Ananya Vahal/Insider

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