If you’re anything like me, you have a love-hate relationship with Target.
Actually, maybe it’s a straightforward love relationship. After all, it’s not Target’s fault my wallet can’t keep up. Who knew that Dollar Spot could wreak so much havoc?
Luckily for me (and my fellow red bull’s-eye addicts — I know you’re out there!), Target’s offering free shipping and returns on every order now through Jan. 1, with no required minimum spend.
But before you open a new tab — that’s right, I see you! — hold on a second. We’re gonna show you how to make this awesome deal even better.
How to Use Target’s Free Shipping to Score Awesome Deals
The thing about free shipping is that, if you want to take advantage of it, you have to make your purchase online.
If you’re after the best possible deal, this is a strategic advantage for several reasons.
Reason one: You don’t have to go to the store, which means you save time, money and the nigh-physical distress of trying to stop yourself from buying all the cute things (read: everything) at Target.
But that’s just the start.
Shopping online gives you the opportunity to deal-stack your heart out. And with the added bonus of free returns, you’re not even taking a risk.
Here’s how it works.
1. The More (Deals), the Merrier
Find coupons, shop clearance or wait for Target’s online Black Friday deals.
After all, even with free shipping, friends don’t let friends pay full price!
2. Shop Through a Portal
Even if you know your coupon game is strong, hold up: Before you start shopping Target online, find a cash-back rewards portal, like Ebates, and click through it first.
(Note: It’s worth checking your favorite shopping portal every time you shop online — it’s super simple and takes no time. Or if you want to see which portal offers the best reward, check Cashbackholic first.)
3. Pay Smart
Once you’ve decided on your purchases — without having to grimace past the Dollar Spot! — use a rewards credit card to put a little bit of every dollar you spend back into your pocket.
This would be a good time to use your Target REDcard, which automatically saves you 5% on most Target purchases — and also gives you free shipping year-round.
If you don’t have a REDcard, any other cash-back or travel rewards credit card will do.
And if you really want to rack up the savings, use your rewards credit card to purchase a used Target gift card first. Raise is a great place to find discounted gift cards.
Of course, make sure to pay off that balance in full to avoid interest charges that’ll negate your rewards.
Deal-stacking is usually a great idea: Even if you’re only earning back a small percentage of your purchase, you’re still keeping money in your pocket rather than spending it.
However, when you pay for shipping, you offset those savings.
Even a relatively small shipping cost of $5 might be more than you’ve earned with these single-digit percentage cash rewards. So, depending how far away the store is, it might make more sense just to drive there.
But with Target’s free shipping deal, all of those savings go directly back into your wallet.
To say nothing of the savings you’ll reap by not having to walk past the home goods section.
Happy penny hoarding, Target shoppers!
Your Turn: Will you take advantage of Target’s free shipping and returns this holiday season?
Disclosure: Every time you click an affiliate link in this post, Kyle’s favorite Taco Bell order magically appears at his desk. OK, maybe that only happens in his dreams. But your clicks help us keep The Penny Hoarder HQ full, happy and working hard to help you save!
Jamie Cattanach is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Her writing has also been featured at The Write Life, Word Riot, Nashville Review and elsewhere. Find @JamieCattanach on Twitter to wave hello.