Beat Clearance Prices: How I Turned a Half-Off Sale Into 80% Off at Target

target clearance
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Do you ever get excited about a killer deal — “CLEARANCE! 1 BILLION % OFF!” — only to look a little closer and see that tiny “up to” caveat on a sale sign?

Deep down, you knew 1 billion percent was too good to be true, but you had to look. And now, you want everything on the rack.

That’s what happened to me today when I saw an ad for Target dresses “up to 70% off,” only to look closer and realize most were more like 20%b off — and others weren’t discounted at all.

But now I want All. The. Dresses.

Well, sneaky ad, I think I’ve found a way to win this one.

Get a Better Price Through Deal-Stacking

Let’s look at this dress that caught my eye:

Women’s Tribal Print Sweater Dress by Flying Tomato: Originally it cost $34.99, but I’m going to get this dress for $7.54.

The ad that enticed me to promised dresses for around $6 apiece. While this dress is 50% off, the sale price of $17.48 certainly doesn’t live up to that promise.

You can get this dress in a Small for $6.48 — but I need a Medium.

Oh, the caveats! I’m just looking for a good deal.

I’m going to show you how I’ll use deal-stacking to get this awesome Penny Hoarder Price.

1. Find Coupon Codes

First, I’ll use the coupon code EXTRA20 at checkout to get an extra 20% off this dress.

That’s an extra $3.50 saved.

This coupon is good at through January 30.

2. Shop Through a Cash-Back Site

When you shop through a cash-back website, you earn rewards points, which you can redeem for either cash or gift cards.

I always use Cashbackholic to find the cash-back site offering the best deal for the store I want to shop.

In this case, offers 5% cash back for shopping at Target through their site (or “shopping portal.”) Plus, because I’ll be creating my account for the first time, I get another $5 cash bonus.

That’s a total of $5.70 cash back.

3. Choose the Best Way to Pay

If you have a Target REDCard, you can get an extra 5% off everything you buy in-stores and online.

That means an additional $0.70 off on this dress.

Or, find a discounted gift card.

You’ll use a gift card exchange site to purchase unused gift cards at a price lower than face value. I used Costshredder to find the site with the best deals on Target gift cards.

For example, you can find a gift card on Raise at 4% off for a value of $15. Buy one that offers an e-gift card code, and you should receive the code via email within 30 minutes.

That’s $0.60 savings on a $15 gift card.

In this case, it’s less of a discount than the 5% I’d save with a Target REDCard. But gift card offers vary constantly, so keep an eye out for the best deals.

Plus, if you purchase the gift card with a rewards credit card, you can increase your savings.

Here’s an option we like: It’s the Chase Freedom Unlimited card*. Its claim to fame? You’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. Plus, if you spend $500 in your first three months of opening the card (hi, groceries), you’ll pocket a $150 bonus.

That would be another $0.21 cash rewards on the gift card purchase, bringing the total savings of the gift card method to $0.81. In this case, it’s the way to go.

4. Get Free Shipping

Don’t sacrifice all these savings by paying for shipping!

If you pay with the Target REDCard, you’ll get free shipping on your order. Target also offers free shipping on all orders of $25 or more, in case you have a few items on your list.

I’ll choose to pick up my order at the store, though. That’s always free, and there’s a Target right by my apartment.

Just choose “Ship to Store FREE” at checkout.

TL;DR: How I Saved $27.52 at Target

Here’s the summary of the deals and discounts I stacked to get this price:

  • EXTRA20 coupon for 20% off = $3.50 savings
  • Cash-back site = $5.70 cash back
  • Gift Card from = $0.60 savings
  • Cash back credit card = $0.21 cash back
  • Plus FREE Shipping to store

And how it compares to what you’d pay without deal-stacking:

Original Price: $34.99

Sale Price: $17.48

What I’ll pay today: $13.38

The Penny Hoarder Price (after cash back): $7.47

*The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card has been collected independently by The Penny Hoarder. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. The Penny Hoarder is a partner of Credible.

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post,, Writer’s Digest and more.