Grocery Showdown: Target REDcard vs. Amazon Prime at Whole Foods

Grocery carts at a Target and a Whole Foods grocery bag
Left: Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder Right: Rogelio V. Solis/AP Photo

Recently, a fancy new shopping center opened very close to me. It has cobblestone streets, shaded seating areas and pretty fountains. This shopping center – and its chain retail stores – forced my favorite, smaller grocery store to close.

Both Target and Whole Foods have stores in this new shopping center. They’re now the closest grocery stores to me, which means I’ll do the bulk of my grocery shopping at one of them. I started to wonder whether I would get a bigger discount on Target groceries with my REDcard or Whole Foods groceries with my Amazon Prime membership.

So, I decided to do a comparison.

First, I visited Whole Foods. I browsed the entire store and found products I knew I could also find at Target. I noted the brand name, the product, its size, its sale price and its regular price.

Next, I found those exact same products at Target and took down the same information. I went home and plugged everything into a spreadsheet to find out which store would give me a better discount when I shopped using their memberships (which I already had).

But before I give you the results, let me back up a second to go over some basics of each program.

Amazon Prime at Whole Foods

Before I went to Whole Foods, just based on their advertising, I thought I was going to get 10% off everything I bought. Wrong!

I found out that I can only get 10% off items with a yellow sales tag. That means an extra 10% off an item that’s already on sale. Sounds good, right?

But guess what? There weren’t that many yellow tags. Plus, only one product – Waterloo Sparking Water – had a sale price that was for Amazon Prime members only.

Target Red Card

With my Target REDcard, I get 5% off everything I buy – even if a product is on sale. The 5% discount is taken off my total.

For those wondering, I didn’t use the Target app to get more discounts.

If you’re unfamiliar, Target has what they call the Cartwheel program, which means some items are cheaper only if you add them to the list on your app. I disregarded this program for the experiment to try to keep the product comparisons as direct as possible.

The Comparison

What I Found Out

A target store sign.
Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

First, let me say: I wasn’t surprised to find out that Target’s prices were a lot cheaper than Whole Foods. However, I was surprised to see just how much cheaper.

I compared prices at both stores for 15 products on my typical shopping list. On average, Target’s final price was 21% cheaper than Whole Foods final price.

At the high end of the range, Whole Foods charged a whopping $1.65 more than Target for Newman’s Own salad dressing. The smallest difference in price was on Vitamin Water: Whole Foods was only 18 cents more expensive than Target.

Whole Foods beat Target on only one item: the pack of Skinny Pop popcorn. The Whole Foods regular price was $5.29, while Target’s regular price was $5.99. (The Skinny Pop pack wasn’t on sale at either store.) With Target’s REDcard discount of 5%, the price came out to $5.69 – which was still 40 cents more than Whole Foods’ price.

Only two of the products on my list were eligible for an Amazon Prime discount at Whole Foods. Vitamin Water was regularly priced at $1.69, but it was on sale for $1.25. The Amazon Prime discount took that price down to $1.13.

At Target, the price for Vitamin Water was regularly 99 cents. With my REDcard discount, it was 94 cents.

RXBAR Kids was the other product on sale at Whole Foods. It’s regularly priced at $7.99. On sale, it was $6.49. The Amazon Prime price was $5.84. Over at Target, the same box of bars was regularly priced at $5.99, or $2 less than Whole Foods regular price! The REDcard discount brought that price down to $5.69.

Bottom Line

On one hand, I will save a lot more money if I do my grocery shopping at Target. Which is just as well, because my Whole Foods store doesn’t carry my addiction of choice: Starbucks Cold Brew.

On the other hand, when I’m jonesing for hot lobster mac and cheese, fresh macarons or locally-sourced organic fennel – you’ll find me at Whole Foods.

Nancy Basile is a professional freelance writer. She never leaves the grocery store without iced coffee, granola and seltzer.