Extreme savings at Lowes

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imageA while ago I stumbled upon a few FlyerTalk posts by Sam_Goh who seemed to know everything in the world about saving money at Lowes.  I reached out to him and asked if he could document his ideas for this blog.  He generously wrote up his best tips for me.  I’ve done my best to summarize and quote Sam’s techniques below.  Hopefully Sam will be reading this and can help clear up any mistakes I’ve made and/or answer questions from readers.

To give you an idea of how big the savings can be, here is the final paragraph of the document Sam sent (bolding is mine):

Using these methods and all the stacking stuff above, I’ve gotten 2 fridges, 2 freezers, a grill, oven, dishwasher, and other stuff for 50%+ off. If you can time it to where you hit closeout season, my best deal all in was a $2699 stainless whirlpool fridge for ~$540. My brother-in-law always asks why we buy the expensive new stuff and why not go for the scratch and dent sales that give 10-15% off, I never mention that > 45% off is my starting point.

Here is a collection of techniques Sam uses.  By stacking many of these techniques together, he averages about 50% off.  We’ll go into each with a bit more detail after the bullet list:

  • Buy gift cards at a discount
  • Every day is 10% off day!
  • Creative coupon use
  • Order online, pickup in-store:
  • 110% Price Match
  • Seasonal and rotating promotions:
    • Buy 2, get $50; buy 3, get $150; buy 4, get $200…
    • 1 price installation

Buy gift cards at a discount

At the time of this writing, there are multiple opportunities to buy Lowes gift cards for 20% off.  See the post “It’s raining gift card deals” for details, and be sure to read the comments of that post for more reader suggestions.  If you miss out on these deals, go to GiftCardGranny.com to find gift cards available through resellers.  Lowes gift cards typically sell for 7% off.  If you go through a cash back portal like TopCashBack to PlasticJungle, you can earn an additional 4% back beyond the 7% discount PlasticJungle already provides.

Every day is 10% off day!

Next, Sam tells us how to get 10% off of all of our purchases:

This can be achieved by using a 10% Mover’s Coupon. Usually included with a “mover’s packet” available at the US Post Office, these coupons offer a nice discount that stacks with nearly everything. Depending on the area you live in, these are readily available by just asking nicely at the front desk, or you may request them online (more on this in a minute). A nice touch is that these coupons can be used both in-store and online. They are, however, one-time use with a unique barcode/number.

If you don’t want to deal with the post office, both Lowes and home depot allow you to request coupons to be e-mailed or snail mailed to you, although their response time won’t be quick enough for “run to the store” type projects (see Lowes Moving Center and Home Depot Moving).

In addition to the options listed above, you should be able to find these coupons for resale online via sites like EBay.  Another option, if you happen to be moving, is to fill out a change of address form with the post office.  Sam writes:

At the end of the process you will have the option of instant printing out a few offers, including a 10% Lowes and a 10% Best Buy coupon. The USPS charges a whole $1 for this, supposedly to verify your identity.

Creative coupon use

The 10% off coupons described above are meant to be “one time use” only.  Let’s see what Sam thinks about that:

There are creative ways to reuse coupons. First, depending on your area, competitors may take each other’s coupon. If I’m buying something at Home Depot, I’ll take them a Lowe’s coupon I printed out. Obviously, Home Depot has no way of running the coupon to void the one-time use, so they’ll manager override to give you the lower price. You can then use that coupon later at Lowe’s. Depending on how you feel, you could save the coupon as a PDF. That way you can print it out multiple times to use for an easy 10% off each visit at a competitor.

A final tip about reusing coupons, even though they are one-time use, Lowes online ordering system is a little poorly designed. It seems that if you place an online order for store pickup and it gives the message that “this coupon has already been redeemed”, all you have to do is select a different store until you find one that applies the coupon, and then switch back to the original store. The 10% discount will still be applied!

Order online, pickup in-store: get 6.5% back

Shopping portals are a great way to get extra points or cash back.  The best deal I know about right now [this is Frequent Miler talking] is through TopCashBack which currently offers 6.5% cash back for Lowe’s purchases.

Order online, pickup in-store: get $20 free

Here is another trick from Sam: Lowes has a 20 minute shop-click-pickup guarantee.  When you shop online and buy merchandise for in-store pickup, you are likely to wait around more than 20 minutes for your stuff.  When that happens, point out the guarantee.  You should get a $20 gift card for your trouble.

Order online, pickup in-store: exchange rather than return

Suppose the items you ordered weren’t exactly what you wanted.  You could return the items, and buy something else in-store, but then you’d lose the shopping portal points / cash back.  Sam has a solution to that:

After you have picked up your order, walk around for a bit and then go back to the return counter, mention you have changed your mind and want to exchange for store credit. The key word is exchange, do not mention a return, or a chargeback on your card, or anything like that. I normally ballpark what the items I want would cost, buy 1-2 random items that are in the same total price range to exchange, then execute this strategy to double dip.

Of course, be sure to double check prices as they can vary online and in-store, and pricematch the lower of the price! I’ve found in a few cases that the in store prices were a bit cheaper depending on the ad week and saved a couple of bucks that way.

110% price match

Here’s how Sam takes advantage of Lowe’s PM (Price Match) policy:

Let’s say you want a new fridge for beer in that basement of yours. Lowe’s has a 110% pm policy for local competitors. You have to be informed on the model you want, what competitors carry it, msrp, etc. Many people think that 30% off is good (Lowe’s runs 10-20% off unless it’s closeout). Instead of wasting time watching Lowe’s though, I watch their competitors – for example HHgregg when they do their employee pricing sales for 30-40% off. Then I take it to Lowe’s and ask for a 110% pm. The appliance person will offer to PM but you can insist on 110%. At that point they will want you to checkout and will not allow any further discounts. Decline and say that you need to think about it and ask for them to save it in the computer with your phone number. Then…. walk around a bit and go find a cashier up front, pull it up in the computer and use a 10% coupon there!

Another thing is that there are a lot of Lowes exclusive models (to prevent pricematching or they bought in bulk) that they will try and push. You can sometimes use this to your advantage. When you PM an appliance at a good price/closeout, the salesperson will say well we really are losing money on this or conveniently say it’s going to take too long to order this, in order to steer you to the Lowe’s model. If you’ve done your research, you should be aware of how much it is and/or if it truly is comparable in terms of features. The trick is, if they say will you buy this model for $XYZ, don’t immediately agree. Instead, run the numbers, and then if not satisfactory, say – you are willing to PM this other appliance for XYZ% off MSRP, so why don’t you give me the same % off your model. Seems that Lowes has a lot more flex in that price and it works well. Since at best, Lowe’s does 20% off daily prices, if you target sales that are 30-40% off + a 10% coupon cashier trick…. you’ll be in a good buy range.

Seasonal and rotating promotions:

Buy 2, get $50; buy 3, get $150; buy 4, get $200…

If you’re going to purchase several appliances at once, don’t forget to take advantage of the specials for buying sets. For example, last fall Whirlpool was running a buy 2 get $50 buy 3 get $150, buy 4 get $200 rebate. These come and go periodically and you can always ask a salesperson when the next time comes around. Depending on where you live, you may get tax credits or cash back for buying energy efficient appliances too.

One price installation…

Lowes and Home Depot love to entice people with 1 price installation specials, e.g. “whole house” blind or hardwood floor prices. Installation specials will rotate in and out as well. Be aware of this because as always, the fine print will get you. The 10% coupon is a great saving tool, but it does NOT apply to installation charges. Use these labor specials to your advantage to get the bottom line down by maximizing the materials savings. For example, we were offered 20% off Hunter ceiling fans and a whopping $75 to install each fan. It was nearly a $600 savings when a few weeks later we could get 15% off the same ceiling fans with a fixed “whole house” installation fee of $80. Besides, for $8 a ceiling fan, think of all the headaches you’re saving!

Other ideas?

Did Sam miss anything?  Do you have any additional suggestions for saving money or earning points at Lowes?

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