You may already know that Walmart and Target will price match on many items, meaning they'll give you competitors' advertised sale prices if you show the ad at the time of purchase. Walmart has taken this concept a step further with their new Savings Catcher program, which they recently rolled out nationwide.
I generally don't try to use price matching for groceries, for many reasons. Having spent a few months checking groceries when I was in college, I empathize with the Walmart register clerk ringing up my order. She's already handled my mountain of groceries and my pile of coupons. I also have compassion for the people waiting behind me at Walmart. I hate holding up the line.
Plus, Walmart already has the lowest prices on most items. I shop at various grocery stores on a regular basis to follow the best deals. I have a good enough memory for prices on items I buy regularly to conclude that Walmart adjusts their prices based on competitors' grocery ads.
If another store has 2-liter bottles of Coke products on sale for $1, Walmart will often price them at $1. If nobody has them on sale, Walmart's price will probably hang around $1.25 to $1.50. Other stores charge about $2 for this product as a regular, non-sale price.
If another store has Chef Boyardee canned pasta products on sale for $1, Walmart might price them at 88 cents. Grocery stores sometimes put them on sale for $1.25 a can, when Walmart sells them for $1. I just bought a cantaloupe on sale at a grocery store for $3. A couple of days later, I bought two cantaloupes at Walmart for $1.49 each. You get the idea.
Walmart Savings Catcher takes the memory and guesswork out of playing the grocery game. If you prefer to shop at one place and don't want to mess with matching double coupons to sales, the program gives you an easy and rather amazing way to save a few dollars on your weekly groceries.
You can submit up to seven receipts per week, and you have up to seven days after a purchase to submit your receipt to Savings Catcher. Similar to their price matching policy, Savings Catcher doesn't include the following types of sales:
- Offers for money off or a free product if you purchase another item (such as save $1 on cheese when you buy bread or get free milk when you buy four boxes of cereal).
- Buy One, Get One Free deals where no item price is listed (except in Florida).
- Percentage off (such as 20 percent off all wine cases).
- Gift card offers (example: spend $25 on hair products and get a $5 gift card).
- Closeout or going out of business sales.
You also probably can't duplicate the potential savings of matching double or triple coupons with sales at grocery stores that offer these promotions. However, you can use coupons in conjunction with Savings Catcher. Walmart accepts manufacturer's coupons at face value and performs the Savings Catcher's price matching without regard for any coupons you may have used.
Making it Work
When I completed a recent Walmart shopping trip, the cashier handed me my receipt along with a small paper advertising Walmart Savings Catcher. The receipt itself included a prominent section with instructions on using Savings Catcher.
The directions suggested using the smartphone app, so I tried that first. Installing the app on an Android phone and logging into it with my Walmart.com credentials went smoothly. However, the app didn't recognize the QR code as a valid Walmart code.
When it still wouldn't work the next day, I decided to enter the receipt number manually on Walmart's Savings Catcher Web site. I received an automated email saying that Walmart received my receipt and would email me again once they validated it.
Three days later, the promised email arrived, notifying me that Savings Catcher owes me $6.39. I can let the savings accumulate over time and cash out for a Walmart e-gift certificate whenever I want. If you login to the Walmart Savings Catcher site, you can even tell where Walmart found lower advertised prices by clicking View Your Dashboard, Receipt History, View Details.
Walmart Savings Catcher found lower prices on items on my receipt from CVS, KMart, Target and Harris Teeter. The tool even lists all the items that Savings Catcher didn't apply to. This includes store brand items, deli, bakery and weighed items like meat.
Savings Catcher generally looks at prices for groceries, including food and consumables like paper towels, plus personal care products such as shampoo and makeup. The tool doesn't scan for prices on most general merchandise items like electronics, toys, housewares, jewelry, clothing, shoes and so forth. It also doesn't include tobacco, firearms, gasoline and prescription drugs, or products and services in their mobile phone, optical, photo, automotive and banking areas.
I tried to use Savings Catcher again for a subsequent Walmart trip, this time just picking up a few items, not a full grocery order, and discovered another small glitch. My receipt printed very lightly, as if the register was running out of ink. The smartphone app could not read the QR code at all, and I'm not sure if I deciphered the numbers correctly for manually entering them into the Savings Catcher Web site.
With the exception of the QR code hiccup and the lightly printed receipt, I found Walmart Savings Catcher extremely simple to use and an overall impressive avenue for saving money. If you save an average of about $6 on every weekly Walmart grocery trip for an entire year, you could earn over $300 in Walmart gift certificates. That seems worth entering a few numbers from your grocery receipt every week.