How To Get The Best Deal (With This Little Secret)

The secret on getting the best dealThe word “deal” is SO overused.

Everyone and their mom thinks they got an AMAZING deal on the latest thing-a-majig they bought from so-and-so.

Psssssst. Here’s a little secret:

You likely got an average deal at BEST.

At worst - you got taken for a ride and paid an inflated price for something that was camouflaged as a deal.

Marketers are so good these days they know what you’re thinking even BEFORE you do - if you caught a good “sale” - then you paid exactly what they wanted you to.

Don’t get me wrong, smartly shopping sales and clearances can land you some pretty good deals, but that’s just the start of what’s possible.

The real secret?

In one word ... STACKING.

What Is Deal Stacking?

Let’s be clear.

There is only one true secret to saving money that can be applied to almost ANY purchase you will ever make in your life. And that is deal stacking.

It’s an art form really - something that you become really good at over time with lots of practice.

EXACTLY what is deal stacking?

It means applying as many discounts, rebates, coupons, rewards, cash back, promotions, and sales as you possibly can to a single purchase or transaction.

Because when you by combine all of these small to large discounts together you can often turn the most mediocre of purchases into an amazing one-of-a-kind deal.

There are 21 different types of deals that can be stacked (don’t miss my complete list below). There are limits though - not every type of deal can be applied to the same purchase.

But, that’s part of the FUN. This is when you can use your creativity and resourcefulness to craft the perfect deal for you.

And if you hit a homerun? You can even walk away from a purchase with extra money in your pocket. You have to admit, there is nothing quite like getting legally paid to take an item off a store’s shelves!

My Best Deal From Stacking

Extreme stacking takes dedication, so I can’t always manage a full stack, but I do try to stack at least one or two deals on every purchase.

One amazing deal stack sticks out in my head though. It was a $1,000 LCD TV purchase from years ago. At the time, $1,000 was actually a really good price for the model I was buying.

Here’s the deal stack:

  • $1,000 sale price was already reasonable.
  • The TV was advertised on clearance for $850.
  • The store was having a 50% off clearance electronics sale - it was questionable if it should apply to TVs or not, but I talked them into it. New price - $425.
  • The TV manufacturer was offering a $100 mail in rebate at the same time on that model - now $325.
  • But wait - don’t forget to swipe the store rewards card for more points - I forget the points value at the time.
  • Finally, pay with rewards credit card for roughly 2% of the higher $425 purchase price in rewards - another $8.50 in value.

FINAL PRICE: $310 + tax roughly.

What Deals Can Be Stacked?

I’m sure your wheels are already turning picturing the different stacking opportunities you can dream up. Here’s the full list to put your mind into overdrive:

  1. Sales – a good sale is the foundation of any potential deal. Start by finding the lowest possible price you can by comparing prices at many different stores, watching flyers, reading online deal sites, and doing online searches.
  2. Clearance Itemstiming your purchases after major holidays or at the end of seasons can result in substantial savings. Buying what you need for next year, this year, can save you a bundle.
  3. Credit Card Rewards – the easiest deal to stack! Don’t just use any credit card though, use one of the top Canadian cards to maximize your return on spending. If you’re having trouble choosing, the HTS Credit Card Quiz can help.
  4. Cash Back Sites – it may sound too good to be true, but there are a few legit sites that give cash back for your online purchases at almost any store. I’ve earned more than $1,200 in cash back over a period of about 5 years. Great Canadian Rebates (sign up here) is the most popular one for Canadians.
  5. Cash Back Apps – cash back sites don’t work offline but cash back apps do. You just snap a picture of your receipt with your phone and you can get cash back applied to some of your purchases.
  6. Rewards Programs – if the store you end up buying your item from has a rewards program of any kind, you might as well be collecting the points and earning those rewards. But, don’t change your shopping habits just to collect rewards. Unless you’re getting a big bonus, it usually isn’t worth it.
  7. Rewards Bonuses And Coupons – timing your on-sale purchase with a high value rewards promotion, like Shoppers Drug Mart 20x Points Days, can really pay off. Additionally, watch for rewards coupons that give you large lump sums of points or multiply the points you earn. Coupons may apply to a specific product or your entire purchase. You may even be able to use both types of coupons together.
  8. Rewards Apps – apps that reward you in a variety of rewards points are starting to become popular. You can stack bonus rewards when making purchases (like with drop) or just for making “healthy choices” (like with carrot rewards).
  9. Price Matching – many Canadian stores will either match or beat the prices of their competitors (here’s a big list). Price beating is a great way to get an extra stack. Price matching helps if you have a coupon, gift card, or rewards card for a store that has higher prices. Read our guide to price matching for more info.
  10. Price Errors – store both online and offline make pricing errors. Sometimes they move a decimal point or simply type in the wrong number. It’s up to them if they honour the “incorrect” price, but sometimes they will. If you spot something that looks like an error, act fast because it will disappear soon.
  11. Bulk Discounts – some stores have buy one get one free sales (BOGO) or discounts when you buy in bulk. This is another great way to lower your price before applying other stacks.
  12. Negotiation – most Canadians treat prices like they are written in stone, but negotiation still works. It’s doubly true if you received subpar service or some mistake was made by the store or company.
  13. SCOP – the scanning code of practice (SCOP) is a voluntary oath some stores take to keep their prices updated and accurate for consumers. Using SCOP wisely, you can get free items or a $10 discount if you spot a mispriced product.
  14. Manufacturer’s Coupons – companies that want to entice you to buy their new or existing products often issue coupons for those products. Coupons are treated like cash by the stores because they get reimbursed for the full value of the coupon. That means they can ALWAYS be stacked with any other offer! If you look in the right places, you can find high value coupons or Free Product Coupons (FPCs) where you pay nothing.
  15. Store Coupons – stores themselves can issue their own coupons in their flyer, magazines, or inside their actual store. If these coupons apply to a specific product, you should even be able to stack it with a manufacturer’s coupon or a rewards coupon.
  16. Coupon Books – unlike free coupons, you must pay a reasonable price to buy a coupon book. The upside is that the coupons inside or much more valuable than regular coupons and can cover the cost of the book by using just 1 or 2 of them. Coupon book savings usually apply to dining, entertainment, and services instead of groceries and retail purchases. Using a coupon book is much easier than hunting for coupons by yourself.
  17. Online Coupons – whenever you are checking out at an online store, it is very common to see a box labeled “coupon code” or “promo code”. If you spend a little time searching for online coupons before you checkout, you’ll often be rewarded with a nice discount. The best site to use when looking for online coupons is RetailMeNot.com, but Google searches will often produce good results as well.
  18. Competitor Coupons – some stores, like Walmart, will accept coupons for competitors. This can open up more opportunities to stack as it is easier to combine coupons and sales.
  19. Discount Gift Cards – every now and then it is possible to buy gift cards for your favourite stores at a discount. For example, If you have a credit card that gives bonus rewards at grocery stores, you can buy gift cards at the grocery store gift card mall for your favourite stores, earn the bonus rewards or cash back, and then use the gift card to make your purchase at the store. Read the guide I wrote to discount gift cards here.
  20. Gift With Purchase – beauty product vendors are famous for giving away gifts when you purchase their expensive products. If you are going to be buying the product anyway, you might as well wait until they offer a free gift that goes with it. Other stores do this as well, like Shoppers Drug Mart will offer $10 or $20 gift cards to gas stations, stores, and restaurants when you purchase a $50 or $75 in the store on a special day.
  21. Trade-ins – you’ve seen it before. Bring in your old video games and get a discount on a new game. Or drag in your old clunker car and save thousands on a new model. Trade in deals are rare and not always worth it, but they are still worth considering.

What’s Your Deal?

Now you know my secret weapon to produce the biggest savings. There’s always “just one more thing” that you might be able to add to make your already great deal even BETTER.

Now you can go out and experiment with it yourself. Get creative - and see what you can come up with.

And if you’re a deal-stacker…

Tell me what one-of-a-kind deals you come up with - share in the comments below.

First Published: September 13, 2010

Disclosure: Some links in this article may be affiliate links. We're letting you know because it's the right thing to do. Here’s a more detailed disclosure on how HTS makes money.

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Comments

Blair Trottier
Blair Trottier's picture

There aren't too many stores in Canada that will allow you to Stack coupons.... I heard Rexall does....be nice if you could provide a list of Canadian stores that do!

thanx

Blair

January 12, 2011 @ 2:08 pm
Grace Poole's picture

Not only is stacking unheard of in Canada, it is down right difficult to even find coupons. Walmart will price match the sale price of items and allow you to use one coupon as well, if you can find coupons. The Real Canadian Superstore usually has a board of coupons at the entrance before you walk into the store. Just watch because often with sale prices it is still cheaper to buy the larger quantity or the no name brand. I have found that most of my coupons are for brand name things which are always much more costly than no name. Still I persevere, and try to match coupons with price matching. I always carry the fliers with me to the store, circle the items I price match and I usually save about 20-30 dollars per grocery trip for a family of four and plan my meals around the sale items.

August 18, 2011 @ 2:13 pm
SavingMentor
SavingMentor's picture

Thanks for providing some additional details Grace. It can definitely be hard to find those coupons and stack them (a manufacturer's coupon can be stacked with an in-store coupon in most cases). However, I don't consider stacking just to be the use of multiple coupons. I consider it to be combining as many of the above listed things together to make the best deal possible.

I tend to disagree with you that the no name brand is cheaper in the end. Yes, it is usually cheaper straight up but when you combine a sale with a good coupon, I find the name brand is almost always cheaper and often of a better quality as well.

August 18, 2011 @ 3:18 pm
Chris
Chris 's picture

I have had several stacking deals over the years. Here are a couple I had lately.

At Walmart: Children's Advil was on sale for $4.69. Advil has a coupon on their website for $3.00 off. Checkout 51 had a $3.00 rebate too. $0.61 profit.

At SportChek. A pair of leather Rosignol skiing gloves were regular priced $99.99 (overpriced, but fantastic gloves). They were on sale for $50. I used a Team Assist $10 off of $50 (and will get 5% back at a later date). I used 1,000 Scene points for $10 off. I used a gift card that I previously bought for 20% off of $50. Total cost $26.22.

February 14, 2017 @ 11:02 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Nice stacks Chris - love the $0.61 profit :)

February 14, 2017 @ 3:38 pm
Frugal Guy with Balance
Frugal Guy with Balance's picture

Stacking interesting concept:

Bought a new vehicle a couple tears ago

I got the dealer price

I got another $1,000 off because I was a Costco Member

The best part I got $3,000 cash off the vehicle because I took there fininancing.....which was around 7.00%
I could have taken 0% but then no $3,000 off.

Made one payment on the dealer bank financing loan which cost me approximately $150 in interest and paid the loan off to in full.

Saved $2,850

February 17, 2017 @ 9:12 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Well played on the financing discount!

February 17, 2017 @ 9:28 am
Kathryn
Kathryn's picture

I often use manufacturers coupons, though rarely print them out, and mailed or newspaper inserts seem to have disappeared. And sometimes I would have them while *waiting* for a sale to use to purchase the item. Sometimes I just drop them off by the item on the shelf. One time a couple of years ago, I was going to a shelf to place a coupon and a shopper picked up the product (on sale) so I asked him if he would like the coupon - - - and he asked me if he could use a coupon for an item on sale! I assured him he could and he was quite pleased to know that. I wonder how many others do not realize that basic coupon use.

Another thing I did today that I have done for several years - bought my TurboTax software at Shoppers Drug Mart, and used my Optimum points to *pay* for it. And for me, I have now been able to purchase it on Thursdays (seniors days: 20% discount on regular priced items), to get an even better deal. Several years, but not yet this year, they have also had a bonus points offer on it - a week or so ago, they did have it for $10 off, but 20% is better.
==

March 02, 2017 @ 5:49 pm
Anthony
Anthony's picture

Stacking at Superstore can work quite well by combining:
-sale items
-extra PC points (sometimes on same items)
-weekly deal (ie get $25 in points when spending $250)

One thing not mentioned in the list is price protection. Not always advertised, but in at least 3 cases (Canadian Tire, Futureshop, and Dell off-lease) I've gotten money back because the price dropped on the item after my purchase--best case was Futureshop--got $100 back on a $400 stereo purchased a year earlier.

April 10, 2017 @ 8:01 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I generally consider Price Matching and Price Protection to be in the same category - but you're right that they are two slightly different things.

May 20, 2017 @ 3:02 pm
Ron
Ron's picture

Also remember the Scanner Price Accuracy Code which can be found here:

http://www.retailcouncil.org/scanner-accuracy

Basically if the price that comes up a the till is higher than the price that is shown on the Shelf (i.e. a sale sticker), the store will need to honor the lower price, and if it is less than $10.00 the item is free.

Check out the link for more details.

May 18, 2017 @ 12:19 pm

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