When Sam Walton opened the first Walmart in 1962, his goal was to beat out competitors by offering lower prices -- a tactic that his rivals thought would never work. Fast forward to 2022 and Walmart is No. 1 on the Fortune 500 list after hitting $559.2 billion in revenue for the fiscal year 2021. Clearly, Walton's discount-minded marketing approach was the right one, with flocks of other mega-retailers embracing the discount specialty model.
Though Walmart is increasingly focused on promoting itself as the ultimate big-box retailer with the slickest sales around, consumers have outsmarted the system. They know how and where to spend their money to get the biggest bang for their buck, and sometimes Walmart just doesn't cut it -- at least, not at first. This is where some creative cost-cutting sleuthing comes into play and a little effort goes a long way.
1. Join Walmart+
"Walmart+ costs $12.95 per month or $98 per year, but you can try it for free for 15 days to see if you like it," said Julie Ramhold, senior blog writer and spokesperson at DealNews. "If you frequently shop at Walmart, this service could be well worth joining as it offers free next-day and two-day shipping on orders with no minimum required. It also offers free delivery from your local store for things like groceries and other items, and while it requires a $35 threshold to do so, if you're stocking up that's an easy minimum to meet. Members also receive discounts on fuel."
2. Download the Walmart+ App
"In addition to being able to shop through the app and opt for delivery or curbside pickup, Walmart+ members can also 'scan & go' as they shop in-store," said Ramhold. "This feature allows you to scan barcodes while you shop and then you just have to stop by a self-checkout station to pay on your way out. Once you've paid, you'll receive an 'exit pass' for associates to check on your way out of the store. While this might not necessarily save you any money on the surface, it will save you time, and that's very worth it to many shoppers. Plus, the app also offers exclusive deals and those will help you save money."
3. Tie in a Rebate App
"Use a rebate app to earn money back on your Walmart purchases," said Andrea Woroch, money-saving expert. "Snap pictures of your grocery receipts and upload them to the Fetch Rewards app to earn points towards free gift cards to a variety of retailers or get one to use at Walmart to offset future purchases."
4. Download a Cash-Back Plug-In
"Download Cently (or other cashback apps such as Rakuten or Capital One Shopping) to your browser to automatically earn money back for purchases at Walmart.com," said Woroch. "Take it a step further to invite friends to try Cently and they'll match 10% of their cashback and give your friends a free $5 for joining."
5. Get the Capital One Walmart Rewards MasterCard
"If you shop at Walmart frequently, this rewards card can give you plenty of free money to use at the big box chain," said Woroch. "You will earn 2% back on in-store purchases at Walmart and 5% back on any purchases made at Walmart.com. Plus, if you link your card to Walmart Pay and use that at checkout, you will earn 5% back in store purchases for the first 12 months from when you sign up."
Just be sure to read the fine print and make sure to review details at sites like CardRates.com "to get full transparency on how the card and rewards works," added Woroch.
6. Compare Prices
"While Walmart is known for having low prices, they don't always beat the competition for everything they're selling," said Woroch. "When shopping online, always compare prices to make sure they're the best deal around. You can even download a price comparison tool like PopCart or PriceBlink to your browser which does the work of comparing prices for you, alerting you if they find a better deal elsewhere and how much you can save by buying from another site."
7. Ask For a Price Match
"Walmart is willing to match prices of identical products sold at a competitor (both available in store and online)," said Woroch. "So have your phone ready to research prices when you're shopping at your local Walmart."
Check out Walmart's price match policy here.
8. Clip Coupons
"Walmart has a generous coupon policy, accepting valid paper manufacturer coupons issued by manufacturers of products that they sell," said Woroch. "You can even get cash back in the event the coupon discount is worth more than the item you are buying. You can find online grocery coupons at sites like CouponCabin.com."
9. Buy Walmart's Store Brands
"From Great Value grocery goods to Parent's Choice diapers and baby accessories, to Equate beauty items to Mainstays home goods, Walmart brands are much cheaper than their brand-name counterparts," said Woroch. "I find the diapers are just as good as Pull-Ups for nearly $10 less per box (based on my local prices!). Though I wouldn't go with their formula since I prefer organic for my kids, I'm still all for great value grocery items (for boxed and canned goods especially) and Equate beauty products have never failed me."
10. Look For 99-Cent Greeting Cards
"I usually only buy greeting cards and gift wrap from the dollar store -- you simply can't beat two cards for $1 -- but Walmart is the next best place and if I'm there already, it's a waste of time and money to drive to another store to pick one up just to save 50 cents," said Woroch. "Walmart has a good selection of greeting cards for 99 cents. You may just have to search through to find them. They also have decent prices on gift bags and tissue paper. Just make sure to review the price to find the cheapest options."
11. Look For Clearance Items on Display
"Walmart very often puts clearance items on end-cap displays, so if you're looking for savings it's worth keeping an eye out at the ends of aisles," said Ramhold. "They won't always be something deeply discounted, though -- sometimes they're just items the store wants to highlight or feature. However, if the price ends in a one or zero, that typically indicates the price has reached "final sale" status, which means there won't be any further discounts and once it's gone, it's gone. If it's something you're very interested in, grab it while you can."
12. Shop Early
"If you're looking for meats and other perishables, consider shopping at your local Walmart earlier in the day," said Ramhold. "It's dependent on when your store marks down items whose 'sell by' dates are approaching, but if you can time your visits just right, you'll have a decent selection to choose from and you'll be able to save over buying other items that are further from the 'sell by' date. The only thing to remember is that if you're buying something nearing its 'sell by' date, be sure to either use it or freeze it in a timely manner so you don't have to toss it out."
13. Buy Day-Old Baked Goods
"Similar to meat and other perishables, if you peruse the unsold bakery items from the day before, you could find treats that are marked down at least a little," said Ramhold. "Obviously you don't want to buy stale baked goods, so definitely inspect them before buying, but there's a good chance that most items will be perfectly fine and just marked down because they didn't sell the day before. In those cases, you can treat yourself for less."
14. Shop Online, Pick Up In-Store
"There's a chance that Walmart's online prices could beat its in-store prices at times, so it pays to shop online in these cases," said Ramhold. "And then you can easily go pick up your order, rather than having to worry about paying for shipping or meeting a free shipping threshold. Additionally, there are some products that you can receive an extra discount on by opting to pick up in person rather than having them delivered."
15. Shop at the Right Time
"If you shop early in the day, you can catch early morning markdowns (assuming that's when your local store discounts things like perishables, meats and baked goods from previous days)," said Ramhold. "However, depending on when your store restocks shelves, you could also catch new inventory before it's had a chance to sell out. For instance, if your store restocks overnight, you'll have the pick of all the new items and stock first thing in the morning, whereas if you wait until later in the day you could run into things being sold out."
16. Know the Codes Behind Price Tags
"In some cases, prices that end in one or zero might indicate a final sale and you can't expect them to go any lower. However, that's not always the case, as Walmart managers have their own independent markdown budget constraints to work within," said Ramhold. "In fact, when an item hits the clearance shelf, it could see discounts on a monthly basis until it sells out entirely. Additionally, be sure to check for new clearance items within the first couple of weeks every month, as that's when most stores make their initial markdowns for clearance items."
17. Use Walmart's Baby Gift Registry
"If you (or someone you know) is expecting, they can sign up for a baby registry at Walmart," said Ramhold. "When they do so, they should receive a free baby welcome box which should contain samples as well as 'exclusive values' -- which I imagine would be coupons but the site doesn't clarify."
18. Have Your Prescriptions Filled at Walmart
"The store offers many generics for only $4 for a 30-day supply, and you can even place an order ahead of time in the Walmart app and pick it up when it's ready, so you don't have to worry about having to sit and wait," said Ramhold.
19. Get Your Flu Shot (and Other Vaccines) at Walmart
"Walmart Pharmacies are also a good place to get standard vaccinations, like your yearly flu shot," said Ramhold. "They're free with most insurance plans and you don't have to worry about paying a copay to see your doctor for a flu shot this way."
20. Make Returns Via the Walmart App
"This is another that'll save you time more than money, but time is still valuable! Shoppers can initiate the Mobile Express Returns in-app when they arrive at their store, then simply select 'Return Ready' and head straight to the customer service desk," said Ramhold. "There they can scan the QR code from the app and wrap up the process quickly."
More From GOBankingRates