Target 101: How to Shop and Save Money at Target

This is a simple guide to getting the biggest bang for your buck when shopping at Target. Everyone knows Target for its great deals on things you never knew you needed (hello, dollar section!), but there may be ways to save that you aren’t taking advantage of.

Read on to learn all about Target’s Cartwheel app, the subscribe-and-save program, and the perks of the REDcard.


Target’s Cartwheel app is an in-store coupon generator in the palm of your hand. Discounts range from 5%-50% on hundreds of items, from clothing and shoes to groceries and cleaning supplies. These discounts are different from the ones you see posted in the items, so be sure to shop using both!

All you have to do is download the free Cartwheel app onto your phone and create a free account prior to visiting the store. If you already have a account, you can log in using that.

Then you have two options — shop the Cartwheel app’s current coupons before heading into the store, or wait until you’re shopping in-store to look up the specific items you need.

There are convenient search options to find deals for the items on your list. Filter it down by category or search specific products and brands. After you’ve used the app for a while, Cartwheel will also start to populate a “For You” category where they will try to predict what deals you want to see first. When you see a coupon you want to use, just click and save it to your account.

All of your saved coupons will save to your Cartwheel barcode which you will scan at checkout. Either show the cashier, or if you are doing self-checkout (my favorite time saver), use the handheld scanner at the station to scan your Cartwheel barcode. From my experience, the Cartwheel barcode will not scan in regular the product scanner!

To keep myself from buying stuff I don’t need just for the sake of using a coupon, my strategy is to make a list of all the items I need before I search the app. Then, once I have my list, I search for each item in the Cartwheel app to see if a specific brand or quantity is on sale.

For example, let’s say I need laundry detergent. I’ll pull up my app and search “laundry detergent.” If Tide laundry detergent is offering a Cartwheel coupon for $2 off, I’ll save the coupon to my Cartwheel account, pick up a bottle of Tide (instead of Up&Up or Bounce), and when I scan my phone at checkout, the discount will be automatically applied.

It’s as easy as that to save a ton on items you’re already going to Target to buy!

Subscribe and Save

Target’s subscription service is not only a time saver, it’s a money saver! For household items that you know you’ll need on a regular basis, subscribe to automatic shipments online to save 5% and get free shipping. And if you’re a REDcard holder, you’ll save an additional 5% on top of that!

Note that if you want to use a promotion code on a subscribe-and-save item, the promotion will only apply for your initial order. For example, if you have a promo code for 20% off toilet paper, use it on your initial order for 20% off plus the 5% subscribe-and-save discount. For your future subscription deliveries on this item, it will only have 5% off — the 20% will not apply to future orders.

However, if there is a discount running on toilet paper when your next order ships, you will automatically get that discounted price for that shipment.


The Target REDcard is a credit card that you can use on all your purchases at Target, in-store and online. You’ll automatically receive 5% off your entire purchase when using your Target card. Pro tip: this also applies to the in-store Starbucks!

The 5% discount will apply on top of any promotions or coupons that you use, so if you have the REDcard, make sure you use it on EVERY Target purchase!

You’ll also get free 2-day shipping on all online orders, which usually requires a $35 minimum purchase.

In addition to the baked-in perks mentioned above, REDcard members receive early access to a lot of sales and promotions, as well as a 10% off coupon every year on your REDcard anniversary (you must enable email marketing messages to receive this).

Finally, Target has started to sell items that are exclusively for REDcard members. This means that there are items on Target’s website that can only be purchased by cardholders. If this doesn’t make you feel important, I don’t know what will!

These are my favorite ways to save money when shopping at Target. If you have any additional tips and tricks, share them in the comments below!

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