Wal-Mart Savings Catcher Review

Money Saving Tips, Personal Finance, Shopping, Store Savings Guides
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Most shopping savings apps reveal coupons and discounts before you get to the checkout. Wal-Mart’s app takes a different approach. Its Savings Catcher feature dishes out the discounts after you’ve already paid for your items in the store.

It’s a simple way to potentially save money without putting in much effort, but there are some drawbacks — only certain items qualify and online shoppers can’t cash in. To help you decide whether using Savings Catcher makes sense for you, let’s dig into the details.

How it works

Savings Catcher is one of the free Wal-Mart app’s standout features. It’s essentially virtual price matching, but the price adjustment comes after the purchase.

After a recent Wal-Mart shopping trip, you scan your receipt or enter its code in the Savings Catcher section of the app. The app will then automatically check if other retailers in the area are selling any of the items you bought at a cheaper price. If a lower price is detected, Wal-Mart refunds the difference in Rewards Dollars.

For example, say you purchase a bottle of shampoo for $5 at Wal-Mart. If you scan your receipt and Savings Catcher finds a nearby competitor advertising the identical bottle for $3, Wal-Mart will reimburse you $2.

wal-mart appThe Wal-Mart app is available to download free from the App Store and Google Play store. You’ll need to log in or create a Wal-Mart account to use Savings Catcher.

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Redeeming your rewards

The Savings Catcher feature mainly covers groceries, toiletries and other household items. It uses a third-party service to search through local print and online ads from top competitors and compare the prices of eligible goods.

You’ll get reimbursed in Rewards Dollars that you can accumulate in the app or put onto a Wal-Mart eGift card or Bluebird by American Express card in the form of Wal-Mart Buck$. Whatever way, you can spend your credit only at Wal-Mart stores or on its website.

If you used a coupon on the original purchase, your items are still eligible. Savings Catcher uses the original Wal-Mart price as the basis for comparison. The result of your inquiry is typically issued within 72 hours of adding your receipt. You’ll get an email or notice in the app when it’s ready.

Restrictions

As you might suspect, there are a few caveats. For example, this service applies only to purchases made in Wal-Mart stores — not online. And the competitor’s product must be the same size, weight, color and so on as the one you purchased in order to qualify.

Competitor prices need to have been in effect at the time your Wal-Mart transaction was made, and must be clearly spelled out in the advertisement as a dollar amount rather than a percentage off. You also have to submit your Wal-Mart receipt within seven days of the original purchase, and you can submit a maximum of seven receipts per week. The amount of rewards credit you can collect is capped at $599.99 per year.

There are several excluded categories, including produce, electronics, apparel, toys and housewares. Other noteworthy exclusions include products that require the purchase of a separate item to get the reduced price; items that include a gift card or are bundled free with the purchase of a separate product; and deals that require a manufacturer’s coupon.

Visit the Savings Catcher FAQ page to read the full list of exclusions. If you find a lower price elsewhere that you think Savings Catcher has overlooked, check that the item meets the criteria and contact Wal-Mart customer service for help.

More from the app

Remember, Savings Catcher is just one part of the Wal-Mart app. If you want to explore beyond this feature, here’s what else you can do with the app:

  • Create shopping lists and registries
  • Browse your local store’s weekly ad
  • Scan bar codes to see product information
  • Make purchases
  • Manage your pharmacy prescriptions
  • Set up Wal-Mart Pay, the retailer’s mobile payment service
  • Store your receipts

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The verdict

Savings Catcher is an easy, practical way to potentially save on your everyday Wal-Mart purchases. Unlike other product-specific offers, it doesn’t incentivize you to buy items you don’t need, because the discounts come after the transaction.

The downside is that deals are mostly limited to groceries rather than including a wide range of categories. Plus, you aren’t guaranteed savings — it’s possible that none of the items on your receipt are sold at a lower price elsewhere. And this feature works only for in-store purchases, which means online shoppers can’t take advantage. But if you’re willing to take a chance, you might get something in return.

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Lauren Schwahn is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: lschwahn@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lauren_schwahn.