You can save money — but there's a catch: Spend more in a specific time frame to receive your discount.

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It’s fall, which means the old “summer growth spurt” ritual is upon us. We had a chill in the air yesterday and went to put our kids in pants. However, the older one looked like he was ready to go wading in a river instead of to school.

So I went to Old Navy and grabbed him some new pants and with it received $40 in “Super Cash.” Now, I get the idea behind all these “cash”-type coupons. You spend a certain amount of money in the store, and now you can come back to the store within a specified time frame to use this discount, IF you spend at least $50.

At their core, these are just coupons for a certain amount off. They can be really great, but the trick is all about using them during the window given.

I took an impromptu, not at all scientific poll on a local mom’s site to ask about whether they use these kinds of coupons or not. I had 88 respondents, 50 percent of which said they get them, then forget to use them. Another 19 percent said they never used it because they had just purchased what they had needed.

I think part of the reason people either forget to use them or never use them is because of the restricted dates. It’s not like a Bed, Bath & Beyond coupon that can save someone a small fortune (more on this in an upcoming post) with coupons that don’t ever expire, but it’s a specialized discount that only applies a few weeks to a month from the original receiving of the cash.

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Some Stores that Offer Store ‘Cash’

Most stores offering “cash” coupons are the middle of the road chains. Upscale department stores and higher-end chains will rarely offer these kinds of discounts and sales.

  • Old Navy
  • Gap
  • Kohl’s
  • JC Penney
  • Macy’s.

Now there were another 20 percent who said they make a point to use it, while six respondents said they try to use it but it’s about 50/50. I commend those individuals who make it back to the store in a few weeks. I feel like it’s a tactic to either 1. Not buy what I need now so that I’ll wait until then, or 2. To buy more stuff that I might not need just to take advantage of the discount.

Some stores are also a bit sneaky in how you can use their coupons. They sometimes have restrictions on what you can get a discount on with it. Kohl’s currently has a class action lawsuit against them regarding the way in which they allow customers to redeem their Kohl’s Cash. They won’t apply any store discount, like 20 percent off, until after you use the Kohl’s Cash, resulting in a bigger price.

The other quandary I face is am I actually going to save more during those times than I would on a 40% off day? I would assume those kinds of sales aren’t taking place alongside the “cash” days. I haven’t done the math on this yet, but I’ll keep you posted if I decide to invest the time in trying to use the cash during those times.

A Good Reason for a Store Credit Card

For me, I am at a slight advantage with discounts because I have a Gap credit card. Back when I went into an office, I used it religiously at Banana Republic. Now 95 percent of my Gap-related purchases are spent on my children.

Because I have the credit card, I automatically receive 10 percent off any purchase I make in store as well as earning rewards, which is cash off without any restrictions based on my spending. I also have their app on my phone and use it to look at my rewards or other discounts I might be missing.

A store credit card, as long as you are paying it off in full, can be a really great idea for a store you are loyal to and shop all the time at. Besides extra discounts and rewards, some even offer free tailoring of clothing, free expedited shipping and more.

Meet the Author

Jessica Patel

Jessica Patel

Contributor

Jessica Patel is an award-winning editor and writer living in Los Angeles. She previously served as deputy editorial director of T Brand Studio at The New York Times and as Senior Editor and Analyst of Bankrate.com.

Family, Lifestyle, News

Very Personal Finance

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Article last modified on October 29, 2018 Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: How Cash Coupons From Your Favorite Retailers Work - AMP.