8 sly ways to save money at Target

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Top 4 Secrets To Shopping At Target

If you really enjoy perusing the aisles at Target, you're not alone. In fact, Target is among America's favorite places to shop.

The discount retailer ranks third among mass merchant sellers, behind Walmart and Costco and ahead of Amazon, according to the National Retail Federation.

Shoppers turn to the famous Target bull's-eye because they aim to save money on everyday purchases. But there are many hidden ways to chip away at Target's already-low prices.

Following are eight overlooked ways to save at Target.

1.Buy discounted gift cards

Buying gift cards at a discount can save you cash on every Target purchase. For example, Gift Card Granny recently listed available Target gift cards that were discounted up to 6.6 percent.

If you aren't particularly mathy, we'll break that down: In essence, it means you are getting an extra 6.6 percent off anything you buy at Target when you use the card. It's a no-brainer!

2. Sign up for the REDcard

Nod your head vigorously the next time the cashier asks you if you'd like to sign up for a Target card. The retail giant offers two Target REDcards — a debit card and a store credit card. Saying yes to either of these boasts three major benefits.

  • 5 percent off every purchase
  • Free shipping on every purchase at Target.com
  • 30 extra days on returns

Of course, it's important to note that every time you open a new credit card account, you risk hurting your credit score slightly. And that is something you need to weigh before signing up for the REDcard, especially if you plan to take out a mortgage or another loan and need your credit score to be in tip-top shape.

But also remember that the drop in your credit score is only temporary, and it may be worth the small ding to your credit if you shop at Target often. We're talking 5 percent off every purchase here, people!

3. Check the Target.com Samples Spot

Cheap is nice, but "free" is tough to beat. Listen carefully, because we're about to unearth a well-kept secret: Target.com offers free samples of items at its Samples Spot page. To qualify, you simply have to answer a few survey questions. Then, Target will send the item to your home.

The biggest drawback here is that you have to work for your freebie. Target samples are only available for a limited time, so you need to check the page frequently.

4. Shop clearance first

If you are going to buy something, why not get it at its cheapest price? Hunting around the store for items marked at clearance rates is a fun challenge for some. For others, it's a headache.

But don't worry. You won't have to sacrifice savings if you fall into the latter camp. Savvy buyers can find all of Target's clearance items at one page on the website. You also will find other special offers here. For example, through Feb. 20, you can get a $10 Target gift card if you buy a Chromecast.

5. Use the Target Cartwheel app correctly

Just about every bargain shopper now realizes that signing up for Target's Carwheel app can save them money every week. However, not everyone knows how to fully exploit this savings tool.

For starters, you don't even need a smartphone to redeem Cartwheel offers. Simply go to the website to browse and assign offers to a unique barcode that you can print out and bring into the store for savings.

Target also notes that you can even take Cartwheel offers and "pile them on top of other coupons, sales and your debit or credit REDcard savings."

Use the app often for even greater savings. Shoppers are initially allowed 10 offers per transaction, but those who use Cartwheel regularly can unlock "badges," which translate to extra offers.

Be sure to check Cartwheel offers frequently. New offers come out on Sundays, but many limited-time, high-value offers pop up randomly throughout the week.

6. Bring a reusable bag

Did you know that every time you shop at Target and carry items out in a reusable bag, you save 5 cents off your purchase? Even better, Target says it gives customers "a 5-cent discount for each reusable bag they use."

Use 10 bags each week (a conservative estimate if you're buying groceries and other items for a family of four), and you've saved 50 cents. Although that may not sound like much, it adds up to $26 over the course of a year. And you're helping to protect the environment. Talk about a win-win!

7. Sign up at the Target registry

If you have a big upcoming event in your life, sign up at the Target gift registry and you can earn additional savings on the items you need.

Sign up in the baby registry and eight weeks prior to your event date, you'll get a 15 percent discount for you, friends and family to complete your registry.

Those who use the wedding registry get their discounts after the event date — 15 percent off the items remaining on the registry, plus coupons for family and friends.

Finally, the college registry offers a coupon for 15 percent off when you shop for remaining registry gifts online. It kicks in two weeks before the event date.

8. Use a cash-back website to shop

If you plan to shop from home by visiting Target.com, make sure to stop at your favorite cash-back website before making any purchases. For example, log on to the popular cash-back site Ebates.com and you'll earn an additional 2 percent cash back on your Target purchases.

Do you have other tips for saving at Target? Share them in our Forums. It's a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.

Related: The best school supplies deals at Target.

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Our favorite back to school items from Target
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8 sly ways to save money at Target

You can't lose a pencil case when it's this cute! 

Get it here: Orla Kiely Garden Pencil Case      

Image Credit: Target.com

Even if penmanship isn't perfect, school notes are guaranteed to look good with these metallic-accented notebooks. 

Get it here: Greenroom Metallic Pattern Notebook

Image Credit: Target.com

This alarm clocks simulates a sunrise to wake you up. The light gradually gets brighter up to an hour before the set alarm time.

Get it here: Natural Wake up Alarm Clock      

Image Credit: Target.com

It's hard not to get excited for lunch with this adorable yellow-polka-dot lunch box.

Get it here: JWorld Corey Lunch Bag with Front Pocket

Image Credit: Target.com

Double check your calculations in style!

Get it here: Inkology Glam Rocks Rhinestone Calculator

Image Credit: Target.com

Personalize your tablet with fun cases like this freestanding tablet case for Apple's iPad.

Get it here: Speck Products iGuy Freestanding Case for iPad

Image Credit: Target.com

This lunch box is a must-have for "Despicable Me" fans.

Get it here: Despicable Me Minion Lights and Sound Insulated Lunch Bag      

Image Credit: Target.com

This water bottle has a replaceable carbon filter to remove contaminants from tap water faucets. It meets the NSG International Standard 42 for taste and odor reduction. 

Get it here: Bobble Water Bottle

Image Credit: Target.com  

These cheetah print shoes are easy to slip on and out of, so the kids can get out to recess even faster.

Get it here: Girl's Circo Hollie Sneaker

Image Credit: Target.com

This backpack is both cute and functional. This style comes in a variety of fun colors and patterns!

Get it Here: Mossimo Supply Co. Backpack Handbag 

Image Credit: Target.com     

Listen to study music in style with these colorful and bold headphones.

Get it here: Beats by Dre Solo™ HD

Image Credit: Target.com

These sneakers from Olympic and X-Game athlete Shaun White's collection are sure to be a hit on the playground.

Get it Here: Boy's Shaun White Marmont High Top Sneakers

Image Credit: Target.com

Don't lose any important notes with this Zip binder. 

Get it here: Mead Sewn Zip Binder with Handle  

Image Credit: Target.com

These pencils are amazing because for every Yoobi item you buy, Yoobi will donate that same item to a classroom in need in the US. These pre-sharpened pencils come in a variety of fun colors. 

Get it here: Yoobi 24ct No.2 Pencils

Image Credit: Target.com

This patterned planner is sure to be a hit in the classroom.

Get it here: Mead 8.5x11 Clear Poly Planner      

Image Credit: Target.com

Post-it's are always good to have on hand!

Get it here: Post-it Sticky Notes  

Image Credit: Target.com

With its bright color and bold pattern, these scissors make the cut.

Get it here: Scotch Scissors

Image Credit: Target.com

Note-taking is more fun when you have all the colors you could ever want!

Get it here: PaperMate Inkjoy 18ct Asst. Ballpoint Stick Pen    

Image Credit: Target.com

Little guys can stay active with bright sneaker options. 

Get it here: Boy's C9 by Champion® Blaze Sneaker

Image Credit: Target.com

For the artistically-inclined, this calligraphy pen set is a must-have for fancy handwritten script.

Get it here: Calligraphy Pen 33 Piece Set      

Image Credit: Target.com

This Android, designed specifically for kids, delivers a fun and interactive experience. 

Get it here: Nabi 7" Kids Android Tablet

Image Credit: Target.com

Stock up on e-books without crowding the bookshelves! The Nook is perfect for the avid reader. The Glowlight has built in Wi-Fi, illuminated pages and battery life of up to eight weeks.

Get it here: NOOK Glowlight

Image Credit: Target.com

This lightweight and durable laptop has a bright and crisp touchscreen.

Get it here: Acer® Aspire 15.6" Touchscreen Laptop PC

Image Credit: Target.com

These straight fit, dark wash jeans make for a versatile wardrobe staple for the boys. 

Get it here: Boys' Straight Jean      

Image Credit: Target.com

It's easy to transfer school projects and assignments with this thumb-drive.

Get it here: Dane-Elec 8GB USB Flash Drive

Image Credit: Target.com

Button up with the perfect plaid tee.

Get it here: Boys' Plaid Button Down Shirt

Image Credit: Target.com

This dress makes for a great first-day outfit with its bold print and great silhouette.

Get it here: Girls' Chevron A Line Dress

Image Credit: Target.com 

This backpack is perfect for the tech-savvy! It comes with a pair of studio-grade earphones that work perfectly with the front media pocket.

Get it here: FAB Backpack With Earbuds      

Image Credit: Target.com

This cool hat was designed by Shaun White.

Get it here: Shaun White 4 Target® Boys' Print Flatbrim Hat     

Image Credit: Target.com

These pieces are great for a school with a strict dress code or just for a refined look.

Get it here: Cherokee® Girls' School Uniform Short-Sleeve Blouse and Jumper Set      

Image Credit: Target.com

Headbands are a quick and easy addition to a hairstyle in the morning.

Get it here: Girls' PU Bow Headband

Image Credit: Target.com

Help the kids stay organized and on top of homework and exam dates. This planner, available in a variety of patterns, will keep the days in order. 

Get it here:  Mead Arrow/Stripe Planner          

Image Credit: Target.com

This 3-piece collection is laid-back and comfortable but still great looking.

Get it here: Back to School Skateboard Chic Shaun White 3-Piece Collection

Image Credit: Target.com

Back-to-school shopping is a cinch with this brown belt for the boys.

Get it here: Boys' Wide Faux Leather Belt

Image Credit: Target.com

These silky harem pants will be a hit for the fashion forward students!

Get it here: Girls' Silky Harem Pant      

Image Credit: Target.com

This classic look makes a nice layering option for the boys.

Get it here: Boys' Varsity Jacket

Image Credit: Target.com

This black riding boot is a stylish and inexpensive investment in a classic style for the girls!

Get it here: Girl's Cherokee® Feebie Contrast Zip Riding Boots

Image Credit: Target.com

It's easy to make your mark with these colorful Sharpies.

Get it here: Sharpie 18ct Asst. Fine tip Permanent Marker      

Image Credit: Target.com

This girls' quilted sweater is stylish and comfortable. 

Get it here: Girls' Quilted Pullover Sweater      

Image Credit: Target.com

With a bit of stretch, jeggings are a great option for growing girls!

Get it here: Girls' Jeggings

Image Credit: Target.com

Keep the kids on the run in style! This pair is ventilated for cooling and has cushiony support. 

Get it here: Girl's C9 by Champion® Legend Running Shoes

Image Credit: Target.com

The kids can track how active they are in school, at recess and during gym class with this Fitbit bracelet. 

Get it here: Fitbit Flex Wireless Wristband

Image Credit: Target.com

Polos and khaki pants make for a classic combination that will be great in your son's closet.

Get it here: Cherokee® Toddler Boys' School Uniform Short

Image Credit: Target.com

Ariana Grande is one of the biggest stars on the airwaves. Pick up the deluxe version of her album, "My Everything," for two bonus songs for some after-school fun.

Get it here: Ariana Grande - My Everything

Image Credit: Target.com

These lace-up oxfords are a smart option to fit the uniform dress code.

Get it here: Boy's French Toast® Lace-up Uniform Oxford

Image Credit: Target.com

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