What is Price Matching?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

“We guarantee the lowest prices!” “We’ll beat any advertised price!” “We’ll match any price or give you a discount if you find the same item for less at another store.” You’ve probably heard these claims before, often from major retailers, who obviously want your patronage. This is called price matching, when one retail outlet offers to sell something for the same price you’d purchase it for somewhere else.

Some stores match competitors' prices.
Some stores match competitors' prices.

Price matching is a common practice, especially in large stores that stock a lot of merchandise. You can also find price matching on the Internet if you look hard enough. Though these offers sound terrific, there are a few things about price matching before you head off to the nearest store looking for the best price.

Car dealerships may match prices against the competition.
Car dealerships may match prices against the competition.

In some stores, especially mom and pop outlets where the owner gets to set prices, you may simply be able to tell an owner that you can purchase the same thing for X amount lower at a certain store. You may not need to provide proof of a lower price elsewhere, but you might need a longstanding relationship with the store if they don’t advertise that they price match. Sometimes small businesses simply can’t price match because they lose too much money by doing so. If they order less inventory, they usually have to pay higher prices for it than larger companies that order much more inventory.

Small mom and pop stores may offer price matching based on the owner's discretion.
Small mom and pop stores may offer price matching based on the owner's discretion.

Virtually no stores will attempt price matching with Internet prices. Further, they may not even match their own Internet prices on items. It’s important to read the fine print before asking companies to price match, even at their own Internet prices or with another Internet store.

Most companies will require that you provide proof that an item is priced lower at another store. If you see an advertisement for a lower price, take it with you to prove a lower price elsewhere. Most companies won’t match prices just on your word alone.

Price matching typically only exists for items that are identical. For instance if you’re buying a mattress, it has to be exactly the same mattress type, make and model in order to get a company to price match. If someone has a Mattress 2000 (generic name) for a lower price and you attempt to match it with a Mattress 2001, you won’t get a lower price.

The same standards may exist for cars. Often a single car is featured with a much lower price than the rest of the same models on a lot. You’re not likely to get that price because the single car price usually even has a vehicle identification number attached to the price. Only that car is for sale. However, you can use this as a bargaining tool, to try to get an overall lower price at the same dealership or at a different one.

In all, some consumers find price matching a benefit, while others find it too much work. It usually does have exclusions, and you’ll have to jump through some hoops in most cases to get it. Many people find it worth a little effort when they’re trying to economize.

Price matching typically includes sale prices, but may exclude some clearance deals.
Price matching typically includes sale prices, but may exclude some clearance deals.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


Greenweaver- That's what I do too. I am sure it drives the retailer's crazy around the holidays when all the stores are offering very competitive sales.

I also check price matching sites like Shopzilla. They really help you find the best deals.


Latte31- Usually with price matching scenarios many customers bring the actual advertisements to show the retailer. This is what I usually do when I want a retailer to honor a sale price.

The retailer still has to verify that the price is lower than their current selling price, but this just makes it easier for them to identify the exact product.

Usually if it's the exact same item and the other retailer has the item in stock most retailers will honor the sale price.


In order to remain competitive many stores offer price matches. Usually the price has to be verified in order to honor the price match.

A clerk may need to contact the store and verify that the exact item is being offered at a lesser price. Many stores require that the competitor have the item in stock before they issue a price match.

The reason is simple. The customer may be coming to the retailer because the competitor no longer has that item in stock. In such a case, a retailer will usually not match the sale price.

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