If it feels like there’s a mystical force getting you to spend more time and money in Target, you might not be going crazy. There’s a name for this phenomenon. This is called the “Target Effect” and is very real. According to Dr. Kevin Chapman, a Kentucky-based psychologist, Target’s marketing department has done a top-notch job at designing Target stores to make customers happier — and happiness makes us shop more.
While the Target Effect might make your cart a little more full than you intended, there’s nothing preventing you from figuring out how to save money where you can. Target already makes doing that pretty easy (maybe that’s one of the ways it draws you in?), but there are even more money-saving tools that can make your Target run more economical on your wallet.
Spanning from Target coupons to loyalty programs and cashback apps, if you shop at Target on the regular, you’re not going to want to miss out on any of the money-saving strategies we outline below.
- Target RedCard
- Rakuten (formerly Ebates)
- Target Circle
- Capital One Shopping
- Best credit cards to use for cash back at Target
- How to stack these deals to get the most cash back at Target
- How to get the most cash back at Target when you shop in-store
- How to get the most cash back at Target when you shop online
As any avid Target-shopper will know, the Target RedCard is a no-brainer when it comes to saving money at Target. Receive 5% off your purchases at Target (in store and online) when you use the RedCard, which is available in both a debit and credit card.
RedCard holders also get early access to special products and promotions, as well as other exclusive extras. Free two-day shipping and extended returns (30 extra days) are some of the other perks RedCard holders can enjoy. If you opt for the RedCard credit card, you can expect a relatively high APR. However, there’s no annual fee to worry about — and it offers some very generous cash back on your Target shopping trips.
Read our Target RedCard review.
Rakuten (formerly Ebates)
Rakuten offers shoppers cash back, coupons, and shopping rewards at major retailers like Macy's, Best Buy, Kohl's, Target, Apple, and Amazon. You can use Rakuten for online shopping or on your phone through the app, which also comes with app-exclusive offers and extra cash back.
Did I mention earning cash back with Rakuten is a breeze? Rakuten has a “Cash Back Button” browser extension that helps you find cash back on qualifying purchases, applying coupons automatically at checkout so you don’t miss out on the best deals.
Alternatively, you can start on Rakuten.com, search for Target offers through the site, shop as usual, and earn cash back on your purchase. Rakuten also offers a rotating selection of “Double Cash Back” stores, so you can earn twice the savings.
When you’re ready to cash out your Rakuten earnings, you’ll get paid either by PayPal or check.
You can maximize your cashback earnings at Target by using your Rakuten Cash Back Visa credit card for qualifying purchases. With this card, you can earn 3% cash back on qualifying Rakuten purchases and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
As of Jan. 29, 2021, Rakuten is offering 1% cash back on Target purchases.
... Or read our Rakuten review
Target Circle, originally dubbed Target Red, is a free Target loyalty program first launched in March 2018 that was only made available in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to start. Nearly a year after its launch, Target expanded access to its beta loyalty program to five additional cities, and its new(ish) loyalty program launched nationwide on Oct. 6, 2019. If you are looking for Cartwheel (a coupon-like app that can help you learn how to save money at Target), it will be integrated into Target Circle and known as Target Circle offers.
With Target Circle, shoppers will be able to earn 1% cash back on both in-store purchases and online shopping at Target.com, which can be spent on a future Target run. In addition to the 1% back, shoppers will also get a birthday discount of 5%, surprise savings and perks, access to special sales, and the ability to cast votes to help direct Target’s charitable donations. If you currently have a Target RedCard, you can still join Target Circle to receive the benefits of voting and services, but you’ll continue to save 5% when you pay with your RedCard instead of earning 1%.
Also, if you forget to scan your Target app before checking out, no worries — you can enter your receipt later on the dashboard to get credit and earnings for your purchase.
Protip: Some of the cashback tools I’m showing you can be used at the same time — or “stacked” — and I’ll talk about that toward the end of this article once you’ve learned all the ways get cash back at Target.
Capital One Shopping
Imagine how much money you might save at Target.com if you could apply coupon and promo codes from across the web instantly at checkout. Enter Capital One Shopping. 1 It's an easy-to-get browser extension that can help you save money at Target.com in two ways.
When you're ready to check out at Target.com, Capital One Shopping's helpful pop-up automatically searches for and applies the best available coupon codes from across tens of thousands of retail websites. In addition to making it easy to find coupon codes, you can also earn Capital One Shopping Credits when you make eligible purchases, and your credits can be redeemed for gift cards. So while you technically won't earn cash back with this handy browser extension, it might help you keep some money in your pocket for future Target runs.
Capital One Shopping is currently available for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Safari. Simply search for it in your browser's add-ons to get started.
... Or read our Capital One Shopping review
Capital One Shopping Benefits
- Capital One Shopping searches thousands of merchants to see if you're getting a great deal
- Don't miss out on a better price
- Search and apply coupon codes automatically
- Custom price drop alerts for products you've viewed or purchased
Fetch is a shopping app that allows you to earn rewards that can be redeemed for gift cards to popular retailers. And, you guessed it: Target is one of those popular retailers. The best part is that you can earn Fetch Rewards by shopping at most of your favorite local stores, not just by making eligible Target purchases.
To get started, you simply download the Fetch App for your Apple or Android device and then shop as you normally would. After your shopping trip, upload a copy of your receipt to the Fetch app, and you'll earn Fetch rewards for each eligible purchase you made. Point values for qualifying purchases typically range from 250 to 3,000, and you usually need a minimum of 3,000 points to redeem your rewards for a gift card.
While you don't earn cash back directly with Fetch, if you use it frequently and redeem your rewards for Target gift cards, it might help you significantly offset your costs the next time you're feeling the pull of the Target Effect.
... Or read our Fetch review
Best credit cards to use for cash back at Target
Target purchases are often excluded from credit card rewards and bonus categories, but here’s a credit card that rewards you for your Target runs:
The Discover it® Cash Back offers cardmembers a rotating calendar of bonus categories where you can earn 5% on all purchases that fall within the category. You can earn 5% cash back on rotating categories (up to quarterly maximum).
Those rotating categories often include purchases at major retailers like Target, Walmart, and Amazon. Eligible purchases could include purchases made in-store or online at Target.com. If you want to capitalize on these deals, make sure you log into the Discover website and activate the bonus category, as it won’t be activated automatically.
If you prefer a card that offers flat-rate cashback rewards and doesn't require you to activate bonus categories, the Citi® Double Cash Card could be a good choice for your Target spending. With this card, you earn up to 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% when you buy and 1% as you pay for those purchases. While the cashback rate may be lower than what you'd get with the Discover it Cash Back, you won't have to worry about tracking or activating bonus categories.
Check out our full Citi Double Cash Card review.
How to stack these deals to get the most cash back at Target
Saving at Target is relatively easy to do, considering the number of things you can utilize during your shopping trip. Not only that, many of these Target-saving tools can work in conjunction with one another to maximize your savings — whether you’re shopping online or in-person. Here’s how to stack your payment method with these other cashback portals and offers to maximize your money back at Target.
How to get the most cash back at Target when you shop in-store
|Stacking strategy No. 1||Stacking strategy No. 2|
|Payment method||Discover it® Cash Back||Target RedCard|
|Earn 5% from October to December 2021||Receive 5% off your purchases at Target (in store and online)|
|Cashback portal or platform
Additional cash back
|Savings depends on how many eligible purchases you make||Savings depends on how many eligible purchases you make|
|Cashback portal or platform
Additional cash back
|Earn 1%, plus any additional coupon savings with Target Circle offers|
|Your minimum potential cash back||Over 6%||Over 5%|
How to get the most cash back at Target when you shop online
|Stacking strategy No. 1||Stacking strategy No. 2||Stacking strategy No. 3|
|Payment method||Discover it® Cash Back||Target RedCard||Citi® Double Cash Card|
|Earn 5% from October to December 2021||Receive 5% off your purchases at Target (in store and online)||Earn up to 2% cash back|
|Cashback portal or platform
Additional cash back
|Earn 1%||Earn 1%||Earn 1%|
portal or platform
|Target Circle||Capital One Shopping||Target Circle|
|Earn 1%, plus any additional coupon savings with Target Circle offers||Depends on difference after price change||Earn 1%, plus any additional coupon savings with Target Circle offers|
Additional cash back
|Capital One Shopping||Capital One Shopping|
|Depends on difference after price change||Depends on difference after price change|
|Your minimum potential cash back||Over 7%||Over 6%||Over 4%|
Does Rakuten work with Target?
Yes, Rakuten members can typically receive cash back when shopping online at Target.com. Be sure to navigate to the Target site through Rakuten after logging into your Rakuten account. You could use the Rakuten browser extension to activate your cash back before checking out online.
These cashback offers are basically free money on purchases you were already planning on making, so don’t forget about them when you’re online shopping.
Which is better, the Target credit card or Target debit card?
Both the Target RedCard credit card and RedCard debit card offer nearly the same benefits, except the debit card is linked to your checking account, which allows for cash withdrawals at a Target checkout.
On benefits alone, it doesn’t make much of a difference which card you use. But if you want to build your credit, the debit card won’t be of any help. Or if you want to avoid getting another credit card, it could make sense to get a debit card instead.
Can you get a 5% discount when you use your RedCard at Starbucks?
When you pick up a coffee at a Starbucks location inside Target stores, you'll qualify for the 5% discount benefit on your Target RedCard credit card or debit card. Starbucks purchases at locations outside of Target stores would not qualify for this discount.
The bottom line
These are just five of the different methods you can stack to earn cash back at Target. Try out these various ways to save — or use these as inspiration to invent your own cashback stack. it's a great start when you want to practice how to manage your money. Find the combination that rewards you the most, and the next time you feel the Target Effect, you’ll be able to walk out with a little more cash in your pocket.