13 Things to Know About Shopping at Kohl’s

The department store retailer offers a surprising number of ways to save money on purchases.

(Image credit: niknikon)

Chances are, if you’re not a Kohl’s fan, you know someone who is – and given the opening that someone will shower you with stories of saving big. The Wisconsin-based department store chain boasts a fiercely loyal customer base made up mostly of thrifty suburban shoppers. You’ll find a typical Kohl’s – there are 1,164 stores in 49 states – in a standalone location in a well-to-do shopping center. Malls are not its thing.

If it strikes you as puzzling that Kohl’s has a cult following along the lines of Trader Joe’s or Wegmans, then this story is for you. Current customers might even learn a hack or two, as we look into the nuts and bolts of shopping – and saving – at Kohl’s.

Yes, you want to give them your name and email address. If you’re like me and tired of giving out your email address, you’ve stopped. But give it up for Kohl’s. It’s where the savings will start. You will also want to sign up for Kohl’s Yes2You Rewards. You can do it in-store or via the Kohl’s app (we’ll get to that later). It’s basically a 5% cash-back program. You garner points as you buy stuff. You will also get special discount offers throughout the year.

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Give them your birthday, too. It pays off. You’ll get birthday discounts when your special day rolls around.

Take advantage of Kohl’s Cash. Kohl’s Cash is, in essence, a coupon that you earn by shopping during a specified time period. It can be redeemed on a future purchase made during a corresponding redemption period. You get $10 worth of Kohl’s Cash for every $50 you spend after all discounts are applied and before sales tax. (Insider tip: Kohl’s will round up to $50 even if you only spend $48.) So, for example, if you shop between the 15th and 20th of the month, you can redeem the Kohl’s Cash you earn when you shop again between the 21st and 31st of the month.

Get the Kohl’s app. Use it to store all of your Kohl’s coupons including Kohl’s Cash. Additionally, when fired up in-store, you can score 10 free Yes2You rewards points.

“Kohl's always has a coupon offer available and the app is the easiest way to make sure you always have the best coupons available when you walk into the store,” says Heather Schisler, founder of PassionForSavings.com, a coupon and deal website. “You can also use the bar-code scanner in the app to check the price of any item in the store.”

Jump on Kohl’s Wi-Fi. While shopping at Kohl’s, connect to the free Wi-Fi. A coupon could come your way, typically in the range of $5 off a $25 purchase or $10 off a $30 purchase.

Use the Kohl’s in-store kiosk. It’s like a self-checkout, except, in my Kohl’s experiences, it’s usually near the customer service counter in another part of the store. It has its savings perks – like free shipping anywhere in the U.S., straight to you or your friends and family (think birthday or holiday gifts).

You can use multiple coupons. Kohl’s warriors know to pile on. The store accepts more than one coupon for purchases. “Kohl's coupon policy allows you to stack a dollar-off coupon (a $10 off $30 purchase coupon) with a percent-savings coupon (save 20% on your entire purchase). By using one of each type of coupon you can get double the savings,” says Schisler. “This is one of the best ways to save big when shopping at Kohl's.”

Forget to use your coupon? Go to customer service. Some stores will credit you post-purchase.

The Kohl’s coupon caveat. Increasingly, more products are on the no-sale list, meaning you can’t use Kohl’s coupons and promotional offers to buy them. Count out most electronics, Keurig items and Nike goods. Check before you commit to a purchase.

Play the age card. Are you, ahem, 55 or older? You get a 15% discount every Wednesday in-store. And yes, that’s an offer that’s stackable with other discounts and promotions. Bring valid identification.

Read the signs. Electronic price tags on the shelves of Kohl’s stores are there to be easily changed by corporate to reflect new pricing. Learn to read the codes parked in the upper-left corner of the LCD readout. BB stands for Bonus Buy (meaning Kohl's bought a lot of these from a manufacturer at a ridiculously low price); BGH stands for Buy One, Get One Half Off; PP is Product Placement, meaning the sale price is fixed by the manufacturer or Kohl's and not discounted; and S stands for Sale, meaning that item will be on sale for up to two weeks. Is there a square in in the upper-right corner of the electronic tag? That means the product is at its lowest price – until it goes on clearance.

Speaking of clearance… Kohl’s has some really sizzling prices in the clearance arena. You can save from 60% and up on items so marked. And yes, you can pile on your coupons, and if the clearance price is 80% off and you have a 30% off coupon, stack it, baby.

Watch for Night Owl, Early Bird specials. From 3 p.m. on Fridays until closing time, look for in-store and online specials. Same thing with Saturdays from open until 1 p.m. These occur at least twice a month (check your newspaper insert or online).

Go Off/Aisle for even more savings. Kohl’s is experimenting with a new off-price concept, Off/Aisle by Kohl’s. The recently opened pilot stores in Wauwatosa and Waukesha, Wis., and the year-old store in Cherry Hill, N.J., sell overstock items as well as goods customers have returned to Kohl’s stores or Kohls.com. The heavily discounted merchandise has locked-in prices – meaning you can’t use Kohl’s discounts, offers, promotions, coupons or gift cards at Off/Aisle. And all sales are final, with no returns or exchanges. Kohl’s deemed the New Jersey store a big hit before opening the Wisconsin stores in June. Expect more.

Bob Niedt

Bob was Senior Editor at Kiplinger.com for seven years and is now a contributor to the website. He has more than 40 years of experience in online, print and visual journalism. Bob has worked as an award-winning writer and editor in the Washington, D.C., market as well as at news organizations in New York, Michigan and California. Bob joined Kiplinger in 2016, bringing a wealth of expertise covering retail, entertainment, and money-saving trends and topics. He was one of the first journalists at a daily news organization to aggressively cover retail as a specialty and has been lauded in the retail industry for his expertise. Bob has also been an adjunct and associate professor of print, online and visual journalism at Syracuse University and Ithaca College. He has a master’s degree from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a bachelor’s degree in communications and theater from Hope College.