The recent death of Toys”R”Us means most of us are looking for a new place to shop toys. Target, Amazon and Walmart are the closest contenders.
And in a toy showdown between the three, I’d say Target wins for overall lowest and most frequent sale prices on toys, and best price-matching policy.
But before we crown Target as royal successor to Toys”R”Us and blindly make it our go-to for toys, realize they don’t win the price wars every single time.
Here are a few tips to make sure you’re getting the best deal on toys during the year (and especially during the holidays).
1. Save up to 60% on LEGO at Target (at the right time).
Walmart, Amazon and Target all offer the same regular prices on LEGO. (For example, LEGO Ninjago Garmadon’s Volcanic Lair is $39.99 at all three stores.)
I recommend you focus on deals at Target, especially during Black Friday and in January or July during their toy clearance event, when you can find LEGO up to 60% off.
2. Buy American Girl Dolls at Costco to save 14% over Amazon.
Early in November, American Girl dolls show up at Costco to challenge Amazon’s $152.00-$175.99 price tag for the same item. You can get an American Girl doll at Costco this one time a year for $119.99.
3. Pick up toys for up to 70% off during Target’s semi-annual toy sale in January and July.
True, January and July might be the two months you’re least likely to be thinking about stocking up on toys for Christmas presents, but it’s the best time to buy toys at Target.
During the second or third week in January and July, Target has a semi-annual toy clearance sale. You’ll start seeing 30% off toys. The next day, the sale hits 50% off and a week later, prices reach 70% off.
Toys go fast, so if there’s something you really want, it’s best to get it at the 50% markdown. The good stuff is gone once it hits 70%. Learn more about how to save money shopping at Target.
4. Pay up to $40 less on Kindle tablets when you buy from Amazon.
Prices on a Kindle tablet are generally the same on Amazon as anywhere else.
And while you might see a sale price at Target, your best bet is to shop Amazon for a Kindle tablet either during Prime Day in July or during Black Friday when you can get $30-$40 off regular prices.
5. Get your Hot Wheels at Target for up to 70% off.
You can save up to 70% on Hot Wheels at Target during both the semi-annual toy clearance events and during the holidays. We’ve even seen Circle offers for Hot Wheels other times of the year.
Walmart offers discounts on Hot Wheels during Black Friday (especially Hot Wheels-branded Power Wheels), but if you’re shopping at other times of the year, check Target first.
6. Buy bikes at Walmart for $15 savings over Target.
Bikes are just gonna be cheaper at Walmart. You’ll save about $15.00 on a bike when you opt for Walmart any time of the year.
7. Get a Target REDcard so you don’t miss cardholder exclusive sales (plus you’ll get 5% off purchases).
During the holidays, Target rolls out REDcard-exclusive deals on toys, and trust me, you don’t want to miss them. I’m talking Beats headphones for dirt cheap ($151.99 instead of $379.99) and Nintendo gaming systems (until they sell out).
You’ll save 5% on all your purchases, and it’s not a credit card — it links to your checking account.
8. Score 40-50% off Melissa & Doug toys from Amazon.
You can find discounts and sales on Melissa & Doug toys at Walmart, Target and Amazon, true.
But you’ll find a discount about once a month when you shop Amazon. Watch for 40-50% off discounts and BOGO deals.
9. Use the Amazon app to request a price match at Target.
If you find a better deal on Amazon but don’t want to wait for your toy to arrive, pit the stores against each other.
Use the Amazon app to scan the toy at Target and show Amazon’s lower price to Target’s customer service desk. They’ll match Amazon’s price.
Note: This little trick doesn’t work at Walmart, because Walmart no longer offers price matching.
But I’ve got another trick up my sleeve. . .
10. Use Savings Catcher to price match when you’re shopping at Walmart.
Scan your Walmart receipt with the Walmart app — Savings Catcher lives inside the Walmart app — and Walmart will give you the difference if they can find a lower price on your item locally.
It’s not as clean or controllable as using the Amazon app at Target, but it’s definitely easy.
11. Fly off with drones at Target for up to 80% off.
Drone deals are fairly rare, so if you want one and you see a sale anywhere, buy it.
That said, your best bet for finding a deal on a drone is the run-up to the holidays (late October, early November).
Target offered up to 80% off select drones last year, so keep an eye on them for this year, and always compare prices if you need to buy one the rest of the year.
12. It’s “game on” with 37-42% savings on Xbox and PlayStation at Target.
Four words: Online Black Friday deals.
Last year we saw Xbox consoles for $162 — that’s a 42% savings margin — and PS4 consoles for $189, a 37% savings. And the best part was you could get this deal online and avoid the Black Friday feeding frenzy.
Now, before you bank on Target, bear in mind Kohl’s offered each of these gaming systems for around $166 during Black Friday in 2016. So be watching for Kohl’s to try and beat Target’s price this year.
13. Buy Disney toys at Walmart most of the time, and at Target in January and July.
Target offers up to 70% off Disney toys during their Semi-Annual Toy Sale, but Walmart has Disney toy discounts at least once a month.
Without a sale or discount, Target and Walmart have pretty comparable prices on Disney toys. This makes Walmart the place to shop most of the year and Target the place to shop in January or July.
14. Save a few bucks buying rollerblades at Walmart.
Rollerblades, like bikes, are cheaper at Walmart by a few dollars. Check it out:
- Target (Girls’ adjustable rollerblades): $37.99
- Amazon (Girls’ adjustable rollerblades): $35.99
- Walmart (Girls’ adjustable rollerblades): $28.45
15. Use BrickSeek to double-check inventory before you go to the store.
Sometimes during a clearance sale, items sell out before you can get to the store. BrickSeek is an app or a website that will tell you if your local store has enough inventory to justify leaving the house for a deal. Just enter the item’s code and your ZIP code.
16. Buy Nerf at Target during 70% markdowns.
Nerf deals are more frequent at Target, and they see a 70% markdown during the Semi-Annual Toy Sale.
Other good times to buy are in the spring (it was March this year), when Target offers a Buy 2, Get 1 Free deal on Nerf guns.
17. Buy sports equipment at Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Were you buying sports equipment at Toys”R”Us? Gear like soccer balls, shin guards, basketballs and the like are usually about the same price at Dick’s Sporting Goods as they are at Walmart, Target and Amazon.
Break the deadlock at Dick’s using a $10 off $50 purchase coupon that you get when you take the survey on your receipt. Also, sign up for the loyalty program, Scorecard, and get 3% cash back on every purchase.
18. Buy Barbie at Walmart after Christmas for up to 80% off.
Barbie discounts can climb up to 80% at Walmart. The best time to buy is after Christmas and into the winter months (through February).
19. Sign up for Paribus and get reimbursed when your Walmart or Target purchase has a price drop.
Walmart and Target offer a price adjustment period (two weeks for Target; 90 days for Walmart). During this period if the price of your item drops, the retailer will give you the difference between the new price and the price you paid.
Paribus monitors your purchases and requests a price adjustment on your behalf. For free. You don’t have to pay attention to price drops at all. Just sign up for Paribus and watch the money roll in.
Paribus compensates us when you sign up for Paribus using the links provided.
20. Save on books from Amazon; buy Kindle editions or used.
The reasoning here is pretty simple. Books are relatively the same price at all three retailers (Walmart, Target and Amazon).
But with Amazon, you have the option of buying used and saving money, or you can often get Kindle versions for free through Kindle Unlimited if you’re a Prime member.
The Story of Ferdinand
The Pout-Pout Fish
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
21. Buy board games at Walmart and Target for up to half off.
You can find a 40-50% discount on board games about once a month at Target. Look for specific board game offers on Circle, BOGO deals and mobile coupons inside the Target app, and combine one of them with a sale.
On Black Friday, board games at Walmart drop as low as $4.97 each, which is pretty unbeatable. So, shop Target during the year and Walmart during Black Friday.
22. Pay just $5.00 for a stuffed animal at Kohl’s.
You can get a stuffed animal or plush toy for $5.00 at Kohl’s. For context, you can get a tiny Tsum-Tsum at Target for that price, and the lowest price for a stuffed animal at Walmart is $6.00.
Even better — these toys benefit Kohl’s Cares, and if you buy one, 100% of the profit goes to children’s charities.
23. Get Marvel toys at up to 50% off at either Target or Amazon.
This is a tie because both stores have up to 50% off sales. Between the two of them you should be able to find a discount on everything Marvel, from action figures to costumes.
At Target look for Circle offers or buy on Black Friday.
For Amazon, download the KCL app, and we will alert you when there’s a Marvel toy deal. They go fast, so when you see one, buy!