Brynne Conroy | 

Dollar Tree vs. Family Dollar: Who Comes Out on Top?

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We’re all out here just trying to beat inflation. As you’ve likely noticed, we’re paying 7.1% more for things than we did at this same time last year. In times like these, it’s time to start looking at dollar stores. Not every dollar store gives you the same experience, though. Even when they’re owned by the same company, these retailers can be at odds with one another. Figuring out which is best to meet your needs requires some experience and research. It begs the question, “Dollar Tree vs Family Dollar?”

Luckily, we’ve researched the answer for you. We’re comparing these two big dollar store brands to help you decide which is right for you. But the best part? Sometimes you don’t have to choose. You can get a Dollar Tree and Family Dollar experience all rolled into one. We’ll get into how in just a sec, so keep reading.

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Dollar Tree actually owns Family Dollar.

What the what? Yup, you might be surprised to learn that Dollar Tree bought Family Dollar back in 2015. There was a bidding war with Dollar General and everything. Real dollar store drama right there.

That said, each brand provides a distinct shopping experience. They might be owned by the same people, but they’re not the same.


Dollar Tree vs. Family Dollar: Price

A shopping basket on a checkout conveyer belt at Dollar Tree

Dollar Tree beats out Family Dollar in terms of price. Their base rate for everything is $1.25, though they did start experimenting with $3 – $5 products over the past year or so with their in-store Dollar Tree Plus sections.

This is a blanket assessment, though. If you dive into the nitty-gritty and time your trip just right, you can find select items that are cheaper at Family Dollar. Some examples we’ve found in the past include $1 brand-name cereals, canned vegetables, and noodles.

Related: We can tell you exactly what not to buy at Dollar Tree (because you can get it cheaper elsewhere).


Dollar Tree vs Family Dollar: Selection

Family Dollar cart

Here’s where Family Dollar outshines Dollar Tree. In general, Dollar Tree tends to carry generic brands. When it does carry brand-name products, the size of the products tends to be absolutely tiny to make up for the $1.25 sticker prices.

That means even though Family Dollar’s prices may be higher as a rule, you’re often getting better value in terms of quality and quantity.

Related: We do sometimes find a few surprising name brands at Dollar Tree — like these latest Dollar Tree finds!


Dollar Tree vs Family Dollar: Coupon Policy

check out at dollar tree

Dollar Tree’s coupon policy allows for the use of manufacturer coupons, with a few caveats. If you’re only buying one of an item and the coupon is greater than $1.25, you’ll still only get $1.25 off. But there’s a fun twist. Let’s say you have a coupon for $2.50 off a product, but it only costs $1.25 at Dollar Tree. You could use that same coupon for both items, getting each for free.

There are more fun facts, but to be perfectly honest, they’re rarely applicable. Because Dollar Tree sells so few brand names (and sells brand-name products in miniscule sizes when they do carry them), the coupons aren’t usually relevant.

On the other hand, at Family Dollar you’ll have occasion to use manufacturer coupons much more often. Plus, Family Dollar releases a lot of high-value coupons of their own on a regular basis, like the infamous $5 off $25 coupon. Whatever weaknesses the Family Dollar coupon policy may have, they’re a moot point because you can actually use coupons here.

Related: Walmart vs. Dollar Tree



Dollar Tree vs Family Dollar: Return Policies

Dollar Tree’s return policy is a mess. It doesn’t allow for refunds or store credit, but you can make exchanges within 30 days of purchase. You better not lose your receipt, though. You’re gonna need it.

Family Dollar’s return policy is leagues better. First off, it allows for actual returns and refunds. The return window is the same length — 30 days. If you don’t have a receipt, you’re not totally out of luck. You can still make exchanges without one or get a refund for the lowest sale price of the item (which means you might lose a little money if you bought at a higher price).


Dollar Tree vs Family Dollar: Location

Person holding cart with EBT CardDollar Tree

As of December 2022, there are nearly 8,300 Family Dollar locations across the country. Dollar Tree, on the other hand, has just over 7,800. So there are more Family Dollars, but barely. It’s more common to find Dollar Tree locations in urban or suburban areas.

There’s no clear winner here. It’s pretty close, and your access is going to vary depending on where you live.

TIP: If you can’t decide which shopping experience you’d prefer, you can get the best of both worlds. Dollar Tree started opening co-branded Family Dollar/Dollar Tree stores in 2021. There are plans to have 3,000 in smaller towns across the country.


Who wins the Dollar Tree vs Family Dollar battle?

dollar tree basket in season area

It all depends on what you want. Here are the categories each store won:

  • Price: Dollar Tree (most of the time)
  • Selection: Family Dollar
  • Coupon policy: Family Dollar
  • Return policy: Family Dollar
  • Location: Tie

Ultimately, if you need to save money on decorations for a kids’ party or something super generic that works well regardless of brand, like pregnancy tests, Dollar Tree may give you just the shopping experience you need.

But if you want a store where it’s easier to coupon and stock up on Tide detergent in increments greater than two ounces, Family Dollar will do you better.

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