Who doesn’t love free cash? If you’re a longtime saver, you may already be familiar with the concept of cashback. Any frequent customer at the department store Kohl’s knows about the great loyalty program known as Kohl’s Cash. But if you’re new to this classic retail giant, then read on! Kohl’s is already a great place to find savings offers on housewares and dresses. Once you know this trick, you’ll be unstoppable.
Cashback vs. Kohl’s Cash
One thing that shoppers may find confusing is that there are two programs that people sometimes call cashback. One is associated with the Kohl’s company, and the other one isn’t. We’ll cover them both here.
Credit Card Cashback
Cashback is not associated with Kohls. If you’re getting cashback, then you may be shopping with an affiliate advertising club, like Lemony or the Citi Bonus Cash Center. Other cashback programs come with a rewards credit card. These systems reward you for shopping by returning a percentage from your transactions to you.
Credit card cashback is pretty well known: for every dollar you spend with your credit card, you get rewards points back. One dollar may be worth, say, $0.015 in rewards points. Over time, you’ll accumulate more of these points on your card the more you spend. Eventually, you’ll be able to cash those in for a rebate on a past expense, airline miles, or other treats, like a gift card to the app store or retail partners.
Rewards members sometimes max out this strategy by putting everything on a high-yield credit card so that they can earn enough points for a big trip or large purchase. Of course, for cards like this, a great credit score is necessary, and anyone who tries to game this system should beware: credit cards can get out of hand. Always make sure and read the terms and conditions before you act on what looks good at first glance. (And check out our great credit card guide!)
Student Loan Hero has a good explanation of how this works. The credit card company isn’t paying you money to shop. They’re just sharing the interchange fee that they charge the retailer. For instance, if you make a $100 purchase at Kohl’s with a credit card, Kohl’s will only get $98 of that. The credit card takes $2 as a processing fee. It’s not a big deal for the credit card to then offer you back a couple of cents from that.
Lemony is generally considered the best cashback service regarding percentage of money returned to you, but beware. One of its big stated advantages is that you can save more when you invite friends. Anyone who’s ever tried to make a living selling Avon knows that recruitment doesn’t pay off long term. Don’t count on your friends glomming onto Lemony.
Instead, if you want to sign up with a cashback service, do your research. Look at a bunch of them and read the fine print. You’ll be using them as intermediaries in your shopping experience.
Kohl’s Cash is a rewards program that Kohl’s runs. Its purpose is to bring shoppers into Kohl’s stores and keep them loyal by offering cash in exchange for any purchase. Like many other special offers, Kohl’s Cash turns the shopping experience into a game that can only be played at Kohl’s. The cash that Kohl’s offers back to customers is only good at their stores, and to take maximum advantage of the system, loyal Kohl’s customers need to pay close attention to how much they’re earning and how much they’re spending on the program.
Kohl’s Cash is a little bit of a complicated system, and though there are a lot of ways to make it work in your favor, it’s important to understand its nuances before you engage with it. In the next section, we’ll go over exactly how to use Kohl’s Cash to save on purchases.
What’s Kohl’s Cash?
Unlike other rewards programs, shoppers don’t need to be charge cardholders to take advantage of Kohl’s Cash. Kohl’s Cash is a cash certificate, a coupon that represents real money and savings for you – as long as you keep shopping at Kohl’s. When you visit a Kohl’s during specific promotional periods, ideally on Black Friday, Columbus Day, or another shopping event, you can earn Kohl’s Cash. Also, if you do have a Kohl’s charge card, you’ll enjoy further promo codes and discounts that work in your favor. You can use Kohl’s Cash, your cardmember benefits, promo codes, coupon codes, and coupons together to max out your savings, although as we’ll see later in this article, that isn’t always as good a deal as it sounds.
Kohl’s Cash is money just for Kohl’s
Kohl’s Cash functions as a currency that’s only good at Kohl’s stores. When you use your Kohl’s charge card, you get a certain amount of this currency. It may appear in your email after your purchase, or you could receive it from your cashier on paper. The bottom line is the same: you get a rebate that’s good for future Kohl’s purchases.
So how much do you get back? That depends on what you spend. With your first $50, you’ll receive $10 back in Kohl’s Cash. After that, the amount you receive back rises by $10 with every $50 you spend. For example, if you spend $100, you receive $20 back. If you spend $150, you get $30.
This system is a bit flexible. If your spend falls within two dollars of a higher Kohl’s Cash bracket, Kohl’s rounds up to that amount. For example, let’s say that you spend $49 on a turtleneck sweater dress. Because you’re within $2 of that magic $50 spend, you’ll get $10 back in Kohl’s cash.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to trade Kohl’s Cash for real cash. You also can’t trade or buy Kohl’s Cash from other customers.
Kohl’s Cash promotional earning periods
Kohl’s Cash isn’t a year-round phenomenon. Kohl’s only accepts and distributes the cash during special events that are spaced out around the year. Usually, these earn periods are set a few weeks apart. Keep an eye out for these promotional events, because if they fall close to a weekend, you’ll need to strategize your buying plan. Friday sales could be good places to spend Kohl’s Cash, but lousy places to accumulate it. Start making purchases earlier in the week, if possible, to take full advantage of Friday deals.
Shop online with Kohl’s Cash
You can use your Kohl’s Cash online. If a promotional earning period happens to fall on Cyber Monday, then shopping online might be your best option! To do so, you’ll need your Kohl’s Cash Number, which varies from coupon to coupon, and your member account pin. These numbers function just like a coupon code. They’re circled in red in the graphic below. At checkout, you’ll need to enter this information to redeem your Kohl’s Cash and get your well-earned discount.
You can also manage your Kohl’s Cash through the Kohl’s App. This is a very handy tool to have. It even lets you pay off your credit balance using your phone. You know that we love to say goodbye to paper coupons at The Budget Diet. Go read all about how we fell in love with digital savings with RetailMeNot!
You’ll get your Kohl’s Cash from online purchases in an email. It’ll look the same as the slip of paper you get in the store. However you receive your Kohl’s Cash, it’s imperative that you don’t lose it! There’s not much that Kohl’s can do to get back your lost rewards if you should accidentally recycle them. Check your spam folder and make sure that these savings don’t slip through your fingers.
Stolen Kohl’s Cash
Theft is another matter. If someone steals your Kohl’s Cash, there may be a way to find out who they are. If you keep your receipts (as everyone should), then Kohl’s may be able to track whether the Kohl’s Cash has been used. That could give you a clue as to whether you accidentally threw away your coupon, or if someone nicked it from your purse and spent it on themselves. Even in this case, the store won’t give you your lost Kohl’s Cash back.
Kohl’s Cash and other coupons
When you use Kohl’s Cash on your Kohl’s purchase, the value of the Cash is removed from the price of the item that you want to buy. After that, the store will apply any discount codes and coupons that you happen to have with you. While it’s great that Kohl’s lets you stack Kohl’s Cash with coupons and promo codes, it’s worth noting that the order in which these two benefits are applied is made to minimize the amount of money you can save.
Let’s say that you buy $300 worth of stuff at Kohl’s. You have $100 worth of Kohl’s Cash and a 20% off coupon. If the store were to apply the 20% off coupon first, then the total price of your purchase would be $240. Minus the $100 of Kohl’s Cash you have, your $300 purchase would cost you only $140. That’s less than half of the original price!
Now take the same situation, but apply the Kohl’s Cash first. After this step, your purchase costs $200, and 20% off of $200 is $160. That’s $20 more than you would have paid if the coupon were applied to your purchase first! That’s why Kohl’s policy is to apply all Kohl’s Cash before any coupons and promo codes.
Watch out for online price reductions!
There’s another catch to couponing with Kohl’s Cash. If your coupon happens to require a dollar amount, using your Kohl’s Cash could disqualify you for that coupon. For example, let’s say you’re shopping online. You have a coupon code that qualifies you for free shipping on orders over $30. You also have $10 of Kohl’s Cash. There’s a decorative glass figurine on sale for $35, but once you apply your Kohl’s Cash, your order will only cost $25. Once the price lowers, you won’t be able to use your coupon code anymore.
Also remember that even though Kohl’s Cash is applied before you get to use a coupon, you only earn Kohl’s Cash on purchases after all discounts have been applied. That means that if you buy a $300 item, but get 30% off, you’ll only earn $40 of Kohl’s cash, not $50.
There are lots of ways to make Kohls Cash work with other Kohl’s deal plans. The Krazy Coupon Lady has written more about these fantastic ideas for saving money.
Price matching with Kohl’s Cash
Yes, Kohl’s price matches, and yes, they accept Kohl’s Cash for price matches. Price matching is a genius process by which you find an item that you want, and then use your phone to locate the same item being sold for less at a Kohl’s competitor. It’s a popular strategy at grocery stores, but a lot of places accept competitor price matching because customers now expect it.
For example, a Citizen Eco-Drive watch might retail for $168 at Kohl’s and $150 at Macy’s. If you can compare digital price tags and show Kohl’s that Macy’s price is beating theirs, Kohl’s will let you buy the item at Macy’s price. You can apply Kohl’s Cash to this purchase and earn Kohl’s Cash from it.
If you couple price matching with Black Friday sales, you can really take advantage of your money-saving opportunities. If your goal is to purchase Fitbit accessories or a crock-pot express, then this is the time to do it. Black Friday doorbusters are useful enough at Kohl’s, but if you have Kohl’s Cash to spend, then you could polish off a holiday gift list – or a personal wish list – without actually spending too much money.
Kohl’s Cash and sales tax
Here’s a fun fact: Kohl’s Cash isn’t subject to sales tax. The reason for this is complicated and involves a lot of squiggly legal symbols, but the bottom line is that just using Kohl’s Cash for direct purchases is itself an extra savings. Any portion of your purchase which you make with your Kohl’s Cash does not have any sales tax applied. In fact, if you pay for your entire order using Kohl’s Cash, you’ll be able to eliminate sales tax from your list of woes completely. Depending on where you’re shopping, that could mean savings of up to 10%!
Unlike ordinary cash, Kohl’s Cash expires. This is because it’s only meant to be used within the promotional dates that Kohls regularly holds throughout the year. It’s important to note that Kohl’s Cash is only good during the promotional event when you happen to earn it. If you earn Kohl’s Cash during an event in October but don’t spend it before that event ends, you won’t be able to redeem the Kohl’s Cash during the next event in November.
If your Kohl’s Cash expires, it may still be possible to save it. The blog Mom Bunin’ It lays out the procedure, which involves a 20-minute phone call to customer service.
Why does Kohl’s Cash expire?
There’s a reason that Kohl’s Cash expiration dates are set up like this.
- People will scramble to use up their Kohl’s Cash. That means that they might buy more than they normally would.
- Because they’re focusing on accumulating and using Kohl’s cash, shoppers might not plan an outing to Kohl’s as neatly as usual. This can also lead to overspending.
- Shoppers have to watch Kohl’s social media and email blasts to see when the next promotional period will be.
- Kohl’s can count on not having to redeem all of the Kohl’s Cash that they give out since many shoppers will forget about it until after the promotional earning period is over.
So what does this mean for you? You need to be wary of your instinct to buy, buy, buy. If you go all-in on a Kohl’s Cash promotional event, you could end up spending more just to get a relatively minor reward – one that you might not even take full advantage of before the event ends. Kohl’s Cash can be a great system for saving money, but it can also trick you into spending more at Kohl’s than you intended. It might not be a big deal during the holiday season when you’ll be spending a lot anyway, but during the rest of the year, buyer beware.
Kohl’s does accept returns on items that have been bought with Kohl’s Cash. In an ideal world, this would be a great way to make a little money: you could buy an item with Kohl’s Cash and then return it for more traditional dollar bills! Call us old-fashioned, but we love the idea of taking everyday money out of Kohl’s and spending it elsewhere – or, better yet, socking it away.
Sadly, Kohl’s anticipated this brilliant scheme. When you return an item that you bought with Kohl’s Cash, you’ll get store credit for its value. When you use the store credit for later purchases, sales tax applies, unlike the initial purchase with Kohl’s Cash.
Now, suppose you buy a Victrola record player from Kohl’s for $100 and earn $20 of Kohl’s Cash from that purchase. You spend that $20 of Kohl’s Cash on an Urban Pipeline flannel shirt, but decide that you want to return the record player after all. What happens to the Kohl’s Cash that you used to buy the shirt? The answer isn’t pretty: Kohl’s will deduct the value of the Kohl’s Cash that you used from the refund that you get for the record player! Instead of getting a $100 refund, you’ll only get $80.
What you can’t buy with Kohl’s Cash
Almost any sale or non-sale item available at Kohl’s can be purchased with Kohl’s Cash. However, there are a couple of important exceptions.
- A Kohl’s gift card. Wouldn’t being able to buy a gift card be a wonderful loophole? Purchase of gift cards can’t earn you Kohl’s Cash, either.
- Kohl’s Cares items. This is Kohl’s charity line. 100% of profits from Kohl’s cares items go to charity, and while you can earn Kohl’s Cash with a Kohl’s Cares item, you can’t use Kohl’s Cash to purchase one.
Luckily, Kohl’s Cash is good for everything else, including high-end brands like Nike. If you have a charge card, you may already be aware that not all percent-off deals are good for high-end brands, but rest assured that Kohl’s Cash can buy anything from tech merchandise like the Fitbit Charge to clearance items. Even with a few exceptions, Kohl’s Cash is still one of the best ways to save and get good deals on future purchases. Buy that other stuff with regular money and save the Kohl’s Cash for the sales!
Pros and Cons
So should you use Kohl’s Cash? Overall, the answer is yes! Kohl’s Cash is an efficient coupon system that works well. It’s app-supported and can be applied to online and in-store shopping. If there’s a sale, customers can still use Kohl’s Cash, and it stacks with other coupons, too. The return rate is fairly good, and thanks to Kohl’s willingness to round up two dollars, you don’t even need to spend $50 to get the $10 coupon.
The caveats for Kohl’s Cash are worth noting, though. For example, Kohl’s Cash earning periods are short, and though they happen frequently, they’re not necessarily a regularly scheduled event. Kohl’s Cash doesn’t stay good between these periods, potentially leading to big losses for you. Worse, Kohl’s Cash tempts you to buy a lot in a short period, possibly purchasing more than you need to get the best deal possible. That can waste money!
Nevertheless, there’s more good than bad about the Kohl’s Cash system. If you’re a regular customer at Kohl’s, and especially if you already spend a lot of money there, this is a great program to take advantage of. Try it over the next holiday season and see how much you save!