Secrets to shopping GAP on a budget

Gap Kids Collaborations

Back to school fashion already?  Shouldn’t SOMEONE let the stores know that “P.P.S. It’s summer, you know?” Despite this, stores are already moving onto the next season.  I know it maybe a little difficult to make that conscious leap (much like experiencing Christmas during Halloween), but for me it did get me thinking, “If stores are selling fall clothing now, by the time the cold eventually strikes several to many, many months from now, how far will it all be marked down when I actually need it?”  I thought I’d do a series (so stay tuned!) on some tips and tricks that I’ve picked up while cruising through blogs and forums on how to buy from some of my favorite name brand companies that sell cute clothes for kids and their mamas.

One caveat: For Gap, my secrets pertain to buying online. The babyGap and GapKids at my particular mall are both rather on the small side.  With the few visits I’ve made in store, I’ve been disappointed to see how little they had in stock.

That said, here are my tips:

1. Sign up to become a “Bright Insider” aka join their email list. You can find the sign up at the bottom of the homepage at Gap.com. Not only will you receive a 25% off your entire purchase code that can potentially stack with other current sale codes, but now Gap will send you updates on current sales and coupons.

2. Sign up for the credit card. Which card of the 3 brands should you get? The GapCard. Now normally, I’m of the philosophy that retail store credit cards aren’t worth the bother; however I think Gap, specifically, gives decent benefits and rewards for being a cardholder.

  • Initial perks: Get 15% off your first purchase after credit approval and earn up to 2,000 bonus points awarded within two billing cycles.
  • For every $200 spent at any of the Gap Inc. brands, you’ll receive a $10 reward card that can be used in store or online. Reaching $200 becomes much quicker during double or triple points promotions that the brands (Gap, Old Navy, or Banana Republic) sometimes offer .
  • On Tuesdays, you’ll receive 10% off your entire purchase.  The generic online code is TUESDAYS. This promotion usually has many exclusions and often can’t be stacked with other codes.
  • During your birthday month, you’ll receive a 25% off birthday code. This code is generic for each month, so many have been able to use the 25% off code each month and not simply just once a year.
  • For certain promotions, cardholders receive exclusivity benefits such as early access to a sale, higher percentage off, or sometimes sales exclusively for them.
  • For big spenders, you’ll automatically be upgraded to Gap Silver when you spend $800 a year.  The benefits that come with silver only occur after you’ve spent $800 and only last within the calendar year.  Once that year is over, you’ll return to “normal status” and will have to spend the $800 all over again if you want to receive the same perks the next year.  Needless to say, this perk isn’t worth purposely spending $800 a year at Gap brands, but is a nice added bonus if you spend that much. Silver benefits include:
    • Free shipping for all online purchases. Generic code: SILVER or MYCARD
    • A one-time 15% off your entire purchase that can be used anytime.
    • Free basic alterations at Banana Republic.
    • Silver-only offers and shopping events
    • Toll-free silver priority line

3. Stacking, Stacking, Stacking, Stacking, Stacking Coupon Codes. Gap allows you to stack up to 5 coupon codes at a given time. Possible coupon codes to stack are:

  •  Email Sign-up Code or Birthday Code (I believe these can’t be stacked together and have always been either one or the other)
  • $10 reward codes/cards received from spending $200 previously
  • TUESDAYS
  • If you’ve reached Silver status, SILVER or MYCARD
  • Customer Service Codes. These are codes potentially given out by customer service if you called/emailed to complain about a problem with a previous order, an item you received order confirmation for ends up being out of stock, or other circumstances along these lines. These codes are considered of high value, though only 10%, because these are usually stackable with any other codes. There are usually no exclusions.
  • Once in a great while, Gap will have a promotion one right after another that coincide with a few hours usually in the wee hours of the morning allowing for the two codes to stack together.  This sort of stacking, though exciting, is not predictable and also have a high probability of being cancelled.  But it has happened on more than one occasion with a 40% code stacking with a 35% code and a 25% off birthday code. Sales forums such as www.slickdeals.net will often include these one off stacking deals.

Gap Fair Isle Cardigan Hoodie – true black Reg. $58  35% 25% $5.63 reward free shipping 22.64 $1.54  was 7% off from ebates oct. 19, 2013

4. Cash Back Sites. There are many  to choose from. Personally, I’m a huge fan of Ebates. (I’ve included my referral link.) Though, I’m also a member of  Mr. Rebates and recently considered joining Shop at Home.

  • How do these cash back sites work?  They receive a fee from affiliated stores for referring customers to the store sites. As a result, Ebates passes some of this “referral money” they receive and gives a percentage of it back to the customers themselves. Often times, Ebates will list Gap Inc. companies between 2- 3% or as high as 15-20%. The percentages can change daily and may even differ between each of the Gap Inc. family companies.  It all sounds nice, but is it really worth the time and effort to join and click through Ebates each time you make a transaction?  Though, the percentages may seem nominal, the pennies do add up.  Just ask my husband.  He used to hate it when I would remind him to click through Ebates, thinking it was a waste of time till I showed him how much we’ve earned since joining.
  • When can you expect a check?  Every 3 months.  You can choose to be paid by check, Paypal, or another option may be available such as Amazon.com credit. If your accrued credit is less than $5.01 at the payment due date, the amount will rollover till the next pay period. $5.01 is the minimum payment.
  • I should note that there are a few restrictions.  This includes using coupon codes outside of those listed on the Ebates site.  However, my experience has been that they are very lenient on this.  In my seven years of being a member, there has been only one time when I didn’t receive cash back after using an “illicit” code.
  • So why the preference for Ebates?  I find that it’s a much cleaner-looking, user-friendly site that includes a well-made app.  Also, anytime, I’ve had trouble having my cash back credited to me due to a glitch or the affiliated store dragging out issuing the credit, it has been an easy process to have it verified by Ebates.  I am a bargain shopper at heart in the end.  So that bargain hunting nature still kicks in even when it comes to cash back sites.  Before checking out, I’ll usually look to see which cash back site is offering a higher percentage for the store I’m planning to purchase from.  It’s just makes good sense (pun intended, haha).
  • How do you use Ebates? Add to your cart the items you wish to purchase.  After you’ve finished, go to your cash back site of choice, search the store you’ve just shopped at, and click the Shop Now or click through button.  This will both open a ticket on the cash back site to verify your shopping trip and open a new window to the store’s website with your already filled shopping cart. Simply finish checking out. Within the next few days (it can be up to a month, though typically much quicker), you should receive an email verification with your cash back validation. I advise filling your cart first because many times these cash back sites have a limited tracking time, meaning that the cash back site’s referral is time sensitive.  If you’re perusing or it takes awhile to find the item you were planning to purchase, the cash back site could, without you knowing, have ended their tracking, though the store’s website and your shopping experience is unchanged.

4. GapCash. This is a newer promotion that Gap has only launched since October of last year. During certain allocated times, Gap will offer GapCash where they reward customers a set amount towards a future purchase based on how much they spend on their current purchase.  For example, if you spend $50 during a GapCash earning period, you’ll receive a voucher for $25 off $50 during a future redemption period. Details about how GapCash works can be found here. Previously, customers received GapCash based on amounts before promos.  However, they have now resolved this issue so that it now complies with what is stated on their site. If you’re thinking Gap Cash is the same as other similar rewards systems (like Gymboree *cough, cough*), you should bear in mind there are a few differences.

  •  If during the earning period you received a $50 or higher GapCash reward, “you have the flexibility to spend as little as $50 and still save $25.” Having said that, the rest of your GapCash value will be forfeited.
  • GapCash can only be used within the immediate Gap family stores i.e. babyGap, GapKids, GapBody, but excludes Gap Outlet.
    • I find this strange since I’ve heard of others earning Gap Cash from the outlet.  I’m unsure if this is an issue that will be remedied in the future or if it’s simply that earning is allowed at the outlet, but redemption is not.  If anyone has had experience with this, please comment below.
  • GapCash can’t be combined with any other coupons or promos.  Having said that, if you’re a Gap cardmember there are GapCash perks in store allowing you to combine GapCash with Reward Cards, first purchase discount, 10% Tuesday, and the welcome discount.
    • Last I heard, GapCash was still combinable with rewards online.  This is another irregularity that may change without notice.
  • If you return an item bought during GapCash earning, that would result in a lower total, your GapCash is unaffected by the return.

5. Wait for the sale. Because sooner or later that new arrival won’t be so new.  From my experience, there is almost always a sale at Gap and if there isn’t one currently, there will be one shortly, so unless you really need that one item, be patient because sooner or later it’ll get marked down.  As with all rules, there are always exceptions.  This seems to hold especially true when it comes to designer collaborations.  If the past collaborations with Diane Von Furstenberg or Stella McCartney are any indication, the Kate Spade New York and Jack Spade collaboration headed to Gap stores in November will sell out quickly with little markdown. You’ve been forewarned.  This collection will likely be out of our family budget unless I find a way to pinch quite a few more pennies between now and then.  If it’s as amazing as the predecessors, who knows, other stores may follow suit and will have similar offerings for less. With that in mind, even though it’s 80 degrees here now, are you as excited as I am for November?  

Gap Fair Isle Cardigan Hoodie - true black

In the meantime, as an example of how I used these tips, here is how I snapped up the Gap Kids Fair Isle Cardigan Hoodie in true black for a bargain:

Recent New Arrival Regular Price: $58

- 35% off regular priced items code (GAPFALL) posted on front page: $37.70
25% off email signup code: $28.28
remaining $5.64 discounted from a $10 rewards code I partially used : 22.64
Ebates at 7%: $21.06

Final price was $21.06 plus tax

Happy Shopping!

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