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As online competition has heated up, more retailers have started offering free store pickup for online orders. This gives customers another way to avoid shipping costs.

Many national retail chains that sell products both online and in brick-and-mortar stores — from big-box stores to home-improvement stores to a dollar store — now offer the option of free store pickup. Wal-Mart even offers free curbside pickup for groceries ordered online.

Free store pickup essentially entails picking out and paying for items online. So as with any other online purchase, you can still shop from the comfort of home 24/7. (You’re likely using a credit card to make these purchases, so we recommend reading about ways to protect your credit cards online.)

However, rather than the retailer shipping the purchase to you, you pick it up at a local store. During the shopping or checkout process online, you choose the store from which you want to pick up the order. After you place the order, the retailer emails you to let you know when it’s ready for pickup.

The biggest advantage to getting your goods this way is that you avoid shipping costs when your order totals less than the minimum amount required to qualify for free shipping. That minimum amount can be as high as $100 for some major retailers.

Another money-saving advantage is that, because you pay for your order online, you can take advantage of cash-back portals, like Ebates.com.

We’ve rounded up 18 national retailers that offer free store pickup. We also included how quickly online orders are ready for store pickup, when that information was specified.

Several retailers now boast the ability to provide your order for pickup in as little as one hour.

Some retailers will also ship an item to your local store if it’s not already in stock there, although that might mean your order won’t be ready for pickup as soon as it would be if you ordered something that was already in stock at your local store.

Here is the list of stores offering free store pickup:

  1. Ace Hardware — Orders are ready for pickup the same day if the order was placed at least four hours before the applicable store closes.
  2. Best Buy
  3. CVS — Ready in as little as one hour.
  4. Dollar Tree
  5. Fry’s Electronics
  6. Hallmark — Ready in as little as three hours.
  7. Home Depot — Ready in two hours for most orders.
  8. Kmart
  9. Kohl’s — Ready in four hours, typically.
  10. Lowe’s
  11. Macy’s
  12. Office Depot/Office Max — Ready in one hour.
  13. Pier 1 Imports
  14. Sears
  15. Staples — Ready in one hour.
  16. Target
  17. Toys R Us — Ready in less than one hour for many items.
  18. Wal-Mart — Ready in four hours (unless the order was placed after 6 p.m.) for regular online orders. For more information about grocery online orders, visit the Wal-Mart Grocery website.

There is a hitch to keep in mind: Not all of the products that retailers sell online are eligible for free store pickup, although most do qualify. Retailers usually specify on an individual product page whether the product is eligible, so look for that.

Additionally, free store pickup may not make sense if you don’t live near a store of the retailer from which you plan to order.

For more information about a specific retailer’s free store pickup option, visit their website. Note, for example, that most retailers require you to bring a photo ID and a copy of the email with your order details.

Also note that retailers don’t set aside your online order indefinitely. Generally, they hold it for you for around four to eight days before putting the items back on store shelves and issuing you a refund.

While this feature can make getting the items you want more convenient, don’t let that cause you to overspend. If you get into debt, what you end up paying in finance charges may outweigh the store picking up the delivery cost. (And if you get into a lot of debt, it can also have a negative impact on your credit.  If you want to see how any debt you have already is impacting you, you can get your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)

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