Kohl’s Cash Decoded

I love me some Kohls!  I love the ability to stack coupons, gift cards, cash back sites and Kohls cash to significantly reduce my buy cost.  They frequently run deals in which they give you $10 for every $50 you spend.  Plus you earn 5% from your Yes2Rewards account.  So essentially, if you price your buy right you will earning 25% back in Kohls cash.    I went through this and kohls stacking in more detail in this Kohls Stacking blog so check it out if you haven’t already.


Kohl’s is notorious for jacking up prices super high, then putting everything on sale and then always having at least a 15% off coupon (many times 20% or 30%) coupon to further discount their jacked up prices.  Go into a Kohls store and find me something that isn’t on sale? Or try to find a time you can’t at least find a 15% off coupon to apply to a Kohls online order.  It can’t be done (ok maybe you can find one thing) as that’s not Kohls business model.   It is important to know this when valuing Kohls Cash.

When you buy something with Kohls cash and you have a % off coupon they take the % off AFTER they take off the Kohls cash.  So if you have $50 in Kohls Cash and are buying something that is $100 and have a 30% off coupon the out of pocket cost to you will be $35 using this method (compared to $20 if you were permitted to take the % off first). So when applying Kohl’s Cash against an inflated price that you can’t apply a % off coupon on first you are losing value on your Kohls cash.

However, you can still get great value out of that Kohls cash, you just need to know how to use it.  What you want to look for a coupon that will give a dollar amount off (e.g., $10 off $30), as those coupons can be applied in conjunction with Kohls cash if applied correctly.  For example if you have $20 in Kohls cash and $10 off $30 coupon.  If you fill your cart with $30 of stuff then your buy cost is $0 thus allowing you to essentially apply a 33.3% couple.  Kohls typically runs free shipping promos a couple times a month so you can keep making small $30 orders until you run out of Kohls cash.

Other uses for Kohl’s cash:

  • Items NOT eligible for discounts. Some items, like Nikes, typically aren’t eligible for % off coupons, but can still be bought using Kohls Cash
  • Free Shipping codes. Once or twice a month when Kohls has their 30% off with Kohls charge deal there will be a free shipping code.  You can use that code in conjunction with your Kohls cash to buy something with $0 out of pocket cost.  Note: If free shipping code requires use of Kohls credit card then you’ll need to put at least $.01 on your Kohls card.
  • In store clearance. Back when I use to actually put on pants to do my shopping, I had some decent luck in the clearance sections of Kohls stores. I typically avoid online clearance since everyone scans there, but many Kohls have store specific clearance and I’ve found some great deals there.
  • If all else fails, you can use it to lower a buy cost in which you haven’t applied a $$$ off coupon. There is still value to be had, just know your % off coupon is coming off AFTER the Kohl’s cash.

If Kohl’s sends you something damaged, wrong item or just change your mind, returns can get tricky with Kohl’s Cash.  I’ve broken down the different scenarios and how Kohls will handle the return when Kohls cash is involved:

  • Earned KC, but not spent: You will lose your Kohl’s cash if return puts you under the required amount, but get full return.  For example you spent $52.50 and want to return an item you got for $7.50.  You will get $7.50 returned back to your card, but you will lose your $10 in KC.    Therefore, its very rarely a good deal to return items in this type of scenario.   What you want to do is exchange for the same item or an item that is priced the same amount as the list price (not the amount you actually paid, but the list price).  If you can’t find an exact item, you may be able to sweet talk the register person to just apply a $10 off coupon on your purchase, but of course YMMV.
  • Earned and spent KC: In this scenario, they take the KC off of the return.  So if you spent $50 and are returning a $10 item, but you already used your KC, they won’t give you anything!  Even if they F’d up the item (Kohls doesn’t take the best care when shipping and multiple times have sent me the wrong item) they take the amount of KC you earned and spent off the return total.   So again you’ll want to do exchange, not return.  Try to sweet talk the manager or sell item via other channels if its not in Amazon New condition.
  • Return on something you bought with Kohl’s cash: In this scenario they will give you a Kohls gift card that can be used.  This is one scenario that works in your favor.  Now unlike Kohls cash the gift card be used in conjunction with % off coupons, does not have expiration dates and will count towards minimum spend needed to reach free shipping.  While this is a good way to roll your Kohls cash forward and get better value, I would never buy something with Kohls cash with the intent of returning it just to roll my kohls cash forward.  You are just asking for trouble and not worth the risk IMO.



Kohls cash can be a great way to increase your average ROI by allowing you to pick up stuff for free or significantly reduced price when using it.  Or you may use it on yourself or family to get free stuff.  However, you use it, you’ll want to keep these tips in mind to try to make sure you get the most value out of your free money!

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