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My Opinion About Harbor Freight’s Inside Track Club

I no longer have a positive opinion of Harbor Freight Inside Track Club.  Read the comments below to find out why.

I waited a long time before joining the Harbor Freight Inside Track Club because I couldn’t find out if it was worth $30 a year.  Now I think I can answer that question and my short answer is that it is — IF you regularly buy a variety of tools from them.  And even if you spend a modest amount you’ll probably save enough to at least pay for the cost of your membership.  And if you fall short it probably won’t be by much.  So, I don’t think there’s much risk in giving it a try.  Especially if join now, while they’re still giving away a $10 gift card with each new membership or renewal.  They had the same offer at this time last year and it’s why I joined.  [Shipping is free if you purchase your membership on their web site.]

What You Get With Your Membership

  • You’ll get at least 150 Inside Track Club coupons in the monthly retail flyer they mail to your house.  You can also view and print them from the Harbor Freight web site.
  • More ITC coupons will be emailed to you at least once a week.  I think there’s also a daily coupon that you have to get from the Harbor Freight web site.
  • You’ll get access to private member-only sales in the stores that are held every 2 or 3 months.  They’re for 2 hours and the ones at my nearby store have been on Sunday nights from 6-8 PM, which is right after it normally closes.  Although, the last one was from 4-6 PM.  I’ve been to at least 3 of them and I the only customer in the store except for one.  And that one only had a couple of other customers.  You’ll get additional coupons for the private sales and they even put out free snacks and soft drinks.  Sometimes you’ll get an additional 10% off your entire purchase.

Some Examples

Here are some examples from the February 2012 retail flyer

12-speed Bench Top Drill Press #44836
Normally $170 and on sale for $150.  ITC member price is $100.

1×30-inch Belt Sander #2485
Normally $50 and on sale for $45.  ITC member price is $30.

36 pc SAE/Metric Hex Key Set #94725
Normally $15 and on sale for $10.  ITC member price is $5

18-volt Magnesium Drill/Hammer Drill #65949
Normally $60 and on sale for $55.  ITC member price is $40

29 pc Split Point Cobalt Drill Bit Set #36891
Normally $55 and it’s NOT on sale in the retail flyer.  ITC member price is $45

The Deals Aren’t Always Great

I included the last two examples to show that you don’t always save much by being an Inside Track Club member.  Anyone could have used one of Harbor’s Freight’s easy-to-find 20%-off almost anything coupons to buy the Cobalt Drill Bit Set for about a dollar less than the ITC price.  And they could have used a coupon to buy the drill for only about $4 more.

I keep an envelope full of the coupons in my car.  I get at least one new one every week from our Sunday newspaper and they’re in all kinds of magazines that I either subscribe to or can get from our library’s free magazine exchange.  I’ve seen them in Family Handyman, Field and Stream, Sports Illustrated, Boat US, Flying, Popular Science, Digital Machinist and many more.  You can only use one coupon per trip and you can’t use them to buy air compressors, tool chests, welders and one or two other things.  They also can‘t be used with other coupons, including the Inside Track Club coupons.

By the way, there’s always a coupon for a free item next to the 20%-off coupon.  So now I have a large assortment of flashlights, tape measures, screwdriver sets, voltmeters and work gloves.  I don’t spend that much at Harbor Freight anymore because I have nearly everything I want and I’m running out of storage room in my workshop.  But I get to their store fairly frequently because I’m often very near it.

And Finally

As I said before, I don’t think you have much to lose by joining the club unless you just don’t spend very much money at Harbor Freight, or you buy just some very specific things.  I’ve saved quite a bit, although I also probably spent more than I might have by making some impulsive purchases because the savings were too good to pass up.

16 comments to My Opinion About Harbor Freight’s Inside Track Club

  • Duane
    February 21, 2012 at 2:06 PM | Reply

    I went with an ITC membership because I saved over $100 on the toolbox that I was buying that night.

  • John
    March 1, 2012 at 11:00 PM | Reply

    When they first started ITC, the deals were not very good and I regretted buying into it at first. But they must have received a lot of complaints, because about halfway through my 1st year they started throwing out some really good ITC only deals. But you have to pay attention, because as was mentioned in the post, many of the deals aren’t much better than normal sale prices. But if you make one good size tool purchase, the membership can pay for itself immediately.

    I also found out that you can’t mix the 20% and ITC coupons in the same transaction at the store, so if you are going to use the 20% on non-ITC items and get some ITC items as well, keep them separated when you go to check out and do it on 2 different receipts.

  • Rob
    April 13, 2012 at 1:08 PM | Reply

    It’s been more than two months since I renewed my membership and wrote about it. My opinion about the Inside Track Club has become less favorable since then because I’ve received two monthly flyers and a bunch of weekly emails and I haven’t seen one darn thing that I’ve been even slightly tempted to buy.

    Part of it might be me because I already have a lot of tools and I’ve become kind of picky because I don’t have room for many more. But it’s mostly because it seems like the same old stuff is always on sale.

    New items do go on sale, but it’s not like it was five years or so ago when it seemed you could buy everything in the store on sale if you waited a while.

    I vaguely recall that there are some truth in advertising laws that say you can’t claim that an item is on sale unless it really is. The proof was that it occasionally sold at its normal selling price for a certain amount of time.

    I don’t have a collection of monthly flyers I can use to check, but it just seems that many items have been on sale for so long that you could claim that their “sale” price is really their normal selling price.

  • Delia
    August 28, 2012 at 12:06 AM | Reply

    I signed up my hubby for this and they never send a single inside track email. They send the regular emails but nothing about inside track. We tried to get this rectified but we found it impossible. The people on the store give you the run around and tell you to do it online. It is NOT possible to do it online. I tried calling and never got an answer. Well after 12 months the card expired. What a FREAKING waste of money. Most of the deals were just a few dollars cheaper than the regular coupon sale price. Some where EXACTLY the same and actually a few (very few) were higher (but done on another month). All in all this “special” membership was HUGE disappointment and 100% a waste of money. Unless you have NO TOOL or buy a crap load of tools all the time, this is not a good deal. My guess is that only 1 out of 10 get their money worth from the card. That is why they do not show the deals online any more. They want you to gamble and buy the membership and they say you will save money but like any gamble the house always wins.

  • Rob
    August 28, 2012 at 11:39 AM | Reply

    Delia, I agree almost completely with you. They’ve changed since I renewed my membership in February. Since then I have not seen even a single Inside Track Club deal that’s worth making a trip to the store.

    What I’m seeing now is loads of the same old cheap $5 to $20 crap on sale all the time. You rarely see Inside Track club deals for more substantial and expensive tools. And when you do the savings are not much more than what you could by buying the item with one of Harbor Freight’s easy to find 20% off coupons.

    And often, you can save MORE by buying the item at its regular price and using a coupon (you can’t use a 20% off coupon with a IT club coupon).

    They’ve also stopped the special shopping hours when only Inside Track club members were allowed in the store. Now their “special” hours are part of their regular store hours. BFD.

    And they stopped emailing me the extra weekly Inside Track Club coupons. Which might be good because I’m extremely busy right now and I don’t have time to waste looking at them.

  • Anonymous
    August 30, 2012 at 12:31 PM | Reply

    You can get the same items for the same price without being inside track.
    I was excited about getting a generator with my inside track club price. The generator is now the same price as my inside track club price with a “coupon”
    This weeks WOW inside track club coupon for a grinder $9.99
    great its in the flyer for $9.99 for anyone.
    WOW a car jack for $79.99 inside track club price.
    Well with a coupon anyone can get the jack for $59
    Its a rip off. I wont be renewing.

  • rick
    September 6, 2012 at 5:55 PM | Reply

    Inside track a big waste of money!

  • rick
    September 6, 2012 at 5:56 PM | Reply

    A whole lot of promises no results!

  • Rick
    September 6, 2012 at 8:03 PM | Reply

    Never even got 10.00 card to top it off what fing deal

  • Paul
    December 14, 2012 at 11:03 PM | Reply

    I’ve had my eye on their 56″ rolling tool box, (on sale for $799 from $999), since November. Just couldn’t pull the trigger at that price. On December 10 I spotted an inside track coupon on line lowering the price to $699!! I wasn’t an IST member so I decided to join up and take advantage of the coupon deal and save an extra $80 after IST card $30 & $10 gift card, price $720, I’m golden. Guess what, I couldn’t find the coupon on line to save my life. I tried every where on line. Called them up (India), they couldn’t find it either, said it was probably a one day sale. Said they would talk to sales and send a coupon, if they could find it. Haven’t heard from them since. There were other tool boxes on IST also discounted, Gone. I’ll make up my card membership fee during the year, but I’m highly disappointed in there bait & switch tactics.

  • snowman
    December 17, 2012 at 8:51 PM | Reply

    I had the ITC for 2 years (had to sign up under 2 diff emails to get the $10 gift cert) and was fairly happy. I did notice though that alot of times, if I just waited a couple weeks, the everybody coupons were just as good as ITC coupons and sometimes better.
    Paul,
    I got a coupon for the same tool box but it was a print coupon out of a magazine (not ITC). The bad thing was, I had an SUV and the HF kid 1) would not help me load an unboxed toolbox in my car 2)boxed toolbox would not fit in my car 3) rental trailer was $50.
    Its a very heavy box and 2 of us probably could not have loaded it in my suv, let alone get it out. Coworkers with snapon boxes are envious (not because of product, but because of price!!).

  • Phil turner
    March 8, 2013 at 6:18 AM | Reply

    Inside Trac club card is a rip off ! After renewing my card while waiting for a particular item to go on sale I discovered anyone could get the same “sake price” as I did with the insider club card. I was (and still am) pis-Ed.

  • Jeff
    May 2, 2013 at 11:19 AM | Reply

    The biggest problem I have is that Harbor Freight does an extremely poor job of keeping their “Deal of the Day” web page and coupons up to date. I have regularly seen the previous weeks web page still posted from 1 to 3 days into the next week. Since you do not know what the “Deal of the Day” is you are basically denied a benefit which you have paid for in purchasing the membership. I have changed computers and logged off and on multiple times to verify that it is their issue and not mine. I have also notified them, they checked the page and found that it was old. It is still occurring.

    I have found enough specials to validate buying the membership and also getting the $10 gift card at the time of enrollment but I will have to re-consider the next time my card is about to expire.

  • ray
    June 29, 2013 at 12:02 AM | Reply

    If you are *REALLY* in need of an item at a good sale price, just go to eBay and search on the item. HUNDREDS of coupons being sold for a buck or two. You’ll end up getting what you want at the price you want without buying into a special club. Bought a 90 Amp welder coupon ($89) for $.99 plus $.50 shipping this week. Lowest I’ve seen this welder in a long time is $99. So worth the 3-day wait for the coupon to arrive. Just make sure you are buying a coupon that has plenty of time left before expiration. These coupons are probably being sold by club members looking to get their dues money back! :-)

  • Joe jacobs
    January 29, 2014 at 12:25 AM | Reply

    As much as I have spent at harbor fright in. Past figure would have sent me a $10 gift card buy now. I get them from true value every 3 to 4 mo

  • Anonymous
    February 12, 2014 at 1:37 AM | Reply

    Well im a former employee and I heard the ITC is
    good for high inventory tools and closeouts but for
    high quality and high end items your better off with
    coupons.

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