MoneySaving Ikea hacks – incl free coffee, beat queues & ‘try before you buy’

If you’ve shopped at Ikea, you’ll know only too well how easily costs can add up when you pop in for a specific item and leave several hours later with a car boot full of cacti and scented candles. So here are our top tips to make your Ikea visits more efficient and cheaper – including freebies, store shortcuts, dodging queues and how you can ‘try before you buy’.

For some of these, you’ll need to be an Ikea Family member (have its free loyalty card). If you don’t already have one, you can sign up for free online or in your local store (find your nearest).

Free tea or filter coffee, plus refills. Family card members can get a free tea or filter coffee on weekdays (norm £1) – better still, you get free refills on all drinks. As with all Family member offers, you simply scan/swipe your card at the checkout. You only need one membership per group (there’s no restriction on group size).

How to legitimately dodge queues at your local Ikea store. Using Google’s free Popular Times feature, you can find out when your local Ikea store is at its busiest, helping you plan your trip better to avoid the queues. Using the feature, we found that people going to Ikea in Manchester on a Sunday would do well to avoid 12pm to 4pm and instead arrive at 10am or 4pm – or, better still, try a weekday.

See our blog on Google’s Popular Times for more info on how it works – the blog’s a couple of years old but the principle’s still the same.

‘Try before you buy’ with Ikea’s virtual reality app for iPhone/iPad. The Ikea Place app uses your camera to create a virtual reality version of your room, where you can add Ikea furniture and accessories into your space to see how they’d look before you buy.

Download the free app from the Apple App Store (your Apple device will need iOS 11 software to run the app) – Ikea says it’s still developing the app for Android.

Ikea replaces missing parts for free and will even deliver them to your door. For small missing parts, eg, Allen keys, screws and bolts, and larger items, head to the returns department in your local store. Alternatively, you can call Ikea customer service on 02036450000 and arrange for the spare part to be delivered for free.

Save time (and money) using a shortcut to your flatpack. We’ve a top tip from MSE Dan (who used to work in Ikea): “If you know what you want to get, check its flatpack warehouse aisle and location number online before you go, and then go in the back entrance.” To find an item’s location, go to the Ikea website and set the store locator to your local. Then, go to the page of the product and click ‘check stock location and store opening hours’. A side panel will open, showing the aisle and location of the product.

MSE Dan recommends going into the store via the back entrance, but Ikea’s official line is that stores should be entered via the main entrance. We can’t confirm you’ll be able to get in via the back, but walking around Ikea’s full showroom and marketplace takes a decent chunk of time and it often means you end up buying goods that weren’t on your list – so, it could be worth a go.

Ikea says there’s no official shortcuts or online maps, but we’d love to hear if you’ve found any of your own – let us know in the comments below, on Facebook or Twitter. In the meantime, you could always ask store staff for tips. They’ll usually be dotted around the store, especially near the entrance.

Free in store events, eg, workshops and massages. Go to the Ikea ‘what’s on in store?‘ page, select your local Ikea, and it’ll bring up all of its in store events. When we checked on Tue 6 Mar, events included a weekly home furnishings workshop in Cardiff, free massages on Mother’s Day (Sun 11 Mar) in Wembley and a Mother’s Day tea party in Reading.

Last summer MSE Ant got unlimited free meatballs at an event in his local Croydon store – so it’s worth seeing what’s on when you’re making a trip.

Go prepared with measurements written down. Always carry a note of your measurements when you head to an Ikea store, eg, any spaces you want to fill and any furniture you’re replacing. This should hopefully prevent extra (often costly) trips back to the store if something doesn’t fit. Plus, Ikea’s paper measuring tapes in store are only 1 meter, so if you’re buying something large, bring your own tape measure.

Free product insurance on your journey home and while you assemble your items. Present and swipe your Family card at the checkout and you’ll automatically get free product insurance for ‘accidental damage on the way home and during assembly’. This only applies to items bought in store and excludes Bargain Corner items, cut fabric and custom made goods. If you need to claim, present your Family card and receipt in store within 90 days of the date you purchased.

Ikea says damaged items will be replaced on a like-for-like basis or you’ll be given a store card for the item’s current selling price.

Look out for Bargain Corner. This is where Ikea puts reduced goods and it’s often by the tills. The items are usually ex-display or damaged in some way, though this could be as minor as a ripped box. MSE Dani got lucky and found a light in Bargain Corner that she was going to buy at full price – the only difference was that it had a torn box, so it’s always worth checking before you check out.

Extra 10% off Ikea sales with Family card. Family members can get an extra 10% off items in the sale, excluding Bargain Corner goods.

Free crèche in stores to keep your little’uns entertained. Parents and guardians can book their children into an Ikea crèche (Småland) for up to one hour, or 45 minutes during busy periods, while they shop at Ikea. The crèche will be located at the front of the store and it’ll be supervised by staff trained in childcare. Activities include toys, books, arts and crafts.

Ikea furniture hacks. If you Google ‘Ikea hacks’, you’ll find endless ideas on how to transform your Ikea furniture and use it in creative ways. MSE Lucia painted her £13 Ikea step stool grey and found plenty of different uses for it, including a side table, extra dining chairs and a plant stand.

£1.50 for small cooked breakfast or £2.50 for a large, incl veggie option. Ikea Family card holders can get a 6-piece breakfast for £1.50 (norm £2.50) or a 9-piece breakfast for £2.50 (£2.95) between 9.30am and 11am on weekdays. Again, one Family member’s card will cover your whole group.

Remember to bring your own bags. Ikea bags are bigger than your average and pretty sturdy, but at 50p each, the cost can soon add up. So, if you’ve already loads under your kitchen sink, remember to re-use them.

Keep an eye on our weekly newsletter for short-lived Ikea deals. We’ve featured some cracking Ikea deals over the years, including its popular prize draw where everyone wins something and its £5 real Christmas tree (you buy a £25 tree and get a £20 voucher to spend). If you don’t already receive our weekly newsletter, you can sign up here.

Find Ikea’s product recalls online. The Ikea website lists all of its product recalls in one place. If you’ve bought any of the items, you can return it for a full refund.

£5 for a quarter Piri Piri chicken main dish (30%+ cheaper than Nando’s). You can get a quarter Piri Piri chicken, sweet potato fries and a mini corn on the cob for £4.95. Similar at Nando’s costs £7.45, so it could be worth a cheeky try of Ikea’s version next time.

Re-use Ikea’s brown paper. After you go through Ikea checkouts, there’s usually brown paper for wrapping up fragile items. If you ever need to use it, make the most of it and help save the environment by giving it a second lease of life, eg, use it for packaging parcels or wrapping presents.

We’re still adding to our list, so we’d love to hear how you’ve saved money and time at Ikea. Leave a comment below, or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.