Home Depot vs Harbor Freight vs Ace Hardware: Hardware Stores Compared

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Home Depot is the best stores to use for businesses with their commercial account benefits. Harbor Freight is an effective choice for those who want more protections on purchases including lifetime guarantees and 90 day return policies. Ace is an ideal ch

You never know when youâ??re going to suddenly need hardware tools. But, thanks to the magic of the Internet, there are now a number of hardware stores with online options for getting the hardware that you need. Below youâ??ll find a comparison of a few of the most popular options.

Home Depot

Home Depot has a number of hardware options for amateurs and pros alike. It appears to especially have many options for pros seeking to run a business using hardware, however.


  • Store Finder-The site will automatically try to match you up with a physical store near your location when you visit the site. You can also click on the â??Store Finderâ? link towards the top of the main page to see what other stores might be more convenient for you.
  • No Interest for 6 Months-If you buy at least $300 or so of products, you can get financing to pay off your order over 6 months without interest.
  • Commercial Cards Available-You can get special Home Depot cards designed for your business on the â??Credit Centerâ? area of the site. Some of these cards include itemized billing and tracking options on the site.
  • Special â??Proâ? Site-You can click on the â??Proâ? link in orange in the top left to visit a specialized Home Depot site version aimed at businesses.
  • Combos Kits-There are a number of combo kit packages available on the site, including for power tools.


Harbor Freight

Harbor Freight has a strong presence in terms of physical locations across the nation. There are more than 600 locations in the U.S. You can call them at 1-800-423-2567.



  • Fast Shipping Through FedEx-The standard is 3 to 7 business days with Standard Ground. The site claims that most items ship within 24 hours. This includes free handling and insurance.
  • Easy to Find Clearance Deals-You can click on the â??Sale & Clearanceâ? link in red at the top left of the main site to see what hardware deals are currently available.
  • McAfee Secure Seal-Clicking on the McAfee seal on the site lets you verify that there isnâ??t any malware or malicious links or any other problems for the current day.
  • 90-Day Returns-You can return items up to 90 days from purchase for any reason, you donâ??t have to justify the return. You can even return the hardware directly to a local store. There are 600 to choose from. Itâ??s important to note that you may have to pay a 20% re-stocking fee for this though.
  • 1 Year Price Matching-Harbor Freight has an extensive price matching program where theyâ??ll beat any competitorâ??s price within a year of buying it. This goes considerably farther than most price matching programs.
  • Lifetime Guarantee-Some hand tools actually have lifetime warranties on them. This means that the site guarantees that they will be defect free for the life of the item.

Ace Hardware

Ace Hardware is one of the more recognizable names for brick and mortar stores. They now have an extensive online presence as well.


  • Free Store Pickup-You can visit the site and check to see if the hardware you want is available at a particular store near you. After you purchase the item online, the store will email you when the product is ready and you can just drive over and pick it up for free. This requires you to make the order at least 4 hours before store closing time.
  • Ace Rewards-You get 1000 points free just for signing up and then you get 10 points for every dollar you spend on hardware. Every 2500 points gives you a $5 reward. This works out to about a $250 purchase.
  • McAfee Secure-You can verify the Ace online security seal through the McAfee link at the bottom. This will tell you whether thereâ??s a valid SSL certificate for the day when you check.
  • In-site Review System-You can check reviews for different hardware items right on site. This includes telling you which of these reviewers are verified buyers.


Head to Head


An example of pricing on Home Depot includes a combo kit for a Lithium-ion drill/driver with the impact driver kit from Ryobi. This runs around $100.

Standard shipping rates are $7 for the standard ground shipping for Harbor Freight. They have comparable 18 bolt power drills with impact drivers that run around $60. Harbor Freight seems to have more variety in terms of having more low-end solutions for power tool hardware.

An example of a comparable power drill set for 18 volt impact drivers is the one from Dewalt which is $150. Itâ??s worth noting that if you signed up for the Rewards program and then both this, you would immediately get $5 off which would drop the price to more like $145. It does seem like Ace has hardware that is a bit higher end though.



Itâ??s worth noting that Home Depot recently had a data breach into their payment systems, though the company has puta lot of effort into mitigating the damage. Thereâ??s a Norton link at the bottom of the page, but it doesnâ??t appear to go anywhere. The contact page has a number of phone numbers as well as a form email for contacting the site.

Harbor Freight has working seal links for verifying up to date security in a way that doesnâ??t appear to be the case for Home Depot. This could mean that youâ??d be a bit safer using the Harbor Freight site than you would using a site such as Home Depot of Internet security is something that you care about.

The support features for Ace online are a bit simpler. They just have an email link and a phone number listed at the bottom. The site focuses more on rewards and easy free local pickup. Being able to tell whatâ??s available nearby is really useful if you need particular hardware sooner tather than later.

Overall, it seems like Harbor Freight and Ace have more success with Internet security than Home Depot does, given Home Depotâ??s recent problems with Internet security leaks for financial data.