5 Dollar Tree Items That Are a Waste of Money

5 Dollar Tree Items That Are a Waste of Money
5 Dollar Tree Items That Are a Waste of Money
JHVEPhoto / iStock.com

With nearly everything priced at $1.25, you might be tempted to buy whatever you need at Dollar Tree without considering anything but cost. However, the wrong purchase can be a waste of money even if it has a lower price tag. Sure, you might pay a little more to get a comparable product elsewhere, but the cheaper item can cost more in the long run if it doesn’t work or doesn’t last and you have to replace it too soon.

Learn More: Should You Buy Groceries at the Dollar Store?

Check Out: How To Get $340 Per Year in Cash Back on Gas and Other Things You Already Buy

Save your money by avoiding these Dollar Tree purchases.

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Batteries — Especially the Carbon-Zinc Kind

Many generic batteries at Dollar Tree feature phrases like “super heavy duty” in big, bold print. In a much smaller and more understated font are the words “for low drain devices.”

Unless the packaging says “alkaline,” your super heavy-duty batteries are actually carbon zinc batteries, which “are used to power low-power devices on a short-term basis, while alkaline batteries are used to power devices on a long-term basis,” according to Tycorun Batteries. “Also, carbon-zinc batteries have a shorter life compared to alkaline batteries.”

Although alkaline is usually superior, high-quality carbon-zinc batteries can be good for devices like clocks and remote controls — but that’s not what you’ll get at Dollar Tree.

The store’s E-Circuit brand batteries’ 1.6-star reviews include:

  • “Most of them leaked acid and damaged my candles.”

  • “Batteries leak and have ruined my window sills.”

  • “I’ve tried them in different appliances and they are completely useless. 0 stars.”

Dollar Tree sells alkaline batteries, too, but reviews indicate that at $1.25, you get what you pay for. Instead, try Amazon Basics, which offers big packs of affordable, high-quality alkaline batteries. A 20-pack of AAs comes out to $0.51 per battery.

Read Next: Dollar Tree Is Raising Prices: 9 Products To Buy Now Before They Increase

Picture Frames

On the r/Frugal subreddit, a recurring theme emerges on a thread titled “Best/Worst dollar store purchases?”

This theme is to avoid picture frames.

Redditors remarked:

  • “The frame is literally foam made to look like wood. If you bend the metal things in the back to change the picture, they just rip through the foam.”

  • “Ugh, I just bought a load of picture frames for my classroom (forgetting $1 is now $1.25) and they were already breaking when I was taking them out.”

  • “Generally, they are garbage.”

Story continues

Reviewers on the Dollar Tree website mostly agree. For example, the store’s Special Moments classic black picture frames get a measly 2.3 stars, with reviewers writing:

  • “I am so dissatisfied with this product!!! The backs break as soon as you put the frame in!!! What the heck?”

  • “Wrong Measurements!”

USB Cables

In 2009, a comment going by VirtualLarry in an AnandTech computer-building forum endorsed against buying cheap USB cables from Dollar Tree, writing, “I had one that didn’t work, so I took it home and tried it on my machine, it didn’t work either. So I pulled another one out of a new package, and it didn’t work either.”

Fifteen years later, it seems that little has changed. USB cables are a common complaint on subreddits dedicated to the topic, and recent purchasers are mostly dissatisfied.

E-Circuit — the same company behind the “super heavy duty” batteries that are prone to leaking acid — sells standard and flat wire 39-inch micro USB cables. Both have sub-three-star ratings.

Complaints include:

  • “Stopped working after 2 weeks.”

  • “Empty charger!”

  • “End of cable broke after three months.”

  • “I caused more damage to my devices. Buyer beware!”

  • “Nothing.”


You’re always rolling the dice on off-brand tape, which tugs instead of tearing away clean strips and often fails at its only job — sticking. Dollar Tree has trusted names like Scotch, but the reason to avoid buying tape there isn’t quality. It’s quantity — always check the roll volume.

At Dollar Tree, a roll of matte Scotch Magic Tape costs $1.25. You can get six of the same rolls on Amazon for $15. That’s $2.50 each — twice as expensive.

But upon closer inspection, you’ll see Amazon’s roll has 800 inches of tape to Dollar Tree’s 200. That’s four times the tape, which means it’s actually half the cost.


If you’re not a contractor, you probably don’t need top-of-the-line tools, but beware of those that cost $1.25 — particularly if an entire set goes for a buck and a quarter.

Business Insider reports that even former employees have said Dollar Tree tools aren’t durable, which means you can save money by springing for a screwdriver or hammer that you’ll own for life and avoid making mistakes that require costly repairs or wasted materials.

For example, one of many dissatisfied buyers summed up an experience with a paint roller this way: “I used this for less than a minute and it snapped in half at the neck. The paint-saturated roller then fell on the ground and ruined my brand-new carpet.”

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 5 Dollar Tree Items That Are a Waste of Money



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