With the chaos and hype that surrounds Black Friday, shoppers should make sure the deals they get are worth the long lines. Before you wade through crowded store aisles, you need a game plan. These Black Friday shopping tips will help you find better deals:
SCOUR LEAKED ADS
Compare ads as they are leaked. With retailers leaking ads earlier, you’ll have time to compare. Many deal Web sites offer resources to help you wade through the fluff. FatWallet, Brad’s Deals and DealNews are among those that offer roundups of the best deals.
GIFT CARD OFFERS
In-store gift cards are a popular Black Friday bonus that some retailers offered last year to sweeten deals. Shoppers will probably see some gift cards up for grabs this year. Shoppers should pay attention to the fine print. These cards have expiration dates and will probably have to be redeemed before the end of the year.
USE YOUR SMARTPHONE
Your smartphone can be a smart tool you can use to find and take advantage of deals. One way is to follow your favorite stores on social media apps. Retailers often reveal exclusive deals to their social media followers. Some stores also offer special rewards to smartphone users who download their apps.
Don’t just compare Black Friday deals, make sure you also look at discounts offered on Cyber Monday. Shoppers uninterested in braving Black Friday crowds or who are shopping for items unlikely to be steeply discounted could find better deals on Cyber Monday. If you have your eye on clothing, shoes, beauty products, toys or travel, for example, Cyber Monday could be your best bet.
SNAG DEALS ONLINE
Most Black Friday deals will be offered online as well as in-store, so shoppers can shop from home and still take advantage of some of the best prices.However, big door-busters such as televisions under $79 likely will be in short supply and won’t be available online.
On the other hand, some door-busters might be available only online or offered throughout the holiday weekend. Just be sure you pay attention if you’re planning to shop online on Black Friday.
“One of the biggest mistakes a shopper can make is assuming that the ad price is the lowest price,” said Rebecca Lehman, manager of content marketing for Brad’s Deals. “My favorite example for this is Kohl’s Black Friday sale, where just about everything in the ad is also eligible for further discounts with promo codes.”
Many Black Friday and holiday ads will include coupons, and retailers will also offer plenty of coupon codes that are valid when shopping online. To make sure you’re not missing any coupons from your favorite retailer, subscribe to its e-mail list and get coupons and offers delivered to your inbox. Sites like CouponSherpa, RetailMeNot and Coupons.com also round up Black Friday coupons and coupon codes that’ll help you save more.
GET REWARDED FOR LOYALTY
“Sign up for the loyalty programs,” Lehman said. “Many retailers give their loyalty members early access to the deals” and additional opportunities to save.
Members of the Toys R’ Us rewards program, for example, earn $5 for every $125 spent at the brand's stores. These rewards can stack with other deals for even bigger savings. Kohl’s Yes2You loyalty program gives shoppers $5 for every 100 points they accumulate. The store also runs promotions that allow members to earn double or triple points on purchases.
EARN CASH BACK
Black Friday shoppers can earn cash back on their holiday purchases by taking advantage of other offers. Cash-back sites such as BeFrugal, Ebates and FatWallet can offer customers cash back on qualifying purchases. The app Ibotta does the same for mobile shoppers.
Using these shopping tools, you can easily get 5 percent cash back or more on the stores you’re already shopping at. BeFrugal offers up to 8.5 percent back at Amazon and JCPenney, while Ebates offers 3 percent back at Sears and Macy’s.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF PERKS
Cardholders of a cash-back credit card will also get back some of the money they spend on Black Friday purchases. By simply being strategic about how you pay, you’ll qualify for even bigger savings.
Store credit cards and debit cards are probably a shopper’s best bet for bigger savings. Kohl’s regularly offers extra savings to Kohl’s Charge cardholders, for example, while Target offers 5 percent off on purchases made with its Red Card.
SET PRICE ALERTS
“Prices on items fluctuate not only from store to store, but also from day to day on any given Web site,” said Regina Conway, a consumer expert at Slickdeals. “If you’re shopping for a particular item, your best bet is to set a deal alert on Slickdeals.net – that way you’ll be notified when the best price becomes available.”
FatWallet offers a similar tool: “I set up topic alerts,” said Brent Shelton, an online shopping expert for FatWallet. “Every time a deal or discussion happens that matches my keyword, I get an alert that offers me a chance to buy the super-hot items that can often sell out quickly.”