The Insider’s Guide to Shopping Online on Thanksgiving & Black Friday
We know trying to snag deals on Thanksgiving and Black Friday can be overwhelming. Some retailers, like Kohl’s and Newegg, already rolled out Black Friday prices as of Monday. Some retailers, like Best Buy, are rolling out deals to members of their Elite shopping program.
However, there are a number of tips you can rely on in order to snag some of the best deals of the year. We’ve put together a list of ten helpful suggestions to help you save money and grab those deals before everyone else.
1. Timing is everything!
The best online deals start the night before Thanksgiving (Wednesday). While stores schedule their Thanksgiving Day deals to begin at midnight EST (9 p.m. PST), many retailers will jump the gun and start an hour or two earlier. Start keeping an eye out for those doorbusters around 7 p.m. PST on Wednesday; an ideal task for mobile devices.
2. Prep your accounts in advance!
There’s nothing worse than missing out on an amazing online doorbuster because you had to set up a new account with shipping / payment details. If you plan on shopping at a specific retailer this year, visit a day or two before Thanksgiving / Black Friday and update all your details. Around 7 p.m. PST, go log into that account and you will be ready to quickly make a purchase before online doorbuster inventory runs out.
3. Try adding doorbusters early!
This trick will vary between online retailers. Add the doorbuster to your cart on Wednesday night (here’s a big list of our favorites) and simply refresh the page to see if the price drops in your cart. This could end up saving those previous seconds that will help you snag the deal before inventory sells out. However, you should also open a second tab in your browser to refresh the price on the main product page just in case it doesn’t update in the cart.
4. If something sells out, don’t give up!
Starting Wednesday night through Friday night, the most aggressive doorbuster deals will happen at random times online. Stores often plan on having inventory saved for specific times of the day. In addition, online retailers will often compete with price drops. Amazon may lower a price on a product and sell out within an hour. However, Target or Walmart may decide to price match it later in the day.
5. Don’t forget the little guys!
While massive retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target and Best Buy are certainly great places to score online Black Friday deals, some smaller retailers have online deals just as good, sometimes even better (and less likely to sell out!) In the last couple years, nearly-extinct Radio Shack had the best deal on Beats headphones, Staples had the cheap laptop deal of the year, and 6pm had the best prices on shoes and apparel. Other retailers to keep an eye on include the Microsoft Store, OfficeMax and Sears.
6. Choose gift card bundles wisely!
Many of the most popular items won’t necessarily be on sale with a major discount, but will come with a hefty store gift card. This is especially true for trendy electronics like the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Bose/Beats headphones, GoPro cameras, Nest Thermostat and pretty much anything Apple related.
Retailers are banking on the fact that many gift cards go completely unused. Make sure you choose a gift card deal for a retailer where you regularly shop. For example, Target or Amazon are likely to have tons of other items from your shopping list, while a gift card for a retailer like Best Buy might not be as useful.
7. Activate your credit card’s promotional discount!
Many cards offer discounts specific to seasonal periods, but require activation to use. For instance, Chase Freedom offers an unprecedented 10% cash back on Amazon, Zappos and Diapers.com purchases during Q4. Discover offers 5% cash back on Amazon, department stores, and clothing stores during Q4. American Express offers store-specific coupons (Ex. Spend $50, get $20 credit) all year round. All of these have to be activated though by logging onto your account and clicking the activation link.
8. Take advantage of price-matching programs!
Target recently announced an expansion of the retailer’s price matching policy, now including stores like Amazon, Walmart.com, Sam’s Club and Costco. Walmart is attempting to do something similar, but internally price matching items and displaying results on the site. If you read up on price matching before checking out, you may end up combining your price matched item with other discounts, like credit card rewards.9.
9. Always check for coupons!
Before checking out online, do a quick Google search for coupon codes. You’d be surprised at how many online merchants routinely have 10% to 20% off codes available, and most of the time they stack with sale prices and other promotions. Examples of stores that almost always have coupon codes (even if they’re not advertised on the site) include Kohl’s and Macy’s.
10. Save 5% to 15% on top of sale prices using discounted gift cards!
Most frequently found on eBay during the holiday season, discount gift cards will typically sell up to 20% off. While this practice requires a predictive strategy to deciding where you will eventually spend your holiday purchasing dollars, it’s great for stores that you constantly visit every year for holiday shopping.