Originally published by Sarah Sharkey on Bankrate.com.
The coronavirus pandemic has ensured this will be a holiday season like no other.
With Black Friday right around the corner, hunting for deals may look different this year. But consumers are still planning to spend $997.79 on gifts, holiday items and other purchases for this season, according to the National Retail Association’s October report. No matter what your holiday budget looks like, there are ways to capitalize on the savings offered on Black Friday.
Here’s how to save during this unique holiday shopping weekend.
1. Start with a plan
Before Black Friday arrives, take some time to establish a shopping plan. Whether you are shopping online or in-person, consider what you’re shopping for and scout the deals ahead of time.
Take advantage of browser extensions that maximize your discounts and cash-back sites that cushion the blow to your budget.
Jonathan Hess, a financial coach, recommends that you utilize web browser plug-ins like Honey to save money on purchases. “Honey will scour the internet looking for coupon codes that are automatically applied to your purchase,” Hess says.
He also recommends signing up for a service like Rakuten to earn extra cash back on purchases.
Take a few minutes to sign up for these potential savings ahead of the Black Friday madness.
2. Compare prices
As you shop this season, don’t forget to compare prices. Luckily, there are price tracking tools and deal alert websites that can help you find the best price for a particular item.
“Sites such as CamelCamelCamel allow you to view the price history of a product on Amazon to see if that product ‘on sale’ is really a deal or not,” says Leslie Tanye, founder and manager director of Tayne Law Group. “You can also provide your email address and receive alerts if the price drops.”
Tools like these allow you to compare prices with a minimal time commitment.
3. Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale
We can all easily fall into a trap to purchase a sale item because the deal sounded too good to be true.
Ian Sells, CEO and founder of Rebate Key, recommends that you “go into Black Friday knowing which products you want to buy. There are lots of deals on Black Friday, and it’s easy to end up spending more than you want because you get swept into the buying fever.”
In order to stick to a plan, make a list of products you plan to buy on Black Friday. Otherwise, you could easily be distracted by other deals.
4. Use the right card
The right credit card can provide a boost to your budget through helpful rewards features. But which card is right for you?
If you know that you’ll exclusively be shopping at a particular store, then you may want to sign up for a co-branded retail card to boost your savings. But make sure that you’ll still receive value from the card once the holidays have ended. For example, the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature and the Target RedCard could be great options if you regularly shop at either retailer. If you don’t want to go the credit card route, find out if your favorite retailer offers a loyalty program.
If you don’t plan on being loyal to a particular retailer, then other cash back cards offer a better value. Take a look at the top cash-back credit cards. Applying ahead of the holiday weekend can ensure that you are ready to enjoy these enticing rewards.
Although the rewards offered by a credit card can be exciting, overspending can be a threat to your financial stability. Don’t let the temptation of a high spending limit lead you into that trap. Pay off your balance in full when the bill is due.
5. Use discounted gift cards
If you are wary of using a credit card, then discounted gift cards could be a good option.
Regina Conway, consumer expert at Slickdeals, recommends using gift card exchange websites like CardCash and Raise to buy credit for popular stores at a discount.
“These sites offer gift cards at a discount and are an easy way to save 10 percent to 20 percent off face value,” Conroy says. “With this extra step, you can save on top of the already discounted Black Friday prices.”