Win Black Friday With These Shopping Hacks

Whether shopping online or in store, these tips will help you score the lowest prices.

Whether shopping online or in store, these tips will help you score the lowest prices.

To the Black Friday victors go the spoils.

Use these hacks to guarantee yourself the deals you want, whether you decide to shop from your couch or at the store.

Online shopping

Think outside the box. Some stores are synonymous with Black Friday: Target, Walmart and Best Buy, to name a few. But don’t limit yourself, especially if inventory is selling out quickly at these mass merchants.

“Almost everybody offers something,” says Sucharita Mulpuru, a retail analyst at Forrester Research, a business advisory firm. She recommends seeking out less mainstream sites, such as Newegg for electronics.

» MORE: Monitor your Black Friday spending with NerdWallet

Go incognito. When it’s time to buy on Black Friday, open an incognito window to enable private browsing and disable plugins, says Mike Catania, chief technology officer of coupon website PromotionCode.org. If you don’t, he says some websites can track your previous visits or coupon plug-ins and adjust their prices accordingly.

When in doubt, compare prices across a few different browsers. You can also log in to your online account at the retailer, if you have one, to look for member-specific offers.

Scour social media. Follow retailers on Twitter and like them on Facebook for sale news in your social feed. Stores such as Target and Home Depot also have Black Friday pages on their websites where customers can sign up to receive deal alerts.

Start following retailers on Twitter and liking them on Facebook for sale news in your social feed.

Check your inbox frequently on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. Retailers sometimes offer deals for a few hours or less, says Jackie Breyer, editor-in-chief of toy review website The Toy Insider.

There will be countless sales, so make just three or four stores your top priority, says Michael Parrish DuDell, chief strategy officer of coupon website CouponFollow. He suggests going “all in” at retailers with a history of Black Friday discounts in hope of being rewarded with exclusive offers. Subscribe to their newsletters, download their apps and join their loyalty programs.

Seek out free shipping. “I think a lot of Black Friday activity will be online this year,” Barbara Kahn, a professor of marketing at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, said in an email. “Surveys are showing that shoppers are still very price sensitive and free shipping is important.”

Find retailers that offer free shipping with no minimum or a very low minimum. Best Buy, for instance, has announced free shipping with no minimum on eligible orders through Dec. 25.

If you can’t find free shipping, there’s another option. “When you can, get your online order sent to the store instead of your home to save money on shipping costs,” Jon Lal, CEO of cash-back website BeFrugal, said in an email. “Some large retail stores have a convenient desk at the front of the store and a pickup area to park so you’ll be in and out quickly.”

In-store shopping

Lean on retailers. The best way to win Black Friday is to plan ahead and use retailer resources. Last year, Target released a map online that detailed where specific deals would be located in the store.

Stores including Best Buy and Walmart post Black Friday shopping tips on their websites. Best Buy, for example, advises, “Check out the Best Buy preview ad in advance, and even visit your local store, scoping things out a few days ahead of time, so you know where the electronics deals you want are located.”

Keep your phone handy. Make sure your phone has a full charge before leaving for the store, Lal says. You can use it to compare prices and load scannable coupons.

You’ll also want to download a few discount apps. They can save you from clipping coupons or furiously combing through pages of ads.

Apps can remove the need for clipping coupons and, in some cases, furiously combing through pages of ads.

Slice is an app that compiles sales. Open it on Black Friday, tap the “deals” tab and browse available promotions. And Thinkover lets you save items you want to buy ahead of Black Friday. If something you’ve been eyeing goes on sale, you’ll receive an alert.

You could also get rewarded for shopping. With the Shopkick app, users earn points, or “kicks,” for walking into stores, scanning barcodes and making purchases. Points can eventually be redeemed for digital gift cards. Drop is another app that rewards users with points — and eventually gift cards — for everyday spending.

All shopping

Request an additional discount. It never hurts to ask, according to Mark Ellwood, author of “Bargain Fever: How to Shop in a Discounted World.”

If you’re shopping online, Ellwood advises contacting the customer service department a few days before Black Friday to see if it can sweeten the deal. There are “too many shops and not enough shoppers,” he says, so representatives might be willing to work with you rather than lose you to a competitor.

Earn credit card cash back. Match your method of payment with the store where you shop. Some credit cards are offering generous cash-back percentages at certain stores this holiday season. That could pay off, especially if you’re already going to be shopping at one of those stores. For more cards that earn rewards, check out NerdWallet’s best credit cards of 2017.

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