The gist: NerdWallet reviews the top 5 sites to help you navigate the Black Friday madness.
Happy Thanksgiving, nerds! Looking past the turkey to the Black Friday sales? We’re here to help. If you’re a discount gladiator contending in the retail arena tomorrow, you might want to take a few minutes to strategize. Don’t risk defeat and financial dismemberment at the hands of the fevered hordes. Rather than dashing blindly into battle, find out what stores are offering what deals and plan accordingly.
Lucky for you, a handful of websites dedicated solely to finding and documenting Black Friday deals are just a click away. Here is NerdWallet’s review of the top 5 Black Friday sites for 2011.
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GottaDeal.com hosts the web’s most comprehensive and thoroughly researched Black Friday deal site. Aside from being extraordinarily user-friendly and intuitively organized, GottaDeal provides a number of invaluable tools you won’t find anywhere else. For example, when you run a product search, most sites simply provide the most relevant results from their own database. GottaDeal kicks it up a notch and includes listings from PriceGrabber and eBay. Sometimes—oftentimes, even—Black Friday deals are easily bested by online offers. GottaDeal allows you to plainly compare Black Friday sales to Internet pricing in a single search. And if you order online and pay from home with your rewards credit card, you won’t have to venture into the madness. Additionally, GottaDeal offers dynamic, interactive comparison charts that break down product categories by store, price, features, deal restrictions and more. In all honesty, GottaDeal leaves little reason to deal surf elsewhere.
Coming in a close second is BFAds.net. It follows the typical Black Friday site template and is fairly comprehensive. While similar to GottaDeal in many ways, BFAds isn’t quite as innovative with its deal-finding tools. However, it does offer a number of buying guides that are extraordinarily helpful if you need help selecting a product. If you want a video camera, for example, but don’t know which model to choose, the camcorder buying guide contains product reviews and prices for a variety of models. BFAds keeps content fresh and timely with deals both online and in-store.
Another respectable Black Friday site is blackfriday.us. It’s almost identical to GottaDeal and BFAds but without the frills and ruffles. While very straightforward and easy-to-use, it offers a simple but extensive deals database. You won’t find much in terms of commentary or recommendations, so it’s a good stop for people who know exactly what they’re looking for and where they want to shop. The search bar allows you to track down items by category, store and keyword, granting it precision the other sites lack.
Coming in at number four is 2011BlackFridaysAds.com. This is where site navigation starts to falter. The setup is simple, but the site is without a search bar, making it difficult to pinpoint all deals on a particular product. You’re limited to browsing by store. Unlike the first three sites, the ads are not distilled into text but left in their original incarnations, making them a bit difficult to digest. 2011BlackFridayAds does keep its homepage flowing with fresh content and plenty of updates, so it’s a good site for a quick skim of the newest Friday offers.
Last on our list is TheBlackFriday.com. It’s a pretty barebones site, comprised of a simplistic database and an abundance of ads. Our main criticism of the TheBlackFriday is its poor presentation of deals. Like 2011BlackFridayAds, it doesn’t provide an easy way to peruse deals. When you click on a store, you are not given a textual breakdown but rather links to scanned advertisements. To make matters worse, TheBlackFriday doesn’t have its own search bar. It contains a Google search bar that will offer links to other sites but does nothing for navigation of TheBlackFriday, This site can be fun if you want to click through original store ads, but otherwise, there are better options.
Of course, none of these sites take your credit card rewards into account. If you’d like to see what kind of savings you can get with your existing credit card on a store-by-store basis, check out the NerdWallet discount tool.