Amazing Holiday Deals Online
By Cameron Huddleston, Contributing Editor
Who doesn’t like a deal — especially at this time of year and in this economy? That’s why we’re back with our third annual list of Web sites that will help you save money on holiday gifts.
There are sites that post the latest deals on everything from clothes to electronics, sites that give you cash back when you shop, sites that provide coupon codes and sites that help you compare prices. This year we’ve added sites that feature free-shipping and gift-card deals.
Even if you don’t end up buying online, it never hurts to find the best deals on the Web before you brave crowded stores. Then you can comparison shop and make better choices.
We’ve tested and picked 22 Web sites we think are easy to use and will help you save money this holiday season. Take a look:
Find the Lowest Price
If you really want to score a great buy, use a price-comparison site. Dealio.com, which compares prices on 30 million products from 100,000 merchants, has a larger retail search than rival sites offer and provides coupon codes with a thumbs up/thumbs down review to show how many users have had success using the coupon. What we really like about this site, though, are the downloadable tools that help you find the lowest prices online.
Pronto.com fetches prices on 70 million products from more than 25,000 online merchants, including eBay. PriceGrabber.com offers prices on products from nearly 13,000 merchants. Both sites let you sign up to receive e-mail alerts when your favorite brands or products go on sale. And both have blogs with product reviews, deal news, gift ideas and trends in clothing and home decor.
If you know exactly what you want and need just a bare-bones price comparison site, try Google’s shopping search engine, Google Product Search (formerly Froogle). What you’ll get are lots of results for your search, product reviews, seller ratings and a “local shopping” option to help you find products at stores near you. What you won’t see is a home page full of hot products, shopping guides, product categories and colorful images you’ll find on sites such as PriceGrabber.
Shop with Cyber-Coupons
Put away the scissors — you don’t have to clip these coupons. Plenty of sites offer coupon codes (and printable coupons) for online and brick-and-mortar retailers. The nice thing about our picks is that you don’t have to register on these sites to gain access to the coupons.
RetailMeNot offers coupons from more than 40,000 stores and a community where you can get tips and deal info from others. You also can have the week’s most-popular coupons e-mailed to you.
CouponWinner.com has nearly 20,000 coupons from about 9,000 retailers. What we like about the site is its Coupon Scout tool that lets you compare coupons from up to five retailers. Click on a category, such as women’s apparel, and the Coupon Scout tool will appear on the left-hand side of the page.
Coupon Sherpa is new to the online-coupon scene (launched in September 2009). The staff test promotions and work with merchants to ensure that the coupons actually work. The site also includes a page of holiday shipping deadlines for Christmas delivery.. Coupon Sherpa also is available as an iPhone application (see Coupons Made Easy).
Not only does Alex’s Coupons offer coupon codes for more than 1,200 stores, but also it helps in the fight against childhood cancer. Over the past four year’s, Alex’s Coupons has donated more than $20,000 to childhood cancer charities.
And if you’re shopping for children, check out CleverBabies.com. It has coupons for stores such as Toys R Us, DisneyShopping.com and babyGap. The site also posts sales, has forums and has its own coupons.
If you’re not exactly sure what to get that certain person on your gift list, check out online deal sites, which post loads of discounted items. You’re bound to find the right gift at the right price.
Our favorite still is dealnews, which has a team of deal hunters keeping their eyes on a million products at more than 2,000 online retailers. Plus merchants and the site’s visitors tip them off to bargains. The deal hunters hand pick the best deals among the thousands they get daily and update the site at least 200 times a day, says Dan de Grandpre, founder and chief executive of dealnews.
The site also bans stores with poor customer service. Plus, you can sign up for e-mail or RSS alerts for products or stores you’re interested in and get gift ideas from the site. And it has a Black Friday section with a list of stores that offer price matching.
Dealtaker.com lists some deals on its home page, but you’ll find hundreds more listed in its forums. So if you’re willing to take the time to troll through the forums, you’ll probably find deals here you won’t find other places. Or use the search option if there’s a particular product for which you’re trying to find a deal.
There are more than 200,000 forum members who post deals, and you don’t have to register to view the ones listed. The site also offers coupons for more than 2,000 online stores, a price search engine and e-mail notification of deals. If you like the community atmosphere, you also can find lots of deals posted in the forums on MyBargainBuddy.com.
For electronics and tech gadgets, we like DealsOfAmerica, which updates deals every hour. Every item it lists on the home page has a picture, a description, the store that’s offering the deal and, best of all, the list price so you’ll know just how much of a bargain you’re getting. The site also has coupons, a price-comparison tool, a list of products or services available for free after rebate or coupon and a hot deal e-mail alert you can sign up to receive. Deals are from top online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores with nationwide presence.
Never pay full price for a gift card again. GiftCards.com and Gift Card Granny (launched November 2009) sell merchants’ gift cards for less than face value. They’ll also buy gift cards you don’t want (for 80% to 90% of the card’s value).
Buying a discounted gift card to use for your own Christmas shopping is a good way to score additional discounts. For example, buy a $100 Gap gift card for $90 (instant $10 savings), use it to shop online and use a coupon code for additional savings.
High shipping costs can be a big drawback to shopping online. FreeShipping.org offers free-shipping coupons for more than 1,800 stores, including Amazon.com, Target and eBay. And all you last-minute shoppers don’t want to miss Free Shipping Day December 17. Luke Knowles, who created Free Shipping Day in 2008, says he expects at least 500 merchants to participate this year and guarantee Christmas-Eve delivery for all items purchased on Free Shipping Day.
Get Cash Back
Another way to spend less is to earn cash while you shop. That’s the premise of FatWallet, Ebates.com and Bing cashback. Join their cash-back programs and you can get cash back (usually a percentage of your purchase) when you buy items from select merchants.
Be sure to read the fine print. You don’t get cash back at the time of your purchase. Instead, it accrues in an account and is sent to you periodically. Also, not all merchants featured on these sites participate and of those that do, some have their own requirements for earning cash back.
Black Friday Ad Sites
There are several sites devoted to posting Black Friday ads weeks before they run in newspapers. Created in 2003, Black Friday (bfads.net) was the first site exclusively dedicated to posting Black Friday ads. What we like about this site is that it has photos of sale items and icons that denote whether they are early bird or rebate items and the time the sale begins. Black Friday also has online deals, buying guides and a mailing list you can sign up for to receive e-mail notifications of deals.
If you don’t want to rack up credit-card debt shopping this holiday season, there is a safe way pay with cash online — and get deals. Check out eBillme’s Black Friday deals and sales for online shopping.
On a final note, if you’re shopping online be sure to look for privacy and security seals on retailers’ sites, know the return and exchange policies, and check shipping deadlines to ensure your gifts arrive on time. (See 5 Tips for Safe Online Shopping for more advice.)
And to make sure you’re getting the best bargain online, look for the item at the best price from a merchant with free shipping and a coupon to lower the cost even further — the trifecta of bargain shopping.