Cyber Monday 2017: 10 hacks to score great deals
Timing, preparation will help you snag the best online shopping promotions
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Can’t get enough of Cyber Monday? You can score deals all week long now.
“What we’ve seen the last few years – and what we expect to see this year – is that Cyber Monday is more like Cyber Week now,” says Kendal Perez, spokeswoman for CouponSherpa, a coupon aggregator site.
Catering to shoppers’ desires and dollars, sites are offering two-day, three-day and sometimes week-long deals
Go to "2017 holiday shopping guide"
But the day itself is no slouch. In 2016, consumers spent roughly than $3.68 billion on Cyber Monday, up from almost $3.12 billion the previous year, according to comScore Inc.
From pre-scouting deals to getting an electronic heads-up on special buys to scrubbing your computer before you shop, online shopping experts shared their 10 best tips for saving money on Cyber Monday:
10 Cyber Monday hacks
- Don’t expect deals on everything, but keep an eye on clothing, beauty items, travel and electronics.
- Start shopping on Sunday. Many stores announce their deals in advance.
- Sign up, set and follow alerts. Connect with your favorite brands/stores and get early notice on deals.
- Check in throughout the day. Many retailers post new deals almost every hour.
- Collect gift cards in advance. You can even buy them at a discount or using card rewards.
- Scout around. Bargain aggregator sites can help you get an idea of what deals to expect.
- Go mobile. Retailers are making it easier to shop from smartphones.
- Check out card reward categories and rebate sites to stack further savings.
- Don’t forget credit card shopping deals. Extra points might await at your card’s shopping portal.
- Clean your cookies, surf incognito. Don’t let your shopping history keep you from the best deals.
1. Don’t expect deals on everything.
If you’re looking for rock-bottom prices on electronics, Black Friday may still be your best day, says Lindsay Sakraida, director of content marketing for DealNews, a deal aggregator site. “There really are very different things on sale, compared to Black Friday.”
The best things to be looking for are: clothing, shoes, beauty items, cosmetics and travel, she adds.
“For me, I always see the best deals on clothing,” says Perez.
With gaming systems, instead of price cuts, you’ll most likely find “bundling” deals in which several hot games are included with the purchase, says Hillary Mendelsohn, author of “The Purple Book: The Definitive Guide to Exceptional Online Shopping.”
2. Cyber Monday really starts Sunday.
Smart Cyber Monday shoppers start their prep work over the weekend.
“A lot of stores start announcing their sales on Sunday,” says Sakraida. “If you can, get a jump start.”
One way to make it easier on sale day: “Make sure you’re pre-registered with the site,” says Michelle Madhok, publisher of the shopping site SheFinds.com. Since most sites require that you create a profile to buy, you can get that done ahead of time.
To stay in the know, sign up for a retailer or brand’s emails and newsletters, says Perez. Follow your favorites on social media. And set text or email alerts on your favorite retailer and deal-scouting sites.
Customers who have opted to receive newsletters or follow their favorites on social media often receive early notices on sales and sometimes early access to those bargains, she says.
In previous years, Amazon has released new deals every hour, says Madhok. “A lot of stores will be doing that.”
Sakraida’s advice: Scout your favorite retail and brand sites to get the lay of the land first thing in the morning, she says. Then check in periodically throughout the day to see specific product deals that pop up.
Video: 4 ways to save money with online holiday shoppping
5. Collect your gift cards in advance.
Another smart way to save money on Cyber Monday: Dig out those unused gift cards. It’s a smart time to collect any stray gift cards you already have, says Mendelsohn. “Use what’s in your wallet.”
You may also have gift cards in your wallet without realizing it – in the form of credit card rewards.
“As always, I would suggest ahead of the big shopping weekend, see if they can redeem rewards for gift cards,” says Perez. When you’re ready to buy, you’ll have the necessary gift cards at the ready.
6. Scout around to get an idea of what to expect.
Unlike Black Friday, you don’t see traditional ads for Cyber Monday, says Sakraida. But you can find information on your favorite deal aggregator sites or the websites of your stores and brands you shop, she says.
In general, you’ll find deals averaging between 20 to 40 percent off, according to several shopping experts. But some retailers and manufacturers will up the ante.
And don’t forget FreeShipping.org to snag free shipping deals.
7. It will be easier to shop from your phone.
Consumers are spending increasing amounts from their phones on Cyber Monday. More than $1 billion in 2016, up from $838 million in 2015, according to comScore.
You can expect retailers to take a hint and make it easier for you to buy on the fly, says Perez.
Look for sites that are easier to view, deal codes that are simpler to claim and less toggling, she says. “Retailers are making more mobile shopping seamless.”
8. Check out your card reward categories.
What’s better than a sweet deal on an item you’ve been craving? Getting five times the reward points when you buy it.
“Look at your credit card to see if they are giving extra rewards for certain retailers,” says Perez.
Her Chase Freedom card offers 5 percent cash back for purchases at Walmart and certain department stores from October through December (Discover it and Discover More cards offer 5 percent cash back at Target and Amazon). During the holidays, “using that card gives me more cash back,” says Perez.
Pro tip: Rebate sites and apps also offer souped-up rewards – which can mean more cash coming back to your wallet after you buy.
Ebates, for instance, has offered “double cash back through select stores,” says Perez. Check your favorite rebate sites prior to Cyber Monday to see if you can use it to score extra deals.
Video: Five ways to protect yourself while online shopping
9. Scope out credit card shopping deals.
Some credit card issuers, banks or brands will negotiate special deals for their cardholders.
Sometimes that means shopping through a card’s online shopping portal – where card companies often reward shoppers with double and triple points, says Madhok.
With others, like American Express, shoppers can claim the deals by linking them directly to their card ahead of time, she says. When the consumer uses the card to buy, they automatically get the deal.
Pro tip: In some cases, using a card’s shopping portal could mean sacrificing rebates – if your favorite rebate site requires that you shop through its portal instead. In that case, look for rebate providers (like Ibotta), that require only a copy of your receipt. That way, you can use both and stack the savings.
“All your cookies in your browser make the prices show up the way they do,” says Mendelsohn.
Before you shop: Clear out all the cookies in your browser. Then use whatever stealth modes the browser allows.
Says Mendelsohn, “When they know your shopping habits, they know what you’re willing to pay for things.”
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