23 Expert Cyber Monday Tips for 2019 That'll Have You Scoring Big
These Cyber Monday shopping tips will help you save big bucks.
Black Friday might get all the glory when it comes to shopping holidays, but Cyber Monday is rapidly gaining traction with those who don't want to brave the crowds at a big-box store as soon as their Thanksgiving meal is over. In fact, according to Adobe Insights, Americans spent a record $7.98 billion in 2018 on Cyber Monday shopping, making it the largest online shopping day in the country's history.
Not only that, but it's clear that Cyber Monday's grip on the retail industry won't be loosening anytime soon: That number was an impressive 19.7 percent increase over the 2017 numbers, which had previously set the online shopping revenue record in the U.S. So it's obvious that digital consumers are hungry for deals—and that online shopping is where they're at! To help you prepare for this year's potential record-breaking holiday, we've rounded up expert Cyber Monday shopping tips to help you score the best deals possible this year!
Fill up your shopping cart—and then abandon it.
A few days before Cyber Monday, head to some of your favorite e-commerce sites and fill up your virtual shopping cart—but don't actually buy anything. If you're logged in on those sites, then you might just be pleasantly surprised when your email inbox is filled up a few days later with a bunch of coupons trying to entice you to come back and finalize those purchases!
Shop in incognito mode.
Unfortunately, retailers know more about you and your shopping history than you'd probably prefer. That's why doing your Cyber Monday shopping in incognito mode is the way to go. By doing this, you make yourself eligible for deals and promotions that might not otherwise be available to someone with your browsing and/or purchasing past.
Watch out for "bloated discounts."
Don't be fooled by a retailer's supposedly stellar Cyber Monday discount. Oftentimes stores will hike up the original price listed for an item in order to make the discount price look better, even though this has no real tangible effect on your savings.
To make sure that you're actually getting a good deal, use apps like BuyVia to check out an item's pricing history before finalizing your purchase.
Follow your favorite brands on social media.
Before Cyber Monday rolls around, make sure to follow all of your favorite retailers on social media. Brands will frequently reward their most loyal customers with custom deals and discounts released via Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. So, if you're one of those followers who's actively refreshing your feeds, you'll be the first to learn about major deals on Cyber Monday!
Make a game plan.
"You'll have much more success with shopping if you go into Cyber Monday with a strategy," says Sara Skirboll, a shopping and trends expert with RetailMeNot. "Know whom you're buying for and ideally what you'd like to get them. That way, you won't be tempted by all the Cyber Monday noise (and there will be a lot!)."
And stick to a budget.
With all the deals that Cyber Monday has to offer, it can be easy to go a little bit overboard and buy things you don't want or need. That's why Rebecca Gramuglia, a shopping expert with TopCashback.com, suggests giving yourself a budget before you start shopping. "The best way to establish a budget is by setting a dollar amount on the most you can spend on gifts this holiday season, then divide that total by the number of people on your list—giving you a spending limit for each person," she suggests.
Check for free shipping and free returns.
Though shopping online is far more convenient than trekking to the store, one of the downsides of e-commerce is that you can't inspect the item you're buying—and, in the case of clothing, you can't try garments on to make sure that they fit before handing over your hard-earned money. Fortunately, Cyber Monday retailers understand the risk you're taking by buying products online, so many of them will offer free shipping and free returns. However, not every retailer is going to be so generous with their policies, so "be sure to dig into the fine print to see if each retailer is offering free two-way shipping," suggests Skirboll.
Compare prices before making purchases.
"With online shopping, it takes mere seconds to do a price comparison on the same product," says Skirboll. And when you do compare prices, the shopping expert notes that it's important to "take into consideration all the savings opportunities at each retailer—free shipping, cash-back offers, things like that." Taking the extra time to do your research could be the difference between saving $10 and saving $100!
Create accounts on your favorite stores' websites in advance.
If you want to guarantee that you score all your must-have Cyber Monday products, then make sure that you set up accounts with all of the retailers you know you'll be shopping at before the deals go live. The best Cyber Monday deals come and go in the blink of an eye, so there's no time to waste setting up online accounts in the midst of all the chaos.
Use gift cards.
Skirboll recommends stocking up on discounted gift cards before Cyber Monday. If you miss some of the great gift card deals that are going on during Black Friday, sites like Costco and RetailMeNot offer discounted gift cards every day of the year. It's like getting double—or even triple—the savings!
Use discount codes.
Even on big sale days like Cyber Monday, retailers will offer additional discount codes on top of the savings that you see on their sites—you just have to know where to find them. For the best savings, Skirboll recommends installing RetailMeNot's Genie, a free web browser plug-in that scours the internet for the best coupons and cash-back offers out there. And speaking of cash back…
Sign up for cash-back apps.
Believe it or not, there are actually apps out there that will pay you just for shopping as you normally would. One of the best apps for earning easy money is Rakuten; depending which store you're shopping at, the site will reward you with up to 10 percent cash back. While that may not seem like a huge discount, those savings add up fast when you're making big Cyber Monday purchases on expensive items like mattresses and KitchenAid mixers.
Be prepared to start shopping early.
Though Cyber Monday doesn't require leaving the house before dawn like Black Friday does, you still have to start shopping pretty early if you want to score the best deals. For the most part, online retailers make their deals available beginning at midnight—so the earlier you can get to your computer to start shopping, the better.
Cyber Monday deals come and go in an instant, so if you see something you want, your best bet is to just buy it right away and return it later if need be. In particular, "electronics are going to be heavily discounted this holiday season, so inventory will go fast," says Skirboll. "If you see a good deal on TVs—especially OLED and 4Ks—pick them up immediately."
Look up old Cyber Monday flyers.
Though most stores won't release Cyber Monday sales flyers until right before the big day, you can still find flyers online from years past with a simple search. Just Google the name of the store plus "Cyber Monday flyer," and you'll easily find deals from years prior that you can use to inform your purchasing decisions.
Know which categories offer the best deals.
Before you do your shopping, make sure you know what you should be buying on Black Friday versus what you should be buying on Cyber Monday. According to 2017 data compiled by RetailMeNot, items that have better deals on Cyber Monday versus Black Friday include teen clothing, accessories, and sports and fitness items. On the other hand, Black Friday offers superior savings on designer clothing, and equal savings in pretty much every other category.
Take advantage of price matching.
Though many retailers will render their price-matching policies invalid on big shopping days like Cyber Monday, it might surprise you to learn that certain credit cards actually offer this as a built-in feature. If you buy something on Cyber Monday and subsequently see it offered for less somewhere else, check to see if your credit card offers this incredible money-saving feature. (According to the experts at NerdWallet, MasterCard, Citi, and certain Chase cards come with price protection.)
Use a credit card that gives cash back.
Pay special attention to which credit card you use to pay for your Cyber Monday purchases. Each credit card has its own unique perks, and big purchases made on Cyber Monday can result in big travel rewards or cash back so long as you're using the right card. If you're using a store credit card to get those deals—for instance, a Target REDcard at Target—you might even save more on your entire purchase.
Make an email account just for Cyber Monday shopping.
"Who wants their inbox constantly flooded with promotions? No one—so consider making a separate email account only for store email lists," suggests Gramuglia. "Even if you only use it around the holidays, it's an easy way to 1. Get discounts on gifts, and 2. Keep them organized in one place."
Check an item's reviews before purchasing it.
Don't be fooled by every supposedly good deal you see this Cyber Monday. As Derek Hales, founder and editor-in-chief of product review site ModernCastle.com, explains, many retailers will order "Cyber Monday-specific models for the sales," ones that are "generally lower quality and stripped of important features." So do your research before you purchase anything—and check the reviews to avoid any suspicious sales.
Set up a Paypal account for faster checkout.
Nowadays, most online retailers accept Paypal. And that's good news for Cyber Monday shoppers: With a Paypal account, you can make all of your online purchases with the click of a single button. Not only that, but the company also offers purchase protection in case something goes wrong.
Check your credit card statements.
Shopping holidays like Cyber Monday leave shoppers especially vulnerable to cybercriminals and hackers. Therefore, you need to be especially careful about which websites you visit, which emails you open, and which credit card transactions go through. During all of your Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping, make sure that you're checking your credit card statement online and watching for suspicious transactions. The sooner you catch and contest these charges, the quicker they can be dealt with.
Don't let the chaos of Cyber Monday turn a day of savings into a day of stress. Sure, the e-commerce holiday is full of great deals, but that doesn't mean that you won't be able to score some other great discounts if you happen to miss out on a few. After all, those savings will be back in time for the holidays again next year!