17 Tricks for Scoring Big on Cyber Monday
Shop savvily and walk away with a major haul.
Black Friday might be the ne plus ultra of shopping holidays, but Cyber Monday is rapidly gaining traction with those who don't want to brave the crowds at their preferred big box store as soon as their Thanksgiving meal is over. According to Adobe Insights, Americans spent a record $6.59 billion last year on Cyber Monday, marking the largest online shopping day in the country's history.
In fact, it's clear that Cyber Monday's grip on the retail industry won't be loosening anytime soon. Seeing as last year's sales marked a 16.8 percent increase from the year before, it's obvious that digital consumers are just as hungry for deals as their brick-and-mortar counterparts are willing to brave the frigid temperatures for a crack at a sale. With that in mind, we've rounded up expert-approved Cyber Monday tips to help you score the best deals possible.
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 or, in the case of clothing, try garments on to make sure that they fit. Fortunately, Cyber Monday retailers understand the risk you're taking by buying products online, and so many of them will offer free shipping and free returns. Of course, 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," says Sara Skirboll, a shopping and trends expert with RetailMeNot.
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 even Instagram.
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, but 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.
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 specifically recommends installing RetailMeNot's Genie, a free Chrome plug-in that scours the internet for the best coupons and cash-back offers out there.
And sign up for cash-back apps.
Believe it or not, there are actually apps out there that will pay you money just for shopping as you normally would. One of the best apps for earning easy money is Ebates: 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.
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 without actually buying 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.
Use gift cards.
Before Cyber Monday arrives, Skirboll recommends stocking up on discounted gift cards. 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 all year round, and you can "use these to save on your entire purchase."
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.
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."
Sign up for accounts 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, and so there's no time to waste setting up online accounts in the midst of all the chaos.
Cyber Monday deals come and go in the blink of an eye, 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."
Make a game plan.
"You'll have much more success with shopping if you go into Cyber Monday with a strategy," explains Skirboll. "Have a budget in place and 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 if your goal this Cyber Monday is to get some holiday shopping out of the way, then check out these 100 Great Gifts Under $100.
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 many a flyer from years prior that you can use to inform your purchasing decisions, letting you know when you're actually getting a deal versus when you're just getting the same discount trotted out the year before.
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 data compiled by RetailMeNot, items that had better deals on Cyber Monday versus Black Friday in 2017 included teen clothing, accessories, and sports and fitness items. On the other hand, Black Friday offered superior savings last year 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.
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.
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