Score the best deals with price matching, rebates and free shipping.
1. Find the lowest price. The websites dealnews.com and bensbargains.com will do the work for you. Each site tracks bargains at more than 2,000 retailers. Using a price-tracking tool, such as camelcamelcamel.com or pricezombie.com, can help you time your purchases.
2. Ask for price matching. Smartphone apps, such as ShopSavvy and RedLaser, can help you spot ways to save by scanning an item’s bar code and comparing prices online. But getting a store to match a competitor’s price isn’t always as easy. To better your odds, research the store’s policies on its website or call ahead. Even if you think you know the rules, check again. Target, for example, recently expanded its policy to include 29 retailers, among them Amazon, Costco and Staples, and it now offers price matching for Target.com purchases.
3. Use free shipping. If you’re on a store’s mailing list or a member of its loyalty program, check your email for recent messages containing codes for free shipping. Some retailers may combine free shipping with last-minute sales. And if you’re still shopping on Dec. 18, visit freeshippingday.com for a list of about 1,000 retailers offering free shipping (and discounts), with guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve. But don’t let the allure of free shipping distract you from calculating the bottom-line price you’ll pay. Pricegrabber.com has a tool that factors shipping fees into the price.
4. Read the fine print on rebates. Rebates for home appliances and tech items are common and may be sizable for major purchases. For example, Samsung recently offered customers who purchased the Galaxy S6 a $100 rebate. But don’t count on a rebate if the item is a gift that may need to be returned. You will probably be asked to remove the item’s bar code from the package to accompany the paperwork.
5. Get the skinny on warranties. Many household products, from cookware to luggage to electronics, come with built-in warranties. Craftsman, JanSport and L.L. Bean offer to repair or replace items that become defective through normal use. But not all warranties are as comprehensive. Some may cover only certain parts of the product or expire after a given period of time.
Kaitlin Pitsker is a staff writer at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. Send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on this and similar money topics, visit kiplinger.com.