Holiday shopping is something of a competitive sport in the United States — even if you’re only competing against the last price you saw. We all spend more during the holiday shopping season, but that doesn’t mean we necessarily want to. In fact, many of us look for ways to limit the damage to our bank accounts. One way to keep your spending under control during the holiday shopping season is to price match to find the best deals.
If you want to make sure you are getting the best price, here are nine price matching tools that will help you win at competitive holiday shopping this year:
1. Price Match Guarantee
The first price matching tool in your arsenal is the “price match guarantee.” Many stores offer these guarantees to prevent you from bringing back an item, getting a refund, and then re-purchasing it at a lower price — perhaps somewhere else. Often, it’s easier (and cheaper) for the store to just refund you the difference. Many retailers are also willing to price match competitors’ items.
Lowe’s and Home Depot will even tack on an extra 10 percent if you find a lower price elsewhere. Plus, there’s no need to engage in “showrooming” if you shop at Best Buy and Target; they’ll happily match Amazon.com‘s prices.
Read the fine print and make sure you understand the terms of the price match guarantee before you implement it.
2. Credit Cards
As we reported earlier, some credit cards offer price protection. If you find the same item for a lower price, it’s possible to get a refund of the difference from your credit card issuer.
Chase Freedom and a number of the Citi credit cards come with this guarantee. As long as you meet the requirements (save your receipts and send in the printed ads showing lower prices), your credit card issuer might be willing to cover the difference between what you paid and what you could have paid.
As an example, Citi offer what it calls Price Rewind. Just search for an item you recently purchased on Citi’s Price Rewind portal. Once you’ve located the item, Citi will ask you for the date of purchase, the price, and the retailer. Upload your receipt and Citi will search for a lower price. If it finds it within 60 days of your purchase, you may receive the difference in price — up to $500 back per item (with an annual limit of $2,500)!
Become the savviest shopper you know with this app. Scan the barcode, or search by typing in the name of the item. ShopSavvy will pull up various prices from around the web, as well as show you where the item is available near you. If you don’t want to wait for shipping, you can get directions to the appropriate store.
If you are willing to keep you credit card info in the app, you can even pay for the item from your mobile device.
4. Amazon Price Check
Want to know if you could save money by shopping with Amazon? You can use the barcode or take a picture of the item and Amazon will pull it up. Price Check is always learning, too, and you can add in-store prices so that Amazon has an idea of how to stay competitive with its own price-matching efforts. If you are shopping at a store willing to match online retailers, you can show the manager the online price and pay less without the hassle of shipping.
5. Google Flights
If you are traveling during the holidays (or anytime), Google Flights makes tracking ticket prices a snap. Search for your flight using the Google Flights portal. Once you’ve found the one you want, simple turn on the Track Prices feature:
Keep in mind that in order to track prices, you must be logged into your Google account. From there, Google Flights will continue searching and send an email to you as prices for your flight move up or down.
Get the best offers online and in-store with the help of PriceGrabber. Not only does PriceGrabber help you compare what’s available online and offline, but it also gives you access to daily deal sites. You can see whether there is a Groupon or Living Social deal on the item in question.
7. Invisible Hand
Invisible Hand tries to cover just about everything from retailers to airlines. It offers a web browser add-on for Chrome, Firefox and Safari. As you search the web, Invisible Hand shows you any lower prices that are available on the product, flight, hotel, or rental car for which you’re shopping. It also gives you a link directly to the lowest price.
8. Slick Deals
Slick Deals is best know for helping consumers find the best prices on just about everything. The site also offers a price tracker.
Once you set up a free Slick Deals account, you can enter the url of any product into the tracker. I entered the url of a Fitbit from the Macy’s website. The cost at Macy’s was $179.99, but Slick Deals found it cheaper at Walmart. True, the savings was only $1.99, but the price tracking tool works!
CamelCamelCamel is a price tracking tool for Amazon shoppers. You simply create alerts for items you are tracking on the site, then CamelCamelCamel will alert you via email or Twitter when the price changes.
In addition, the tool provides a price history of items so you can see just how low (or high) the cost for an item has been in the past. CCC also offers browser extensions that make price comparison and setting up alerts extremely easy.