But even with 53% of consumers now planning their shopping around Cyber Monday vs. Black Friday, many retailers still offer bigger discounts on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Fortunately, there are now methods and tools to optimize your Cyber Monday shopping so you save as much or more than you would be standing in line on Friday morning.
1. Make a List and Check it Twice
Every money-saving tactic on the web won’t save you much if you don’t have a list and a budget. So before you start picking and clicking, get out an old fashioned pen and paper to write down all the people you’re shopping for and what you want to get them.
When determining your budget, don’t underestimate how many people you’re buying for and what you’ll spend. In 2018, U.S. households spent an average of $1,500 for the holiday season.
Power tool: Santa’s Bag
This iOS app allows you to plan, shop and budget for everyone on your list in one place. Add and organize gifts, ideas, favorite merchants, and external product links for each person then track your budget progress from the home screen. Santa’s Bag makes your gift list so streamlined you might actually enjoy sticking to your holiday budget this year.
2. Check Price Histories
Gone are the days where you wait for the Thanksgiving Day newspaper to find out what deals Black Friday has to offer. Those sales are now “leaked” as early as mid-November. Cyber Monday, on the other hand, can still surprise you with last-minute deals.
If you want to get a head start, you can check last year’s Cyber Monday promotions and compare them with Black Friday ads as they become available. And Black Friday isn’t the only weekend to get the best deals. Great sales happen throughout the year so you’ll want to compare prices to those sales as well.
Power tool: Honey Browser Extension
Honey is a dynamic browser extension that shows you the price history of a product for up to 120 days prior. When you download Honey you can even see right on the Amazon product page if the price you’re seeing is the best price or if it’s been lower in the past 30 days.
Other features include price drop notifications on products from Amazon, Target, Walmart and more. And when you’re ready to make a purchase, Honey will shuffle through hundreds of coupon codes to try to find an additional discount for you.
3. Set Up Price Alerts
You can’t be at your computer or on your phone all day, no matter how much you’d like to. Sign up for notifications when products and brands you’re interested in drop in price or are eligible for a promotion.
Power tool: SlickDeals
A trusted site for price alerts is SlickDeals. Simply enter the keywords, stores, brands, or categories of your choice and SlickDeals will instantly email or send you a notification through its app when a matching deal becomes available.
4. Download a Price Comparison App or Browser Extension
Instead of searching for the lowest price on a product in a dozen different stores with a dozen different tabs open, download a price comparison app or browser extension that will do it for you. It’ll ensure you’re getting the best price available, including shipping, and save you precious time during time-bound deals.
Power tool: PriceBlink
PriceBlink is a browser extension that will compare prices on your product of choice at over 50 other stores in a single window. And like Honey, PriceBlink will show you verified coupons at stores you’re shopping. If you’re using Internet Explorer or Safari, then Shoptimate does the same thing in those browsers.
5. Look for Additional Discounts
Found a good Black Friday or Cyber Monday deal? Don’t stop there. One of the easiest ways to save more is by stocking up on discounted gift cards from resellers like Raise or Gift Card Granny. You can expect to find gift cards 3-5% off retail prices from thousands of retailers.
And because they’re gift cards, there’s usually no restriction when combining their usage with other discounts or promotions. And you’ll save even more when you purchase them with a rewards credit card and use a cash back site like Ibotta or Rakuten.
Power tool: Rakuten
When you download the Rakuten browser extension you’ll be notified every time you visit a site eligible for cash back on purchases. Simply click the button to activate it or visit Rakuten’s website and shop from there. Similar cash back services include BeFrugal, Mr. Rebates, and TopCashback.
6. Sign up For Email Newsletters Now
Stores generally release their best deals to their email subscribers first so if there’s a store you know you want to shop on Cyber Monday, sign up early. You’ll probably snag yourself some extra coupons for use during Cyber Week or later in the holiday season.
Power tool: Unroll.Me
Unroll.Me “rolls up” your emails into one daily email sent to you at your preferred time of day. When you sign up, you’ll select newsletters to stay in your inbox or go to your roll-up where you’ll be able to see previews of all your newsletters in one email. When you’re done you can also unsubscribe from newsletters with one-click in the Unroll.Me website.
7. Follow Stores and Brands on Social Media
Brands and stores commonly offer their fans special deals on social media platforms. Brands actually personalize the deals you see on social media based on your demographics, shopping history, and social media activities.
Twitter is great for time-sensitive deals while Facebook and Instagram can get extremely specific when targeting your shopping preferences.
Power tool: Facebook Offers
Visit the pages of your favorite brands and stores on Facebook and check the Offers tab to see if they’ve posted any special discounts for Cyber Monday. These are especially popular with local businesses.
8. Prepare for Checkout Ahead of Time
Make sure you know which credit cards you’re using to make purchases and which checking or savings accounts you’re making payments from. The last thing you want to see when you’re checking out is a declined card message or an overdraft fee on Tuesday morning.
It’s also important to keep monitoring your accounts closely through the holiday season for suspicious activity. In a survey conducted by Experien, 43% of consumers who had their identity stolen in 2017 say it happened while shopping online during the holidays. When quantities are limited, everyone wants checkout to be as easy as possible but you don’t have to compromise security to do it.
Power tool: Token
Token creates a secure payment experience by generating one-time use card numbers every time you shop. You can connect any U.S. bank account or credit card to Token and use the Chrome Extension or app to securely pay for anything anywhere in minutes.
9. Research Shipping and Return Policies
When you’re deciding whether to buy something from one store over another, shipping and return policies could be the deciding factor. You can easily plan your shopping trips so you pay as little in shipping as possible.
Many items on Amazon qualify for free shipping as long as your order exceeds $25 of qualifying items while Walmart offers free 2-day shipping if your order is at least $35 in qualifying items. And if you need to return things from Amazon you can do so for free at any Kohl’s stores.
Power tool: Cyber Monday App
The Cyber Monday app aggregates prices online, in stores, and from other deal sites like Groupon to ensure you get the lowest prices on whatever you’re searching for. When the app compares prices it’ll show you with shipping and tax clearly displayed so there aren’t any surprises at checkout.
The app can also store and automatically enter store logins, find local coupons, and send you alerts when products you’re watching go on sale.
10. Look For Bonus Incentives
Many retailers add incentives like free gift cards or coupons to use online when you purchase certain items or just walk into their store on Black Friday.
Restaurants will often give you a free gift card when you buy multiple gift cards and Target is notorious for offering free $5 and $10 gift cards when you buy three or more of a promoted item. Many stores have rewards programs and offer promotions over the holidays.
Power tool: Dosh
Connect your card of choice to Dosh and whenever you pay with a linked card you’ll get cash back. You can combine Dosh with other cash back sites, promo codes, discounted gift cards, and a rewards credit card in store and online with virtually no extra effort.
11. Use a Rewards Credit Card
Maximize your Cyber Monday savings by using a rewards credit card. There are plenty of reasons to use a credit card when shopping online including increased fraud protection and the opportunity to build credit.
But the most enticing reason to sign up for a new card before your holiday shopping begins is the extra spending puts you closer to reaching the signup bonuses on many rewards credit cards.
Power tool: DoughRoller’s list of best credit cards
We keep our list of the best credit cards with cash back, travel rewards, and low-interest rates updated so you can be sure you’re always paying with the card that’s best for you. If you haven’t updated your credit card lately it’s time to see if you qualify for one with better rewards and a lucrative welcome bonus.