SAN ANTONIO – For the first time ever, the most popular holiday shopping destination will be the internet, according to a survey for the National Retail Federation. Some simple strategies and tools can help the find the best digital deals.
The free browser extension called InvisibleHand tracks prices at 11,000 online stores with collecting any personal information and can let shoppers know if an item they're looking at is cheaper somewhere else.
Another free browser extension, Honey, sweetens discounts at checkout automatically.
"As long as you're shopping at one of the participating stores, Honey goes out and finds discount codes for you and enters them automatically when you check out," said Nikheel Hutheesing, Consumer Reports money editor.
Honey collects data but does not sell it.
You can also save money by playing hard to get. If you put items in your online cart, but don't complete the transaction, you may receive an email in a day or so offering a discount to complete the purchase.
"Sometimes you can even get a better price just by asking," said Hutheesing. "If there is a live chat option, you can tell the representative how much you like the product but you think it's a little pricey. Ask if there are any promotions or discounts."
Sites like Raise and Cardcash let you create your own discount. You can buy unused gift cards below face value and use them to buy gifts.
As for whether Black Friday or Cyber Monday is better for deals, Consumer Reports compared prices for several popular gifts like televisions, fitness trackers and smartwatches and found all were cheaper on Cyber Monday. Laptops, however, were cheaper on Black Friday.