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20 Black Friday and Cyber Monday Shopping Tips

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the most popular shopping events of the year. These holiday shopping tips can help you navigate Black Friday and Cyber Monday safely.

By Michael Grace | American Express Credit Intel Freelance Contributor

8 Min Read | October 28, 2020 in Money



Black Friday starts earlier each year. Being proactive in your shopping strategy and planning ahead can help you find the best deals.

Social media, newsletters, and shopping-based apps can also help you save big on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

You can protect your accounts by shopping on secure, reputable sites, and signing up for credit card fraud alerts.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals seem to come rolling along earlier and earlier each year. You no longer need to wait until the morning after Thanksgiving to start capitalizing on big sales – with the growth of online and mobile shopping, many stores and brands start promoting deals the weekend before Thanksgiving. 


And this holiday shopping weekend is popular as ever: Nearly 190 million Americans shopped between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday in 2019, a 14% increase from 2018.1 To successfully navigate such crowded waters, you’ll want to research and plan ahead. Whether you go to actual stores or do all your holiday shopping online, let these tips serve as your guide for saving money Black Friday and Cyber Monday.


Black Friday Shopping Tips

1. Get Organized – Beyond the Shopping List

Planning ahead is a good tip for life, sure, but it may be extra critical during Black Friday and Cyber Monday given the amount of competition for deals – and parking spaces! More than 89 million people in the U.S. shopped in a store on Black Friday last year.2 


Besides making a list of who to shop for, what to get, and where to go, ask yourself some questions to get organized: Which deal do I want to capitalize on? Where should I start my journey? Is that toy my daughter has been begging for more important than a new TV for my parents or that coat for my wife? What can I order online and what do I need to see in person before purchasing? When does that 40% discount expire? Your answers will help you maximize efficiency, savings, and mileage while minimizing stress. 


2. Do Your Research Beforehand

If you plan to buy a specific item as a present for the holidays, start researching pricing weeks ahead of time. You may find the best deals actually come before or after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, such as on Thanksgiving night. 


3. Study the Discount Details

Many Black Friday promotions are time-sensitive. That big “50% off” sign might have fine print indicating it’s only valid before 8 a.m. And some deals may apply to limited quantities. 


4. Use Websites and Apps

Your smartphone can double as your personal shopping assistant. Some shopping apps let you scan barcodes or QR codes to compare prices in other locations – which can come in handy for price-match guarantees and general savings. Familiarize yourself with websites focused on Black Friday. They collect the ads, doorbusters, and deals from major retailers and tend to help streamline your plans. They also may help you price-shop at other locations while you’re in a particular store. 


5. Don’t Forget Browser Extensions

Are you tired of opening browser window after window to look for promo codes for the items you seek? Let the bots do the work for you. Download a browser extension to scan its vast library of promo and coupon codes to see whether they can save you more money. Just be sure the extension is legitimate and secure. 


6. Let Social Media Help

Follow preferred stores and brands on social media. Subscribe to their newsletters for additional Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts, early access to deals, specific in-store events, and other benefits, such as no time restriction on coupons. Consider creating a separate email account to separate your Black Friday needs from your daily life for added security protection. 


7. Look for Discounted Gift Cards

If you’re planning to shop at big-box stores and other major retailers, or if you desire a specific major brand, searching for a discounted gift card in advance can save you a few bucks. Some gift cards can only be used in-store or online, while others work both ways. Check those details and compare with the shopping habits of the person who will be using the gift card


8. Participate in Loyalty Programs

Retailers cherish their active and engaged customers. Many stores and brands offer specific deals and coupon codes to members of their loyalty and rewards programs, so consider joining before the holiday shopping season begins. 


9. Know How Best to Pay for Your Black Friday or Cyber Monday Purchases

Some tipsters suggest using cash when shopping in stores to help limit your spending, while others recommend using a 0% intro APR credit card on new purchases. You might also look into using rewards or cash back credit cards, which usually give back a percentage of your spending in the form of a statement credit. 


10. Save Those Receipts

My wife recently reminded me about the television she bought for the kids a few years ago on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. That same TV went on sale on Black Friday, so later that weekend, she brought the receipt to the store and received a refund for the difference.


Holiday Shopping Safety Tips

  1. Shop online. Avoid the crowds and long lines by shopping online for the same or similar deals. Keep an eye out for two keywords: “free shipping.”
  2. Go off-hours. If you do go in person, keep in mind that shopping on Black Friday tends to reach its busiest points in mid-afternoon, so shop the off-hours to avoid major crowds.
  3. Valet the car. Stressed about parking? Find out whether your mall offers valet service. Some shopping centers may even offer complimentary valet parking.
  4. Stay centered. I often wear headphones and listen to music when I shop in stores during the holiday season to keep my mind above the fray.



Cyber Monday Tips

Many of the ideas above also apply to Cyber Monday, which grows in popularity and dollars spent every year. Last year, online shoppers spent $9.2 billion on Cyber Monday alone.3 You may find these two Cyber Monday-specific shopping tips helpful:

  1. Create accounts in advance. If you know where you’ll shop on Cyber Monday, establish a login with that business in advance. It will save time, and it will help with the following tip.
  2. Monday starts at midnight. So, too, do some of the best deals. Consider staying up later than normal on Sunday night to reap more savings.


Cyber Monday Security Tips

Highly publicized e-commerce events such as Cyber Monday – and the holiday online shopping season as a whole – bring out more than just coupons and promo codes. Here are some ways to protect your security and credit:

  1. Use reputable retailer sites. Remember that old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.” If a website you never heard of issues a huge savings on a product that you never typically see on sale, think twice before giving up your information.
  2. Sign up for credit card fraud alerts. If your credit card offers email or text alerts every time a purchase is made, this would be a good time to utilize that service. Also be sure to check your credit card statements for fraudulent purchases.
  3. Use strong passwords. Use a mix of letters, numbers, characters, and capitalization. Avoid using the same password for multiple sites. Consider changing the password after you complete your shopping with that company.
  4. Update your browser. Make sure you have the most up-to-date browsers and operating systems on your computers and devices. Vulnerabilities that may have been detected in previous versions may have been patched in the newest ones.


The Takeaway

Making the most of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping deals requires time and effort, whether you shop in stores or online. A proactive and engaged approach using social media, shopping apps, and smartphones can help you save as much money as possible.

Michael Grace

Michael Grace is a personal finance and technology freelance writer based on Long Island, NY.


All Credit Intel content is written by freelance authors and commissioned and paid for by American Express. 

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