10 tips to get best price online

Warning: Online prices can change without notice multiple times throughout the day. Here's how to be sure you're getting the best possible price.

By Stacy Johnson Nov 26, 2012 11:23AM

This post comes from Renee Morad at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News logoWhen you're shopping online, prices on everything from toilet paper to TVs could fluctuate several times a day. Dynamic pricing, a strategy that the travel industry has been using for years, is now being used online for many consumer goods. According to a September article in The Wall Street Journal:

"Last month, retailers on Amazon.com changed prices on a Samsung 43-inch plasma television four times over the course of a day, between $398 and $424, according to price-tracking site Decide.com. Around midday, Best Buy boosted the price to $500 from $400 before dropping it back down, while electronics retailer Newegg in the morning raised its price to $600 from $500."

While dynamic pricing makes online shopping more complicated, there's a silver lining: By following a few simple steps, it's easy to land rock-bottom prices.
1. Use price-tracking apps.

An app like Price Tracker, available for both iPhone and Android, can help you stay on top of Amazon.com price changes. The Price Tracker Platinum app for Android provides price tracking for Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, Target and eBay. The Decide app, available for iPhone, also monitors prices and determines whether now is the right time to buy a particular product.


2. Use price-tracking sites.

Check out CamelCamelCamel.com to receive Amazon price drop alerts, price history charts and price watches. Also follow the site on Twitter to stay informed about additional sales and promotions. Decide.com is another useful site that tracks products, particularly electronics, and determines whether to buy now or wait.


Image: Couple Making Online Purchase © Fuse, Getty Images3. Comparison-shop.

It's easy to compare prices by visiting multiple sites. But to save time, a variety of price-comparing sites can help you find the lowest prices in one place. Try PriceGrabber.com, Pricewatch.com and Shopping.com.


4. If you see a product's price drop after a purchase, take a screen shot.

If you purchase an item online and later find a lower price for the same item from the same retailer, take a screen shot of the price. While there are no guarantees, if you email the screenshot to the retailer, you might be able to get a refund for the difference.


5. Clear your cookies before shopping.

Sometimes retailers lure new online shoppers in with lower prices. Trick a retailer into thinking you're a new shopper by clearing your cookies before your next visit. Websites use cookies to track your visits, spending habits and past purchases -- and sites may offer you higher or lower prices based on them.


6. Try the abandoned cart strategy.

If you fill up your shopping cart on a retailer's site but don't buy anything, you may receive a reminder, discount or other incentive as a follow-up.


Here's how it works: Shop the site and add anything you want to your cart. Proceed to checkout and fill out enough of the form to enter your email address. But don't complete the sale. Wait a day or two, and see if you get a special deal or discount in your email inbox.


7. Check the site's settings.

According to a KABC-TV article, if you're shopping for products on Dell's website, there's a way to save hundreds of dollars at checkout. It begins by choosing the correct setting up top; Dell provides various shopping options, such as "For Home," "For Small and Medium Business," "For Education, Government, and Healthcare" and so on. For a 65-inch Mitsubishi Home Cinema TV, the cost for teachers was $1,499, but the same product cost only $999 if "For Home" or "Small and Medium Business" was selected, the article says.


Takeaway: Try several settings before making a purchase, to be sure you're getting the best price.


8. Check all options on a retailer's site.

On Amazon.com, be sure to scroll down to see similar products at cheaper prices; the featured or sponsored products up top can cost more. This applies to other sites as well, like Etsy.com. Some sites list product search results by price (from high to low and vice versa), most popular and so on, so be sure to adjust the way the results are presented and view all available options.


9. Search for promotional codes.

In addition to finding the lowest available price online, you should look for coupon codes. Simply do a search for the name of the product plus "coupon code," and see what comes up. Check out RetailMeNot.com for coupon codes, printable coupons, grocery coupons and free shipping offers, and also visit CouponCodes.com and Coupons.com.


10. Look for shipping discounts.

Never pay full price on shipping unless you absolutely have to. You might come across free or discounted shipping offers during your search for coupon codes. Also check out FreeShipping.org.


More on Money Talks News and MSN Money:


Jan 30, 2013 10:12AM
Another good site for tracking prices and setting email alerts for stuff on Amazon is itsbuytime.com I've already saved quite a bit of money from price alerts I set there.
Dec 9, 2012 5:27AM
camelcamelcamel.com is a great place to start for those whom don't use apps.
Nov 27, 2012 12:59PM
Or just use The Upgrade Place and get the best price and SERVICE to begin with--no gimmicks.  30 years of longevity too for tech upgrades, most w/Lifetime Warranties.  Best in the biz.
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