10 Tips to Get the Best Black Friday Deals

Black Friday
Jim McKinley / Getty Images

Black Friday is the most competitive selling day of the year and also one of the busiest days to shop. There are so many Black Friday deals, special sales hours, doorbusters galore, that it can overwhelm even the most seasoned shoppers. But for bargain hunters, it is a day of challenge with one major goal driving them — to snag huge discounts on great products before it all sells out. The following insider tips explain how they do it.

1. Check Out the Ads and the Apps:

Your local Thanksgiving Day newspaper will be stuffed like your Thanksgiving turkey, with ads, coupons, and circulars. This will be a major source for local Black Friday savings. It will also help you organize your day to maximize savings since many stores offer special discounts (early bird sales and door busters) that are time specific.

There are now many Android and iOS apps designed to make shopping for the best deals on Black Friday easier. There are apps that will help you find the best place to park at the mall, help you find the best route to stores, alert you when the stores that you to go to have coupons and special deals and help you compare prices while you shop. Here are the top picks for Black Friday apps that we've selected.

2. Do Your Research Before Friday

If you are hoping to scoop up a deal on a big-ticket item during Black Friday sales, go ahead and get your research out of the way as soon as possible.

A bad product is a bad deal no matter how cheap it is and being knowledgeable about the products you want to buy will help you avoid being sucker-punched with loud advertising for poor products.

3. Compare Prices

Utilize price-comparison Internet shopping sites such as PriceGrabber.com to assist you in comparing product prices.

Compare the "options" included with the product. Some retailers will low-ball the advertised price on a stripped down product, and then you will be charged extra for the necessary parts that will make the product perform as expected. A good example of this is often seen with super low-priced computer printers that come without the cable or printer ink.

4. Look for Early Bird Shopper Discounts

It used to be that the early bird shopper would be the real winner on Black Friday, but now stores opening on Thanksgiving day have will advertise door buster prices. There are also midnight madness sales and early bird specials. Check the list of stores for holiday hours, special sales and ad coupons so that you don't miss a good deal. Also, find out which malls in your area are giving out mall gift certificates based on how much you spend. This can add up to significant savings if you do a lot of your shopping at the same center.

5. Plot Out Where You Want to Shop

Knowing when the stores are having the biggest sales and comparing prices on the things that you want to buy will allow you to come up with a strategy on which stores you need to shop first. To help ensure that you do not miss a good deal, prioritize which stores (and when) you do not want to miss going to.

Most malls and shopping centers now have center maps on their websites. By plotting out your plan using center maps, you will know where to park, which entrance to use to get to your top stores, which stores are located close to each other and the best route to take.

6. Beat the Crowds With Night Owl Discounts on Thanksgiving

Internet shoppers can shop online in the predawn hours of Black Friday. Many retailers will be posting  Black Friday specials, which can be ordered online and picked up at your local store. Special "Web only" deals will also be available starting as early as Thanksgiving day. Also, many stores are kicking off the holiday season by opening early on Thanksgiving with doorbuster deals to attract shoppers.

7. Bring the Ads

Many stores offer a "lowest price" guarantee; however, you may be required to produce a copy of the exact product being advertised for less.

Most local retailers will not meet Internet prices even when the product is advertised on the same company's website, but it cannot hurt to try. Print the Web page that details the product and shows the advertised price. It may give you additional bargaining power and push the sales person into waiving other charges such as assembly fees.

You might find that even stores that usually offer guarantees on having the lowest price will not do it on door buster and early bird specials.

8. Know the Store Policies

Knowing the store policies on returns can help you determine where to buy. A previous trend of extending "return days" during the holidays is being seen less this year. Many retailers are including restocking fees and shorter return deadlines. Almost all of the major retail chains have clamped down on requiring receipts for returns and exchanges, and many keep a database of individuals who tend to abuse return policies. If you get onto an "abuse" list, prepare yourself to be turned down.

9. Ask for Gift Receipts:

Gift receipts generally include a description of the item purchased, but do not disclose the price paid. Including gift receipts inside the gift box will make returns or exchanges easier for the gift recipient. Without proof-of-purchase, the recipient may be turned down for returning or exchanging the item or risk receiving an exchange for the current selling price of the item.

10. Saying "Charge It" Can Pay Off

Obviously, there is no bargain in running up high credit card bills and paying big interest rates, however, with proper spending disciplines intact, using the right charge card can be of value to consumers. Many credit card companies entice consumers with free benefits, which include extended free warranties, return protection, and sale price protection.

  • Warranty Coverage: Your credit card company may offer to double or triple a manufacturer's warranty for free on a product you purchase — a good option instead of purchasing a service contract that costs money and has a shorter duration period.
  • Return Protection: A credit card company may guarantee a refund on a product up to 90 days whereas the store may not. This is becoming particularly more important as retailers stiffen the allotted return days.
  • Sale Price Protection: Some of the credit card companies will offer this protection and refund you the difference if a product you buy is marked down further than the price you paid within a certain time frame (usually 60 days).

An enormous amount of advertising, locally and online, can be confusing and nearly paralyzing to the Black Friday bargain hunter. To maximize the benefits of hitting the stores on a day where there are big crowds and a better deal around every corner, developing a plan and doing preliminary research will help ensure that the day is a shopping success.

Have fun saving money while you shop!