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Five tips for getting the best price online

Stacey Vanek Smith Dec 19, 2012
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How to navigate the brave new -- and complicated -- world of dynamic pricing.
LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

Looking for the best price for your holiday gifts? Here are five tips to guide you through the new world of dynamic pricing:

  1. Shop around. I know, I know. That sounds obvious. But it can save you a LOT of money. Check the price at different times of the day and check different sites. Tip: Prices tend to fluctuate more on weekdays and during working hours (because we’re all shopping online when we’re supposed to be working). So, at these times you often can get the best deals, but you have to be careful, because prices can swing up sharply. Heavy shopping seasons, like December and back-to-school season, also see more price movement.
  2. Use a price tracking site like camelcamelcamel.com (for items on Amazon.com), Shop It To Me (for designer goods), PricePinx or Decide.com.  You can look at the history of the product’s price and get an alert sent to your phone or email when the price drops. For plane tickets, Yapta or Airfare Watchdog can help.
  3. If you’re interested in an item, put it in your online “basket” or on your wish list. Then close the page. You may get a coupon for that item emailed to you or see a price drop when you go back on the site. If the company knows you’re interested, it might make you a deal!
  4. Try a different computer. If a website thinks you’re a new customer, it will often offer you a deal. So if there’s a site you love and use all the time, shop from a different computer and you may get some good deals.
  5. If you want to see items in an actual store (remember those?) bring your smartphone, or a friend who has a smartphone. Many retailers, including Best Buy, will match an online price in the store.  Good apps for price comparison are RedLaser, Decide.com, Google Shopper and Amazon’s Price Check.

Learn more about dynamic pricing in online shopping here, and track the price changes for the gifts on your list with our Holiday Shopping Price Tracker here.

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