Although it’s never been elevated to the status of an official holiday, Black Friday seems to follow the retail trend of holiday spillover in which there is no clear distinction between the various occasions that fall between Halloween and New Year’s Day. Regardless of which holidays you personally observe, you probably recall that there used to be a time when you wouldn’t expect to find jack-o-lanterns alongside Santa Claus, or Christmas displays that appear before November.
While the day after Thanksgiving is still regarded as the start of the traditional holiday shopping season, there are plenty of pre-Black Friday sales and special offers already available to eager bargain hunters.
To help you make the most of this “holiday,” we’re showcasing some of our favorite shopping apps so that you can get more for your money, better mitigate impulse-driven decisions, save time and even leverage your spending into rewards like gift cards, prizes and extra cash!
BFAds’s Black Friday: This is one to download right away as it contains breaking news and leaked ads, as noted by Consumer Reports. The app curates top deals on everything from big box retailers to small local shops, and lists all the major stores in alphabetical order for easy browsing. You can also use it to search for specific products, which you can filter to narrow your results to items below a certain price point. Looking for some gift-giving inspiration along with deep discounts? AppPicker points out that the app has a Hot News (Hot Deals) tab to find the cheapest and most highly sought-after item that will be on sale that day.
Flipp: Newspapers will be stuffed full of coupons and ads on Thanksgiving Day and the days leading up to it, but you can skip the time and mess in sorting through copious papers by downloading this app for a more streamlined and efficient way to access these deals. Well organized and easy to search, Flip consolidates digital versions of the circular ads from local merchants such as Target and Kohl’s to shopping networks like HSN and QVC. Another major plus reported by NerdWallet: Flipp combines local flyer deals with brand coupons to create stackable savings.
Shopkick: We’ve covered this one before, but it’s so fun and easy to use we couldn’t leave it off our list of favorites. This app rewards you for the shopping that you do anyway, and in many cases, you aren’t even required to make a purchase. Use it to earn points called “kicks” that you redeem for a wide variety of digital gift cards for shopping in-store and online. There are six major ways to earn kicks: walking into a store, scanning product barcodes, purchasing items with a linked card, submitting receipts for specific items, making online purchases and referring people to Shopkick. And if you find yourself stuck in a long line, you can also pick up extra points by visiting select online partners and viewing videos and offers.
Ibotta: If you’re a fan of Ebates and its app, but haven’t used Ibotta yet, the holiday shopping season is an excellent time to try it out. This cash-back and coupon app asks you to select offers and complete a few simple tasks before you shop, and then unlock your cash rewards by taking a photo of your receipt. It clearly takes a bit of planning and organization to earn your rewards, but it has a user-friendly interface and over 500,000 participating vendors including restaurants, stores, movies and more. Curious about how it compares to Ebates? The Budget Diet weighs in on the pros and cons of both at http://bit.ly/IBottaVersuseBatesBudgetDiet.
Santa’s Bag: if you’re looking for an app that will keep you on track with all of your holiday shopping and ensure that you stay within your planned spending, consider giving Santa’s Bag (for iOS) a try. It allows you to import contacts, create individual lists and budgets for each person, record gift ideas, track progress and much more. For an overview, check out “Turn Smartphones and Tablets Into Helpful Elves” from The New York Times.
ShopSavvy: Not only does this app provide news on the best deals at numerous popular stores, but it also functions as a powerful price comparison tool. Available for both iOS and Android devices, you can use it to quickly find the lowest price on a specific item by either typing the product name on your phone keyboard or using your phone’s camera as a barcode scanner. As Consumer Reports points out, you can also find cash-back offerings, additional discounts and coupons on this app. In addition, ShopSavvy allows you to create price alerts, wish lists and share deals with friends.
Shopular: Easily customizable and equipped with location-based notifications, this app delivers real-time deals to your smartphone as you walk into a store or shopping center. In addition, it provides weekly circular ads and coupons, allows you to track cash-back rewards and offers a platform through which members can share savings tips with one another. It also sorts special deals and sales according to the retailers that are closest to you. Just a couple of drawbacks noted by Versus Reviews : most of the deals are fashion-focused and some online offers are not valid at local brick and mortar stores. To learn more, find out what The Balance has to say about this app.
Don’t forget about apps from your favorite stores: NerdWallet reminds us that many retailers have their own apps that can save you time and money. Just a few of these include Target’s Cartwheel, Amazon, Macy’s and Walmart. In addition to providing coupons and tips on special offers and sales, some may even include maps to let you know exactly where in a store you can locate Black Friday deals. The personal finance website also cautions consumers to keep an eye out for bogus apps with the sole purpose of collecting your financial information.
For another easy way to maximize Black Friday and holiday spending, be sure to use your SFPCU Platinum Visa to earn rewards for every dollar you spend toward gift cards, brand-name merchandise, travel and more. If you don’t already have one, our SFPCU Platinum Visa also features competitive rates, EMV-chip enabled security and no balance transfer or cash advance fees! You’ll also get peace of mind and 24/7 convenience with secure online access for payments and point redemption. Find details and apply at http://bit.ly/SFPCUPlatinumVisa.