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How to Make Sure a Deal Is Really a Deal

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The Prime Day banner inspected under a magnifying glass.

While a deal or discount may look great at first glance, you can probably get an even better one. Whether it’s Prime Day or a regular old Tuesday, a quick deal-check can save you some cash.

Deal-checking is a relatively straightforward (albeit, tedious) process. In essence, you’re just checking that a deal is really a deal. Retailers are super-competitive and crafty. They like to get people hyped up for “deal days” (like Prime Day or Black Friday) and capitalize on that energy by offering mild discounts, rather than great deals. Sometimes, the best deals don’t even happen on those “deal days,” they just pop up a few times a year. So, how do you make sure you’re getting the best deal possible?

Check Other Retailers’ Websites

Online retailers are viciously competitive. When there’s a good discount on one website, another always tries to match it. Target and eBay are even hosting their own “deal days” on Amazon Prime Day this year.

Before jumping on a potential deal, take a minute to see if other retailers are offering a better price. We like to use the search function on Slickdeals, a website that aggregates and organizes deals across the web.

But, if you aren’t having any luck with Slickdeals, you can make a manual price comparison. Check whether major retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, and Target have better discounts, or search a bit deeper with websites like Woot, Rakuten, and Groupon.

Check the Product’s Price History

It’s important to understand that, even if you can’t find a better price for a product that’s on sale right now, it may hit an even lower price in the future. Sale prices fluctuate over time, and popular products (especially smarthome products) routinely jump between sale prices from week to week.

So, before buying that “discounted” smart toaster, you should look up its price history. The most popular price tracking website is camelcamelcamel. It creates price history graphs for every product on Amazon in real-time, so you can quickly check if a discount is a good deal. Yes, Amazon isn’t the only store in the world, but it routinely matches the discounts of its competitors, so it’s a good reference point for the market as a whole.

A camelcamelcamel price chart for the Amazon Echo Dot.

You can also check a product’s discount history on Slickdeals. Just search for the product, and you’ll see how much it’s sold for in the past.

If you want to take things a step further, you can set up camelcamelcamel and Slickdeals to alert you for deals and discounts on select products. You can even import your Amazon Wishlists into camelcamelcamel, so you never miss a deal.

Use a Browser Extension for Easy Deal-Checking and Coupons

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