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How does the Honey extension work?

Our take on whether the popular browser extension is worth the hype.

Updated

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Honey is a free browser extension that helps you save by price-matching items in your online cart before you buy and applying available coupon codes to your order automatically. A newly purchased subsidiary of Pay Pal as of January 2020, it’s come under fire from Amazon — a natural response for a direct competitor. But it might save you money, depending on where you shop.

How Honey works

Honey is an extension available for most web browsers, including Chrome, Firefox and Safari. You don’t have to shop online any differently to use it. Rather, when you’re ready to check out, the extension scans the items in your shopping cart and searches similar retailers and code aggregators for coupons that might apply to your order. You can tell the extension to search automatically with each checkout or wait until you click the Honey button in your browser.

It can also help you save by flagging items that are cheaper elsewhere — for instance, at Amazon. And with its Droplist price tracker, you can tag in specific items and online retailers for notification as soon as there’s a price drop.

Honey also supports a free mobile app, but the app mainly focuses on price tracking, and not scanning the Internet for promo codes and coupons.

User privacy when using Honey

Honey’s transparent privacy policy states it does not sell the personal details of its customers. The extension doesn’t track your search engine history, emails or browsing history on sites that aren’t preapproved retail sites. (It doesn’t define what it means by “preapproved,” however.)

It collects information while you’re on these retail sites to find promo codes and coupons that apply to your shopping cart and pricing information that can help you save money on items you’re already buying.

Does Honey track your personal data?

Yes. Though it claims to keep your data only as long as you’re using its services, it monitors the online sites you shop at and collects information to match potential coupons and codes to what you’re buying. It doesn’t store your credit card number or email address in its system, but the details it collects in your shopping session to save you money may be enough to identify you as part of a specific target audience.

Honey’s privacy policy discloses it uses cookies to collect data, analyze use and customize your experience. And it stresses that it doesn’t track your email or search engine history, halting the collection of your information as soon as you close your browser.

It goes on to specify that it uses “session cookies” while your browser is open, which disappear from Honey once you close it. “Persistent cookies” — such as those that prevent you from having to sign in each time you want to use Honey — stay on your computer until you delete them.

Is Honey secure?

Yes — at least, as secure as similar browser extensions. Honey’s site asserts that its security team relies on safeguards that limit access, encrypt your details and rely on malware detection tools to test the extension for security gaps.

Still, anytime you download an extension or an app, be sure it’s from a reliable source and from an official web store. Up-to-date virus protection on your computer or device is also a good idea.

Why did Amazon claim Honey is a security risk?

Because they’re competitors. Shortly after PayPal acquired Honey, Amazon created a security warning to display if the site detects the Honey extension. It’s an interesting warning, because it goes on to describe how just about any browser works, rounding it out with a plug for Amazon’s own deals and coupons.

Honey contends that users are told how the extension works — that their personal shopping data is collected but never sold or handed over to third parties.

Honey vs. Amazon Assistant

Amazon Assistant works similarly to Honey, though — naturally — with an emphasis on Amazon products. As you shop on other sites, Amazon Assistant shows you product offers, reviews and ratings from its own site. A 30-day price tracker tool also keeps tabs on specific items to flag if they go on sale within the next month.

By comparison, Honey offers a broader range of services, including matching prices and hunting for coupons. But if you’re a diehard Amazon shopper, Amazon Assistant could be worth your while.

What Honey users say

Online reviews for Honey are overwhelmingly positive. Most users say they’ve saved money and time with the extension. A handful of users complain that Honey either found no coupons for specific items or coupons that were expired or otherwise invalid.

Honey alternatives

If you don’t want an extension like Honey tracking your personal shopping habits, rely on a coupon site like Finder to hunt down verified coupon codes yourself. You’ll still save money but without the worry of potential security or privacy risks.

Head to Coupon Code Finder to browse top deals and read more about the hard work that goes into making sure that, unlike other coupon sites, you don’t waste time on invalid or expired codes.

Bottom line

Honey can streamline savings on your online shopping by digitally reaching out to retailers and coupon sites for promo codes that apply to your checkout cart, suggesting better prices along the way. Still, it’s a browser extension — which means you’re accepting limited tracking of your spending habits and personal data.

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