How to tackle Black Friday & winter sales – and earn rewards

Discover 3 ways to get the best deals in the sales, and a bit extra on top.

Forget the bargain price on the tag. Real Black Friday shopping pros get cheeky discounts on top – and make money on their spending, too.

Black Friday 2021 is 26 November but Black Friday discounts are already appearing, so if you want to make the sales work for you, start looking now and use our shopping team’s top 3 Black Friday tips.

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This guide is promoted content brought to you by American Express. The Platinum Cashback Everyday Credit Card offers 5% cashback on new customers’ purchases (up to £100) for the first 3 months of Cardmembership (representative 24.5% APR, variable). Terms apply. Learn more.

1. Find the real deal

Finder research has found that some products can actually increase in price on Black Friday. We tracked 24 products over 12 weeks and found overall there was a drop of 5.7% on the day compared with the run-up, but 4 household appliances we tracked increased slightly.

To sort the real deals from the not-deals, use price-tracking sites such as CamelCamelCamel (which focuses mainly on Amazon) and PriceRunner. You can view the price history of the item you’re interested in, so you can see whether the price really is low… or not. And you can set alerts so you know when a price drops.

Take the latest price drop as a starting point, though – we’ll help you get an even better bargain!

Bear in mind that some retailers offload stock during Black Friday that no-one wanted to buy during the rest of the year – so attack the sales with a list of specific products you want, rather than being tempted by a product that looks like a bargain alternative from a brand you haven’t heard of. What really matters is the amount you’re willing and expecting to pay for an item you’ve set your sights on, and whether or not any deal comes in below this figure.

50% off illustration

2. Get cashback and points on your spending

Between Black Friday, Christmas shopping and the January sales, this time of year can be a good opportunity to make big savings, but it’s also likely to involve spending more than usual. That makes it a prime opportunity to get a little something back for all your hard work tapping card readers.

There are several ways to earn on your spending; the 3 main ones are cashback credit cards, cashback sites and reward points. You may even be able to use 2 of these in combination.

What would earn £100 cashback?

Looking to upgrade your TV before Christmas? Currys recently took £600 off the price of the popular Sony BRAVIA XR75X95JU 75″ Smart 4K Ultra HD HDR LED TV, in its Black Friday & Beyond sale. When we checked on 8 November, it was £2,499, having been £3,099 during September and early October.

Spending over £2,000 would bag you £100 cashback through the Amex welcome bonus on the Platinum Cashback Everyday Card, making this a £700 saving overall.

SONY BRAVIA XR75X95JU 75
SONY BRAVIA XR75X95JU 75" Smart 4K Ultra HD HDR LED TV with Google Assistant

Currys

Cashback cards

Cashback credit cards reward you with credit to your account – money you can spend – rather than reward points. Unlike a retailer’s loyalty card, which typically rewards you when you use it in that specific store, a cashback credit card can earn you returns on all your day-to-day spending (online or in-person). Plus, there are some good welcome bonuses around currently – whether that’s an enhanced earn-rate for an initial period, or a lump sum when you spend over a specified amount. So you could opt to take advantage of the timing, especially as we’re heading into a long period of winter sales.

The key thing with cashback credit cards is to ensure you’ll be able to pay off the balance in full each month – otherwise you’re likely to cancel out any benefits through paying interest. With credit cards, you normally only have to pay interest if you don’t clear your full balance each month. So while you can enjoy the flexibility that a credit card offers, don’t be lured into spending more just because you’ve got a line of credit.

You could opt for a card with no monthly or annual fee such as the American Express® Platinum Cashback Everyday Card (representative 24.5% APR, variable), which is currently offering 5% cashback on new customers’ spending in the first 3 months, up to a maximum of £100 cashback. In your “Cardmembership” year, you get 0.5% cashback on spending up to £10,000, and 1% on spending above that amount. There’s no cap on the amount of cashback you can earn, but you do have to spend at least £3,000 over a year.

You can confirm your eligibility for this or other Amex deals, and find out more about it, using the American Express Eligibility Checker – and this won’t affect your credit rating.

Compare all cashback credit cards – and other card types – in Finder’s credit card comparison table to make sure you get the right type of card to suit your spending habits.

Another way to earn cashback is through your current account. Newcomer bank Chase is offering 1% cashback on everyday spending for a year, for example, and the account is free to set up. Compare accounts in our current account table and guide.

Cashback sites

Popular sites such as TopCashback and Quidco give you money back if you buy a product from a retailer via their site. The amount depends on the retailer but rates are typically 1% up to 5%, though some are higher.

The money is commission paid to the cashback site by the retailer, for sending you through to its online store. The cashback site then shares the commission with you. The system relies on your transaction being tracked, which isn’t 100% reliable.

Store rewards schemes

One of the best known rewards schemes is Nectar’s tie-up with Sainsbury’s, but there are plenty of others. Boots, Tesco and John Lewis all have popular schemes that you can join for free.

Apart from earning reward points that you can use towards purchases, you could get exclusive offers and discounts. In early November, John Lewis was offering an extra £20 off purchases above £200 just for members of its My John Lewis scheme.

Check the site of stores where you like to shop to see if there’s a rewards scheme.

3. Try a discount code

Although some stores don’t let you use a code for sale items, there are plenty that do, so it’s always worth checking. This is true for student discounts as well as other types of discount code.

Finder compiles the best codes available in our discount codes hub, where you can search by brand and by category.

Bottom line

The key to savvy sales shopping is to buy what you planned to get anyway – just cheaper. Make a list of what you really want and can afford to pay off without incurring interest, and stick to it, to really make the sales work for you.

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