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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Chasing the digital camera bargains

If you are reading this, chances are you want to find some really good deals or prices. And so do I! So is there a magic formula for finding a great deal? If there is, what are the ingredients? Let's see...

1) Good timing! Nothing beats being at the right place at the right time. You know, you walk into a store and realize that a $400 camera is on clearance for $200. You go to a website for find the last available unit in a super low price. You can't plan for these, you can't train for these. Certainly shopping around and browsing around increases your chances but there are dozens of stores and hundreds of websites. Luck is a factor!

2) Networking Have a network of online and offline bargain hunter friends, so whenever a great deal comes around, you'll find out before the masses. This increases your chances of actually finding it in stock :)

3) Price-matching This is often forgotten, but you can bring the price down by asking for a price-match since a number of places will actually give you a 105% or 110% price match guarantee.

4) After purchase bargain hunting Some websites or credit card programs offer a 30-day or 60-day price drop guarantee. The bargain hunt does not end when you buy the product in these cases. Keep your eyes and ears open!

5) Bargain hunting forums and sites Fatwallet, eBates, TechBargains, and hundreds more. These are great places, but they are addictive. So beware. Also once something is posted there, it spreads like wildfire, so your chances of finding it in-stock decrease. The idea is to find the bargain before.

6) Make your own bargain! That's right, while nt as lucrative as finding a super deal, you can make your own bargain. Use a combination of coupons, price-matching, store rewards programs, credit card rewards programs, and online rewards programs. Here are some DYI ideas:

  • If you are going to buy a $500 camera from CircuitCity.com, don't go there directly. Go to FatWallet, or Upromise or ShopAMEX or ShopDiscover or Chase Rewards or Citi Bonus Cash or Thank You Networks. You will earn a percentage of the transaction, eg 4% back. That's $20 in this case.
  • Also use a credit card with a rewards program, many cards have a flat 1% on all purchases. AMEX had a 2% promo a few weeks ago. That's another $5 to $10 off.
  • If you have online or print coupons use them!
  • If you are a AAA member, check their website for varioud discounts. They currently have a 10% off Circuit City, so that's another $50 off.
  • Does a store have a free rewards program? That's another 5% in cashback or rewards for some items at Circuit City, so that's another $25 off.
  • Check for pricematching ideas. Does Best Buy sell it for $450? Ask for a price-match! An extra discount right there!

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