(ARA) – In this tech-savvy age, electronics are on the top of most holiday wish lists. Last year, the Consumer Electronics Association reported that 80 percent of Americans intended to purchase technology as a holiday gift. With new products appearing daily – from smart phones to 3D televisions – this percentage will likely increase this season. Before swiping that credit card or clicking that mouse, consider these tips to get the most value when purchasing your gifts.
Online or in-store, always get the best price
Savvy shoppers know to do their window shopping online, using the power of the Internet to find the best values. By browsing online, you get an idea of current prices and deals at a variety of retailers without the hassle of driving from store to store. You can even get great deals and exclusive offers sent to you by signing up for retailer e-mails and becoming a fan of brands on Facebook.
If you decide to buy online, often you can find additional value by taking advantage of free shipping, instant discounts and complimentary gift wrapping. Check out websites like RetailMeNot.com for coupon and discount codes for hundreds of retailers. Also, you can save time and money by having gifts shipped directly to recipients, eliminating lengthy shipping lines.
However, if you prefer to touch and feel a product before you buy, consider this often overlooked fact about getting the best price: many brick-and-mortar retailers will price-match a deal you found online. For example, some electronics stores will match their own online prices, and some stores will price-match items from other retailers. Be sure to use your knowledge of prices from the Web to snag the best value.
Maximize rewards and incentives
If you have a credit card with rewards, you may be able to redeem them for gift cards or other must-have items. Notable is Discover card‘s redemption program, which actually allows customers to redeem their rewards – known as Cashback Bonus – for more than face value by selecting gift cards from hundreds of retailer partners. For instance, you could redeem $20 in Discover’s CashBack Bonus for a $25 Sears gift card.
Some stores provide free gift cards for purchases that exceed a certain amount, which are to be used toward a future purchase after the holidays. These smaller value gift cards are great for stocking-stuffers or as gifts for service providers like your mail carrier or hair stylist.
Accessories are essential
Most tech toys are ready to use straight from the box, but the right accessories can make all the difference. When you buy a tech item to give as a gift, accessories can ensure instant usability and enjoyment. They make great stocking stuffers and can make you the hero of the holidays. Here are a few popular suggestions:
* Mp3 player – downloadable music gift card; portable speakers; protective case.
* Digital camera – extra memory card; back-up battery; travel tripod.
* Laptop – wireless mouse; portable flash drive; carrying case.
* Gaming system – extra batteries; strategy guides; storage case.
Protect your purchase with a warranty
There’s nothing more frustrating than making a purchase, especially a gift, and needing to repair or replace it within the first year. In fact, more than 20 percent of electronics fail within three to four years of purchase which is why buying a warranty can be a smart idea. However, not all warranties are created equal; doing a little research before signing the paperwork can make a big difference.
An extended warranty may make the most sense, but many offered at the point-of-sale can be expensive and give you little time to carefully consider what makes the most sense. Recently, Discover card recognized a need to provide cardmembers with an alternative. Using their Discover card, cardmembers can buy a SquareTrade warranty up to 90 days after making the purchase. And, the warranty company claims to maintain a price point that is up to 70 percent less than other warranties, making it a great deal, in a no-pressure situation.
Armed with this information, you should be well-prepared to navigate the aisles, find the best values and ensure years of enjoyment from your electronic gifts.