Spending

Black Friday sales are a good start — here's how to layer on discounts to make them even better

Twenty/20

If you're only focused on Black Friday sales, odds are good you're not getting the best prices. By stacking on other deals — such as cash-back portals, credit card rewards, and bonus coupons — you can often do much better.

"These are kind of invisible ways to up the amount of savings," says Edgar Dworsky, founder of ConsumerWorld.org. Even on a big shopping day like Black Friday, you can typically layer at least one other kind of discount, he says.

For example, Macy's has a Polo Ralph Lauren girl's sweater marked down from $45 to $33.75 (25% off) for Black Friday. Add a store Black Friday ad code for $10 off a $25 purchase, pay with a discounted gift card, and visit a cash-back site, and you can knock a bit more than $12.50 off the sale price, bringing your total discount to roughly 53%.

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Here are some of the extra discount layers to consider to amp up your Black Friday deal.

1. Discounted gift cards

Gift card marketplaces like Raise and Gift Card Granny offer popular retailers' gift cards for less than face value, says Trae Bodge, the smart shopping expert behind TrueTrae.com. "You can automatically save on top of any other store deal that may be happening," she says.

Another avenue: Check to see if your employer has a corporate discount portal, which may offer similar deals. Via employee engagement site Reward Gateway, for example, workers at partner companies can save 10% on gift cards from Gap cards and 8% on those from Sephora, among other deals.

Many sites offer digital delivery, meaning you could feasibly buy a card while waiting in the checkout line and pay with it minutes later, Bodge says.

These are kind of invisible ways to up the amount of savings.
Edgar Dworsky
Founder of ConsumerWorld.org

2. Cash-back portals

Sites and apps like Rakuten (formerly Ebates), Ibotta, and BeFrugal let users earn cash back for online with participating retailers, Dworsky says. To claim the cash, all you need to do is visit the deal site or app and link through to a favorite retailer before making a purchase. For example, ahead of Thanksgiving, BeFrugal users could earn up to 7% cash back on Walmart purchases, depending on the category.

"Using one of the rebate services if you're buying online," Dworsky says. "Why shouldn't you get an extra 2, 3, 5, 10, or 15% back?"

Some sites also offer cash back for select in-store purchases, if you register an existing credit card and use that to shop. At Rakuten, users can currently earn 3% on in-store purchases with Bed, Bath & Beyond.

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3. Store and manufacturer coupons

Keep an eye out for extra coupons in the store's print Black Friday ads, its app, or sale emails, Bodge says. If you haven't already, sign up for your favorite retailers' sale emails and loyalty programs. "You might be privy to special discounts, exclusive discounts," she says.

Kohl's, for example, has an online and in store coupon for an extra 15% off purchases through Black Friday. Macy's has two deals on select items: $10 off a purchase of $25 or more, and $20 off a purchase of $50 or more. And in Target's app, users can add discounts like 10% off holiday gift wrap and 35% off LeapFrog LeapStart Books, to be automatically applied at in-store checkout.

Just be sure to review the fine print for exclusions and other terms, Bodge says. While many of these deals can be stacked with Black Friday sales, you usually can't use them on door-busters.

4. Credit card rewards and perks

Before you buy, check to see which of your credit cards offer you the highest return in the form of discounts, cash back, or other perks.

Some of the best cash back cards have a base reward of 1%-2% back, and others offer bonus rewards of up to 6% back in different categories.

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Store cards like those from Amazon offer 5% back to Prime members, while Target gives cardholders a 5% discount at checkout. Retailers may also offer extra coupons for cardholders: Banana Republic awards cardholders an extra 10% off, on top of its half-price Black Friday deal.

If you're making a significant Black Friday purchase, it might also be worthwhile to open a store card. In addition to the regular rewards, new cardholders often get an extra sign-up discount.

"It doesn't make sense to save 10% on a pair of jeans, but if you can save 10% on a refrigerator, or your holiday shopping, that initial sign-up bonus could be worth it for those more sizable purchases," Ted Rossman, industry analyst at Creditcards.com, told Grow earlier this year.

5. Redeem rewards

Don't forget about any earned rewards from a store loyalty program. In its ad, Kohls points out that shoppers can use Kohls Cash earned on previous purchases and rewards from its Yes2You program on Black Friday — even on doorbusters.

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