Ways to ensure you get a great bargain

Let modern technology lead you to the goods you want at the best possible price
Let modern technology lead you to the goods you want at the best possible price

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Anyone with tight finances – and that includes most of us – simply loves to bag a bargain.

While clipping coupons and cashing in on the loyalty cards are still a great way to cut costs, internet users have even more opportunities to make substantial savings.

Everyone knows that buying over the internet is frequently cheaper than traipsing around traditional retail stores. And price comparison sites make tracking down the lowest price an armchair doddle.

These familiar options are for novices though, and savvy internet shoppers should be aware how to explore the less obvious retail promotions to help them bag the bargains.

COMPARE HIGH STREET PRICES

Getting easier by the day, smartphone owners can quickly download the Google Shopper application to their iOS or Android phones and search for the top deals in nearby stores by scanning barcodes on books, DVDs and packaging. Go straight to the store with the cheapest offers and even use your smartcard phone to pay.

PRICE MATCH PROMISES

Sometimes buying offline doesn’t mean putting up with sky high prices. Check out the price promise deals from such top shop stalwarts as John Lewis, Currrys, Carphone Warehouse, and scores of other stores that promise to match any competitor’s price.

CODED OFFERS

Never visit an online site without first checking if there is a discount code for your purchase. The codes are entered at the checkout stage and can dramatically reduce the cost of your order. To find them, do a quick Google search or check them out at sites like Money Saving Expert or Quidco. Sign up to either of these sites and you’ll automatically receive a weekly update.

VOUCHERS

If all that newspaper and magazine discount promotional code clipping has left you with withdrawal symptoms, head off to online voucher sites and print your own. It couldn’t be easier.

Sign up, pop in your postcode and a bewildering array of local and national offers are yours for the taking. Everything from restaurant meals to top retail store offers are up for grabs. Just click on the offer and print off your voucher.

Top sites to sample are vouchercodes.com, hot deals.co.uk, living social.com, vouchercloud.com, latestdiscountvouchers.co, and pouringpounds.com.

CLEARANCE AUCTIONS

Looking for electricals at bargain prices? Before unleashing the credit card try the Comet and Argos auction sites. Both retailers routinely auction off goods online that they can’t shift in store as new.

These include fully guaranteed unboxed returns, stock priced to clear, or new stock with slight cosmetic damage. Comet runs its own auction site, and Argos uses its Ebay store.

BAG A BARGAIN REFURB

Refurbished stock is either returned and repackaged unwanted items, or faulty goods that have been repaired and resold at a reduced price. They come with the usual manufacturer’s full warranty.

Dell, PC World and Apple all offer refurbished stock discounted by up to 30 per cent. Click on the ‘refurbished’ link in each product category home page for really great offers.

DON’T IGNORE PRE-USED

Some online retailers have super bargains tucked away in their nearly new shops. Don’t scour the small ads, just go to the home site and look for the ‘more shopping options’ link.

DAILY DEALS

Daily deal sites have taken a bit of a knock recently, but with a little judicious searching about their reputation and unfavourable terms, there are still top-flight bargains to be had.

Market leader Groupon is probably the best-known, but a Google search for ‘daily bargain deals’ will throw up many others, including Grabitnow and Slickdeals.

BUY FROM ABROAD

Exploit manufacturer’s national pricing policies by buying cheaper from abroad. Major savings can be made buying goods from Amazon’s American site, but watch out for hidden snags like customs duty and VAT that’ll take the shine off your bargain buy. Some US retailers won’t ship to the UK, but that’s no problem as forwarding agents like Bundlebox will do all the work for you –at a price.

If you buy a faulty product you have the same rights to a refund or replacement as here.

GET TOP SAVINGS TIPS

Sign up to Money Saving Expert (moneysavingexpert.com) and get a weekly digest of the very latest in bargain offers.