9 Ways to Make the Most of Your Cyber Monday

Money, Technology, Tips & how-to

The days after Thanksgiving mark the unofficial start of Christmas shopping. Last year, consumers spent over $59 billion on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving), and an additional $1.5 billion on Cyber Monday. If you’re planning on surfing this Monday, follow these 9 tips to prepare in advance, stay safe, and find the best deals.

Prepare for Success

There are some things you can do before the start of Cyber Monday to help your shopping go more smoothly.

1. Make a list of specific things you want to buy as well as the sites you’re most likely to find them on. Visit retailers’ individual sites, or check out the site Cyber Monday, where you can peruse deals from more than 800 online retailers.

2. Sign up, like, and follow! Many retailers share exclusive deals and codes for customers who sign up for newsletters, friend them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter. Do this for any store you might be interested in shopping at; you can always unsubscribe, unlike, and unfollow later.

3. Go ahead and register. Many sites let you check out as a guest, but others make you sign up for an account before you can check out. If that’s the case, registering for an account in advance will save you time on the day.

Keep Safe on Cyber Monday

It’s no surprise that hackers and scammers love Cyber Monday, when both retailers and shoppers are vulnerable to attacks. Don’t be a victim; take steps to safeguard your identity and your wallet whether you’re shopping on your smartphone or your computer.

4. Update everything first. Updating the programs and apps on your computer and phone is one of the easiest things you can do to help protect yourself, since many updates improve security. Manually check for updates, and make sure that you update your browsers to the latest versions, too. If you don’t have an anti-virus program on your computer or phone, install one.

5. Don’t fall for it. Ignore pop-up ads that appear while you’re shopping; they often come from third-party sites and may be sketchy. If you’re shopping from your phone, double check that the apps you have are legitimate, as sometimes scammers sell fraudulent apps that capture your information.

6. Shop with a credit card, not a debit card. Credit cards offer protections that debit cards don’t, so skip the debit card when you shop. And before you put in your number, check that the URL starts with https, rather than http, since the “s” means the page is secure and encrypted.

7. Use common sense when you’re online. Don’t click on links from suspicious emails. Don’t shop on a public computer; use your home computer with a password-protected network. Don’t share too much personal information – name, credit card number, and billing address are okay to give, but date of birth and social security are not.

Get the Best Deal!

Finally, the fun part. Getting great deals is the whole point of shopping on Cyber Monday in the first place.

8. Compare prices and find deals. Sites like Shopzilla, NexTag, PriceGrabber let you compare prices across stores on items you’re looking for. For promo codes and coupons, check out sites like RetailMeNot, Coupons.com, and the Cyber Monday page of SlickDeals

9. Think about the total cost. Consider more than just the price in your shopping cart. How much will your total be when you take into account shipping? Do you get free shipping if you buy only a certain dollar amount? Does it make sense to have items gift wrapped (for a fee) and shipped (for a fee) to the ultimate recipient, or is it cheaper to have it shipped to you instead? It might make more sense to skip what looks like a great deal to save more money in the end.

With a little planning ahead, Cyber Monday can be safe and fun. Do it right, and you’ll be done with all your holiday shopping by Tuesday.