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Is this a good deal? 3 questions to ask before buying Black Friday deals

Nov. 24, 2021
5 min read
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Whether you plan to brave the crowds on Black Friday (or even on Thanksgiving Day) or prefer to shop online, stores are eager for your business.

But you’re a savvy shopper, which means you're prepared to hunt for truly excellent deals and avoid bad (or even just mediocre) ones.

That’s the fun part, though — using your smarts to discern what’s a good bargain and what can stay on the shelf. Aside from Cyber Monday, Black Friday is one of my favorite dates on the calendar, as I’ve been able to score some serious deals on products over the years.

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As you hit the stores (or web), here are three essential questions to ask yourself before buying that Black Friday deal.

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Is it really a deal?

(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s an important question to ask yourself. Is the deal on that new television or smartwatch actually good?

Stores use all kinds of crafty methods (think: bright colors, flashy words, creative messaging) to make shoppers think they’re getting a deal. In fact, there are tons of studies on the topic. It’s up to you to do your research to see whether it’s a real deal or a marketing tactic.

There are several ways to find out if you’re getting a good deal. First, you’ll want to check the price of an item at several stores, not just one. Then, you should check whether that item has been on sale recently — if so, it’s an indication that it may go on sale again shortly.

Personally, I use the Google Shopping portal to see if I’m getting a good deal on a product.

For instance, Walmart is advertising a Black Friday sale on a Samsung Chromebook for just $129. Before hitting purchase, I typed the full product name in the Google search bar to find out whether or not I was maximizing my savings with this deal. The results showed me other outlets selling the laptop and confirmed that Walmart’s listed price was actually the lowest Google has seen in the past 30 days.

Simple searches like that can potentially save you hundreds on your Black Friday haul.

Do you have a credit card offer?

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael for The Points Guy)

You’ll likely use your credit card a lot during Black Friday, so why not earn bonus points or cash-back statement credits for your purchases?

If you’re an American Express card holder, you can take advantage of Amex Offers. These special offers are available for both cobranded cards like Delta’s SkyMiles cards and cards that earn Membership Rewards points, such as the American Express® Gold Card.

There are slightly different terms for every Amex Offer, so check the details of each promotion. Some earn Membership Rewards points, while others earn cash back. If I know I’m going to be spending a significant amount of money, I tend to gravitate more toward the cash-back offers. Sometimes, you can find massive savings (upwards of $300), so your Amex Offers portal should definitely be the first place to check.

Amex Offers generally require a minimum spending amount to be eligible. They can be for a single purchase or cumulative spending. Make sure you read the terms and conditions for the offers, especially for purchases that are only eligible online or in stores. You don't want to miss out because of a technicality.

Chase also offers statement credit opportunities when you use your eligible credit card to make a purchase. These offers aren’t necessarily as lucrative as Amex Offers — I generally skip them and sometimes forget they even exist — but you can occasionally find good deals. Note that, unlike Amex Offers, you only earn cash back on Chase Offers — not Ultimate Rewards points.

The best part of Amex and Chase offers is that you can combine them with any other coupon or bonus from an online shopping portal, allowing you to double or even triple your savings. Just make sure you’re using a credit card with price protection.

Do you really like it?

I know this is a more subjective question, but it’s a valid one to ask yourself.

People can be motivated to buy items for many reasons: fear of missing out, excellent marketing or simply because they can. But ask yourself this: Would you buy the item if it weren’t on sale? If the answer is no, it’s probably a purchase you can avoid making entirely.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • Annual Fee

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases