Score the best deal on your holiday gifts

October 24, 2011 3:00:46 PM PDT
Electronics are expected to be some of the hottest gifts this holiday season. But do you know how to score a bargain? We have the ins and outs of getting a great deal.

To get the best deal on electronics, don't just take the first price you see. Andrea Colao saved $150 on a sound system for her TV.

"There's such a variety of price points, you want to get the best deal possible," Colao said.

Consumer Reports' Tod Marks says great deals are right at your fingertips.

"There are free apps you can download to your smartphone to do price comparisons. They can let you know which store has the item you want at the lowest price," Marks said.

Two worthwhile apps are PriceGrabber and SnapTell. They let you type in the product's name or scan barcodes to find the best price.

And there are other ways to save.

"We asked about 23,000 of our readers to tell us about their electronics-buying experiences. got top marks for prices," Marks said.

National electronic chains like Radio Shack and Best Buy rated no better than average for price in the survey.

"No matter where you shop, it always pays to bargain. Find the lowest price you possibly can, then go to the store and ask the manager if they can meet or beat that price," Marks said.

The survey found that people who tried bargaining were successful two out of three times. With TVs, the median savings was more than $100. And even online shoppers can bargain.

"Bargaining online may seem counterintuitive, but you can really score some good deals. The first thing to do is to get a live customer-service representative," Marks said.

Sites like and can help you find those customer service numbers you'll need.

And wherever you're negotiating for a better deal, it pays to be polite.

Consumer Reports says another way to negotiate for a lower price is to offer to pay in cash. That way, businesses don't have to pay credit card fees.

You should always try to get a better price, but avoid asking for a better deal with a lot of people standing nearby. The store manager is not likely to say "yes" in front of a crowd.

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