Shop smarter this Black Friday and Cyber Monday with these smartphone apps and websites

Marc Saltzman

Special to USA TODAY

Published 6: 00 AM EST Nov 16, 2019

When the season arrives for gift-giving – or even treating yourself to something new – why spend more than you need to?

There will be sales and deals aplenty over Black Friday (Nov. 29) and Cyber Monday (Dec. 2), but your smartphone or tablet may be able to help you out even more.

A handful of shopping apps are designed to sniff out great deals at retail or online by alerting you to a fire sale on something you’ve had your eye on, providing coupons to scan at the store, or giving you cash back on purchases. 

If you are on the hunt for holiday bargains, the following are four fantastic freebies to download at the App Store (for iPhone, iPad) or Google Play (for Android devices).

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Dubbed the largest online deal-sharing community, this popular app (and 20-year-old connection) lets people share the best deals they’ve found on products, services, travel, and more.

Every online or retail deal discussed on Slickdeals’ forums is voted on by the community, and the hottest ones move up to the Popular Deals section (such as 50% off an Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker). The best of the Popular Deals are then screened by the company’s Deal Editors, to see if the deal is good enough to graduate to the app’s coveted Frontpage. There’s also a dedicated Black Friday section.

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If you want to price-watch an item – such as a specific TV model you want once it drops to at least $700 – you can sign up for “deal alerts,” and be notified when and if one posts. 

connection also offers coupons, promo codes, weekly ads, freebies, and a new Chrome browser extension that pushes deals to your desktop.


A stellar app for retail shoppers, Flipp not only aggregates all of those paper store circulars (ads) we get delivered to our door, but also highlights the best deals, too. A special Black Friday section is also available.

To get started, type in your zip code and the app will show you all your local retailers and the sales they’re offering, whether you’re looking for consumer electronics, household or home improvement items, fashion, or groceries. Plus, the app (and site) will find related coupons for you to use for even more savings.

Tap and hold to learn more about a product you’re interested in, or quickly tap to virtually clip it into your shopping list. It’s a “smart” shopping list that also lets you type in a word, like “video doorbell,” and it will show you the best deals nearby.

The app also holds your loyalty cards, so you don’t have to carry all that plastic with you.


It’s one thing to save money while shopping smartly, but what about apps that can help make you money? Rakuten (previously known as Ebates) pays members cash back every time you shop online through participating retailers – and there are many.

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Here’s how it works: Sign up for a free account and launch the app or site when you want to start shopping. Now you can tap on (or select) the logo of a supported store to search for products – such as Amazon, Macy’s, Walmart, eBay and Kohl’s – or type in a keyword in the search bar at the top.

Buy the item at the online store and you’ll start earning cash that can be sent to you via check or deposited into a PayPal account. The percentage you get back varies from retailer to retailer, but Rakuten says you can get up to 40% cash back at more than 2,500 stores.

Similar cash-back apps include Ibotta, Shopkick, and Swagbucks.


While many prefer shopping at a store (or its connection or app), don’t forget about online marketplace apps, too, as you may find a great deal on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Contrary to popular belief, not all goods on eBay are “previously enjoyed” – most are brand new, in fact, says the company – and if you don’t want to bid for something in an auction, most items can be purchased outright.

You can find some amazing deals on the eBay app (and the site, including many exclusive, hard-to-find and out-of-country items, that could be shipped to your door – or a loved one’s residence or place of business

The app is also easy to use and lets you chat with the seller right from within the app. Just make sure you factor in shipping time if you’d like it under the tree this holiday season.

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Research the seller before you buy – you can check their rating and comments – and don’t be afraid to ask questions before you pay.

Local classifieds apps – such as Craigslist, letgo, and Facebook Marketplace – are also a good sources to find a local deal (and not wait or pay for shipping). Be sure to meet the seller in a public place (and maybe bring a friend along) and inspect the items before you hand over the cash to ensure it’s as advertised.

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Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_saltzman. Email him or subscribe to his Tech It Out podcast at

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