Black Friday – How To Be Sure You’re Saving

Sometimes Black Friday deals aren't always as good as they first seem. Luckily we've compiled some useful tips to keep you shopping safely and smartly.

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(Image credit: Getty Images)

Since starting in the US, Black Friday has rapidly grown to be one of the biggest days in the shopping calendar in the UK, too. According to Finder, 51% of the UK plans to spend money during the Black Friday sales, with a predicted £3 billion to be spent.

The National Cyber Security Centre analysed that shoppers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland were scammed out of £15.3m between November 2021 and January 2022, and average losses rise yearly. 

So you may ask yourself, how do you avoid being ripped off and pick up some bargains? Don’t worry; this guide has been put together, so there are no tears this Black Friday, just cheers.

How to Avoid Being Scammed on Black Friday

1. Pay with PayPal, Klarna or a Credit Card

If there’s a site you’re not 100% sold on, there are ways to mitigate the risks. Paying by PayPal or a credit card can be an easy way to protect yourself. PayPal offers comprehensive buyer protection and heavily favours buyers in any disputes, and Klarna will pause your payment and investigate purchases you believe to be fraud. With a credit card, you can take advantage of a chargeback and get your money back from your bank. This isn’t solid advice just for Black Friday; this is something for all year round.

2. Be Careful with Unrecognised Retailers

Sometimes, you’ll find incredible deals at retailers you don’t recognise and you’ve never heard of before. Everything can look right and seems to check out, but you’d like just that little extra reassurance. Check Companies House for any retailers you don’t recognise just to see they’re a registered company with everything in order. Whilst this isn’t a guarantee of their service, it does show that they’re a bit more legitimate.

3. Check Your Emails

In the run-up to and on the day of Black Friday, you’ll receive a mountain of emails promoting deals. Not only can you save, but these emails are an easy way to discover which mailing lists to unsubscribe from. 

Subsequently, because of the high numbers of emails being sent out around Black Friday, these are also used to target shoppers and potentially scam you, leaving you short-changed. So a solid piece of advice is always to check the sender of any emails encouraging you to click links to verify it’s a genuine email and to make sure the URL you’re being linked to looks genuine. A deal on Amazon will always be on Amazon’s site, and emails shouldn’t be taking you anywhere else. A simple way to make sure you’re safe is to find the deal for yourself on the website or through Google.

4. Deals too Good to be True

My Mum always said it, and I’m at the age where I can admit she was right, but if something’s too good to be true, it probably is. This advice is just as relevant on Black Friday. If you’ve done all the digging you can on a site or retailer and something still doesn’t feel right, then sometimes the best saving is your peace of mind. Worrying about whether you will receive your order or anxiously awaiting a refund isn’t worth the risk. It’s not just me saying that either; Hilary Osborne from The Guardian agrees.

5. Update Your Devices

On a technical level, Action Fraud have a range of ways to protect yourself when shopping online this Black Friday and all year round. Particularly they recommend keeping your devices up to date as software and app updates will often feature security updates, securing your email account by using strong and different passwords between accounts and activating two-factor authentication (2FA) guaranteeing it’s you logging in and using a password manager so you’ve got a different password for each of your online accounts. 

So now you know some ways to avoid being ripped off, what else is there to look out for?

How to Avoid Wasting Money on Black Friday

Unfortunately, it’s not just scams, you need to be on the lookout for on Black Friday. Sometimes deals just simply aren’t as good as they seem. So how do you know when you’re getting a great deal?

1. Has It Been Cheaper Before Black Friday?

In recent years, some online retailers have been, shall we say, quite crafty with advertising their prices and exaggerating how much of a saving their Black Friday prices are. Sometimes even advertising prices as huge deals despite there being lower prices in the past. Thankfully, there are websites and tools to track prices and to make sure that the deal is actually as it’s being made out to be. Sites such as Pricespy and Idealo let you track the history of the pricing of a product so you can see whether it has been lower before. There’s also camelcamelcamel solely for tracking the prices of products on Amazon.

2. Is the Discount Genuine?

Tracking prices also brings us to the next point. Some retailers go that extra crafty step, landing them on our naughty step, of raising prices just before Black Friday. Then when they reduce the price they can claim a more considerable discount. There’s been a few big-name retailers and sites that have been caught doing this. Thankfully, those handy little price trackers can help you avoid being taken advantage of.

3. Is the Price Just for Black Friday?

Minimal style image showing a TV and entertainment centre on a wall in a dark room

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Cyber Monday follows directly after Black Friday and often has excellent tech offers and products on sale for a similar price and possibly cheaper. So it's worth noting that you don't have to shop on Black Friday itself because it's likely the deals aren't fixed to one day.

For example, Black Friday has become an unofficial start to the Christmas shopping period. Whilst retailers like to make a big song and dance about their prices on Black Friday, for many, this is just the introduction of the price that’ll stay up until Christmas. So don’t feel too pressured into buying something on the day if you’re still not ultimately decided or you can’t afford it. Chances are the price will stick around for a little while.

4. Is the Product for You?

One thing to look out for is the features of the product that you’re buying, and there are two parts to this. The first is double-checking the features of any items you’re buying so that you are getting a deal and a product that meets your needs. For example, we have a comprehensive guide to how features affect the price of your TV. We highlight the different types of TV, from HD to UHD and 'smart' to regular, to ensure you're not paying for unnecessary features you'll never use.

We also have a guide suggesting how much you should spend on a TV to suit your needs and how to leverage price matching and buying refurbished. You could cut out every feature and have a small rectangle that only plays five channels in your living room and save money initially. But ultimately, if you buy something you’ll be unhappy with, you’ll spend more further down the line, so it's good to find a middle ground. That advice works for practically all tech, from buying noise-cancelling headphones to buying budget gaming monitors.

5. Be Careful of Cheaper Black Friday Exclusives

The second part is that some manufacturers have been caught producing and selling cheaper models on Black Friday, as noted by Melanie Hicken over at CNN. These are lower spec and lower quality but made to look like more expensive models. These models are easily identifiable by different serial and model numbers. So always check you’re buying what you think you are. Newer tech models, such as TVs, tend to be released between February and April or Mid-Summer, avoiding significant sale dates like Christmas and January sales. 

So, if you're in the market for some discounted tech but think the deal is too good to be true, give the serial number or product name a quick Google to see if you're getting a good deal.

6. Create a Black Friday Wishlist

To avoid overspending on Black Friday, an easy solution is to create a wishlist to avoid impulse purchases. Figure out what you want before going into the day and stick to it. That impulse purchase of a Japanese toilet, the absolute dream, by the way, definitely will bring your bathroom into the 21st century, but if all you wanted was a new set of headphones, your bank balance and future self will not be impressed. 

7. Stick To a Budget

Once you’ve made a wishlist of what you’d ideally get your hands on, the next step is to set a budget for the day and stick to it. Whether setting a maximum to spend on the day or only buying something on your watchlist if it drops below a specific price, this can be an easy and great way to make sure you wake up on Saturday morning not dreading looking at your bank or credit card balance.

Be wary of things such as lightning deals, too. These offers are driven by fear of missing out (FOMO) and sometimes push people to buy something because it is so cheap or the discount is so high. Before you know it, the transaction has gone through, and you own another air fryer. That's not to say these are bad deals, but instead, they are sometimes too good, and your budget gets thrown out the window.

8. Be Mindful of Extra Costs

When setting yourself a budget, don’t forget the added costs that come with certain purchases. When ordering large electrical appliances you could potentially be looking at high delivery costs if the retailer doesn’t offer free delivery. These added delivery costs could quite easily wipe out any potential savings, so be sure to check that you’re still getting a deal before you place that order.

9. Think of the Warranty

Another thing to pay attention to is the cost of warranties. For those expensive electrical items, a warranty is a must, so just in case the worst happens, you’re not left without the appliance or out of pocket. Once again, depending on the retailer, any potential savings might be cancelled out by the warranty cost or a lack of one. Some retailers even offer guarantees and warranties to remove this stress as part of the purchase. Tom Bedford over at TechRadar pointed out that shopping at John Lewis could make a Black Friday deal worthwhile in the long run. With a minimum guarantee of 2 years, a whopping 5-year minimum on TVs, and warranties going up to 15 years, John Lewis is an excellent choice for shopping with confidence this Black Friday.

Amazon also offers a great warranty and returns policy on loads of items, especially ones that fall under the umbrella of Amazon-owned brands. I've even been refunded for a pair of Echo Buds where the case was stolen on a train. So you can shop with little worry on Amazon.

Jordan Alexander
Food & Drink Editor

I’m Jordan and I’ve been working at MyVoucherCodes since the summer of 2021. Outside of money-saving, I’m a keen musician and guitar player and can regularly be found in a dingy venue somewhere in Bristol or perched in front of my laptop recording. When I’m not doing this you’ll find me exploring the city, watching cult B movies, reading a Stephen King or Murakami novel, or guiding the mighty Bath City to Champions League glory on Football Manager. All the cliches, I know.

With contributions from