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We’re in a golden age of television. From premium content like HBO, to cable networks like FX and AMC, to streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and the soon-to-be-launched Disney+, it’s never been easier to find something entertaining on your TV.
That is, assuming you have a TV worth watching.
If you’re in the market for a TV upgrade, retail price tags can be daunting. Here are some foolproof methods to shave down the cost – so you can enjoy the golden age of television in 4K, 65-inch, HDR-compatible splendor.
Use a Browser Extension
Cash-back portals like Rakuten, formerly known as Ebates, give out cash-back when you click on their link before checking out.
Cash-back payouts are usually around 1% for electronics, but it never hurts to click on the browser link. With large purchases, 1% can add up to a tidy $10 or $15.
If you’ve never used Rakuten before, you might be eligible for a one-time $10 bonus. You can also refer a friend and earn $25 for each friend that uses the service. They’ll get $10 off their first purchase as well.
You can use Rakuten by installing the extension on your browser or by going to Rakuten.com.
Shop Holiday Sales
Stores often have TVs on sale near Labor Day, because college football has already started and the NFL season is about to begin.
Make sure you know how much a TV actually costs before looking at sale price tags. Some stores will inflate prices to make it seem like you’re getting a better deal than you are. If you do your research, you can find a good deal that won’t be available again until Black Friday or after Christmas.
If you happen to find a TV you really at a brick-and-mortar store, don’t add it to your cart without comparing the price to somewhere else.
Best Buy, Target, Sears, and Walmart all price-match, either with online retailers or other physical stores. Once you find a model you like, search for its lowest price and ask the retailer to match it.
Some stores will even reimburse you if the item goes on sale after you buy it. Track the TV for a few weeks after purchasing and see if the price changes.
Buy Last Year’s Model
Buying last year’s TV model is like buying a 2018 car instead of a 2019. Unless you’re a technophile, you probably won’t notice much of a difference.
Be mindful of what you’re really looking for in a TV, and try not to be distracted by fancy features and industry lingo. For example, recent models may have Alexa compatibility, which is completely useless if you don’t have an Amazon Echo.
Buy Out-of-Box TVs
Stores like Best Buy and Walmart sell open-box TVs, which means they were purchased and returned to the store at some point. Amazon Warehouse also has open-box and refurbished TVs. There’s usually nothing wrong with open-box items, but you can save hundreds just because it’s already been opened.
When you buy an open box TV, examine it for extreme signs of wear-and-tear. Use it regularly and note any distortions. Some stores give you as little as 15 days to return an open box item, so it’s crucial to notice anything wrong with the TV before that time expires.
Use a Credit Card with Cash-Back Rewards
Using a credit card for a large purchase like a TV is usually a good idea, because a credit card often provides an extended warranty and purchase protection on electronics.
Price protection can be helpful if an item goes on sale after you buy it. You can file a claim with the credit card issuer for the difference between what you paid and what the TV costs now.
Some cards have price protection for up to 120 days. Check in once a week to see if the TV has gone on sale. Create a calendar reminder on your phone or computer so you don’t forget.
Extended warranty usually gives you an extra year of coverage. Keep your warranty information easily accessible so you can find it if something goes wrong.
Best Credit Cards for TV Purchases
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
This card has 5% cash-back on every Amazon.com purchase – including electronics – and at Whole Foods. The card has no annual fee and also offers 2% cash-back on restaurants, gas stations and drugstores, as well as 1% cash-back on everything else.
You can use rewards to pay for your next Amazon purchase with no minimum redemption amount. There’s no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
This card has 5% cash-back on rotating categories that change quarterly, including at Amazon.com, Target and Walmart.com. You have to time your purchase right, so it counts toward the 5% cash-back and not the standard 1% cash-back the card offers.
Discover will also match all cash-back earned after the first year for new cardholders. If you earn $25 on cash-back by buying a $500 TV, it will double after the first year.
This card has no annual fee. The cash-back never expires, and you can redeem rewards for statement credit.
Both the debit and credit version of the Target REDcard offer 5% off on most Target purchases, including TVs. The 5% discount works for both in-store and online purchases.
Users receive free shipping for online purchases as well, so you don’t have to live near a Target store to benefit. There’s no annual fee with the credit card or monthly fee with the debit card.
U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card
The U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card has 5% cash-back for two categories of your choosing, and 2% unlimited cash-back on another category. All other purchases earn 1% cash-back.
The categories change every quarter, and you have to manually sign up for them each quarter. If you’re planning to buy a TV soon, sign up for the appropriate category before the next quarter starts.
You can redeem cash-back for statement credit, direct deposit into a U.S. Bank checking or savings account or on a special rewards card. This card has no annual fee.