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Our favorite Chrome extensions for saving money while shopping

Mashable 07 Apr 2021 01:49
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Coupons and cash back and price comparisons, oh my!
Coupons and cash back and price comparisons, oh my!
Image: honey

Clicking "Complete Purchase" is easy. But making sure you're getting the very best deal every time you buy something online? Not so much.

Fun fact — actually, really, really sad fact: Finding and verifying online sales can feel like a full-time job. (We would know, since it's literally ours.) Prices can change from minute to minute and vary from site to site. Some retailers will even go out of their way to make their prices look better than they actually are with inflated or outdated listings.

For shoppers in search of a good buy, this often means comparing prices across different sites, cross-referencing listings with manufacturers, googling coupon codes, and checking back for price changes — a process that can eat up a ton of time and leave you with deal FOMO.

Extensions have been supported by most major browsers for the better part of ten years (conveniently, just as more and more of our transactions have shifted online). For the purposes of this article, we're going to be focusing on Chrome, a popular browser with one of the beefiest plugin libraries.

Founded in 2012 (and acquired by PayPal in 2020), Honey is one of the most popular shopping extensions on the Chrome Web Store with a casual 17 million monthly active users. It's helmed by a "Savings Finder" feature that scans the internet for working coupon codes for 30,000-plus stores, playing nice with almost everyone except Amazon. (More on the two's fraught relationship here.) If Honey sniffs out any codes while you're shopping, a pop-up window will prompt you to test them at checkout, and the one that delivers the biggest discount gets applied to your order automatically. 

Rakuten's been rewarding consumers for shopping online since the days of dial-up — 1997, to be exact — but it wasn't until 2012 that the site formerly known as Ebates launched a browser extension called the Rakuten Cash Back Button, which now boasts more thn 3 million monthly users. Install it to start earning Real American Dollars™️ just for shopping like normal; members earn an average of 4 to 6% cash back per purchase, which is paid out every three months via PayPal or check.

The extremely straightforward Deal Finder extension that RetailMeNot (owned by Mashable's publisher, Ziff Davis) launched in 2017 does exactly what its name suggests: finds the very best (and sometimes exclusive) deals across more than 1,350 stores. 

Inarguably the cutest online shopping plugin out there, Piggy is another automatic coupon finder and cash savings extension (also from 2017) that's especially good for travel deals: It can save you up to 55% on hotels by hunting down unpublished rates and earn you up to 15% cash back with its travel partners. (Users otherwise earn an average of 4 to 5% cash back at 6,000-plus participating retailers, which is paid out via check every time your balance totals at least $25.) Post-pandemic trip, anyone?

Amazon's official extension (the Amazon Assistant) has a price-tracking feature, but we're hesitant to recommend it after reports of privacy concerns and overly aggressive pop-ups ads. You're much better off with the Camelizer, a similar offering from camelcamelcamel.com that launched alongside the price-tracking site way back in 2008. (It's an oldie but a goodie.)

Released in 2015, the eponymous extension from the data analytics company Fakespot is your best defense against fake reviews and shady sellers on popular e-commerce cites like Amazon, Walmart, and ebay, where both run rampant. (Remember when the former sued over a thousand people for posting falsely positive reviews? Good times.) 

Online shopping extensions that offer cash-back rewards (including the ones mentioned above) are able to do so because they make commissions when users buy from their partnered retailers. The TreeClicks plugin operates in the exact same way, only instead of paying its earnings forward to you, it uses the money to plant trees around the world. (Users can choose to have their purchases support restoration efforts in the Amazon, post-wildfire reforestation in New South Wales, Australia, or sustainable farming practices in Tanzania.) You're still technically saving "green" — it's just a different kind of green.

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