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Holiday Shopping: How to Find the Best Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Free Shipping Day Deals

The holiday shopping season is upon us and there’s no time like the present to start checking off your holiday gift list. Actress Reese Witherspoon, her boyfriend Jim Toth, and kids Deacon and Ava have already begun their Christmas shopping, checking out Barneys New York and Polo Ralph Lauren this November. With the most popular shopping days of the year on our heels, now is the perfect time to start planning for your holiday gift shopping.

Even the celebrities have their favorite holiday shopping tips and tricks to get the most out of your search for the perfect Christmas presents. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow suggests finding personalized gifts for the holidays to make your friends and family “feel extra special.” Earlier this year, Mischa Barton expressed her fondness of shopping among the street vendors in Brooklyn who sell bags and other items along the sidewalks.

No matter if you like to shop online for convenience or prefer a brick-and-mortar store experience, you can find great deals this time of year – as long as you are privy to the sales and deals for Black Friday (Friday after Thanksgiving), Cyber Monday (Monday after Thanksgiving), and Free Shipping Day (December 17). Consider these shopping tips to help you save money on your holiday purchases this year.

Black Friday – Friday, November 26, 2010
Black Friday is a widely known and celebrated retail shopping holiday. Stores open early, sometimes even overnight from Thanksgiving into Black Friday. Shoppers are known to stay out all day, standing in long lines, rushing from one store to the next, all in search of the best Black Friday deals and sales. If you don’t mind the crowds and a fast-paced yet long day of shopping, you can get excellent deals on Black Friday – often finding eye-popping offers on electronics (large flat screen televisions!), clothing, and just about anything sold in stores.

Many merchants are also turning to the Internet as another way to promote their Black Friday offers. You can check out Black Friday online for amazing deals that are just as good, or sometimes better, than what the traditional Black Friday shopping madness may put forward. Amazon, Target, and Wal-Mart, some of the more popular Black Friday hotspots, are already offering deals on their Web sites for consumers to consider.

Don’t forget to use your cash-back credit card or other rewards card to extend the mileage you get from your Black Friday deals! Using a credit card for holiday shopping makes your entire experience easier and faster, not to mention you can easily see an itemized list of all the stores you’ve hit once your purchases post to your account.

Cyber Monday – Monday, November 29, 2010
If crowds just aren’t your thing, you might enjoy shopping from home in your pajamas on Cyber Monday. You can find all kinds of holiday deals online, and your trusty credit card and Web browser can help you get all your Christmas shopping done in no time. Even VISA offers special Cyber Monday deals for cardholders to enjoy.

Just like Black Friday, you’d be hard pressed not to find your favorite stores offering great sales for Cyber Monday. Shop merchants like Kohl’s, Toys R Us, Zappos, Amazon, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Target, and countless others. You may be able to maximize your Cyber Monday deals with online coupon codes, free shipping offers, or other special promotions.

One important thing to remember while shopping online is to protect yourself and your identity. Be cautious in using unfamiliar Web sites, or simply stick to the online merchants you already know. Avoid giving out excess personal information and beware of malware and phishing scams you may run across in your online shopping experiences. As long as you stick to the mainstream retailer sites, you should enjoy a successful Cyber Monday shopping experience.

“Pay with a credit card,” recommends the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota as one of their Cyber Monday shopping tips. “It’s best to use a credit card, because under federal law, the shopper can dispute the charge if he or she doesn’t receive the item. Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on their credit card, and many card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which the card holder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it. Also, never wire money if prompted to do so.”

Free Shipping Day – Friday, December 17, 2010
If you are a procrastinator or you simply don’t mind waiting for a good deal, Free Shipping Day gives you one last chance to finish your holiday shopping with free shipping directly to your home or recipient by Christmas Eve. This year marks the third Free Shipping Day, with an anticipated 1,000-plus merchants expected to participate on December 17, 2010.

JCPenney, Macy’s, Sears, OfficeMax, Crate & Barrel, Tiger Direct, and Cabela’s are just a few of the many merchants participating so far. Free Shipping Day gives consumers another shot at online shopping without having to pay costly shipping fees to get gift items delivered on time. You might also maximize your Free Shipping Day deals with online coupon codes for your favorite merchants.

Perhaps the best part of shopping online for Free Shipping Day, Cyber Monday, or Black Friday Online is that you can do all your online shopping with just your gift list and your credit card. You can even sit around in your pajamas, day or night, and get the best deals with a few simple clicks.

Ways to Maximize Your Holiday Savings
In addition to browsing for deals on these top retail shopping holidays, consider using these other holiday shopping tips to help you get the best deals around!

Use your cash-back rewards credit cards for all your holiday purchases.

Use online coupon codes to score dollars or percentages off your online purchases at a vast number of retailers.

Check store circulars and newspaper ads for additional in-store discounts or rebates.

Look for sale merchandise as well as clearance items.

Don’t be shy when it comes to comparison shopping and asking merchants for a price match.

Just be sure you can prove it by showing the competitor’s ad.

Once you find the item you want, search online to determine which retailer offers the best price.

Keep all of your holiday shopping receipts in case you have to make any returns during or after the holiday season.

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