The Best Black Friday Deals and How You Can Make Them Better

Black Friday can still pay off big if you play the game right.
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Best Black Friday Deals 2015
While Black Friday may have lost some of its appeal in recent years as retailers insist on starting their sales earlier and earlier, there are still great deals to be had. You'll have to look beyond the big discount signs and really do your research by comparing the holiday prices to the prices in previous months. Luckily, we've done a lot of the hard work for you by putting together a list of the best deals from this year's Black Friday's ads, as well as some shopping hacks to really stretch your budget.

Hacking Black Friday

Retailers release ad scans with their best offers for Black Friday in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. The biggest discounts, often referred to as doorbusters, are used to get you in the door in the hopes that you'll buy more stuff (usually things they need to get rid of from their inventory.) Some stores, like Kohl’s and Macy’s, have ad scans that can be 60+ pages long, but if you think all the sales listed in those ad scans are worth your time, think again. The doorbusters are usually only offered in-store, and there are a very limited number in stock. That’s why you need to have a plan if Black Friday is going to be worth your while.

Before highlighting the best deals from this year’s Black Friday ads, we want to let you in on some of the tricks Slickdealers are using to turn Black Friday to their advantage.

  • Gift Cards: Look for discount gift cards for the stores where you plan on shopping during Black Friday. Sites like Card Cash are a good place to start, but even eBay has a Black Friday deal for a $200 Target gift card priced at $185 (which you can get online starting November 25 at 9 p.m. PST).  If you have a Target REDcard, you get 5 percent off your purchase, and some deals, like their PS4 bundle, come with a $60 gift card. That’s how you maximize your savings, people.
  • Cashback: It’s a little late to get a cashback credit card in time for Black Friday, but if you already have one, check whether there are any current special promotions. Discover has one of the best promotions right now with their 10 percent cashback on in-store purchases when you use Apple Pay. And it gets better, because if you signed up earlier this year when they offered double cashback as a promotion, you’re getting 20 percent cashback. This promotion works in any store you can pay with Apple Pay and that accepts Discover. You won’t get the double cashback bonuses until your one-year anniversary, but it’s still money back in your pocket eventually.  Discover it Card
  • Price Protection: If you have a credit card with price protection, you could potentially go out and buy Black Friday sale items today and get reimbursed for the difference later. This is a great tactic to buy items that are likely to run out quickly on Black Friday. Some Slickdealers have already gotten a head start with this, but double check with your card issuer that they will honor price protections on Black Friday deals. Chase, for example, only reimburses up to $50 on limited quantity/seasonal sales. That’s not going to help much if you’re purchasing a TV, but if you’re getting a PS4 or Xbox One bundle, you’ll be covered. Why wait for Black Friday when you can buy it now and get reimbursed later?
  • Price Match: If you prefer to shop at a particular store, or if you’re only able to shop at one of the major brick and mortar stores due to a lack of options in your area, don’t forget to price match. If one retailer has a better deal than the store you’re in, see if they will price match their competitor. Most likely they will. Just keep in mind that it usually has to be for the exact same model.
  • Store Cards: Store cards are usually good for smaller perks like free shipping or more time to return unwanted items, but some stores reserve the biggest discounts for their members. Kohl's, for example, offers 30 percent off coupons to Kohl's card members only. And Target REDcard members, as mentioned above, get 5 percent off all purchases. On their own, these might not seem like great savings tools, but when combined with other offers, they help stretch your dollar a bit further.
  • Coupons: Since the markdown on Black Friday deals is already significant, some stores may not honor additional coupons during this time. However, others might be building their Black Friday sales around coupon codes. Fry’s, for example, will have coupon codes for all of their Black Friday deals. Make sure you sign up for email alerts or you’ll miss them. The codes will be individual, so if you were planning on buying more than one of the same item, you’ll have to sign up with more email addresses and drag people down to the store with you.
  • Target Wedding Registry: This is not guaranteed to work, but it looks promising. You can get a 15% off coupon for electronics and other goods if you create a wedding registry prior to Black Friday. This could land you the Xbox One bundle for $242 + the $60 gift card if you stack it with the REDcard discount. Here are instructions for how you set that up.

Best Ad Scan Deals

Since no one in their right mind will actually go through every page of all the ad scans, we figured we would do it for you. Together with our community, we’ve picked out the best deals that have been posted so far and we’ll keep adding to the list as more ads are posted. Keep in mind that many of these are doorbusters, so even though they’re great deals, it could be hard to actually get your hands on them.

TVs

Dell Home & Office was first out of the gate with their ad scan among the major retailers, and they also have some of the most appealing deals. Take their 60-inch Vizio 4K Smart Ultra HDTV for $799, for example. That’s $499 less than what it was selling for during most of the second half of the year, until Walmart dropped the price to $1,098 recently. Best Buy also has a 60-inch 4K for $799, and it’s a Samsung, so that’s another option if you prefer that brand. Of course, you still have to decide if this is the year to get a 4K TV, since there’s not a lot to watch at that quality yet. (Not to mention, if it doesn't support HDCP 2.2, it might be obsolete soon.) Alternatively, you could go for an even bigger TV and stick to an LED set instead. Walmart has a 70-inch Vizio 1080p LED HDTV for $898, which is marked down from its current price of $1,198. However, it was listed for $1,399 at the beginning of the year, so you're looking at a pretty decent discount there.

Smaller and off-brand TVs can typically be bought dirt-cheap during Black Friday, but you get what you pay for with a lot of the unknown brands. This year’s crop of  budget TVs include a 55-inch Westinghouse 1080p LED HDTV for $249 from Target and a 40-inch Insignia Class LED 1080p HDTV for $159 from Best Buy. These aren’t going to wow you when it comes to quality, but they are cheap. If that’s your main priority, you might as well go for the 32-inch Westinghouse for $99 at Target or Kohl’s. 4K TV from Dell

Pro tip: Look up the model number and specs for the TV you're buying. The heavily advertised ones, regardless of brand, are most likely older models and might not have all the features you're looking for. If you need four HDMI ports, don't buy a TV with only two.

Slick Picks:

49” Toshiba 1080p LED, $149 at Best Buy
60” Samsung 2160p 4K Ultra HD Smart LED, $799 at Best Buy
60” Vizio 4K Smart Ultra HDTV, $799 at Dell Home & Office
65” LG 2160p 4K Ultra HD Smart HDTV, $999 at Best Buy
55” Westinhouse 1080p LED HDTV, $249 at Target
55” TCL 1080p Roku LED Smart HDTV, $348 at Walmart
32” TCL 720p Roku LED Smart HDTV, $125 at Walmart
70” Vizio 1080p LED Smart HDTV, $898 at Walmart

Gaming Consoles

PS4 and Xbox One bundles have been holding steady at $349 in recent months, so as expected, the Black Friday price will bring them down to $299 for the 500GB consoles. Since that’s the going rate, retailers had to come up with add-ons to sweeten the deal in order to stand out. Kohl’s is offering $75 in Kohl’s Cash (or $90 if you just add something to get over $300) and Target added a $60 gift card, for example.

To save even more money on a console, you'll likely need to take advantage of some of those hacks we mentioned above. For example, be sure to check your store cards and rewards credit cards for discounts or cashback (like Discover's offer of 20 percent cash back at Kohl's when you pay using Apple Pay). Here are our picks for best console deals (all 500GB consoles).

Slick Picks:

Xbox One Gears of War: Ultimate Edition Bundle + Fallout 4 & Extra Controller, $299 at Dell Home & Office
Xbox One Console w/ Gears of War Digital Download Code + $60 Target Gift Card, $299 at Target
PlayStation 4 Uncharted Collection Bundle + $75/$90 in Kohl’s Cash, $299 at Kohl’s
Wii U Console (32GB) w/ Splatoon And Super Smash Bros Digital Downloads, $249 at Target

Read Our Black Friday Video Game Guide for More Tips!

Laptops

As we discussed in our Black Friday laptop roundup, most of the doorbuster deals on laptops will be stripped-down models primarily intended for browsing the web. Instead, look for the regular deals further back in the ad scans to find laptops actually worth buying. For example, don’t go out and buy the $99 Asus laptop from Staples and expect to do any gaming on it. Your phone probably has more storage space than that thing.

Slick Picks:

Dell Inspiron 15.6" Touch Screen Laptop: Intel Core i3, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD, $299 at Best Buy
Inspiron 15 3000 Series Laptop: Core i3, 4GB Memory, 500GB HDD, 15.6" Display, $229 at Dell Home & Office
Acer Chromebook Laptop: Intel Celeron, 2GB Memory, 16GB eMMC Flash Memory, 11.6" Display, $99 at Best Buy (only good for Web browsing)
Inspiron 11 3000 Series 2-in-1 Laptop/Tablet: Core i3, 4GB Memory, 500GB HDD, 11.6" HD Touch Display, Windows 10 Home, $299 at Dell Home & Office
Asus Laptop: Intel Celeron, 4GB Memory, 500GB HDD, 15.6" Display, Windows 10, $139 at Best Buy

Read Our Black Friday Laptop Guide for More Tips!

Tablets

ipad So far, we haven’t seen many can’t-miss deals for tablets. In fact, Best Buy’s iPad deals have a deal score of -39, so definitely don’t get one there. There are a few cheap tablets in the $30 range that could serve a purpose, but don’t expect impeccable performance from those. Target has always been good at sweetening deals by adding gift cards, and they’re doing just that for their iPad deals. You can get up to $150 in Target gift cards when you buy an iPad there. Of course, if you never shop at Target, that’s not going to do much for you. If that’s the case, try Staples instead. They have the 64GB iPad Air 2 for $449, which is $150 off retail.

Slick Picks:

8GB Amazon Fire 7" Tablet, $35 at Best Buy
64GB Apple iPad Air 2, $449 at Staples
16GB Apple iPad Air 2 + $150 Target Gift Card, $499 at Target
Dell Venue 10 5000 Series: 10" Tablet, Intel Atom Processor, $149.00 at Dell Home & Office

Best of The Rest

When every store in the country wants to participate in Black Friday, there’s a risk (read: guarantee) that a lot of random deals will pop up in the ad scans. Just take CVS, for example. The 2-liter bottle of soda for 79 cents isn’t going to convince me to make a trip over there. Most people shop during Black Friday for big electronics like the ones mentioned above. However, there are still some smaller gadgets and non-electronic items that will be available at great prices. Here are some deals that might be of interest.

Slick Picks:

8GB Verizon Motorola Moto E 4G No Contract Smartphone, $10 at Best Buy – This is perfect to have as a backup phone or a loaner if you ever have friends or family visiting from abroad.
128GB SanDisk Cruzer Glide USB 2.0 Flash Drive, $20 at Best Buy – This is a 2.0 drive, so not as fast to transfer data as the 3.0 drives. Still, that’s a lot of storage for $20.
Madden NFL, NBA 2K16, FIFA 16 for Xbox One or PS4 & More, $30 at Best Buy – They are already marked down to $39, so this is another $9 off.
Apple Watch (any model) Plus $100 Target Gift Card, $349 and up at Target – Great deal if you’re a Target shopper who’s been dying for an Apple watch.
Bose SoundTrue In-Ear Headphones, $50 at Dell Home & Office – MSRP is $130 for these and they have a 4.3 rating on Amazon, so this is a steal.
Ray Ban Aviators, $60 at eBay – These will never go out of style, but the price will go back up after Black Friday. Get ‘em while you can.
Urban Decay Naked Flushed Palette in Native, $15 at Macy’s – This is a very popular, top-rated palette that normally retails for around $32. Great deal at more than 50 percent off.
Cuisinart Hand Blender or 3-Speed Hand Mixer, $10 at Macy’s – Currently on sale for $29.99, these normally retail for $39.99, so you really can't beat the discount here.
Newegg Coupon for Additional Savings w/ VISA Checkout, $25 off $200 or more – Register your VISA card with VISA Checkout and use coupon code VCOBF15 when making your purchase at Newegg.
VISA Checkout Offer W/Chase Freedom Card, $15 off $15 or more (statement credit) – VISA Checkout offers $15 Off Purchases of $15 or More from qualifying online merchants when you link your Chase Freedom Card and complete your transaction via VISA Checkout.
Additional Savings with American Express at Newegg, $25 statement credit on purchases of $200 or more when using qualifying Amex Card – You'll receive the statement credit within 90 days after 12/31/15.
Amex Offer With Purchases at Whole Foods Market, $10 statement credit on purchases more than $60 – You'll receive the statement credit within 90 days after 12/31/15.



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About the Author

Johan Mengesha is the Editorial Director at Slickdeals in Los Angeles, Calif. Mengesha has written for print and online media outlets since 2003 and has a journalism degree from Cal State Northridge. Published work has appeared in the "Los Angeles Daily News," the "Daily Sundial" and eHow.com.

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SD rocks!
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Disappointed in the Black Friday "deals" this year, but as always, grateful to SD for the breakdown!
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am ready for bff
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