Christmas Bargains for 2011: Top 5 Apps to Find Best Buys

Black Friday Deals

Thanksgiving is over. Black Friday has set off the holiday shopping season, and there you are in the mall, wondering which of the best buys promised by all those stores are for real.

Confused? Not sure where to look? Before you load up your car, download the latest apps into your smartphone to help you figure out which deal really is a steal.

Click on our video, then read for details, starting with ...

Holiday Apps

PHOTO: website

TheFind: Android and iOS. Free

Apps that let you scan a barcode, like TheFind (iOS and Android), should be your constant companions. When you find an item you like, open the app and scan the bar code. Once it recognizes the product, it will return a list of where it's available, both online and in nearby stores, and for how much. It will also give you a map to the store you choose.

TheFind has been updated to include catalogs from major merchants like Nordstrom, Crate & Barrel, and the Best Buy weekly sales flier. You can check prices there, and link right through to the store to make a purchase. In addition, you'll be notified of any coupon codes or deals available, like free shipping.

The app also syncs with the website, so anything you save on your phone will show up on your computer for comparison shopping later on.

Holiday Apps

PHOTO: website

Black Friday by FatWallet: iOS. Free is already an online destination when you're searching for coupon codes. Now you can also get their Black Friday Deal Finder. The 2011 mobile version displays major retailers' ads so you can search, organize, and get ready to shop.

The app lets you sort by store or by category, and gives you the option to filter your results into subcategories, like brand, type of item and price range. You can also search for deals by free shipping, rebates, and whether or not an item is a doorbuster deal.

Holiday Apps

PHOTO: Coupon Sherpa Caricature
Coupon Sherpa

Coupon Sherpa: iOS. Free

Coupon Sherpa gives iPhone, iPad and iPod iOS users access to in-store mobile coupons and printable coupons found on the Internet for many popular retailers.

If you're in a store about to make a purchase, just fire up the app and check to see if there's an additional coupon available for extra savings. There are also coupons for grocery stores, but last we checked, not many of the big chains near us were listed. Coupons can be scanned right from your device if the retailer has the upgraded optical scanner, or they can be keyed in by the cashier. If you find the deal of the century, or at least the season, email the coupon to a friend.

Holiday Apps

PHOTO: Amazon Logo
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Amazon Black Friday Deals has opened up a Black Friday Store where it's counting down the days to … that day, and offering "Lightning Deals" with discounts on products such as cameras and DVDs. The Black Friday store is up and running at New deals are revealed throughout the day, so you'll want to check back often, as Amazon has said it intends to get its hands on every Black Friday circular it can find "so that we can meet or beat advertised deals on the products we carry."

Some of the deals listed so far: "Arrested Development: The Complete Series" (DVD) $28.99 (list $89.99) Altec Lansing Digital Boombox: $199 (list price $299)

Of course, you'll also want to see the deals from Amazon while you're out shopping, so download Amazon's Deal App, and if you want instant access to pricing info and Amazon's famous customer reviews, download their new Flow App, which lets you take a picture of a product's bar code with your camera to get all the relevant info. Both let you purchase right from the app.

Holiday Apps

PHOTO: Boxes on conveyor belt in a mailroom.
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Free Shipping Day

Finally, if you're the kind of person who waits until the last minute, or who abandons your online shopping cart when faced with high shipping costs, then have I got a day for you! Shop around, figure out everything you want to buy, and then wait some more. In fact, wait until Friday, December 16.

That's the 4th annual Free Shipping Day; a one-day online-shopping event during which thousands of merchants offer free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve.

Merchants who've signed on to participate include Best Buy, Radio Shack, Bed, Bath and Beyond, and Harry and David, just to name a few. Head over to to check it out.

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