TVs and many other electronics are interesting because as quality has steadily improved over the years, prices have dropped. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price index for TVs decreased by 94% between 1997 and 2015.
In other words, TVs become more affordable every year despite continuous upgrades and new features.
However, if you’re buying a new TV, you still need to be somewhat price-conscious. The latest plasma or LCD TV models still set you back several hundred dollars or more. Like other major purchases, it’s important to ensure you buy the right TV that has the right balance between price and features.
Thankfully, there are several ways to get the best deal on a new TV to help keep costs down. As long as you give yourself enough time to shop and keep these strategies in mind, your next TV upgrade shouldn’t drain your wallet.
The Best Ways to Save Money on a New TV
Buying a new TV isn’t going to be cheap. Ultimately, screen size, features, and brand influence prices the most. If you’re set on a specific size and type of TV, your savings will only go so far.
However, there’s no reason to pay full price for a new TV, regardless of the size and type you buy. Implement one or more of the following money-saving tips the next time you decide to upgrade your TV to keep more money in your wallet.
1. Shop Online
It might seem daunting to buy a new TV online. After all, you probably want to see it in person to help visualize what it would look like in your home.
However, one of the easiest ways to save on a new TV is to buy online. Shopping online saves time, and if you use shopping browser extensions, it’s easy to comparison shop to ensure you’re getting the lowest possible price.
For example, extensions like PriceBlink tracks product prices across thousands of retailers. If you’re shopping for a new TV, PriceBlink notifies you if there’s a better deal on a different website for instant savings.
Plus, you can earn free gift cards with both extensions for shopping at specific retail partners. If you’re buying a high-ticket item like a TV, a single coupon code can go a long way in your efforts to save money.
Finally, online tech deal sites are also worth checking to find low prices on TVs and other electronics. For example, websites like Newegg and SlickDeals often have TV discounts that can shave off a significant portion of your price tag.
Buying a new TV online is also less stressful if you do your research. Room size matters for screen size, so measure the area you plan to set up your TV to gauge if you’re buying the right size. TV buying guides can also help you decide on your screen size based on how far away your seating is from the TV and how crowded the room is.
Finally, read reviews for any TV you’re considering. If you’re concerned, you can also check out the TV you’re considering in-store before placing your order online.
2. Use a Cash-Back Credit Card
Buying a new TV is a considerable expense. Additionally, if your new TV purchase is part of a home improvement project or move, you probably have other major expenses alongside your new tech.
Using a cash-back credit card for everyday purchases is a savvy move. However, for large expenses, credit cards are even more lucrative.
Plus, credit cards often have introductory bonuses if you spend a certain amount of money within the first few months of becoming a cardholder. If you take advantage of a bonus while TV shopping, you’re making the most of your money.
Several popular cash-back credit cards worth considering include:
- Chase Freedom Unlimited: No annual fee; earn $200 when you spend $500 within the first three months; 5% cash back at grocery stores; unlimited 1.5% on most other purchases; up to $500 in purchase protection for 120 days. Read our Chase Freedom Unlimited review for more information.
- U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card: No annual fee; earn $150 when you spend $500 within the first three months; 5% cash back up to $2,000 on two categories of your choice, which can include electronics; 1% to 2% cash back on everything else. Read our U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card review for more information.
- Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi: Requires a Costco membership; 4% cash back on first $7,000 in eligible gas purchases; unlimited 3% cash back on travel and restaurant spending, unlimited 2% cash back on Costco purchases; unlimited 1% cash back on everything else; purchase protection against loss or damage for up to 90 to 120 days. Read our Costco Anywhere Visa Card review for more information.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is ideal if you want to take advantage of an easy $200 sign-up bonus. However, depending on how expensive your new TV is, 5% cash back from the U.S. Bank Cash+ card and sign-up bonus might earn more.
Finally, shopping at Costco to save money is already a smart move; if you do electronics shopping at Costco, sweeten the deal by signing up for their Anywhere Visa card to earn 2% cash back.
3. Tread Carefully with Extended Warranties
Extended warranties are protection plans you can purchase to cover damage and defects. You commonly find extended warranty plans for consumer electronics, vehicles, mobile phones, and even home warranty plans.
On paper, extended warranties might seem like they’re worth it. After all, if you buy a new TV or other expensive product, your first instinct is to insure yourself against damage and disappointment down the line.
However, according to Consumer Reports, extended warranties for electronics are almost never worth the cost. We tend to overestimate the likelihood our tech products will fail, and there are several other considerations to keep in mind:
- Manufacturer Warranties. Tech products usually have some form of manufacturer warranty to protect against defects. Most warranties last for 90 days, which might suffice for protecting your purchase against defects and damage.
- Store Policies. Big box retailers generally have lenient return policies that cover product malfunctions or defects. Some stores even let you return products without any real reason, provided they aren’t damaged. For example, Walmart lets you return TVs within 30 days and provides a refund for damaged or defective products. Therefore, extended warranties aren’t needed to protect yourself against out-of-the-box defects.
- Term Length. Companies sell extended warranties to profit, which isn’t in customers’ best interests. Many extended warranty plans last one to two years, but the bulk of technical issues you encounter will probably occur long after this time frame. In other words, extended warranties on electronics is buying protection for the least risky period of ownership.
If you want to maximize your savings when buying a new TV, you should almost always skip the warranty.
4. Consider Older Models
Like most tech products, TVs improve every year with the release of new models. Resolutions of 4K become 8K, screen sizes get larger, and picture quality sharpens. For true technophiles and cinema lovers, the latest models are undeniably a cause for excitement.
However, part of TV shopping involves considering the diminishing returns on your spending. Do you really need the latest TV model, largest screen, and sharpest resolution that’s on the market? Depending on your room, viewing habits, and budget, buying an older TV model is often how you get the most value.
Even buying a year-old model can make a significant difference on price. Plus, modern TVs have come a long way compared to their heavy, clunky predecessors. Smart TVs that are a few years old still work with streaming services and devices.
Until a truly revolutionary line of TVs release, slightly older models will suffice for most viewers — and can save you hundreds of dollars.
5. Shop at The Right Time
For major purchases, timing sometimes means a significant difference in savings. Retailers price products differently based on demand and season, and TVs are no different. Therefore, if you’re planning to spend a few hundred dollars or more on a new TV, it might be best to hold off.
Historically, TV deals are most popular during two events: Black Friday and the Super Bowl. Black Friday is especially popular for TV shopping because almost every major retailer will offer a discount on electronics. Super Bowl deals are less common, but they’re worth keeping an eye on.
The best way to take advantage of a sale is to research presale prices at least a few weeks before the sale begins. Retailers are crafty, and sometimes your sale price is actually the same or more expensive than regular pricing because retailers first raise the base price to make a “sale” seem more appealing.
If you shop on Black Friday for the holidays, this is especially important because these faux sales are rampant. Following the price of the TV you want in the month leading up to Black Friday can help you spot a real bargain.
If you’re buying from Amazon, you can use the CamelCamelCamel extension to track Amazon prices and view price history for millions of products. Similarly, Honey and Capital One Shopping let you set up price tracking alerts on products to receive notifications when a product you’re interested in drops in price.
New TV models usually release in spring, so this is another ideal time to buy older TV models. Ultimately, if you give yourself enough runway, you can buy a new TV at a low price point for easy savings.
6. Use Reward Websites and Apps
Comparison-shopping websites or daily deal websites are useful for finding discounts. However, sometimes cash-back reward websites offer the greatest chance to save.
Rakuten is one popular option that pays you cash back for shopping at their partners. Creating a Rakuten account is free, and you simply visit Rakuten before shopping online to find opportunities to earn cash back.
In terms of TVs and electronics, notable Rakuten partners include:
- Best Buy: Up to 1% cash back
- TV Store Online: 7.5% cash back
- Staples: 2% cash back
- Office Depot: 2% cash back
- Overstock: 4% cash back
Cash-back rewards are subject to change. Luckily, Rakuten partners with thousands of retailers, and there’s always an opportunity to earn cash back on your next electronics purchase. Rakuten also has online coupon codes, although cash back is where the platform shines.
If you can’t find deals on Rakuten, various reward apps are also worth trying. Apps like Drop pay you in free gift cards for shopping through the app at specific partners. Drop partners with plenty of big box retailers, making it easy to find TV deals.
Similarly, Dosh is another rewards app that automatically pays you cash back for shopping through its partners. Once you link your credit and debit cards to Dosh, you never have to worry about preselecting offers before shopping, and Dosh also partners with plenty of major U.S. retailers.
If you combine these rewards with shopping at the right time of year and other savvy tricks, you can get a new TV for much less than full price.
7. Consider Cheaper Brands
With electronics, you largely get what you pay for. Whether you’re shopping for noise-canceling headphones, a laptop, or a new TV, going for the cheapest option sometimes has consequences for performance and longevity.
If you’re buying a new TV for your home theater or family room, spending more on a premium brand and model might be worth it. However, if you just need a TV for watching the hockey game in your garage or for sending with your kid back to college, you don’t need to splurge on a leading brand.
Cheaper TV brands like Vizio and Insignia can get the job done without draining your wallet. You can also shop for refurbished electronics if you find a reputable seller and understand the warranty that comes with the TV.
Like most electronics, TVs feel like something we need to update every few years. New models come out, screen sizes get larger, and it seems like upgrades are an inevitability.
There’s nothing wrong with buying a new TV or even splurging on a recent model with the latest specs. However, you should never pay full price for a new TV, especially if you’re on a tight budget and are trying to maximize your savings rate.
Additionally, consider the diminishing returns on your spending before making your next upgrade. New TVs are a luxury, but there comes a point at which spending more doesn’t necessarily increase enjoyment.