Twelve Great Resources for Buying Smart

The internet has truly revolutionized comparison shopping. Thinking back just a few years, I find it hard to believe that we ever made truly informed buying decisions. But now that you have the world at your fingertips, it’s important to sort through all of the noise. To that end, I though I’d share some of my favorite online consumer-related resources.

Price shopping

  1. — This is one of the best known price comparison sites on the web, and one that I use quite heavily.
  2. Google Product Search — This is Google’s price comparison engine. While is can be useful, it can take a good bit of patience to wade through the results and/or fine-tune your search parameters.
  3. — This is a great (free!) tool for taking advantage of price protection guarantees at 124 different merchants. Simply paste in the product url and they’ll notify of you price drops.

Product reviews

  1. — More often than not, is my first stop when looking for random product reviews. Lots of useful insight to be had on books, movies, toys, electronics, and more.
  2. — If you want to avoid blindly booking a skanky hotel room in a bad neighborhood, then TripAdvisor is for you. In fact, I just used it last night to plan a (relatively) last minute trip to the beach.
  3. — If you’re looking for tires, you can’t beat TireRack as an excellent source of user reviews. We just used it to find a great (so far) set of new tires for our Honda Odyssey.
  4. — While I also use for this sort of thing, my “go to” site for detailed video game reviews and ratings is
  5. Steve’s Digicams — I started using this site back in 1999 and haven’t stopped since. It’s a great site with tons of detailed reviews.
  6. — I’m a huge fan of the Internet Movie Database. Beyond being a great source for movie reviews, it’s also a fantastic resource for looking up movie-related trivia. And they even have a TV section.
  7. — For appliances and such, we still rely fairly heavily on Consumer Reports. The beauty of an online subscription is that it gives you access to their fully searchable archives.

Due diligence

  1. — Before hiring a contractor or other major service provider, we always check them out with our local Better Business Bureau. This is also a great tool for disputes — if you get the shaft, file a complaint.
  2. — If you run into a great price at a reseller that you haven’t heard of, check them out and see what others think of them. Note that a number of price shopping sites also offer reseller ratings.

14 Responses to “Twelve Great Resources for Buying Smart”

  1. Anonymous

    Wow that was strange. I just wrote an very long comment but after I
    clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing
    all that over again. Anyways, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

  2. Anonymous

    For product reviews on electronics, I find quite good. The reviews are sometimes a bit pickier and in-depth than you need, but usually spot-on.
    I agree with you on PriceGrabber, but I find an equally useful tool is just to look the thing up on eBay. If all fails, it helps to know the resale value before you buy anything.

  3. Anonymous

    I just wanted to thank the blog authors for including us in their list. Price Protectr is the most reliable price watching service on the web, and the market leader. In fact, we were covered for the second time by Consumer Reports last week, and we’ll be in their August/September print edition.

    We cover Amazon, Best Buy, Sears, and many others, adding more weekly. This methodical roll-out permits us to have the reliability we enjoy, with thousands of happy users who have received alerts on over $1,000,000 in savings.

    Please check out our website and download our spyware/adware free Firefox toolbar, which allows you to watch, target, or protect a price with one click.

    Thanks again for using Price Protectr!


  4. Nickel

    Eric: Yeah, I used to use PriceWatch all the time, though I eventually gravitated to PriceGrabber. I did this in part because I buy less in the way of computer gear/upgrades nowadays and in part because PriceGrabber covers way more stuff.

  5. Anonymous

    Another great price comparison site is Although it is mainly geared toward computer and personal electronic parts/accessories, it provides a wealth of comparative information.

    If you like IMDB (I frequent the site as well), you may also be interested in They have breakdowns of individual tv show episodes and depending on the completeness of the review even let you information about the songs that are used in each episode.

  6. Anonymous

    One site not on your list is

    I read about it in an article just before Black Friday last year, and my love for this site has grown so much in the last 10 months since I joined. I’ve already gotten checks back totaling $42. You receive a check quarterly, as long as your rebate accounts for over $5.01 (otherwise, you just get it next quarter when your total goes over $5.01). It’s not a huge amount of cash if you don’t shop online that often, but for the 2-3 times every quarter I have to/want to get something, it’s definitely been worth it! And you can typically get these rebates and still use %-off coupons, so you save twice at one store.

  7. Anonymous

    Check out or

    They are both aggregate review sites, so if you want to know about a game you can see a list of all the sites that reviewed that game and be able to click on them and read the reviews as well. Metacritic also has movies, tv, and music.

  8. Anonymous

    Consumer Reports is an excellent resource. However, paying the annual subscription fee is not worth it to me… I was thrilled when I discovered that through my public library’s website (Davis County Utah), I can access electronic Consumer Reports’ archives for free! And I can do it from my home computer using my library card #.

    I’m not sure if all libraries offer this service but I wanted to pass the tip along.

  9. Anonymous

    Tire Rack is awesome. Always great prices, and the customer reviews are fantastic for doing research. I’m lucky enough to live right near their headquarters, so I just go pick the tires up or even have them install.

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