Sunday, March 22, 2015

Five Best Price Tracking Tools

Five Best Price Tracking ToolsFiguring out the best time to buy something requires constant watch over ever-fluctuating online prices, and some knowledge of how prices have changed in the past. Luckily, you don't have to figure it all out yourself—there are great tools to help you do it. This week we're looking at five of the best that will let you know when it's time to strike.
Earlier in the week we asked you which price tracking tools you turned to when you wanted to be sure you bought at the right time. We only have room for the top five, and here they are, in no particular order:


Five Best Price Tracking Tools
CamelCamelCamel is one of our favorite ways to get discounts and track prices on Amazon products. We've mentioned it in our guide to getting the best price when shopping online and how to automate your discounts for the best price. You can install the browser extension (Firefox, Safari, Chrome has been removed from the store although you may still be able to find it) to get access to the site's features without leaving Amazon, or you can just copy and paste an Amazon link or product name at the web site. In every case, CamelCamelCamel shows you how the price of the item has gone up or down over time, how prices have changed through Amazon directly and through third-party sellers who list new and used items on Amazon. If you sign up for a free account, you can set up alerts so the site can notify you by email when the price of an item drops below a certain amount, whether you can get it used for a given price, or whether it's at an all-time low and now is a good time to buy. You can even see previous historic highs and lows, and try to map out when the best time to strike really is.
Those of you who nominated CamelCamelCamel highlighted how useful it is for not just finding discounts and looking to see how price cycles fluctuate for specific types of items (like electronics, appliances, and more), but also bemoaned the fact that NewEgg banned them from tracking items listed in their store. You also mentioned the fact that their Chrome extension has gone missing from the Chrome Web Store, which is never a good sign. Even so, many of you pointed to how helpful the service and the site is, and supported it in the nomination round. You can read more in its nomination thread here.

SlickDeals Price Tracker

Five Best Price Tracking Tools
SlickDeals is well known for bringing you great, up-to-the-minute discounts, coupons, and other deals from around the web, but their web-based price tracker is also great for watching prices on just about any item on Amazon, and on several other popular shopping sites, like Newegg, Gamestop, IKEA,, and others. This opens the door to tracking not just what you can get in one place, but making sure you're getting the best deal even if you don't buy your item at Amazon, or if you just want to track an item at Amazon, but also at other online stores that sell the same product. The service doesn't give you detailed price history like some of the others in the roundup, but it will track the price of your item from when you create the alert going forward, and send you an email if the price drops below a threshold that you set. You can also return to the price tracker at any time, log in to your account, and see all of your tracked items on the same screen.
Those of you who nominated SlickDeals' price tracker praised it for supporting so many stores, and for giving you a no-nonsense way to track prices. One of you mentioned that the email alerts, combined with a special label in Gmail, made it easy to collect your own price history, and make sure you're notified if anything drops so low that you know you want to spring on it right away. However, others of you pointed out that the price tracker is in beta, and it's not terribly good just yet—although it's constantly evolving with the help of SlickDeals' massive community. You can read more in its nomination thread here.


PriceZombie prides itself on being a price tracker that also helps you do comparison shopping, so you can track prices and price histories while also making sure that the item you want to buy is actually the best option for you and your budget. PriceZombie, beyond being a webapp, has add-ons for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, and supports items from multiple retailers, including Amazon, Newegg, Target, TigerDirect, Fry's, IKEA, HomeDepot, and more. Like any good price tracker, if you type in a product name or a product URL at a supported store, you'll see a complete price history (if the item is being actively tracked, and if not, it'll start tracking it) so you can see if now is a good time to buy, or if the price was lower in the past. You'll be able to tell at a glance if there's a pattern, or the price is just trending downward—and you'll be able to set up price alerts so you're notified to new lows. The beauty of PriceZombie though is that while others stop with tracking, they go further: They'll also show you live price drops, so you can see if an item drops in real time (especially useful for Gold Box or super-hot new items), and they'll help you track price protection—meaning if you strike at a low price, you can get notified that the price has dropped again, with enough time to request a refund for the difference from the store you bought it from. The service will even sync your Amazon Wish List for you, and notify you if something on your wish list suddenly gets cheaper.
PriceZombie's nomination thread was fun to watch, since the service earned more than a few first-time fans through it. Several of you noted that you hadn't heard of it before, but looking at its features and how well the site works, you were tempted to try it out—and you were surprised at how useful it is. Others of you pointed out that you get to interact more with the historic price data (unlike some of the others in our roundup) so you can actually see where the prices peaked over different periods of time, and that it supports so many stores that using a tool that locks you into one doesn't make sense. You can read more in its nomination thread here.

Invisible Hand

Five Best Price Tracking Tools
InvisibleHand isn't quite the same as some of the other tools here—it doesn't track prices for you, or show you a price history so you know when the best time to buy an item is—but it does tell you if an item you're shopping for is cheaper elsewhere on the web, how much cheaper it is, and helps you find discounts on things you want to buy right now. The add-on is available for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, and it refreshes its product prices in real-time, instead of relying on a database of price listings that may be out of date. Best of all, it works with tons of online retailers, including Amazon, NewEgg, Best Buy, Lowe's, and airlines like Southwest, JetBlue, and Virgin Atlantic (among others.) Invisible Hand also works with Google searches, so if you just search for a product name, it'll show you where you can find the best deals for that item—including retailers you won't find listed in Google's own shopping results.
Invisible Hand has been around for a long time, and it added airfare a few years ago—it may not be one of those tools that helps you play the long game, but it's definitely one of those apps to consult before you buy anyway. For best results, you can even use it in conjunction with some of the other apps listed here to create a combo team of "lowest price today versus lowest price ever," which can really save you some money.


Five Best Price Tracking Tools
While most of the others in the roundup focus on products like electronics, apparel, household goods, appliances, and products of that nature, CheapShark snuck into the nominations as a great option for gamers looking to save money on video games. We've highlighted CheapShark in the past, especially for its unofficial Chrome extension that integrates so well with Steam's website to make sure you don't overpay for games. CheapShark combines all of the great places to get discounts on games (that aren't necessarily Steam, because we all know about Steam Sales) in one place, one easily searchable directory and database of current prices, from sites including Steam, GoG, Green Man Gaming, the Humble Bundle, GameStop, Amazon, Origin, and more. Of course, it's limited to video games, but you can search a game name not just to see how much it'll cost you to buy, but even if you can buy it at all—and which retailer has it available. If you want, you can even filter by games currently on sale at their selected stores. When you search for a specific game, CheapShark does tell you what the cheapest-ever price was, when it hit that price, and gives you the choice to either go ahead and buy it from your choice of retailer, or to sign up for a price notification if it drops again.
Those of you who nominated it praised CheapShark for saving you tons of money on video games, even during those all-too-popular store sales that make look like they have the best prices, but in reality someone else may have a better deal just waiting for you to pick up. It doesn't track history beyond that one all-time-low that you see when you search for a game, though. One of you even mentioned combining CheapShark's low-price notifications with Pushover and IFTTT to make sure you get up-to-the-minute notifications when a game is discounted, meaning you never miss an all-time low or a freak flash sale or short-time discount. Now that's dedication. Read more in its nomination thread here.

Now that you've seen the top five, it's time to put them to a vote to determine the community favorite:
What's The Best Price Tracking Tool?

Honorable Mentions

This week's honorable mention goes out to PriceJump, an Amazon comparison site that lets you search for the best price not just at Amazon, but at a ton of sites at once—somewhat similar to Invisible Hand. The site gives you simple visual cues to know whether Amazon has the best price, whether other stores are close, or whether you absolutely shouldn't buy from Amazon, because there are more than a few competitive retailers with better price options. In addition to Amazon, the site supports hundreds of other online retailers. There's even a Chrome extension to help you check before you buy. Read more in its nomination thread here.
Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn't included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Don't just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is—and make your case for it—in the discussions below.
The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it didn't get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it's a bit of a popularity contest. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at!
Title image by Gordon Joly.

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