Despite Amazon’s reputation as an online colossus with the lowest price on every product, it’s actually not always the place to find the best deal. As during the pandemic, many families are working with a tighter budget as unemployment numbers hit historic highs. In this economy, finding the lowest price is key.
If you’re shopping in a physical store (while wearing a face mask and practicing social distancing, of course), you can use Amazon’s app to compare the price you’re seeing in person to its online counterpart. Just hit the camera icon next to the search bar, and scan the barcode.
We’ve rounded up five free browser extensions (most of which also have apps for shopping on your phone) to help you quickly determine whether Amazon’s price is the best price — and, if not, where you should shop instead.
Honey compares prices between Amazon, Amazon’s third-party sellers and other online retailers, factoring in estimated shipping costs and Prime status to find the best deal.
Once you install the browser extension (on Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera or Edge) and navigate to a product page on Amazon, you’ll see the “h” icon appear over the product photo. Clicking it takes you to the Drop List feature, which shows the price history and lets you set an alert for drops. If you see a tag that says “Best deal,” you can be confident that no other Amazon seller offers a lower price.
You can also search for products through the extension or on Honey’s website to see current and historical pricing, coupons and availability on a range of e-commerce sites such as Walmart, JCPenney and Home Depot.
PriceBlink/Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET
PriceBlink also offers price comparisons and coupons, but with a slightly different interface. Once installed (on Chrome or Firefox), when you navigate to an online shopping site, a yellow bar will appear at the top of the screen. It will alert you to any available deals and coupons on the site, and if a better price is available elsewhere.
When you navigate to an item on Amazon, click “compare prices” on the bar at the top to see where else it’s available, along with the base price, shipping costs and total price. If Amazon has the best price, the bar will say “next best price.” If it doesn’t, it will say “Savings found! Buy this for less” and list the amount and the other site.
PriceBlink also lets you track pricing over time and add items to your wish list, as well as find coupons on its website.
If you see a “Best price” icon above Amazon’s price, you know that Popcart (available on Chrome) has certified it as the lowest price currently available among 13 other stores, including Walmart, Target and Best Buy. Click the icon to see prices at other retailers, and shipping costs. If Amazon has the best price, an icon next to the price will say so. If it’s not, it’ll tell you how much you can save by going elsewhere and lets you compare prices and shipping costs between stores.
Popcart compares products across three dimensions. Say you’re shopping for a bottle of dishwasher detergent. You’ll see different retailers, packaging options (like a 100-ounce versus a 150-ounce bottle), and variations (like meadow fresh versus unscented), instead of just matching barcodes. This helps break down exactly what you’re paying for. For example, in a search for Lysol wipes, Popcart showed me different size packages and broke down how much I’d be paying per wipe in each. And since COVID-19 began disrupting supply chains, the company has now added a supply finder to alert you when unavailable items are restocked.
OctoShop/Screenshot by Alison DeNisco Rayome/CNET
OctoShop checks inventory across stores to help you track down a product that’s frequently out of stock, like the Nintendo Switch or Oculus Quest. It’s less helpful than some of the others on this list in terms of telling you at a glance if you’ve got the best price (you’ll have to click on the OctoShop icon to see that, instead of having it appear automatically), but once you do, it makes it easier to toggle on different options.
After you install the browser extension, the OctoShop tab will appear above Amazon’s price. Click it to see if you’re getting the best price, and where else the item is available. You can set alerts for price drops and in-stock notifications from different retailers.