Never pay more than you need to when shopping.
We’re used to using comparison sites for things like mobile phone contracts and insurance, but this kind of tool isn’t limited to bills.
You can quickly get a sense of the cheapest prices out there for a huge variety of items – from tech to trainers – with just a few clicks either to locate where you will buy or to use as a benchmark for further deal hunting.
So download these apps or bookmark these websites and make sure you check them before you shop.
Getting the best out of comparison sites
Use more than one
I’ve listed below the main ones I use, but it’s often worth a quick look at a couple of these sites as some retailers won’t appear on them all. You might also want to search a few different permutations if there are different models or colours as the price could vary on those too.
Watch for extra costs
We all know that the price you see isn’t always the final price you’ll pay. Fortunately, all the sites listed here will allow you to search with or without delivery. I’d suggest searching without this cost as a default, then if there are extra costs, checking after to see if there are ways to get free delivery.
Use the prices as a guide
The lowest price you find might not be the cheapest you can get it. Once you’ve found a handful of retailers with similar low prices, take a look at cashback and voucher code sites to see if you can get the price down even more. Doing this could well make the third or fourth lowest price on the comparison site the cheapest one overall.
Check price history
I’ve written before about how price history trackers are essential to work out if you’re getting a good price, so I won’t focus massively on it here. But many of these sites also offer this feature, so it’s worth checking while you’re looking at prices to see whether it’s worth buying now, or waiting for prices to fall.
Set price alerts
If you don’t spot a price you’re willing to pay, then some price comparison sites will set alerts for a target price. If the product price does drop to or below this you’ll get an email letting you know.
This can be really handy as it avoids you having to constantly check prices, and reduces the chance you’ll miss out on a great deal.
Sadly it will be limited to the retailers listed on each site, so you might need to have a couple of alerts across a few of the comparison site. And don’t forget to turn them off once you’ve made your purchase.
Get the app
Though you could just use your mobile phone’s browser to access these sites, some also have apps. These are particularly handy when you’re out and about as they tend to have barcode scanners, meaning you’ll get the exact product pop up instantly.
The best shopping comparison sites
Over the years, my go-to price comparison tool has been just to whack the item into my browser bar. As I use Chrome, it defaults to a Google search, so this is the fastest way to see what’s out there – at least in the first instance.
The first results you’ll see are usually adverts, so you’ll want to hit “Shopping” in the filters to get all the results. A search for Sony’s WH-1000XM5 headphones brought up a few different options for the same product, but clicking allowed me to see results from a few more retailers. But be careful you’re not accidentally looking at a similar product that’s listed in the mix.
However, Google Shopping doesn’t show every retailer, or allow you to see price history or set price alerts, which is where these other sites come into play.
Of them, PriceSpy has the edge thanks to a better price history interface. You can drill down the price changes at individual retailers. Simply click the main price history graph to open up a price history table.
You can then expand the information for each shop. You’ll not only see what the price changes were, but when they happened, giving you an idea as to whether this is a regular promotion or a genuine special offer.
PriceSpy is also available as an app so you can search prices on the high street too and scan barcodes.
Amazon – Camel Camel Camel (alerts and history only)
Since this site will only look at prices on Amazon itself, it’s not really a price comparison site. However, Camel Camel Camel will let you look at options direct from Amazon and third parties, set price alerts and track the price history.
I’ve installed an extension into my Chrome browser that lets me quickly see the price history graph without having to open up a separate tab.
If you don’t want to do this then a shortcut to find the items is to copy the product code from the Amazon page URL (highlighted in the pic below). It’s always in the same place. Then paste this into the Camel Camel Camel search bar and you’ll get the exact product you’re looking at.