Price comparisons are a fine thing: just a few clicks – and you've found the cheapest price for a product among hundreds or thousands of sellers. So far the theory. In practice, there are some tricks. So you should be careful to type in the exact name of a product in the search box to really be able to compare precisely. In particular, manufacturers of consumer electronics and PC components issue many product variants with similar names but different features.
Also, you should make sure that a supposed bargain does not turn out to be used goods. Google likes to mix new with used goods in its product search. So you have to look closely at the search engine in the detail overview ("-> compare prices"). In our samples with Google also missing various special prices.
For electro articles we have the best experiences with idealo and miser (remark: Miser belongs like "c't" to Heise media). Other alternatives are guenstiger.de and cheaper.de. We recommend checking prices on at least two portals. For example, in our samples we found special prices for Saturn and MediaMarkt via idealo, but not about miser.
All major comparison portals operate price alerts that notify you by email when a target price is undershot. Those who do not have to buy immediately should use this feature and be vigilant – some bargains are only available for a few hours at a reduced price.
Some price comparishers also scour the tariffs of service providers. However, these are often not as clear to compare as other products. It gets complicated, for example, in insurance companies, where significantly more parameters are included in the calculation.
For example, the insurance price comparators tested in a sector inquiry by the Cartel Office rank their results according to the annual net premium payable (see ct.com/yzq4). However, according to the investigation, this only reflects a part of the truth: "However, a ranking of the insurance offers based solely on the price can not reflect the fact that the different tariffs in their scope of insurance sometimes differ significantly."
It may therefore be advisable to seek advice from a neutral body before concluding a service. Online you will find on Finanztip.de many useful hints from a neutral source. Personally and completely without obligation (but not completely free of charge) one can inform oneself from the advice centers of the consumer centers.
For some product types there are specialized price search engines. Thus, medizinfuchs.de and MediPreis help to save money on orders for medicines and over-the-counter products that have a centralized pharmaceutical number. If you want to order several articles from these providers, you can put them on a notepad and then distribute them to several pharmacies at a price-optimized price.
If you push several products on the notepad at medizinfuchs.de, you can divide the entire package into several pharmacies.
In the search for low drug prices, however, can also help the generalist Google – and not within the normal results, but in the ads. So we observed during our research that the online pharmacy DocMorris repeatedly advertise with competitive prices. These also undercut the prices that DocMorris displays in its own search.
Amazon has a special role. The online retailer operates a marketplace whose offerings include some of the price comparisons. This market place is at the same time its own platform including search engine.
For many consumers, the search on Amazon is synonymous with the price research on the Internet. However, this has its pitfalls, because you can not assume that Amazon displays the dealer with the lowest price when searching for a product. Under "Other sellers on Amazon" the full price overview is hidden under "X offers from Y e". If you filter there for new items, you will often find cheaper prices.
After you have found on Amazon the supposedly cheapest price, you should also compare it again with the on the website of the respective provider. The consumer center North Rhine-Westphalia has determined in random samples that merchants sell their goods through Amazon often more expensive than in their own online shop. They are apparently trying to recoup the hefty commissions Amazon is collecting.
A great help for Amazon customers is the website camelcamelcamel.com (all links at ct.de/yzq4). If you enter the URL of an Amazon product here, you'll get a graphical overview of last year's price history, both for "sell through Amazon" and for third-party sold items. There you can see well how dynamic the pricing on the platform is – price differences of 25 percent or more within weeks and even days are not uncommon.
camelcamelcamel tracks the price development of any products on Amazon and visualizes them.
camelcamelcamel operates a price alert, which can be limited to third party. The overview of the top price cuts is interesting and once again confirms the large variance; if you are looking for a specific product, you do not need this feature.
Through the Warehouse Deals Amazon sells its returns, but provides full customer service. There are real bargains at used prices, if one is prepared to accept small scratches. This is especially true for the article condition "very good", which is often hardly distinguishable from new products.
Only a few eBay offers appear in the overviews of the comparison portals. But anyway, not everything that appears on the auction and sales platform is also automatically cheap. If you find a supposed bargain on eBay, you should consult the comparison portals before making a purchase.
It is also important to note the past purchases of the product. This is quite easy with the advanced search function. Restrict the results here to "Sold items" and additionally to "New" or "Used" as desired. eBay presents a good overview of the range of prices. You may be able to postpone the buyout until prices are better, or focus on auctions in the lower half of the price.
This, in turn, indicates the advanced search by specifying an upper limit for "items with a price range of x to y". A lower limit can also generally help to limit the number of suitable offers, because it eliminates such cheap accessories with the same name components.
If you are bidding in auctions, you must first set up a price target in the form of the maximum price that you are willing to spend with the data you have compiled. That helps not to pay more in the heat of the moment. So-called snipers like baytomat.com can help.
Great potential has the price proposals that eBay now increasingly applies: Dare to quietly, the seller a – reasonable – proposal to submit. Most sellers who accept price proposals are willing to give 5 to 10 percent off the original price. This saving can not be reflected by search engines.
His attention should always be on the preselection of the ratings of the seller in order to avoid later trouble. With offers of foreign traders questions arise also after guarantee in the case of emergency and enforceability of demands.
Marketplaces and aggregators
eBay and Amazon are by far the most important shopping marketplaces in Germany. There are still many others who are worth a look, such as Real, Etsy or the German offshoot of the Japanese platform Rakuten with 7000 affiliated dealers and 22 million products.
Beware of "countdown" auction platforms without fixed end times such as Snipster: There, the supposed bargain bid prices jump in the eye, each rising only by a cent per bid. However, a bid costs 50 cents and extends the auction period. Thus, the supposed bargain hunters are permanently held in a bidding contest – but only one can win.
Aggregators such as mydealz, which is extremely popular in foxing circles, collect bargains from various sites. An offer, which is listed here, usually offers a noticeable discount on the cheapest price, determine the price comparator. If you are waiting for concrete offers for a particular product, you should register and create a deal alert – the number of daily offers is enormous. TagesAngebote.de and liveshopping-aktuell.de lists limited offers available. These include Amazon's Blitzangebote.
Shopping clubs such as the French pioneer Veepee, Best Secret, Zalando Lounge or the eBay subsidiary brands4friends are in a sense exclusive outlets in the browser. The membership costs nothing, you sign up by e-mail address.
The clubs offer hundreds to thousands of branded products for a short time, usually a few days, at greatly reduced prices. In return, you may have to accept long delivery times of two to four weeks, since the orders are first collected and then ordered from the manufacturer. A "ready to ship" indicates brands4friends when it's faster.
Most clubs only sell clothing, but not all: Veepee, for example, also has wine on offer. Who buys much in the offer of a club, receives benefits such as earlier access to the offers, free shipping or commission on orders from invited friends.
An interesting own approach follows drop.com. Here, the community decides which products should find their way into the club sale. On the one hand, this can be a normal branded product at a special price, such as a noticeably cheaper Canon 5D Mark IV SLR digital camera. Occasionally, however, Drop also makes products especially for the community according to their wishes, such as the trendy-colored AKG-7XX-Pulse headphones, an improved version of the original AKG 702.
The product selection on drop.com is controlled by the community. Some product requests are then implemented especially for them.
The loyalty programs of Amazon and eBay offer different benefits than the clubs. Most importantly, companies are more or less royally rewarding Amazon Prime and eBay Plus membership. Amazon requires 7.99 euros per month, but also offers a lot: In addition to the free premium shipping is included access to selected videos and music in the streaming offer and the cloud storage service Amazon Drive. In addition, there is the exclusive start time for lightning offers, which is 30 minutes earlier.
eBay Plus costs 19.90 euros per year. For every Euro in turnover Plus members receive a bonus point. 500 points can be converted into a 5 Euro voucher on ebay.de, which equals one percent discount. However, vouchers are valid for only one month, and Plus Points expire if you do not make a plus purchase within the next 180 days.
Vouchers online and offline
With coupons, traders have always tried to lure customers into their stores. If the classic world of paper vouchers was complicated enough for physical businesses, the network will add thousands of shops and mixed forms.
Bargain portals like coupon ponies collect coupons from the net. These are better than nothing, but these are almost exclusively public offerings from manufacturers, where the discount pages now want to earn commission, if you click on such a coupon link. The commission you should better reap the same – as we explain under "Cashback".
There are certainly vouchers that go beyond normal offers. On mydealz.de/gutscheine we have always found good bargains. Couponplatz.de in turn collects savings coupons for printing.
Keep an eye out for an online purchase: Many online retailers in Germany, including the online pharmacy DocMorris, are involved in referral networks and offer their customers a reward in the form of vouchers after purchase. Alone because of the discounts, it is often worth the advertising blab of newsletters to endure. Sonos, for example, regularly offers registered customers 15 percent off, Douglas even 20 percent. Others announce so-called flash-sales on this way, thus extremely short-running promotions.
Beware of credit cards
A means of payment with a built-in discount: There are many offers in which credit cards are linked to perks when shopping online. American Express offers a free credit card with payback collection function, from the DKB there are similar counterparts for Miles & More.
However, credit cards are never really free; in some way, the companies involved – banks, credit card companies and third parties – try to get their money's worth. Therefore, you have to pay close attention to the details, because otherwise you pay at the end with a "free" credit card on it.
Take the example of the Visa card from Amazon that calculated times: Prime members not only pay permanently no fees, but even get three percent cashback on all purchases on Amazon, which are handled with the card. After all, they still receive half a percent for purchases from other dealers (non-prime members: 19.99 euros from the second year, two and a half percent cashback). That all reads well first.
The financial transactions are handled by Landesbank Berlin. When applying for the card partial payment is preset – a Fußangel: The customer pays back only 10 percent of the card debt immediately, the rest he stutters in installments. And very high interest rates of 14.98 percent are due. The partial payment can be turned off.
It gets really expensive when you withdraw money with the card or pay outside of Europe. For payments in foreign currency, the fee is 1.75 percent of sales. When withdrawing you pay 3 percent of sales, but at least 5 euros abroad and even 7.50 euros in Germany.
For most consumers, the Amazon credit card is therefore not worthwhile, Finanztip.de recommends other cards. If you only use the card for Amazon, you can permanently lower your costs there. He should turn off the partial payment.
Paypal and paydirekt, the system of the German banks and savings banks, lure permanently with special offers and discount promotions, in order to then mitzukassieren afterwards with the payment procedure with so many actions also the offerers of payment systems.
Last but not least, one should take a look in the apps of the dealer: Otto is in his app regularly codes and daily a deal, Rewe weekly four to five savings coupons for different products. Similarly Edeka does it. Rossmann even has a high double-digit number of promotions and savings coupons running at the same time.
Elsewhere, a permanent discount is granted when you close a subscription: Amazon sells many products in a savings subscription 5 to 15 percent cheaper, if you have at least every six months needs. Blacksocks specializes in nomen est omen, footwear and underwear, with subscription savings of 10 percent or more.
KingsLoot, wootbox and LootChest provide gamers, geeks and nerds with official t-shirts, figures and pins from their universe. Abo-boxen.de lists other subscription offers. Many of the subscriptions can be canceled at any time so that you do not take any risks. Of course, savings are difficult to calculate for the surprise packages.
Foreign vs. foreign Local commerce
Tempting is often the look abroad. On Amazon and eBay, numerous traders, the goods from Hong Kong, Great Britain or Switzerland frolic. Savings on branded products often seem significant.
However, you may be missing out on local warranty terms, local cashback offers, and deductibility for VAT when purchasing. Customs can quickly make the bargain a cost trap. For orders from outside the EU, which reach a value over 22 euros with shipping costs, import sales taxes and possibly also excise duties are due. From 150 euros including shipping costs and customs fees are added. Even returns or repairs can be expensive.
The consumer center NRW warns explicitly against the platform Wish, which mediates products at remarkably low prices, mostly from sellers from the Far East. There were a number of complaints about damaged or missing supplies and poor quality of the goods. For test purchases, there were big problems to return purchased goods.
import-shopping.de provides information about dealers and platforms in China and at the same time gives practical tips on how to optimize your purchases and bring them home safely. Information about the customs borders betray the sides of zoll.de. Those who pay for purchases abroad with PayPal can benefit from (not always entirely) free worldwide return shipping. The costs PayPal takes up to 25 euros for 12 purchases per year (see ct.de/yzq4).
In addition, PayPal purchases protection also applies to foreign purchases. However, the Stiftung Warentest warns of purchases in foreign currencies against hefty fees from PayPal. You should permanently switch off the so-called "immediate conversion" in the PayPal options under "Payments". PayPal therefore settles online purchases in the local currency of the online retailer. Only your home bank calculates the amount – usually at a better rate than PayPal.
Within the EU, there are some trade barriers. For example, on the national sites of amazon.es, amazon.fr and amazon.it, bargains sometimes become apparent, whereas at amazon.co.uk the exchange rate of the pound sterling is currently having a beneficial effect. But here too: returns must go to the respective country, Amazon Germany is not responsible.
Instead of carrying your money to Amazon or even overseas, you can also support local trade. Kai Hudetz, managing director of the Institute for Trade Research in Cologne, recommends an age-old strategy in view of the lack of transparency of many online platforms: haggling with the local dealer. He said to the dpa: "The customer can not negotiate the price on the internet, he can do that in the store – and he does it more and more often, which means that the prices are actually cheaper than on the internet."
Many cities have launched local initiatives to counter competition from the Internet – from online storefronts for local businesses to lavish e-malls for retailers. localcommerce.info gives an overview of such initiatives.
But as a consumer, you can also take advantage of well-known ways and browse the brochures of the local retailers. You do not have to take paper for it; the brochures are online on platforms like marktguru online.
Many online purchases can be combined with reimbursements, new German: Cashback. In addition to the most widespread providers in this country, Payback and Deutschlandcard, there are many more, for example Shoop.de (formerly Qipu) and aklamio.com. The commissions can in some cases reach double-digit percentages of the purchase volume, also cash-value vouchers in the value of 5 to 20 euros are often the subject of special promotions.
Instead of having the commissions collected at Shoop paid out directly to your account, you can also convert them into vouchers of MediaMarkt & Co. It saves again a few percent of the voucher value.
It should be clear, however, that you will not get anything for cashback. At Payback and Co., one buys advantages with his data instead. Payback, for example, receives information about the purchased goods or services, prices, discount amount, location and time of purchase when using the card.
Some Cashback providers only transfer the credit to the account after a few weeks to months. A tip: Shoop credit can be converted into discounted vouchers for providers such as Cyberport, Eventim or Otto, another 4 to 20 percent savings are in here. marktguru and scondoo offer supermarket chain-wide cashback on products, if you upload the proof of purchase in the app.
In turn, payback points can be paid in cash, converted into miles or redeemed in the payback rewards shop.
Many brand manufacturers also offer cashback campaigns, which can usually be combined with the aforementioned combinable. MediaMarkt, Saturn & Co. draw attention in their brochures on- and offline actions of Samsung, Nikon or Huawei.
A special form of cashback is charity shopping: Here the proceeds go to selected relief organizations such as Unicef, Doctors Without Borders or BUND Naturschutz. Amazon, for example, donates 0.5 percent of its sales when shopping through smile.amazon.de.
Schulengel.de donates according to own data about two thirds of its commissions, Bildungsserver.de even about 90 per cent. For larger sums, you should compare whether own cashback and a direct donation are not more useful.
The internet is no longer the price paradise it once was. Sometimes going to the local dealer is actually a sensible alternative. But even on the net you still save a few euros, if you know how and where to look. Comfortable natures and stressed shoppers are the easiest way to save money with the help of cashback. Born hunters have a huge hunting ground to let off steam, but should not let common sense out: if the price of a product is too cheap to be true, then most of the time it's a bit lazy – or risks like waiving local warranty priced.