By Jim Donovan


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — To buy or not to buy? Around the holidays it seems that everything is on sale. But how do you know when you’re getting a really good deal?

3 On Your Side consumer reporter Jim Donovan has advice for bargain hunters in this week’s Top 3 Tuesday.

137 million Americans are expected to shop in stores and online this weekend and consumer advocate Edgar Dworsky, founder of ConsumerWorld.org, says to get the most bang for your buck you have to do your homework.

TIP #1 THINK BEFORE YOU PAY

“Be sure to be very careful about which credit card you pick for the purpose. I don’t think most people realize what benefits are on what cards. We all have a pocket full of credit cards these days, so if you’re buying a major appliance, don’t you want a credit card that doubles the manufacturer’s warranty,” said Dworsky.

Not sure what benefits your card offers? Call and ask.  You could be pleasantly surprised.

“Actually some Citi cards now add 24 months onto the warranty, that’s a great benefit,” said Dworsky.

TIP # 2 – SHOPPING ONLINE?  USING A MIDDLE MAN CAN PAY OFF…

“You can get some extra cash back if you go through an online site that pays you between one percent and maybe up to twenty percent back if you use their link,” said Dworsky.

Sites like CashBackHolic.com Ebates.com are some of the most popular.

Most major airlines have online shopping portals too, allowing you to earn bonus miles for your purchases.

“Go to United.com or American Airlines and use their marketplace feature,” said Dworsky.

United even unveiled a new app so you can shop.

FINALLY TIP #3 – CHECK PRICES BEFORE AND EVEN AFTER YOU BUY

“You really have to develop a familiarity with prices so you can spot a great deal,” said Dworsky.

Before you buy, use sites and apps like Price Grabber, Deal Alerter and  Edgar has another favorite.

“There’s a site called CamelCamelCamel.com that is kind of looking at amazon’s prices,” said Dworsky.

After you buy, use apps like Slice and Paribus to monitor if the price goes down.

“Go back to the store  and get the difference if the price goes down, many stores have a sale price guarantee,” said Dworsky.

Some credit cards offer price protection too. Citi, Chase, Discover and MasterCard are among them.  If you pay full price for something but see it on sale within a couple of months the card reimburses you the difference.

For more information, visit: www.ConsumerWorld.org