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What to expect during Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Once a multi-day mega sale, it’s now a month-long extravaganza

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An image composition consisting of a black Sony DualSense controller, a Dungeons & Dragons starter kit, and a 45-inch LG UltraGear curved OLED monitor. All products are surrounded by holiday and sale-related iconography, like a gift box, a gift tag, and a percentage sign. Image composition: Will Joel, Cameron Faulkner/Polygon | Source images: Sony Interactive Entertainment, Wizards of the Coast, LG
Cameron Faulkner (he/him) is Polygon’s commerce editor. He began writing about tech and gaming in 2013, and migrated from The Verge in 2023.

The best deals of the year were once known to occur during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which in 2023 take place on Friday, Nov. 24, and Monday, Nov. 27, respectively. Not anymore!

In 2023, the best Black Friday deals kicked off on Nov. 17 at Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, and other retailers. Instead of hosting all of the doorbuster deals on one day right after Thanksgiving, retailers see the value in maximizing the amount of time you have to shop for products before Black Friday. And I’ve gotta say, it’s quite nice to not feel rushed while shopping.

In addition to presenting you with the best board game deals and price drops on gaming monitors, plus deals on SSDs and microSD cards, there are some bits of info and wisdom I’ve organized into sections below that might help you feel more informed as you begin to shop for the holidays.

Retailer memberships will pay for themselves (eventually)

To get early access to Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals — or to get access at all — some retailers offer memberships. Most are familiar with Amazon Prime, which offers a free 30-day trial and unlocks special prices on top of free shipping and other perks, but there are others. Costco is another popular example that’s been around for a while. Its $60 membership pays for itself quickly with holiday purchases, especially if you buy food products in bulk (this is outside of Polygon’s purview, but you cannot beat its deal on Kerrygold butter).

Walmart Plus costs $99 per year ($50 for a limited time), and serves as a ticket to get in on deals before other Walmart shoppers, plus other perks. Note: You won’t get early access to deals with its free 30-day trial; you must be a paid member to earn access, so hit “Skip trial for Early Access” when signing up.

Then you have Best Buy’s My Best Buy Plus and Total memberships, costing $49.99 and $179.99, respectively. As for what each offers, check out Best Buy’s page that spells it all out. This page details all of the exclusive deals, which can help you quickly recoup the cost of the membership.

Amazon Prime members get free games and DLC all year

Amazon offers freebies for Prime members ’round the calendar year, not just during the holiday months. Those offerings expire over time and new ones are added, and Amazon’s suite of giveaways has improved over time.

We collect all of the latest free games and DLC that Amazon is giving away right here. To give you a taste, Rage 2, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and Doom 3 are some of what’s up for grabs right now.

You’ll get price matching if you shop at the right time

Some major retailers are ensuring price protection on purchases right now.

  • Amazon does not price match, which is annoying, but it’s tolerable since it often has the lowest prices of all retailers anyway. Amazon only protects the price on pre-orders that have its “Pre-order Price Guarantee,” which ensures that you’ll pay the lowest amount a product sells for before it’s launched.
  • Not only does Best Buy match prices from “qualified competitors,” but its site says that most products bought between now and Dec. 30 can be price-matched through Jan. 13, 2024.
  • Walmart’s policy says it won’t price match with competitors, nor does it price match for products purchased online that later decrease in price.
  • Target says that purchases made between Oct. 22 and Dec. 24 can be price-adjusted if the cost lowers in the span of time, and if you show proof of purchase. You may be eligible for a price match on a purchase, but the rules for submitting documentation vary depending on whether you’re shopping online or in store. It’s all explained here.
An image containing the Best Buy logo, Target logo, and Walmart Logo on a stylized background containing a combination of Amazon cardboard boxes, and mouse pointers. Graphic: Will Joel, Cameron Faulkner/Polygon | Source images: Best Buy, Walmart, Target

Most Black Friday return policies extend through January 2024

  • According to Best Buy, certain products bought now (dating back to Oct. 27) until Dec. 30 may be returned before Jan. 13.
  • Target will accept most unopened items in new condition within 90 days of purchase.
  • Walmart has an extended holiday return policy in effect that allows items purchased between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 to be returned on or before Jan. 31, 2024.
  • Amazon’s extended return policy is in effect for most items that are purchased between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31. Those items can be returned before Jan. 31, 2024. However, Apple-brand products purchased in that time frame can only be returned on or before Jan. 15, 2024.

Black Friday likely won’t be your last opportunity to save

There will be amazing deals during Black Friday and Cyber Monday on everything, from tabletop and board games to toys, video games, and more. However, it likely won’t be the last opportunity for you to save. As someone who’s been covering deals for The Verge and Polygon for years, I’m shocked by how often I see these low prices, often spoken of as if they’re a flash in the pan, extending through much of December. That said, it’s more likely that price cuts on products you want can go by unnoticed unless you’re tracking deals yourself.

Track deals yourself

We love to tell you about great deals. But there’s a limit to the kind of products that we write about, and the ones that we see. If you’re not comfortable leaving it up to the chance that we’re going to tell you about price cuts on the products you really want, you have the power to track deals with relative ease.

A screenshot of a price history graph from CamelCamelCamel Image: Alice Newcome-Beill/Polygon | Source image: CamelCamelCamel

If you only shop on Amazon, CamelCamelCamel remains one of the best tools for tracking price changes and history for products. While you don’t need an account to see pricing information available through the app, making a profile will allow you to set up watchlists and get email price alerts for your favorite products. You’re welcome to manually populate your own watchlist, but the app also allows you to import any existing Amazon wishlist into your CamelCamelCamel profile. Make sure to grab its Camelizer browser extension, too.

Honey and its accompanying extension allow you to track pricing history changes on specific products, but across a number of retailers, not just Amazon. Also, as an added bonus, Honey will also automatically search for promo codes when you check out at a supported retailer.

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