How to Save Money When Buying a HDTV

Follow These Tips and You're Sure to Save Big Bucks

HDTV shopping
Buying a HDTV. 97 / Getty Images

It's safe to say that everyone loves a good deal, no matter whether you're buying groceries or a new electronic device. If you're in the market for a new high definition TV (HDTV) there are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind if you want to get the best bang for your buck on your new purchase.

Buy 720p or 1080i Instead of 1080p

It's a sensible option for almost any HDTV purchase. We can debate the advantages of 1080p over 1080i and 720p all day long, but ​the truth of the matter is that 1080p really isn't a factor until getting into the larger screen sizes (once you go larger than 32"). Buying 1080p at 32" or below is a waste of money if a similar 720p/1080i model is available for less.

Don't Buy Until the Item Is On Sale

This one is kind of obvious, but always true. Black Friday is probably the most well-known sale, occurring the day after Thanksgiving (if not Thanksgiving evening right after the pumpkin pie is served). Whether in-store or online, you can usually get huge savings on electronics, especially HDTVs, and save hundreds off the regular sales price.

Post-Christmas is also a great time to shop for a new TV. These sales are nearly as impressive as Black Friday but come with a much calmer push through the doors from shoppers.

The other big sales occur throughout the year usually around holidays. For televisions, it's a good idea to keep an eye on sale flyers around Super Bowl time and other sporting events that tend to draw big TV audiences.

Don't Buy the Extended Warranty

When it's offered to you at the cash register, opt out if you don't want it or if it costs too much compared to the value of the HDTV.

There are certainly times it makes sense to purchase an extended service plan, but you need to think about the length of the warranty because it runs concurrently with your manufacturer's warranty. For example, a two-year service plan is really only one year when you consider most manufacturer warranties.

When you're considering a service plan, subtract the manufacturer's warranty from the service plan and decide if that is a cost you are willing to pay for that length of coverage.

Buy Last Year's Model

This can lead to significant savings because older models are usually discounted to make room for the new ones. Manufacturers don’t tend to dramatically change the design of a TV from year to year; rather they sort of evolve. 

Any significant differences will usually be cosmetic, like menu system graphics, TV stand, etc. If a manufacturer does a major overhaul of their video processors then you’d likely know it when comparing the current to last year’s model. Often, the video processors are labeled something like first, second, third generation.

There are a lot of websites that allow for side-by-side comparisons of models, but here are some recommendations to consider that also apply to the latest models:

  • Make sure the TV has a built-in digital (ATSC) tuner.
  • The TV should have at least one HDMI input. This HDMI input should be HDCP compliant if you want to connect HDMI/HDCP devices to it.
  • The warranty needs to begin on the purchase date. This is usually the case for new and refurbished models but it doesn’t hurt to confirm.

Buy a Refurbished, Open Box or Returned HDTV 

Doing so can lead to immediate savings over unopened items, but there are some things to consider when buying these types of televisions.

Obviously, you have to proceed with caution when considering buying used merchandise, as you don't know how they were previously used (and potentially damaged). In simple terms, be aware of the store’s return policy and warranty terms for the TV or read about the pros and cons of refurbished items in greater detail.

Regularly Visit Bargain Websites

You'll be up to speed on the latest rebates, sales, and coupon information. These websites display online coupons, rebates, and sale advertisement information. Often, bargain sites have sales listed before their officially in the stores.

One good bargain site is TechBargains. They cover electronic goodies like HDTVs, cell phones, computers, iPods, etc., and their coverage area is significant and they are fast to report deals. This is a great site to check out when shopping for Black Friday sales.

Some other recommended bargain sites include:

  • PlanetBargains.com: Affiliated with Tech Bargains so the same information may be available on both sites.
  • DealCatcher.com: Important bargain info is listed front and center on the main page of the site.
  • SundaySaver.com: Get a closer online look at all the Sunday ads in one place.

Use Coupons and Rebates to Buy Online 

You can purchase from some of the world's largest retailers using online rebates and/or coupon codes. These coupon sites are very similar to the bargain sites listed above, but their focus is savings with coupons and rebates.