How to Save Money When Buying a HDTV

7 Tips for Landing the Best Deal

HDTV shopping
Buying a HDTV. 97 / Getty Images
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I don't know about you but for me, it seems harder and harder to keep a good amount of money in my wallet at the end of the day. It's not just gas, though. It's paying too much for cell phones, electricity, water, satellite, food, car payments, insurance, etc.

So, saving a buck or two is important to me. Call it my newfound quest to find ways that can save some money when buying a new high definition television (HDTV).

I can hear the cash register sing a sweet song, "You just saved some money, Mr. Torres. Now, go buy something else."

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, but ​the truth of the matter is that 1080p really isn't a factor until getting into the larger screen sizes, like above 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

It's kind of obvious but it's true.

Black Friday is probably the most well-known sale. This happens the day after Thanksgiving if not at the stroke of midnight Thanksgiving night. Be aware, though. Shopping on this day is stressful so you'll want to plan to cope with Black Friday stress.

Black Friday sales usually feature huge savings on electronics, especially HDTVs. You could save hundreds off the regular sales price.

There are secrets to shopping Black Friday. There are also a lot of websites that specialize in Black Friday events.

After 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 around holidays.

But, for televisions, it's a good idea to keep an eye on sales fliers around Super Bowl time and other sporting events that 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.

I'm not advocating refusing all extended service plans but you need to think about the length of the warranty because it runs concurrently with your manufacturer's warranty. A two-year service plan is really only one year when you consider most manufacturer warranties.

When I look at service plan I subtract the manufacturer's warranty from the service plan and decide if that is a cost I am willing to pay for that length of coverage.

Buy Last Year's Model

It can lead to significant savings because older models are usually discounted to make room for the new ones.

In my experience manufacturers don’t dramatically change the design of a TV from year to year. They sort of evolve. 

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 Web sites that allow for side-by-side comparisons of models. Here are some recommendations 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.

I’ve bought one returned, one open box and one refurbished television. There are some things to consider when buying these types of televisions. Here are my thoughts on my experiences:

  • The price tag on each model was from $150-250 below the unopened model’s price.
  • I was concerned before buying them because I didn’t know how they had been used. I considered buying an extended warranty but after speaking with each salesperson I decided not to purchase extra coverage because the transaction was considered as new.
  • I received the full manufacturer’s warranty from the date of purchase.

Obviously, you have to proceed with caution when considering buying used merchandise. In simple terms, be aware of the store’s return policy and warranty terms for the TV or read about 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.

My favorite bargain site is TechBargains. They cover electronic goodies like HDTVs, cell phones, computers, iPods, etc. I like them because their coverage area is significant and they are fast to report deals. They were the primary site I went to when looking at Black Friday sales.

There are also a lot of other sites like Tech Bargains. Some of the ones I recommend include:

  • TechDeals.Net – TV information is in the Home Electronics category.
  • PlanetBargains.com – Affiliated with Tech Bargains so the same information may be available on both sites.
  • DealCatcher.com – I like the information listed on the main page of the site. They also have a link to the Sunday ads on SundaySaver.com.

Use Coupons and Rebates to Buy Online 

You can purchase from some of the world's largest retailers. These coupon sites are very similar to the bargain sites listed above. Their specialty is savings with coupons and rebates.

Here are six sites recommended to me by an associate that does an extensive amount of shopping online: