Daily deal sites can save you a bucketload – but only if you play the game right! Here’s how to make these sites work for you, plus our pick of the best.
There are masses of daily deals websites out there these days, boasting savings on everything from spa breaks to Henry hoovers – as long as you grab ’em while they’re hot (or, in this case, reduced).
Seeing all these crazy deals appear on your screen alongside a ticking countdown clock can lead to some rash decisions, so we’re here to tell you to chill out, take your time and do your research before you part with your cash.
These sites certainly have their benefits, but there are a few things to watch out for when using them.
We’ll tell you everything you need to know to reap the benefits from the daily deal universe, plus give you the lowdown on the best daily deals sites to try out.
The deal with daily deal sites
It’s worth knowing a bit more about how these sites actually work before you start throwing your money at them, right?
Right – here’s the deal…
What exactly are daily deal sites?
In case you need some clarification here, daily deal sites are exactly what they say on the tin: sites offering big reductions which typically only last for 24 hours (sometimes slightly longer).
Unlike typical voucher code sites, you’ll also find that a lot of the deals are highly localised to your area and not necessarily involving big brand names.
Daily deal sites are able to offer really low prices for a limited time by relying on the power of bulk buying. As long as enough people are interested in the deal and pay up, the company will still be able to make some money back, meaning it’s still worth their time.
Why should you use daily deal sites?
For many students, daily deals can be a great way to keep an eye out for any slightly more expensive purchases you’ve been thinking about but can’t quite afford at full price – laser teeth whitening, a spa weekend or a new TV, perhaps.
However, it’s important to make sure you don’t let the deals dictate what you buy, and only stick to purchases that are of interest to you! Don’t be tempted by 80% off 100 Nespresso coffee capsules when you don’t even have a Nespresso machine… or drink coffee, for that matter.
It’s also worth noting that massively discounted items can still be quite expensive. For example, a blender priced at £49.99 isn’t a bargain, even if it’s reduced from £250 – it just means that it was overpriced in the first place!
Top tips for using daily deal websites
Use a separate email address
All daily deal sites will ask you to enter your email address, as the ‘point’ of daily deals is that they email you every day with a list of the best deals on offer.
Of course, receiving these emails isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and can get annoying if you’re getting constant notifications.
You can get around this by clicking “I’m already signed up” or “no thanks” on the homepage. Or you could go for our favourite option: use an alias (deals) email address for daily deals and turn off all notifications for this address.
Always read the small print
Terms and conditions are officially as dull as dishwater, but that’s no excuse not to read them – especially when it’s your over-stretched wallet on the line.
This is particularly the case with daily deals, as often you’ll find deals are really specific in how and when they can be redeemed.
For example, a restaurant deal might not be valid on weekends (really convenient), or the driving experience voucher you bought months in advance for your dad’s birthday might expire within a couple of weeks. Don’t get caught out!
Watch out for hidden costs on daily deals sites
One common tactic of daily deals sites is to promote offers that appear extremely low, but actually have some additional costs involved.
For example, an offer like “paint balling for £1” sounds great. But when you arrive to find out that you have to fork out to hire the paintballs and other equipment at an extra cost, it becomes clear that the deal really was too good to be true.
Use a piece of paper to tot up the total cost after the added extras to see if it’s still a good deal.
Always check out the seller
Remember that daily deal sites only host deals and aren’t technically responsible for any issues you have with the companies offering them.
If the business behind the offer is running a deal that you feel is unfair, it can be difficult for the deals company to do much about it straight away, and the process of coming to a solution can take a long time. Therefore, just make sure you do your research first.
It takes less than five minutes to check out a retailers website and read some reviews, but this could save you a lot of time and hassle in the long run.
Don’t fall for the hype
Yes, an all-inclusive country spa break sounds great, but can you really afford it?
With emails landing in your inbox daily, it can be all too tempting to snap up anything that appeals, but try to focus on what you actually need.
Don’t get caught out by marketing – make a list of stuff you’re on the lookout for in advance and only snag offers that appear for those things.
The trick is to keep the ball in your court by making sure you’re scouting out deals rather than taking up offers that have been advertised to you. That’s how they get ya!
While the 80% off price tag can make it seem like you’re saving a fortune on the RRP, make sure you do some scouting around first.
Some retailers have been known to inflate prices so that it looks like you’re getting a mega deal, when in reality no retailer is selling the item at the RRP.
The internet is your friend here – head to Idealo and see how much the product is actually selling for elsewhere.
Refer a friend to daily deals sites
Most daily deal sites will offer some sort of incentive to get users to refer a friend to sign up to their site.
Normally this will involve being given a link to dish out to your mates, and if they sign up using the link you send them, both of you will earn cash (in the case of Groupon, this is £6 a pop!).
Look out for voucher codes
Believe it or not, on top of all these crazy reductions offered by daily deal sites, it’s not that uncommon to find voucher codes for a further discount on your spend with a website.
For example, a site might offer a voucher code that will get you £5 off when you spend £25 with them, no matter what deal you go for.
These codes are definitely worth keeping an eye out for on our student deals page, as the overall saving involved with the two discounts combined can be really something!
If you’re dining out, declare your deal
If you’re using a voucher to dine out, it’s best to let the staff know before you take your seat that you plan on using it.
This will avoid any embarrassing situations, like if they have to point out that the deal is only valid on Tuesdays when you’re there on a Saturday night. You’ll be in for a nasty shock if they refuse your voucher!
This also applies to ‘experiences’ like beauty treatments, workshops and the like.
Don’t watch the clock
… because that’s exactly what they want you to do! Countdown tickers can play havoc with your ability to distinguish between needs and wants – don’t give into the pressure of the clock!
Just ignore them. Despite what they want you to believe, the chances are that a very similar deal (if not the very same one) will crop up again soon enough.
The best daily deals sites
When people think ‘daily deals’, they normally think ‘Groupon’. These guys have been market leader in daily deals since… well, forever.
Some of Groupon’s best offers include those luxuries that aren’t necessarily part of a student’s typical expenses, such as spa treatments, overnight breaks and luxury dining experiences.
You can definitely find a gem from time to time, but there’s no denying that there’s a lot of promotional emails involved.
LivingSocial has always been nipping away at the heels of market leader Groupon, and is increasingly providing some of the best value deals in order to gain market share.
Previous top offers include £50 worth of Tesco spend for just £20, and half price Starbucks.
Like most daily deals sites, each offer expires quickly – so you need to move fast to bag the best ones. It’s worth downloading the LivingSocial instant deal app which alerts you to the latest deals instantly, ensuring you never miss out.
As well as irritating adverts, Wowcher supplies the same kind of offers as other daily deals sites, such as deals on dining out.
But intriguingly, this site also offers some more obscure deals such as tarot card reading and laser tattoo removals!
Again, GoGroopie will have all the usual types of daily deals – dining out, experience days, weird household goods you never even knew existed, and so on.
But what’s really great is GoGroopie’s travel offers. Don’t get us wrong, other daily deals sites do holidays too, but GoGroopie’s are definitely the best of the bunch.
Just a heads up, though – always check the flight times before you go ahead and book. The cheapest deals might involve some unsociable travel hours, but then again, when you’re paying under £100 for flights and accommodation to a European city, it’s a small price to pay (literally!).
We’ve heard mixed reviews about Mighty Deals – specifically the quality of the deals and the products they’re offering.
Nonetheless, if you’re careful about things, you can get some great discounts on Mighty Deals.
We’d recommend Googling the brand/model of product being offered, as this should give an indication of the whether you’re getting a good deal or not.
So remember: only buy things you were after anyway, and don’t get suckered in by an offer that sounds a lot better than it actually is! Stick by these two rules, and you won’t go far wrong.
If you love daily deal sites, we recommend checking out secret sales sites – they offer a lot of the same kinds of discounts!