Price comparison websites, also known as comparison shopping engines, are essential for getting the best deals on the Web, especially when you don’t have the time to hunt down coupons or wait for deals.
Why visit over 10 different retailers when you can get all of their prices on one page?
But not all price comparison websites are equal, and the best one for me might not work for you (because we aren’t necessarily comparing the same products from the same places). The following criteria is what you should look for:
- Wide selection of vendors and product categories;
- Advanced search and filter options;
- Reliable and timely customer service;
- Smart and user-friendly interface.
That being said, here are some of the better price comparison websites currently available. Only you can decide which one is best for your needs.
Google Shopping is an example of what Google does best: scraping data from around the Web and presenting it to you in a way that’s clean, straightforward, and usable. And best of all, the price comparison feature is part of the search engine itself.
To use it, all you have to do is search for a product under the Shopping section. After selecting one of the results, you’ll see a few photos, a product description, any available reviews, and most importantly, pricing information from dozens of retailers.
The product result page automatically shows you the lowest available price, but if it comes from a retailer that you can’t or don’t want to use, then you can expand to see the complete table comparison. It also has a convenient toggle for when you want to buy used or refurbished.
Regional Availability: Over 20 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.
If you’re in the United Kingdom, the first site you should check is PriceRunner. Not only does it specialize in UK-based vendors, but it also lists vendors for free, which is unique since nearly every other price comparison website receive commissions from the vendors they list.
Needless to say, PriceRunner’s impartial approach to price comparison means that its results are more trustworthy than most other sites.
The website interface is modern and fresh. Product pages have price histories, price alerts, product information, and reviews. There’s even a map that shows where you can buy the product locally if that’s what you prefer.
Regional Availability: Only in the United Kingdom.
Shopbot is one of the primary options for price comparisons in Australia. Dozens of categories are covered, so you can search for pretty much any product and it will likely appear as long as it isn’t too niche.
The clean and modern interface makes the entire process easy, and one bonus is that most products include a Shopbot Review, which appears to be a handwritten review (not pulled from elsewhere). The additional Expert and User Reviews are helpful as well.
The vendor variety is pretty good, too, which means you’re likely to find good deals. Overall, this site is great and worthwhile for any Australian shopper.
BizRate has been a leader in the price comparison scene for quite a while, mostly due to its easy-to-use website and above-average results. Unfortunately, in terms of sheer savings and retailer variety, it often loses to Google Shopping.
However, there are a few features in favor of BizRate. For example, thanks to a partnership with Retrevo, BizRate is able to provide download links to PDF user manuals for hundreds of thousands of devices and gadgets.
There’s also a Price Alert feature on every product comparison page. All you have to do is enter your email address and a price threshold, and whenever BizRate detects that the product has fallen within your alert range, it’ll shoot you a notification.
Having launched in 1999, NexTag is without a doubt one of the oldest surviving sites on the Web, yet even so, it hasn’t run out of steam. In fact, it’s doing as well as ever and doesn’t seem to show any signs of slowing down.
Like BizRate, NexTag offers price alerts on each product, but unlike BizRate, NexTag has a better and cleaner system for determining the quality and trustworthiness of a given seller. But overall, the interface is a little clunky and outdated, which makes NexTag somewhat uncomfortable to use.
What is Yahoo! good for? They lost the search engine war against Google, and ever since then, they’ve been a nebulous entity — everyone has heard of them to some degree, but nobody knows what they do. As it turns out, they do a little bit of everything now.
Yahoo! Shopping is a simple tool. You search for an item and it pulls as many matches as it can from over 800 online stores covering dozens of categories. It does find some good deals sometimes, but the results tend to be hit-or-miss.
The interface is surprisingly clean, but a little too scant for my tastes. When products are listed in grid mode, you only see the listing title and the price. In list mode, you also see the description. Otherwise, you have to click through to see the full product, which can be a nuisance.
Regional Availability: Over 50 countries. If your country has a Yahoo! portal, then you likely have a regional form of Yahoo! Shopping as well.
Pronto supposedly pulls product data from thousands of stores across the Web, but when I gave it a try, I kept seeing the same 10 or so retailers pop up over and over again. A little more variety would go a long way towards better marks.
As for the results themselves, they were okay. It can definitely find prices that are cheaper than Amazon, but I’ve managed to find better prices with other comparison engines. This may be due to the lack of retailer variety mentioned above, or it could be due to some other factor I can’t see.
The interface is simple and easy to use, albeit a little slow. There are plenty of filters to help you find the exact products you want. Overall, Pronto is good for finding items for cheap, but not necessarily for comparing retailer prices on a specific item.
Regional Availability: Only in the United States.
Other Ways to Save Money Online
Price comparison websites are truly useful, but they are only one aspect of saving money online. For example, these tips for smart shipping and these genius money-saving tricks can help you save even more.
Which price comparison website is your favorite? Which features do you consider to be essential? Let us know in the comments below!