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Video gaming did very well in 2020, and may well continue to do so into 2021.
With people forced to stay inside by pandemic-related lockdowns, Americans spent 24% more on video games in the third quarter of 2020 than in the same period a year before. Among game systems, the best seller was far and away the Nintendo Switch, a portable game console whose sales surged a whopping 136% in October, Nintendo says, compared to a year before.
“Nintendo Switch has become so popular for a bunch of reasons,” says Jeff Bakalar, Lead Video Producer at CNET. “It owes a lot of its success to the fact that it’s truly a hybrid console — meaning it can be played at home on a big screen or on the go — and for the most part, none of the experience is lost either way it’s played.” (CNET is owned, like NextAdvisor, by Red Ventures.)
The Switch has led the U.S. video game market for almost two years also thanks to the wide variety of popular games you can play on it, including Animal Crossing. The fantasy game that lets people build virtual lives on islands is the title you are most likely to have heard about this year if you’re not a gamer, and with reason: Nintendo says it has sold more than 22 million copies of it.
Even with the holidays behind us, the Switch is still likely to remain at the top of many wishlists, but you may be put off by the $299.99 price tag at virtually every big box retail store. But you don’t have to pay that much, and a new promotion for American Express card holders offers savings of up to $100 on the console and its games.
Buy Pre-Owned, Refurbished, or Open Box
Looking into pre-owned, refurbished or “open box” models can save you quite a bit of cash. GameStop, for example, sells the console for $279.99 for both pre-owned and refurbished models. That’s 7% less than full price. (If the console is listed as unavailable, check back frequently for updated inventory.)
You could also look on Nintendo’s site to find a refurbished console. As of time of publication, we found a refurbished Switch in the neon blue and red colors for only $259.99, knocking $40 off the retail price.
Take Advantage of Credit Card Offers and Promotions
We have said this before: using your credit card points for anything other than travel is usually not recommended, since travel is how you get the most value out of them. But there can be exceptions.
Amazon frequently runs a promotion where you can get 10% off (up to $10) by using American Express Membership Rewards points at checkout. When it does, here’s how to take advantage of it: Add the Nintendo Switch to your cart, and then enter “.01” in the Payment Method section under “Apply American Express Membership Rewards Points.” That will deduct exactly one point from your American Express account, as in the screen cap below.
There’s also a targeted Amex Offer on The Platinum Card® from American Express, where you’ll save $50 on your $50+ purchase at Best Buy, up to twice. This means up to $100 in savings, spread out across two purchases. If you have this card, check your account to see if you’re eligible. (Note: This offer is no longer available)
Dell does sell the Nintendo Switch, although it’s currently not available for purchase. The company says it will be back “very soon.”
You could put that credit to use on Nintendo Switch games, such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or Super Smash Bros. Both games retail for $59.99 — if you got both, you would only have to pay about $20 out of pocket after the credit is applied.
Chase also offers a handful of targeted discounts and promotions across its consumer cards, but at the time of publication, none of them include electronics.
Use a Cashback Website to Get Money Back
It’s also a great idea to sign up for a cashback site such as Rakuten, RetailMeNot or WikiBuy to get even more money off your purchases.
For example, GameStop is currently offering 2.5% cashback on Rakuten and 5% cashback on RebatesMe, another popular cashback site. This is another quick and effective way to save even more cash on your purchase — and if you combine the cash back with the refurbished deal at GameStop mentioned above, you’re looking at a total of $272.99, down almost $30 or 10% from the original list price.
The Nintendo Switch is one of the hottest devices on the market, and many people are going to want to get their hands on one in the coming months. But with a little bit of patience and some strategy, you could be getting one for less than the retail price.