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2020 has been a very good year for video games.
Pushed inside by the pandemic and widespread shutdowns earlier this year, Americans spent 24% more on video games in the third quarter of the year than in the same period a year before.
Many of these Americans are buying the Nintendo Switch, a portable game console whose sales surged a whopping 136% in October, Nintendo says, compared to a year before.
Along with Peloton exercise bikes, the Switch has been one of the most sought-after items this holiday season, even with a retail price of $300.
“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.
Cash back portals and credit card offers can really be your friend when shopping for electronics like the hottest gadget of 2020.
If the Switch is on your wishlist, or of someone else you know, you may be put off by the $299.99 price of the standard version at virtually every big box retail store. But you don’t have to pay that much. Here’s how you can save.
Buy Used, 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, but you can do even better than that.
Check for 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 is currently running a promotion through the end of the year where you can get 10% off (up to $10) by using American Express Membership Rewards points at checkout. If you want 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 which lets you save $25 after spending $250 at BestBuy. If you have an American Express card, check your account to see if you’re eligible.
Additionally, if you have The Platinum Card® from American Express, you receive a $100 credit with Dell until January 31, 2021. 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 the Sony Playstation 4 Pro, another video game console, knocking $100 off the $399.99 price tag. The same goes for the competing Microsoft Xbox One S, which sells for $299.99 before the credit.
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.
Take Advantage of a Cash Back Website
It’s also a great idea to sign up for a cash back site such as Rakuten or RetailMeNot to get even more money off your purchases.
For example, GameStop is currently offering 2.5% cash back on Rakuten and 4% cash back on HooplaDoopla, another popular cash back 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.
Look for Holiday Deals and Bundles
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are also a good time to look for deals to score even more savings. Many retailers just released their Black Friday 2020 schedule, showing plenty of deals.
At GameStop, Target, Amazon, Kohl’s, BestBuy and Walmart, the Nintendo Switch is listed at the standard price of $299.99, but with the inclusion of a copy of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as well as three months of Nintendo Switch Online, a membership service for online play that costs at least $3.99 per month. Based on the retail price of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe alone, you’re getting about $60 worth of free gaming.
The Nintendo Switch is sure to be a hot item during the holiday season, and you’re not going to be the only one who wants to get your hands on one. But with a little bit of patience and some strategy, you could be getting one for less than the retail price.