In the U.S., tax season is well upon us. And with the recession in full tilt, you may be--smartly--biding your time to make a purchase. Fear not though, there are tools aplenty to help you keep an eye on the price of something, and swoop in to get it when it goes on sale or the manufacturer offers a rebate.
We've put together a list of 22 different tools that let you do this with relative ease. Most only work on Amazon.com, but a few will keep an eye on the entirety of the Web to let you know about sales, price drops, and increases.
Amazon Price Watch (aka NukePrice.com)
Amazon Price Watch may sound like it's only Amazon.com prices, but it actually works with around 100 online retailers. You can have it watch the price of something by dropping its link into the service's Web form, or by installing a browser add-on that lets you start tracking from the retailer's site. Along with price-watching tools, it's also got a deals finder and a "filler items" tool that will help you find low-priced items to add to your Amazon order to get free shipping.
Apnoti watches Amazon for price drops. You can use it either by dropping in the Amazon product link and your e-mail address or installing a tool bar that adds the option to watch a price to Amazon.com. One of Apnoti's strengths is that it refreshes its price index "continuously" so you can be notified when a price drops usually within the hour.
BeatThat is primarily a deals site that lets users add deals they've found in return for cash. However, each product on the site can be watched to see if it drops below whatever price threshold you set. Like PriceGrabber you must be a registered user of the site to make use of this feature.
Buy it Later
Buy it Later is a tool that's been designed specifically for Amazon.com. You install a small browser add-on, which will add a new button to Amazon product pages that lets you opt-in to buy it at a later date. Once you click this the tool will start tracking the price. It also gives you the heads up when an item comes back in stock, which can be useful if you're looking to buy something with a low supply.
While camel imagery does not bring price watching to mind, the site does a great job at it. You can search items on Amazon and a few other retailers. It's also got a great grid of products that have had the biggest price drops by day and week both in dollar amount and in percentage. One of the most important things the site does, however, is show you a price history from the past month both from Amazon and third-party retailers. This is a good way to see whether a price is trending up or down, although admittedly its charts can be thrown off by gray market listings.
EDealInfo may not be the prettiest site of the bunch, but it's got a simple and powerful way to build a deal alert without too many specifics. For example, you can keep track of an entire genre of products for price drops, like all digital cameras from a certain retailer, or group of retailers. It's also registration-free.
FatWallet is mainly a deals forum site, but it also has a few tools that can harass the wisdom of the crowds to save you some cash. Firefox users can install the site's extension which will cross reference the deal to see if there are any coupons or special cash back offers. Consider this a good place to double check a deal you're tracking using one of the other sites on this list.
NetHaggler is a service designed to let users band together to get a lower price from a retailer by buying a single product as a group. It also has a price tracking feature that lets you bookmark items you'd be interested in buying for a certain price. Its system will then send you an alert either if your product falls within the price you've set, or if it's been able to haggle down the price by bulk buying with other users.
Ookong is another Amazon deal finder. It's currently for Firefox only, and requires you to install it to make use of its price-dropping prowess. Once it's on your machine you get a new button on all Amazon product pages that lets you track an item for any price drops. If the price goes down you get a little pop-up message in the bottom corner of your browser.
PriceDrop is an extension that users install in their browser to be alerted when the price of a product from Amazon.com goes down. You can monitor all your alerts in one list, and it gives you a real-time pop-up in the corner of your screen when it's time to alert you. Considering the tool only checks for price changes once every 18 hours it may not be the fastest, most real-time option, but it's one of the simpler options that won't clog up your e-mail in-box.
PriceGrabber's claim to fame is that it does the comparison shopping for you, but it's also got a robust alert tool that will let you know when an item's price fluctuates. To add items you simply search for them through PriceGrabber's database. You can also add any item to this list from its special PriceGrabber product page. One thing to note is that you must be registered with PriceGrabber to use this tool, which many other services on this list don't require.
Price Pinx, like most other services on this list, lets you drop in a URL to set up a price alert. However, most will find it useful for tracking public price drops. Once users begin tracking an item with the service Price Pinx makes it public, and puts some of the biggest sales on its front page, making it good for deal hunting.
Price Protectr is a simple tracking service. You just drop in the URL from a retailer's product page then set whether you want it to give you alerts about price drops, or e-mail you if there's been a price drop. For retailers that have a price protection plan this might save you some cash. The service works with around 150 online retailers and has a special toolbar where users can begin to track an item from any of these sites.
Savvy Circle has one of the longest lists of support stores in this bunch. Just like all the others you just tell it the products you want to keep an eye on and it sends you an e-mail when it goes on sale. You'll need to register with the service to get alerts though.
Shop It To Me
Shop It To Me is the one service on this list that's dedicated specifically to clothes. Its sister site Shop It To Me Running also does specific shoe brands and sides. With both sites you give it your sizes and specific brands you like and it will give you the heads up when items in that size go on sale. This is one of the better ways to make sure you don't head off to some sale only to find everything is three sizes too big or small.
ShoppingNotes is one of the simplest tools on this list. There's no sign-up, you just give the site the product page URL (or URLs as a group) and your e-mail address. It then sends you an e-mail if the price goes down. Besides its main site there's a bookmarklet you can add to your browser to begin watching a price from any site you're on.
Slickdeals, like Fatwallet is mainly a deals forum. It also has a deal alert tool. Unlike some of the other tools though, it won't scour the entire Internet to find out when something goes on sale. Instead it will keep an eye on new forum threads and send you an e-mail or private message. Note that you must be registered with the site to use this feature.
Trackle is one of the newest services on this list, having just launched in early February. It's an alerts service where you can have it keep a lookout for price drops, deals, and reviews on new products. It also has a special filter that can look for the same items on Craigslist in case you want to skip retail entirely.
Waitable is a price watcher that works with both bar codes and Amazon.com product pages. You set the price and it will send you both an e-mail and an SMS alert when it hits that price. It's not the prettiest service of the bunch but it does a great job, and lets you manage your alerts on a single page and subscribe to alerts in an RSS feed if you don't feel like junking up your e-mail in-box or mobile phone.
WishRadar is designed specifically for Amazon.com. If you're a registered Amazon user, you can simply add items you find to your wish list. WishRadar then tracks those items and will let you know if there are price changes, or if the prices come down to what you've set.
Yotify works much the same way Trackle does, by letting you set up an alert for a specific product, or genre of products. It then goes out and scouts the Web anywhere from one week to when you tell it you're no longer interested. Unlike some other tools Yotify doesn't offer a whole lot of refinement over which retailers you want to limit your search to, but if you're looking for the lowest price, this may not be important.
ZingSale is one of the prettiest sites on this list and, like the others, is set up to let you quickly put together a list of items you want to track for price drops. It's got a fast and smart search engine, with a very deep level of categorization, which can help narrow down your searches. And its e-mails lead directly to the retailer that's selling it at the lowest price.
We've certainly missed a few in putting together this list. Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments.