Honey – A Quality Service To Save Money, or a Scam?
The Internet has massively shaken up the commercial world. From mom and pop groceries to megagiants like Walmart, online shopping has been a game-changer for just about every retailer on earth. Amazon is the 600-pound gorilla in the room; Jeff Bezos’ retail empire now sells virtually anything you could possibly imagine. From groceries to clothes, gadgets to movies—and that’s not even including their Amazon Prime streaming service—Amazon has gone from literally a garage startup to one of the largest corporations in the world. The company accounts for half of every dollar spent online in the United States and carries more than 500 million products, making it an essential part of shopping.
Amazon isn’t the only place people have turned to shop online, of course. Ebay has come a long way in selling used, new and refurbished products as well, making it a great way to save some cash as you shop for goods you want to buy anyway. Best Buy occasionally has some online-only deals that make it easy to pick up great deals along the way. Online commerce has become such a big deal that marketplaces like Walmart, Target, and even Dell compete against Amazon’s own Prime Day, which offers a lineup of deals for consumers to pick from in order to save some cash.
While sales are good, it’s a better bet to try to save some cash year round by using a service designed to find the best deals, along with coupon codes, to help you save some cash. By far, the most successful service in this area is Honey, an extension for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, and Opera that allows you to automatically scan sites like Amazon and other similar sites to find the best deals available on a specific product. If you’re looking to save some cash, Honey can seem like a great deal. Of course, any service making these kinds of promises is going to create suspicion. Honey is an extension for your browser, which gives it some major power and permissions over what’s on your display. How can you be sure that you aren’t being suckered into a scam? Is Honey actually good at saving you money, or is it another ploy trying to get you to play into someone’s hands? We’ve all been burned by browser extensions, whether they were spam-filled search bars from the 2000s or, more recently, shady “free” VPNs that used your traffic for malicious deeds.
To get to the bottom of things, we took a long, hard look at Honey. Frankly, we wanted to find out whether the service is any good. Let’s take a look at Honey to figure out whether you should download this popular extension, or keep it far away from your browser bar.
Show me the Honey
Honey got its start in 2012 when founder Ryan Hudson was struggling with financial concerns. One night he ordered a pizza online for himself and his two children, and he realized that somewhere there was probably a code or coupon that would allow him to save cash off the pizza, but that he didn’t know where. After his children went to bed, Hudson built a prototype coupon-finder in his browser, which made it easy to automate the search for coupons and discount codes online. Slowly but surely, the app grew into something that was marketable, and after a few more hurdles, Honey was launched as a full-blown browser extension built on the promise of helping consumers save cash with as little work as possible. Today, the extension has been downloaded more than ten million times, making it an exceptionally popular service.
The way Honey works is pretty straightforward. Once added to your browser, the app auto-adds an extension to the store pages of most major digital storefronts online. The most important of the bunch is Amazon, but Nike, Papa John’s, Nordstrom, Sephora, Bloomingdale’s, Kohl’s, and plenty of other online vendors also support the extension on their sites. Honey simply adds a small Honey icon (a stylized “h”) to the storefront page as you shop for your products, making it easy to figure out when a deal is worth taking.
When you install the app, you’re asked to sign in, either with Facebook or Google or with a new email and password for a Honey account. The feed has deals and money-back ideas, and if you log in, this stuff can be personalized. Though the feed might be helpful to some, others may find their time better spent by skipping installation here and just moving forward towards a new account.
For the sake of this review, let’s use Amazon as the place to test Honey. When you load a product page on Amazon, you’re greeted with some new icons on the page below the name of the item. The box to the left details price history for the product, with the number of price changes that has occurred in recent history for your chosen product. Hovering over this icon allows you to open a link to Honey, but unfortunately, to see the price drops, you’ll need to open a new window. You can view the price history for up to 120 days on a helpful bar graph, but plenty of other services offer price history on Amazon without having to be installed in your browser. So, while it’s helpful, the fact that you need to open a new window or tab in your browser makes this comparable to other services like CamelCamelCamel.
To the right of that price history option is a small ‘h’ with a plus, which allows you to add the product to your drop list. This is a cool feature; once you have an account with Honey, you can use this feature as a way to make sure that when the price drops on your chosen product, you know about it. It’s not perfect, but it does make up for some major missing features that we’ve wished Amazon would add for years, and overall, it’s a nice addition.
The next place Honey shows up is in your cart. This is where Honey does most of its work: automatically finding coupon codes. Open the extension in your browser bar, which should be glowing yellow once you’re in checkout. Honey will automatically tell you whether or not you have a high chance of finding a coupon code for your products. Despite a low chance, you can try to find a coupon code. The extension will automatically begin running through possible options for your coupon codes, immediately inputting them into the product to try to save you, the end consumer, some cash. The tool is quick and easy, and takes just a couple clicks. After finishing, Honey will either choose the best coupon code or tell you that you’ve already got the best possible deal.
Things to Consider
Honey primarily makes its money by either featuring special deals with certain storefronts—they create a deal with the company and receive a certain share of the cash you spend with the coupon code in return—or through something called Honey Gold. To many, Honey Gold may ring alarm bells as soon as they see it. Honey Gold is offered to you as soon as you create an account with the product, and for many, that may seem like a no-go. It’s a rewards program, one that gives you a certain percentage back when you shop at partner websites. You do have to activate the extension, which makes it a bit more secure than your usual utility. Basically, once you’ve earned 1000 points (spent a thousand dollars), you gain a $10 gift card for stores like Amazon or Walmart. It’s effectively a 1% credit on your purchases.
So what’s the bottom line?
Honey is a solid way to save some cash while you’re online shopping. There are plenty of optional opportunities to use the app for your own benefit, to track prices and keep track of a droplist, but at its core, the base model that Honey uses works. They give you the best coupon codes out there for your online shopping.
The downside is that Honey does track your information. More than ever, it’s important to pay attention to how your data is being treated and shared and to ensure your information is being securely kept. Whether or not you consider Honey’s data access overbearing or not, they are upfront about both what they collect and what they do with your data.
We give Honey a qualified recommendation. If you aren’t comfortable sharing your information, then you shouldn’t use the app. But if you are all right with the way they use information (and most of us probably will be), Honey is an easy and painless way to save money.