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Honey – A Quality Service To Save Money, or a Scam?

It’s hard to find a market that has been more shaken up by the popularity of the internet than commerce. From mom and pop shops in your local area to retail giants like Walmart or Best Buy, online shopping has completely changed the game when it comes to convincing shoppers to purchase goods from physical stores.

Amazon is the obvious giant here as an internet empire that 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 become a mega-corporation. 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 in 2019.

It’s not just Amazon where people have turned to shop online, of course. Despite being a seller for used goods, eBay has come a long way in selling 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 had major deals this past month to compete against Amazon’s own Prime Day, which offered 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. By far, the most successful service in this space is Honey.

Honey is an extension for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, and Opera that allows you to automatically scan sites like Amazon and other similar online shops to find the best deals available on a specific product.

If there’s a better price somewhere else, Honey will notify you. Likewise, if there’s a coupon code available, Honey will apply it. If you’re looking to save some cash, Honey can seem like a great deal.

But, of course, that’s where your suspicions might come into play. Honey is an extension for your browser, which gives it some major power and permissions over what’s on your display. Extensions can access things like your browsing history, login information, and more.

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 put your data into their hands?

We’ve all been burnt by browser extensions before, whether they were spam-filled search bars from the 2000s or, more recently, shady “free” VPNs that used your traffic for malicious deeds.

We took a long, hard look at Honey to get an idea of whether the service is any good and whether it can hold up to what we’ve come to expect from our money-saving services in 2019.

Let’s take a look at Honey to figure out whether you should download this popular extension or leave it far away from your browser bar.

Is Honey Actually Good?

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. He realized that somewhere there was probably a code or coupon that would allow him to save cash on his purchase, but that he wasn’t quite sure where to look.

After his children went to bed, Hudson built a prototype coupon-finder in his browser. The idea was to create a service that made it easy to automatically 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. You’ve probably seen it being advertised on YouTube and the like as it has continued to grow.

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 with either Google or Facebook or create a new Honey account with your own email and password.

The feed has deals and money-back ideas, and if you log in, this stuff can be personalized to your tastes. 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.

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Using Honey

For the sake of this review, let’s use Amazon as the place to test Honey. After all, if you’re like most people, you probably do most of your online shopping on Amazon anyway.

When you load a product page on Amazon, you’re greeted with some new icons on the page below the name of an item. The box to the left details price history for the product and the number of price changes that have occurred in recent history for your chosen product.

Hovering over this icon allows you to open a link to Honey, but 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.

Of course, this isn’t the main feature of Honey. 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 sign, 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. Overall, it’s a nice addition and makes it easy to track a product that you don’t want to buy at full price.

The next place Honey shows up is in your cart. This is where Honey does most of its work. The extension automatically finds coupon codes — awesome, right?

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.

Even if it indicates that you have a low chance, you can still 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 to use. It only takes a couple of clicks to save money. After finishing, Honey will either choose the best coupon code or tell you that you’ve already got the best possible deal.

If you’re looking for the easiest way to save money when shopping online, you’ll find it difficult to find something better than Honey.

Things to Consider

Nothing is free or easy, especially when you’re talking about a major tool like Honey that is offered as a free add-on for your browser.

You need to be careful and consider what you’re giving to Honey. As the saying goes, if you aren’t paying, you’re the product. There are definitely concerns to be had regarding your data and privacy when using Honey.

So, let’s discuss how Honey makes its money to earn back both its operating cost while also turning a profit. The company explicitly says on its site that data is never sold to third parties, and the company has an extensive privacy policy.

Still, it’s important to note that Honey does end up gathering information on you as you shop. It’s no more data than something like Google or other utilities on the web have, but for those who avoid products like Gmail, Honey is most definitely not for you.

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, but there’s a good chance you didn’t look into it too much when you made your account.

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. Not bad, right?

All things considered, Honey has indicated that it protects your data and does not sell it to third parties. Though, if you’re particularly concerned about your privacy, you may not want to add this extension to your browser.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Honey is pretty respectful of your privacy. Unlike other websites, Honey has done its best to be clear and upfront about privacy concerns.

Their privacy policy is pretty easy to read and understand, and in May of 2018, they published a manifesto [2] on their site surrounding Honey and privacy. This made it clear that the data they collect goes towards building a community and crowdsourcing information as it pertains to deals and working coupon codes.

To their credit, Honey makes it clear what data they collect on their website, and uninstalling the application is easy and simple if you don’t agree with their own privacy policy. If you’re concerned about the data they collect, definitely read that piece in the link above; in summary, Honey collects your device ID and IP address, your browser type, your operating system, how you engage with websites, and URLs.

So what’s the bottom line?

We’re giving Honey a recommendation, albeit on the grounds that, if you aren’t comfortable with their privacy policy, you shouldn’t use the app.

When it comes to how the app is supposed to be used, Honey’s easy to dive into and start making money, which makes it a great app for any burgeoning couponer in the 21st century. And if you don’t want to use the app, there’s always plenty of ways to gain access to coupon codes and price drops through other less-convenient means.