Go Mobile This Holiday Season

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — We asked and you answered. According to a recent survey from TheStreet, nearly half of Americans plan to use their mobile device when holiday shopping this year. And that doesn't just mean playing candy crush while waiting in line.

Mobile advancements are changing the way we approach holiday shopping, eliminating the need to set foot in a store, let alone wait in line. We can shop when we have time, like in the morning before work or in the evening while watching TV.

If you're planning to use your mobile device this holiday season, it's important to practice safe shopping. We've got tips to help you find the best deals and gifts, while keeping your information safe and secure.

Browse on Your Terms

Retailers are streamlining the shopping experience for mobile, supposedly making it easier to find what you're looking for. But it also makes it easier for them to control the items you see, which can lead to higher spending and impulse shopping.

When browsing on your mobile device, make sure to sort, filter or refine your searches so you see what you want to see—not what the store hopes you'll buy.

Email Offers

We're compulsively checking email on our phones, about 110 times a day on average. Give yourself something to read by signing up for email offers from all your favorite stores. You're likely to find the best deals that way.

But beware of email phishing scams, which are more sophisticated than ever. Never click a link from an email, especially on your mobile device. Play it safe by going directly to the store's website to collect your savings.

Maximize Savings

Storing coupons on your mobile device means you'll always have them when you need them. It's worth downloading popular apps like SnipSnap and RetailMeNot. If you're forgetful, download Shopular to get deal alerts anytime you're near a store.

Just remember, storing coupons on your phone is smart, but storing payment information is not. If you make a purchase with your mobile device, use a trusted third-party app like PayPal to keep your payment information private.

In-Store Research

Mobile apps like RedLaser and PriceGrabber have made comparison shopping a breeze. By scanning the product's barcode you can quickly see how much it's listed for elsewhere, and scope out product reviews as well.

Retailers are responding by beefing up public wi-fi networks to encourage mobile usage in stores. But for greater privacy and security you're better off sticking to your wireless provider's 3G or 4G connection instead.

No doubt about it, smart phones and tablets will relieve some holiday stress this year. Just remember to practice safe shopping. And no matter what, do not drink and mobile shop. That's a dangerous combination.

--Written by Lauren Lyons Cole for MainStreet

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