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Deals of the Week: Hotels, Gift Cards and Tablets

How to save big on New York City hotels, get free restaurant and store gift cards and find the best buys on hot tablets

posted by Leah Ingram, November 29, 2012 More by this author

Leah Ingram is a lifestyle and frugal-living expert and the author of Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier on Less. She is also founder of the money-saving blog, Suddenly Frugal, and writes for magazines and websites including Good Housekeeping and Parade.com. Follow her on Twitter: @suddenlyfrugal

In the two months since I started my Deals of the Week blog for Next Avenue, you've probably noticed that I like to save you (and myself) some serious cash whenever possible. If I can get something for nothing, that's even better. So this week, I've turned up ways to save hundreds on New York City hotels and get free gift cards this holiday season. Also: the best deals on tablets, the hottest tech gift around.
Save 50 Percent on a New York City Hotel
New York is one of the most expensive cities to visit. But you can slash the cost of lodging if you’ll make the trip during the second annual “Hotel Week," Jan. 4-20. (Yes, “week” is a slight misnomer, since the promotion lasts 16 days.)
(MORE: Holiday Gifts That Give Back)
This year, 24 hotels are participating, ranging from budget (two Comfort Inns in Midtown) to chic (The James in Soho and The Library near Grand Central Terminal). Half of them are offering rooms as low as $100 per night; the rest will charge $200 or $250, which could mean a 50 percent savings.
Hotel Week organizers can't confirm how many rooms per hotel will be set aside at the discounted rate, so if you’re considering a trip to the Big Apple in the New Year, I’d suggest booking right away. You can find a complete listing of participating hotels, with links to each, on the Hotel Week website.
How to Score Free Gift Cards
For my finicky teenage daughters, a gift card is always the right color and size. And they're not alone. Six in 10 Americans say they’d like to receive a gift card this holiday season, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. I've got a way you can scoop up gift cards for free.
(MORE: How Shoppers Can Win the Price-Match Game)
When you purchase cards in certain denominations from the following seven restaurants and retailers, you’ll receive a free bonus gift card. Unless specified otherwise, these deals apply to purchases made until Dec. 24. One caveat: some gift cards have expiration dates and stores may limit the number of free cards they’ll give out. So ask about the rules before purchasing.
Barnes and Noble Get a free $10 gift card when you buy $75 in gift cards through Dec. 2.
Bonefish Grill For every $100 in gift cards, you'll receive a free $20 gift card.
Carrabba's Italian Grill You'll qualify for a free $20 gift card when you order $100 in gift cards online through Dec. 31.
Morton's Steakhouse Treat someone (maybe you!) to a steak dinner with the free $50 gift card you'll receive when you purchase $250 in Morton's gift cards.
Outback Steakhouse For every $100 you spend on Outback gift cards, you'll get a $20 bonus card.
P.F. Chang's China Bistro If you like this chain's lettuce wraps as much as I do, you may love this deal: A $20 gift card is yours when you buy $100 in gift cards.
Ruth's Chris Steak House Purchase $250 in gift cards in a single transaction before Dec. 31 and you'll receive a $25 gift card for free.
Best Deals on Tablet Computers
Have the snappy TV commercials for the newest tablets caught your eye? Here are the top deals I’ve found for what David Pogue of The New York Times calls the hottest tech gift for the holidays:
Amazon Kindle Fire HD This new Kindle is far more than just a way to read books electronically. It’s a full-fledged tablet computer with Internet access that plays TV shows, movies and music and also stores e-books. This tablet comes with a 7-inch color HD screen and 16 gigabites of memory. You could buy it for $199 from Amazon or other retailers, but I’d suggest getting the Kindle Fire HD at Staples — you’ll get a $20 Staples gift card as a bonus if you make the purchase Dec. 2 through 8.
Apple iPad and iPad Mini Sure, you could buy either iPad at the Apple store, but certain retailers are licensed to sell them, too — and they're offering deals. The one I like most is at Radio Shack, even though it's not iPad-specific.
Through Jan. 5, 2013, for every $50 you spend at Radio Shack (in-store or online), you'll earn a $10 credit toward future purchases. With the iPad 2 starting at $399, the iPad with Retina display going for a minimum of $499 and the iPad Mini costing $329 and up, those credits could amount to significant dough. Radio Shack also sells the Kindle Fire and the Google Nexus.
Samsung Galaxy Consumer Reports just called the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 10-inch tablet one of its Top 10 electronics products for 2012. Like the iPad, the 16-gigabite Galaxy is pricey ($500). But if you're a Sam's Club member, you can save $50 by buying the tablet at one of the warehouse chain's stores or on its website before Dec. 1.