How to avoid overpaying for daily-deal discounts

If you want to drive a race car, scale an ice wall or learn circus acrobatics, buying a daily-deal voucher is, increasingly, the way to go. But getting the advertised 50 percent off isn't that easy.

Consumers have gotten used to looking for daily-deal vouchers, which means businesses have had to get creative with the terms to make money off the offers. A 2012 Rice University study found that 61.5 percent of businesses running daily-deal promotions made a profit from doing so, up from 55.5 percent in 2011.

One of the big secrets: The discount might not really be so steep. Before buying in, check the business' site and social media feeds for new-customer deals, coupon codes and other regular promotions that could undercut or even beat the daily-deal price.

Package deals may include extras (such as a dinner and coat check with those sold-out show tickets) that push the price higher than another shopper might pay.

—By CNBC's Kelli B. Grant. Follow her on Twitter @Kelligrant and on Google.

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