There is no doubt that online shopping is more convenient than in-store shopping, but sometimes you pay for that convenience in the form of shipping charges. With the coming of the holidays, this cost gap can widen rapidly.
Thankfully, you can bridge that gap by taking advantage of some tried-and-tested online shopping hacks. Here are some of our favorite ways to save money when shopping online.
Download Money Saving Browser Extensions
Rakuten, Capital One Shopping, and Honey are some of the most popular browser extensions for saving money online. There are two ways browser extensions can help: by offering cash back on purchases and by providing special coupon codes to save you money at checkout.
Capital One Shopping offers cash back, coupon codes and even shows you whether you’re getting a good deal on an item. If not, the extension will show where you can find the cheaper version.
When you download these browser extensions, they will pop up every time you visit an eligible site. For example, if you visit Target.com through the Rakuten extension, you can earn 1% cash back on your purchases in select categories.
Not every retailer offers cash back with these extensions, and some may limit which categories you can earn rewards with. For example, you often can’t get cash back on electronics, toys, or video games.
Different browser extensions may offer different rewards. For example, if you visit Walmart.com through the Capital One shopping tool, you may receive 2% cash back in certain categories. But if you visit Walmart.com through the Rakuten extension, you’ll only earn 1% cash back.
That’s why it pays to download all three browser extensions and compare the different deals.
Pro Tip: Set holiday spending goals in the Mint app to help you stay on track.
Sign up for Retailer Email
Most online retailers offer special welcome discounts, usually 10% to 20%, when you sign up for company email. Visit the retailer website and wait for a pop-up asking you to input your email address.
If you are already an email subscriber to the retailer in question, search your email to see if you have recently received a coupon code. Check both your Spam and Trash folders as promotional emails often land there.
leave your cart
If you’ve ever put an item in your shopping cart and haven’t checked out, you may receive an email asking for a special discount code. Many retailers will automatically send these emails when a customer has left their cart to entice them to complete a purchase.
Use this strategy to your advantage. Visit the retailer’s website, add the item to your cart, and exit the browser. Within a day or two, you should receive an email reminding you of the purchase with an additional discount offer.
If you leave your cart, not all retailers will provide coupons, and a high-demand item may be sold out before you get the email. Still, it’s worth a try to see if you can get a better deal.
cash in reward points
If you’re like some cardholders, you probably have credit card reward points that you can’t redeem for travel purchases in 2020 and 2021. Instead of depositing them for your next trip, redeem them for digital gift cards to use on purchases. Now.
Cashing out for a gift card isn’t usually the most efficient way to use up points, but it’s a great strategy to save money on online purchases.
reach through social media
If you’ve tried all of the tricks mentioned above and still can’t find a discount, contact the company on social media. Twitter is usually the preferred method, but you can also try a private message on Facebook or Instagram.
Be polite, friendly and mention how you’d like to see if there’s a special sale or coupon. Not every company will respond with a discount code, but it only takes a few minutes to try.
Once upon a time, I posted a tweet about dying my hair purple using a specific household product. I received the discount code from its competitor within a few hours.
Use a Rewards Credit Card
Many credit cards offer additional cash-back, typically 1% to 5%, when you make purchases from participating retailers. For example, the Discover It® Cash Back Card offers 5% cash back when you shop on Amazon.com.
Most cards offer a certain cash-back percentage at all times, with special categories that earn an additional percentage. These categories often rotate every quarter.
Rewards can be given in the form of statement credits, miles you can redeem for travel or points you can use for digital gift cards. These cash-back rewards can be added on top of browser extensions or discount codes.
It can take up to two weeks to receive a new card in the mail, so apply soon if you want to earn rewards on time for buying holiday gifts.
New cardholders may also qualify for additional sign-up bonuses, such as $200 when spending $1,000 or 50,000 bonus points.
Follow Influencers on Social Media
Your favorite influencers will often post special discount codes that are only available through them. Follow influencers who shop at the same store and check their Instagram stories daily to see if they’ve posted any codes.
Search hashtags related to the retailer you’re interested in to find influencers who offer special codes.
zina kumoki (156 posts)
Zina Kumok is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. A former reporter, she has covered the murder trial, the final four, and everything in between. He has been featured in Lifehacker, Dailyworth and Time. Read about how he paid off $28,000 worth of student loans on Conscious Coins in three years.