7 Online Shopping Hacks To Help You Find The Best Deals
You’ve made a list, you’ve checked it twice and now it’s time to go shopping. Keep in mind that expenses can add up quickly with the average price tag for holiday shopping tipping $1,000. Avoid a holiday credit card hangover by spending smartly.
How can you find the best deal when doing your holiday shopping? Here are a few tips and tricks that will help you save big bucks any time of year.
Go undercover with your browser
While you may not realize it, your zip code may determine how much you pay for certain items. According to a Wall Street Journal study, some online retailers show higher prices to more affluent zip codes. They also hike up prices in areas with less competition.
Browsers know your approximate location based on your computer’s IP address. They also track your shopping patterns through your browsing history by using cookies. Usually, cookies can make your lives easier by tailoring the content you receive based on previous searches and interests. However, in some cases, they can lead to paying more for the exact same item.
One of the great things about the internet is that you have access to hundreds of online stores any time day or night. If you’re looking to buy something, you can do a quick online search to find out how much it’s selling for at different retailers – all while wearing your pajamas.
Take advantage of browser extensions such as Honey and InvisibleHand that help you get the lowest price. If you’re shopping on Amazon, Honey also offers price history charts that help you identify if this is the best time to buy an item. Planning to shop on Amazon and willing to wait for a better price? Check out CamelCamelCamel, which will alert you when there’s a price drop on an item on your wish list.
Check for coupons
Don’t forget to look for a coupon before making a purchase. For online coupons, search the name of the product or online retailer along with the word ‘coupon’ or ‘discount.’ For brick-and-mortar stores, check out the weekly mailers or store circulars in addition to their website.
Browser extensions such as Honey and InvisibleHand also help you find discount codes when shopping online. They’ll even test the codes for you before you check out. You may luck out with some unexpected savings or free shipping on your order.
Finally, don’t forget to check out deal sites such as Groupon or LivingSocial. Retailers use them regularly to draw in new customers and drive up their sales. You can find deals on dining, health & fitness, spas, local attractions, entertainment, and more. Both sites also offer coupons and discounts you can use when shopping online.
Get cash back
In addition to getting a discount, you can also get part of your purchase as cash back. Websites such as Ebates.com and TopCashBack.com will pay you a predetermined percentage of your final order amount. All you have to do is go through their website and click on a link to the store where you plan to shop. The best part is that you can combine this with coupon codes and other discounts.
Since it can be easy to forget to do this, Ebates has a Google Chrome browser extension that will alert you if cashback is available when you’re shopping at a particular website. Check regularly for promotions that offer double or triple the cashback amount, especially around holidays. The payout is usually quarterly in the form of a check.
These sites make money because stores pay them for referring customers. In turn, they share some of the money with customers to help drive traffic. While you’ll only get a few dollars every time you shop, the money can add up quickly. You’ll also get a cash bonus for signing up and for referring others. The extra cash can help you pay for some of your holiday expenses.
If you found a better price at one store but would prefer to buy an item from another, don’t be afraid to price match. Many stores will offer a price match for both brick-and-mortar and online retailers – all you have to do is ask.
This won’t work in every case, but you may be surprised how many stores are willing to lower their prices to get you as a customer. Make sure to read the store’s price matching policy to find out what you need to show to get the discounted price. Some stores only need to see the price on your cell phone while others require a physical printout or the current store circular.
Abandon your cart
Did you know that waiting to buy something may actually get you a discount? While this trick won’t work every time, it’s definitely worth a try. When shopping at an online retailer, add items to your cart as usual. Once you’re ready to pay, don’t complete your transaction.
Make a move with your cursor as if you’re about to close out your browser. In some cases, you’ll get a pop up offering you an additional percent off your purchase. It’s usually triggered when customers add items to their shopping carts but change their mind and go to exit the browser. Some retailers are willing to offer a discount if it means you’ll complete your purchase before leaving the page.
If that doesn’t work, go ahead and close out of the site. Make sure you’re registered with the retailer by creating an account and including your email address. Check your inbox over the next couple of days for an email from that retailer. In some cases, stores email customers who’ve abandoned their carts, reminding them to complete their purchase. They’ll often also include a discount code to make it more tempting.
Get on the list
Many stores will offer you a discount when you sign up for their email list. All you have to do is give them your email address and they’ll send you a discount coupon in the next couple of days. If you have a few favorite retailers, stay on their list so you can be in the loop on upcoming sales and promotions.
Many stores will also email regular coupons and special discounts just to those who’re on their mailing list. Some stores have loyalty programs so make sure to join those and get the VIP treatment. Since retailers want to keep their loyal customers happy, they tend to offer an additional discount to program members.
You may also want to follow retailers you plan to shop with this holiday season on Facebook and Twitter. Companies will often share special sales or coupon codes just to their social media followers. Just beware that the price of those discounts tends to be the information you share. Retailers will likely use your contact information and personal data to market to you again in the future.