Cha-Ching! 8 Savvy New Ways to Save BIG When You Shop Online
From buying gift cards at a huge discount to earning cash back on every purchase, here are some hacks every serious shopper should know.
Cash out on cash back websites
One of the easiest ways to save money every time you shop online is to hit up a cash back website first like ebates.com, topcashback.com, or befrugal.com. "Once you're signed up, you can search thousands of stores such as Target, Amazon, and Macy's and see how much they offer in cash back," explains Jon Lal, founder and CEO of befrugal.com. "Then, you simply click the store where you want to shop, and a new browser window opens where you shop on the store's website as normal. You will start accumulating money in your account at the cash back shopping website. You can request payment in the form of a check, PayPal, or gift card." Use the cash back sites search engine to see if your favorite store is listed, then comparison shop. While Top Cashback may offer 10 percent back at Gap, another site like Ebates might be offering double (Ebates varies its double cash back deals frequently.) Or download a browser extension, such as the BeFrugal Add-On, and it will automatically tell you coupon codes and cash back rates when you visit a store's website. Find out more money-saving advice from smart savers.
It's OK to double dip when it comes to deals
Found a Groupon discount for dinner at the Indian restaurant you've been jonesing to try? Click on your fave cash back site and then click on Groupon to earn money towards satisfying the foodie in you. Combine that with a 20 percent off coupon on the Groupon website (these deals are also offered frequently), and you'll be eating like a king for less. But, Lal cautions, "Just make sure you pay off your credit card bill in full each month." Or you could end up seeing those discounts eaten up by high interest rates. Check out some great apps to save some more cash when eating out.
Shop at home and pick it up in store
Rather than peruse the mall, shop in your jammies and opt for in-store pickup to eliminate shipping costs and long lines (especially if you have to have those new pair of shoes right away). Lal notes this can save you money because it's much easier to find discounts and avoid temptation when you shop online, not to mention it's a major time-saver. As online shopping and in-store pickup grows in popularity, many stores have a desk for online pick-up right near the entrance, some even have special parking spaces, and may even deliver to your car. Find out the essentials you need to keep in your car to stay insanely productive.
Subscribe to newsletters and email alerts
Sign up for price alerts and get an email when the cost drops. The website CamelCamelCamel specifically tracks Amazon prices; PricePinx, and PriceBlink are other resources where you can see which store offers the lowest price on an item. And many retailers will offer you a discount when you sign up for their newsletters, not to mention you often get insider access to friends and family sales. Too many emails clogging your inbox? Set up another email account just for your shopping pleasure. Here are some ways to best handle all those emails.
Follow your favorite brands on Facebook and Instagram, and you'll get more than styling advice and pictures of the latest must-have merchandise. Brands including Anthropologie, Kate Spade, and Rebecca Minkoff have been known to advertise flash sales to their followers.
Cut those (virtual) coupons
Look for coupon codes on retailer websites or on cash back sites. Just Google the brand name and "promo code" and you'll easily find the latest offerings. And who says if you snooze you lose? Sometimes leaving items in your shopping cart can add up to savings. You might get a popup with a coupon code to get you to come back to purchase, or an email in your inbox with a discount offer.
Try a rewards site (while you unload the dishwasher)
Are you a multi-tasker? Then you might be able to save some cash while doing the things you normally do. Swagbucks is a free online service that hands out reward points, known as SwagBucks, for filling out surveys, watching ad videos, or just clicking on links from their search engine. You earn SwagBucks (SBs) when a task is completed that you then redeem for gift cards from popular retailers like Amazon, Target, Lowe's, Starbucks, and Walmart, or request a PayPal gift card. Most surveys run from as little as five minutes or up to 20. No time to do surveys? Let a few ad videos run while you unload the dishwasher; it's sort of like getting paid to do the dishes.
Buy an unwanted gift card to get what you want
You can actually buy gift cards for cheaper than their face value or swap for another you're more likely to use at a site like giftcardgranny.com. This online gift card aggregator lets you select the merchant of your card and then easily compare offers from 15 reseller sites, including raise.com, cardpool.com, and giftcards.com, to figure out who will offer you back the highest percentage of your card's value (for a small percentage of its value). Raise.com is another place where you can find discounted gift cards for tons of stores, for example, a $500+ Lululemon gift card was recently selling for $430.47. (Warning: most gift cards can only be spent online as they are e-gift cards or you can get paid by check, PayPal, or ACH direct deposit.)