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16 Best Ways to Save Money While Shopping Online, According to Experts

These tiny changes to your shopping habits will save you major money in the long run.

Whether your favorite method is to find coupons or or memorize your favorite stores' sale schedules, everyone loves to pay less full price for their purchases. And now the internet has made the process of buying items more convenient than ever before. But with so many options, getting the best price for what you need can sometimes become overwhelming. Fortunately, there are a few tips that can help you secure some serious savings whenever you're checking out your digital cart. Read on for the best ways to save money while shopping online, according to experts.

RELATED: Walmart Employee Shares How to Find Secret Weekly Sales: "Hidden Bargain Goldmines."

1
Install a browser extension.

Woman sitting at table with laptop and coffee, smiling at the screen
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If you want to save money on the things you're buying online on a regular basis, from groceries to clothes to housewares, there's one simple trick for doing so that experts swear by: using a browser extension.

"You're already shopping these retailers, so why not earn a little extra cash back on your purchase?" asks consumer analyst Julie Ramhold with DealNews.com. She recommends Rakuten for major savings and cautions that, while not every product category is included in deals on these extensions, in many cases, you can get a ton of cash back.

"For instance, Old Navy might have a regular rate of two percent cash back, but during special events, that amount could jump to six percent or more, depending on the [extension] you use," explains Ramhold. And these small rewards can add up to major savings over time.

Want a new take on an old-fashioned way to save money? It can also help to add an extension such as Sidekick to your browser.

"It searches for coupon codes, tests each code to your order, and applies the deal with the biggest discount to your cart so you save the most money quickly," says money-saving expert Andrea Woroch. "This is especially helpful since there are so many coupon sites that promote promo codes that don't work, so trying to find a working code can be tedious and result in no savings. Instead, this tool finds the best deal for you to help you save in seconds with little effort!"

2
Use a rewards credit card.

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Why not get rewarded for shopping online with a rewards credit card?

"Even if it's only one percent cash back or points per dollar, those are some savings that can add up. Those rewards could translate to an account credit, or even pay for future purchases," says Ramhold.

However, credit card companies have flooded the market with options in an attempt to win over customers. If you're having a hard time finding an option that's right for you, Woroch says it might be easiest to keep it simple.

"For consumers who shop at a variety of online retailers, you're best bet is to go with a flat-rate cash back card like the Bread Cashback American Express card, which offers an unlimited two percent back on every purchase and at every store!," she tells Best Life.

3
Take advantage of store loyalty programs.

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Have a few retailers you're particularly fond of? Make sure to sign up for their loyalty programs to save big.

"If you shop a particular store often, it's worth signing up for these programs, especially if they're free," says Ramhold. "Often these programs offer special savings, exclusive coupons, and free gifts or incentives during your birthday month," as well as the occasional sign-up bonus."

RELATED: 8 High-End Beauty Products You Should Buy at Dollar Tree: "Stop Getting Robbed by Amazon."

4
Shop with discounted gift cards.

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You may be more accustomed to receiving or giving gift cards as gifts. But you can also purchase them for yourself to save money on your purchases.

"If you buy a discounted gift card for a retailer and then shop with it, you immediately save money," says Trae Bodge, smart shopping expert at Truetrae.com. "Amazon often offers discounted Amazon gift cards around Prime Day (likely in early to mid-July this year), and Target usually has gift cards on sale during the holidays, but all year long, you can buy discounted gift cards on a site like GiftCardGranny, where you can save up to $2.50 on gift cards from Staples, Crate & Barrel, and Nordstrom."

5
Sign up for retail newsletters.

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Zilu8/Shutterstock

Instead of searching for deals, Ramhold recommends having them delivered directly to you by signing up for retail newsletters.

"These are another perk that tends to offer a sign-up bonus of some kind," says Ramhold, who explains that most retailers will offer a coupon for 10 to 25 percent off your first purchase when you sign up. Better yet, "you'll often be the first to know when sales start or even hear about them ahead of time," she explains.

6
Use price matching.

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Feel like you could get a better price on that must-have item? If you can find a competitor offering a better deal, try price matching, suggests Ramhold.

"Check with your favorite stores, as most of them probably have a price-match policy," she explains. Note that these deals are often paused during major sales events, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. So, where can you score these sweet deals? Best Buy, Target, Staples, Home Depot, and Lowe's all have price-matching policies on the books, just to name a few.

7
Ask for price adjustments.

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Rido/Shutterstock

You may be able to save money on something you purchased online, even after the transaction is completed. How, you ask?

At some stores, "if something drops in price at that store after you've bought it, you can be refunded the difference," says Ramhold. Some stores you likely already shop at have these policies in place—Target, for instance, will price match up to 14 days after your purchase.

RELATED: 8 Warnings to Shoppers From Former T.J. Maxx Employees.

8
Pay attention to fees.

close up of woman sitting on floor with laptop on lap, holding credit card
Yuganov Konstantin / Shutterstock

"Before you buy anything online, find out what the retailer charges for returns," warns Woroch. "Is there a return shipping fee or restocking fee? You will want to avoid these in the event you need to make a return, so compare options among other stores and try to buy from retailers that have a physical location nearby to assist with returns and exchanges. Or, at least, shop with stores that make those returns easy and cheap!"

9
Use a rounding program.

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Believe it or not, you can actually save money every time you shop. The trick lies in a little-known service called a rounding program.

"Some debit cards and other programs offer you the ability to round your purchases up," explains Ramhold. "The extra cash from rounding is put into a savings account."

10
Use store credit cards.

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Don't break out just any credit card to pay with when you're shopping online. Instead, use a store-specific card so you can save major cash.

"For example, Costco offers a five percent discount on all purchases if the shopper uses their Costco Anywhere Visa," explains Zach Weiner, owner and CEO of Restaurant Accounting.

11
Consider buying secondhand.

clothes at a thrift store
Andrea Izzotti / Shutterstock

There's no denying that the internet has revolutionized the way we locate and purchase preowned items. In addition to making it easier to find what you're looking for, you can also wind up paying less than you would in a brick-and-mortar thrift store.

"Buying secondhand online can be a major money-saver," says Bodge. "For example, if you need camera or videography equipment, you can find inspected and warrantied items at sites like MPB.com, which specializes in used camera and videography equipment, which costs an average of 30 percent less than new. Online retailers, like Amazon, Apple, and BestBuy, offer used tech at a discount as well."

Looking for your next jaw-dropping outfit? "You can find incredible designer clothing on sites like The Real Real, ThredUp, and Poshmark," she suggests.

12
Come up with a list of alternate products before you shop.

woman shopping online with laptop and credit card
Shutterstock

The ability to easily comparison shop is one of the best things about the internet. So before you start adding things to your cart, make a list of other products that could get the job done if the one you're most eager to buy is prohibitively expensive.

"Think about similar, but less expensive, alternatives," suggests Timo Wilson, CEO of ASAP Credit Solutions. "This will help you figure out ways to achieve the same result more affordably."

RELATED: 7 Ways to Spot Fake Deals and Scams When Online Shopping.

13
Make a wish list.

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Similarly, making a list of purchases you want to make in the future can help you budget better while ignoring that little voice in your head screaming, "Add to cart!"

"[This] can go a long way toward preventing impulse buying. And this will help you decide whether the item is a necessity or just a want," explains Wilson.

Even if you think you're immune to temptation, it's still worth considering: Research shows this habit can seriously add up over time.

"Data from SlickDeals estimates people spend over $150 each month on impulse," says Woroch. "If you aren't paying attention to what you're buying, you could be wasting money on foolish and frivolous purchases that could be causing you to go broke. 'Spaving' is particularly dangerous, which is when you buy something just because it's on sale."

To eliminate this bad buying habit, think about what triggers those impulse purchases.

"If you can't resist a sale, delete shopping apps on your phone or turn off push notifications that alert you to the latest. Deleting payment info stored in online retail accounts and social media can also deter mindless purchases," Woroch suggests.

14
Sign up for rewards sites.

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fizkes/Shutterstock

If you want to not only save money but actually make money while you shop online, start by signing up for the right sites.

"Use rewards sites like Swagbucks and TopCashBack," suggests Robert Farrington, founder of The College Investor. "Each of these shopping sites offers discounts and rewards for shopping through their site," and there are thousands of retailers to choose from, Farrington explains.

RELATED: 9 Best Brand-Name Items to Buy Generic, Retail Experts Say.

15
Set a deal alert.

Woman smiling looking at her phone.
fizkes / Shutterstock

You can admit it: The thrill of the chase is one of your main motivators to hunt down a deal. But what if the savings could return the favor from time to time?

"Coupon sites are a great way to save when you shop, but did you know that rather than searching for deals, the deals can come to you?" asks Bodge. "Slickdeals.com has a custom 'deal alert' feature where you can enter the name of the item you are interested in. When it goes on sale, you'll automatically be notified!"

16
Refer family and friends.

Two men sitting on floor in front of couch, shopping on laptop and laughing
iStock

Great minds think alike, but they also often have the same shopping habits. Fortunately, this could turn into savings for you and your loved ones if you're willing to put in the effort.

"Many retailers these days will give you free money to spend at their store if you refer a friend or family member to shop with them," says Woroch.

To take advantage of this deal, simply create an account with the store and grab your unique URL that you can either text, email, or post on social.

"When friends and family sign up for the store loyalty program and make a purchase through your link, both you and they often get credit or money to spend!" she says.

This story has been updated to include additional entries, fact-checking, and copy-editing.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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