The Best Way to Save Money While Shopping Online, According to Experts
This tiny change to your shopping habits will save you major money in the long run.
Whether you're worried about your job security or trying to pay down debt, there are plenty of good reasons to put away a little extra cash these days. It's not just maxing out your IRA or brown bagging your lunch that can help you keep more money in the bank, though. 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 browser extension 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. However, that's far from the only way to keep more cash in your bank account. Read on to discover what else experts recommend for saving big when you're shopping online. And if you want to stop wasting money when you shop, make sure to avoid The 20 Worst Things to Buy at Walmart.
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Use a rewards credit card.
When you're shopping online, why not get rewarded for doing so 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. And if you're looking for savings around the house, check out these 50 Easy DIY Home Hacks.
Take advantage of store loyalty programs.
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, says Ramhold.
Sign up for retail newsletters.
Instead of going out and 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." And for more great information delivered to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Use price matching.
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. However, these deals are often paused during major sales events like 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.
Ask for price adjustments.
You may even be able to save money on something you purchased online 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.
Use a rounding program.
Saving money every time you shop is simple: just use 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." And if you're wondering if you're due some cash, If You're Unemployed in One of These 32 States, Expect an Extra $300 Soon.
Use store credit cards.
Don't break out any credit card to pay with when you're shopping online. Instead, use a store-specific card and 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.
Come up with a list of alternate products before you shop.
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. This will help you figure out ways to achieve the same result more affordably," suggests Timo Wilson, CEO of ASAP Credit Solutions.
Make a wish list.
Similarly, making a list of purchases you want to make in the future can help you budget better while ignoring that little voice 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.
Sign up for rewards sites
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. And if you want to save cash every time you shop, There's a Secret Store on Amazon With Tons of Popular Items on Sale.