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For you last minute shoppers, here are my top tips on saving money on online purchases all year round, not just during the holidays. I only use these money saving methods on things I would be buying anyway, so don’t go out of your way to buy things you don’t need and try to shop ethically, when possible.
Cash Back Sites
Before making a purchase I always click through a website that offers cash back first. These websites get commission for sending you to a website and pay you some of that commission back! There are many types of merchants available including top department stores, travel websites, electronics, etc. I always google “storename cashback” to find out which sites have the best cash back percentage at the time. I find myself using TopCashback, eBates, iConsumer, RebateCodes, and Upromise most often. If you click through and sign up via these links eBates will give you a $10 cash bonus and Upromise will give you a $20 bonus after your first purchase. I also combine Upromise with their credit card which makes many purchases eligible for 10% cash back! In addition to that, if you have them sweep all your earnings into their high-yield bank account, they give you a 10% bonus on all your earnings for the year.
There are a couple of downsides to shopping through these sites. It takes a couple of weeks for them to pay out and some require a minimum dollar amount to cash out your earnings. Sometimes, your purchase doesn’t track properly so if you realize that you’re missing some cash back, most sites have a “missing cash” back form you can fill out to have them look into it. Lastly, if you use a coupon code, that could invalidate your cash back, so you should only use coupon codes that are available on the cash back site itself when clicking through to purchase. Speaking of coupon codes…
If you aren’t already using them, you should be! I also always look for a coupon code before checking out. If a coupon code offers a better amount off or the same amount that I would get from using a cash back site (and I cannot stack them), I go for the coupon since it’s instant savings. I use the Honey extension to automatically search for coupon codes for me. And they recently started their own cash back program embedded in the extension, so you can get more bang for your buck there. It’s not compatible with all stores, but the extension lights up when you’re on a website where it can be used.
Credit Card Deals
Not only do many credit cards offer their own percent cash back on each purchase, many of them have their own referral sites where you can get additional cash back or dollars off your purchase. Some you have to click through just like the cash back sites or others you simply add the deal to your card and make your purchase. I like the “add to card” deals, so that I can combine them with a cash back site or coupon code to stack savings. This is something I’m not so great at remembering to check for before buying stuff. Some of these deals can be used in-store as well!
Discover has Discover Deals, Bank of America has BankAmeriDeals, and American Express has AMEX offers. Other credit card companies have these too, just look for it after you’ve logged in to your credit card issuer to see what’s available; it’s usually under the “rewards” or “benefits” tabs.
Discounted Gift Cards
This is something I haven’t done very much in the past, but if you’re a gift card giver this is something to look into (or if you’ve received a gift card you don’t want, you can sell them on these sites). Basically, those who have no use for a gift card they’ve received can sell them at a discount to people looking for a deal. One downside is that some gift cards are physical only, so you have to wait for them to be mailed to you before you can use them. Also, you don’t get the purchase protections that buying with a credit card can provide. This option can be great if you’d like to buy a few gift cards for your coworkers for a lunch place you all visit together or a store that you know your niece likes to shop at often (I’m looking at you Forever21 for only allowing refunds via gift card). If this is something you’re interested in, check out Gift Card Granny to see what’s available.
Those are my top tips for saving money when shopping online. Do you have any other tips that I can use? Share them in the comments!