Online shopping is pretty much the easiest way to shop — just browse and purchase right from your couch while you watch Netflix.
But from shipping and delivery fees to added taxes, the products you just bought might end up being twice the price you thought you were paying. And especially in today’s economy, with rising inflation and the possibility of a recession, it’s even more important to know how to save money when shopping online.
If the idea of searching high and low for the best deals and coupons isn’t your idea of fun, though, there are actually many ways you can spend less and really work towards your savings goals.
These are the top 19 tips to help you get started on saving so shopping frugally doesn’t have to be a pain.
- Shop on the right day (and at the right time)
- Wait for big sales
- Watch out for dynamic pricing
- Compare prices
- Get cash back rewards for shopping
- Stack deals
- Use money-saving apps and sites
- Sign up for newsletters and rewards programs
- Follow brands on social media
- Leave items in your cart
- Buy discounted gift cards
- Ask for price-drop refunds
- Ask about using expired coupons
- Shop at online outlets
- Making a shopping list
- Buy generic brands
- Stock up on sale products
- Try out different brands
- Buy second hand
How To Save Money Online: Top 19 Tips
Let’s get right into our favorite tips to help you get some big savings when shopping online.
1. Shop on the right day (and at the right time)
An easy step you can take is shopping at the right time. Research has shown that the best day to do your online shopping is Tuesday, followed by Thursday and Friday. While it might be fun to scroll through your favorite sites on a lazy Saturday, the weekend is actually the worst time to buy online.
If there’s a new item you’re dying to buy but don’t want to pay the full price, wait for the clearance sales. Products usually start to go on sale around six to eight weeks after they’re added to the site and store.
There are also certain times of year that are better for buying specific products. For example, shop off-season for products — buy summer items, like bathing suits, in the fall or winter and cold-weather items, like jackets, in the spring and summer. If you’re in the mood for candy, shop after Halloween and Valentine’s Day when products will be marked down because retailers are trying to get rid of the extra inventory. You can also take steps like waiting to travel on off-days (i.e. not the weekend or holidays).
2. Wait for big sales
You probably already know some of the biggest sale events of the year, like Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday, but there are some other popular sale holidays you should know about, especially when looking for different holiday gifts:
- New Year’s Day
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- President’s Day
- Valentine’s Day
- Mother’s Day
- Memorial Day
- Father’s Day
- July 4th
- Labor Day
- Small Business Saturday
- Cyber Monday
Be sure to check out deals during tax-free weekends, too. Many states have tax-free weekends in August, making it a great time to do your back-to-school shopping for supplies, clothes, and technology.
3. Watch out for dynamic pricing
When you look at something you want to buy online, then leave the page and come back to a higher price, that’s called dynamic pricing.
Some retailers increase or decrease prices based on consumer demand (they’ll increase the price for a product that’s really popular), and others may increase prices based on your previous activity. Using cookies, brands can tell how many times you’ve viewed a product and increase the pricing based on your interest level. If you’ve viewed a product a few times, they’ll assume you’re very interested and willing to pay more for it.
Some brands will also increase prices based on the time of year. For example, the peak travel season is typically summer, so you’ll probably run into higher prices when buying plane tickets or booking a hotel during that season.
But there are ways to get around this pricing strategy:
- Clear your cookies and cache so retailers can’t track how many times you’ve viewed a product.
- Use a VPN, which will hide your IP address.
- Use an incognito browser when online shopping.
- Shop for an item on your phone and buy it on your computer.
- Use different browsers for shopping and buying.
4. Compare prices
Before you buy an item, check if the price is lower at a different retailer. You don’t need to search all over the internet to find the best price — there are tools that can do it for you, like Capital One Shopping and Google Shopping. When you add the Capital One Shopping extension to your browser, it’ll automatically compare prices at various retailers and show you the best option. To use Google Shopping, just enter the product you’re looking for in the search bar, and you’ll see prices from different brands so you can find the best deal.
5. Get cash back rewards for shopping
Using a credit card or cash back apps and sites will earn you rewards — and even extra money — when shopping.
Cash back credit cards
Cash back credit cards literally give you money when you buy certain products, and many have loyalty programs. For each eligible purchase, you’ll get a percent of the money you spent back. There are a few types of these cards to know about:
- Flat-rate: Flat-rate cards offer the same amount of cash back for anything eligible purchase you make.
- Tiered: These types of cards pay different amounts for different types of purchases. For example, you could get 3 percent back on restaurants and 1 percent on all other purchases.
- Rotating category cards: With this type of card, the purchases you can earn cash back on change quarterly. So one quarter you might get cash back for shopping at Amazon, and the next quarter you could get paid for grocery shopping purchases.
Some popular cash back credit cards include:
- Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Discover it Cash Back
- Wells Fargo Active Cash Card
- Citi Double Cash Card
Rakuten automatically applies coupon codes and cash back rewards to your cart when shopping online. By linking a credit card to your account, you can also use Rakuten when shopping in a store. The app and browser extension offer cash back at stores like Walmart, Target, Nike, Lululemon, and Ulta.
Save money with Ibotta by buying from participating retailers (like Petco, Lowe’s, and Dominos Pizza) through the app or by using the browser extension. When you sign up for alerts, Ibotta will message you whenever there are new deals available. Plus, you get a bonus just for downloading the app.
When you use MyPoints to shop online, you can earn points that can be redeemed for gift cards or cash payments through PayPal. You can even get paid for answering online surveys from brands.
RetailMeNot automatically finds and applies discounts to your purchases, and it offers cash back from certain retailers. It can even apply multiple promo codes or coupons to maximize your savings, basically doing the deal stacking (more info below) for you.
6. Stack deals
Deal or offer stacking means combining multiple money-saving offers, like different coupons, rewards, and promo codes, to pay for online purchases. Some ways to do this include using a coupon code, cash back credit card, or gift card to pay for items that are already on sale. For example, find deals using a site like Ibotta, then pay using a cash back card.
11. Use coupon apps, extensions and money-saving sites
This article is sponsored by Capital One Shopping and Capital One Shopping pays for referrals when a user clicks on the links provided.
There are apps, extensions and sites dedicated specifically to helping shoppers find the best deals and coupons so you don’t have to go searching all over to save money while online shopping.
One easy option is Capital One Shopping. It’s totally free, and all you have to do to use it is add the extension to your browser (it’s available as a browser extension on all the major web browsers including Chrome, Firefox and Safari) to save time and money.
You don’t have to be a Capital One customer, either. Capital One Shopping searches for better prices, coupon and promo codes and rewards. It even includes and compares shipping fees and membership pricing. You can also earn rewards on certain purchases and redeem them for gift cards.
How to install Capital One Shopping
While the installation instructions may vary slightly depending on your web browser, it typically goes like this:
- Go to the Capital One Shopping website.
- Click the button “Add to [your browser] – It’s free”
- You’ll then be redirected to the relevant app store. Click the “Add to [browser]” button.
- A pop-up will appear asking permission to allow the installation of the extension. Click “Add Extension.”
- Enter your email address and create a strong password for your Capital One Shopping account.
- Select “Continue” or close the window, and you’re ready to shop with savings!
Get free digital and printable coupons to save money from Coupons.com. By using the mobile app, you can earn cash back on eligible purchases, as well.
Once you connect your debit or credit card to Dosh, the app automatically applies savings to purchases you make with your linked card at participating companies (like Walmart, Instacart, Dunkin’, and Sephora).
You can use Honey as an app or browser extension to search for and apply discount codes to your online purchases. It also has its own rewards program, Honey Gold.
Groupon offers deals for all kinds of companies, products, and services, including discounts on tickets, restaurants, and spa treatments.
8. Sign up for newsletters and rewards programs
Sign up for newsletters or a subscription service from brands you love and shop frequently. They’re not just spam — companies will often include discounts and online shopping offers in their newsletters, and you could get a discount just for subscribing to their emails.
Definitely sign up for rewards programs with your favorite brands, too. Companies will reward loyal customers with points that can be redeemed for cash, or you might earn discounts (or even a free item) for frequently shopping with certain brands. So if you buy 10 cups of coffee, you could get the 11th cup for free. And similar to rewards programs, using a store credit card can earn you rewards, store credit, free shipping, or discounts.
9. Follow brands on social media
Many brands will post sales and promotions on social media, so following companies you shop with often can help you be the first to hear about opportunities to save. Retailers will sometimes promote giveaways on social media, too.
10. Leave items in your cart
Some brands will give you a discount if you go back later and buy a product that you left in your cart because they want to make sure you actually purchase it. This has probably happened to you before if you’ve received an email from a retailer letting you know you forgot an item in your cart.
11. Buy discounted gift cards
People will sell unused gift cards to resellers, which then mark down the card prices. When you buy a discounted gift card, you’ll purchase it for less than face value, but it still retains its original worth. For example, you usually buy a $20 gift card for $20. If you buy that card at a discount for $15, it’ll still be worth $20 when you use it to buy something.
12. Ask for price-drop refunds
If you notice that the price for an item you already bought online has dropped since your purchase, contact the company and ask for a refund for the extra amount you paid. So if you bought something for $50 and the next day the price is $40, ask for a refund of $10.
13. Ask about using expired coupons
If you have an unused coupon that recently expired, try contacting the brand’s customer service to ask if you can still use it. Sometimes companies will extend the coupon’s expiration date if they really want you to purchase from them. Some retailers, like Bed Bath & Beyond, also accept expired coupons.
14. Shop at online outlets
Many brands have outlet stores that sell discounted products that were overstocked or that are out of season.
Here are some outlets to check out:
- J. Crew Factory
- Saks OFF 5th
- Nordstrom Rack
- Amazon Outlet
- Best Buy Outlet
- The Outnet
- Banana Republic Factory
- GAP Factory
15. Making a shopping list
While you might enjoy browsing your favorite brands’ sites for fun, if you’re looking to save money, it’s best to plan ahead. Make a shopping list of exactly the items you need so you’ll be less likely to make impulse purchases.
16. Buy generic brands
Generic brands are typically less expensive than brand names. Products that are regulated by the FDA, like medications, sunscreen, and baby formula, are required to have the same ingredients and adhere to the same standards for generic and branded versions. So by purchasing the generic product, you’ll be getting the same product for less money.
17. Stock up on sale products
There are some products you buy all the time, like toilet paper or paper towels. So when those types of items go on sale, buy them in bulk to save money, since you know you’ll need them in the future, and they won’t go to waste.
18. Try out different brands
While you can save money by signing up for rewards programs with your favorite companies, you shouldn’t limit yourself to only buying certain brands, or you could end up missing out on deals. Try out different brands or stores to find cheaper products. Comparison shopping (mentioned above) can help you find less expensive brands or retailers.
19. Buy second hand
You can buy some items, like clothes and furniture, second hand online to save money. Some places to browse second hand products include Poshmark, eBay, and Facebook Marketplace.
Have more questions? These are some of the most common ones in regards to saving money online (especially with coupon extensions).
How else can I save money?
Obviously there’s more money you may be spending than just online, so how can you cut corners and save even more?
One important way is to take control of your personal fin ance and have make sure you have a savings account. Why? Savings accounts help you do just that, save money. They’re there for you to tuck money into that you won’t touch, but will continuously earn interest on. This is crucial for long term savings goals. It’s also a good idea to create an emergency fund because this is where you’ll keep extra cash to use in the event that something
You can also help yourself save money by looking closely at your monthly living expenses, creating a monthly budget and canceling things you don’t use. For example, if you have any premium subscriptions, streaming services or gym memberships that you don’t touch, getting rid of them will help you save.
Are coupon apps and extensions free?
The best part of using coupon apps or extensions is that they’re free! So it doesn’t cost you anything to start saving money.
How much money can I really save with an app or extension?
How much you save will depend on the app or extension you use, how much online shopping you do, and the companies you choose to buy from. A recent study showed that the typical U.S. household could save over $1,000 per year by using coupons when shopping, lowering household costs by 6.4 percent.
How does a coupon app or extension work?
There are a variety of types of coupon apps and extensions, and they can save you money by:
- Searching for the best coupons, promo codes and deals available
- Automatically applying coupon codes when you purchase online
- Comparing prices between retailers
- Rewarding shoppers when they shop at eligible retailers
Saving money while online shopping doesn’t have to be a chore. It can be super easy — and even fun — with these tips. Whether you’re stacking deals, using a cash back credit card, or strategically picking the times you shop, you’ll be saving money in no time.
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