5 Less-Known, Worth-It Ways to Save When Shopping Online

published Sep 27, 2016
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(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

Trying to save money when you shop online is one of those things that is so easy NOT to do because you just want to get the purchase over and done with. Shopping online is supposed to save time and energy! While it’s true that going down the rabbit hole of looking for savings can end up costing you money (time is money, right?), these ways to save online are quick and so totally worth it…

1. Check your credit cards for rotating cashback categories.

Many credit card companies offer additional cashback bonuses in categories that rotate throughout the year. For instance, January through April might be an additional cashback reward of 5 percent on gas, travel, and restaurants. Another quarter might be cashback on home improvement stores and department stores. Do an initial check of your cards to see which have cashback categories and then check periodically when a new quarter starts. Five percent savings, especially on big box items, can really add up.

2. Shop through shopping portals.

There are two ways to benefit from shopping through online portals. One is cashback rewards or points on certain credit cards. For instance, you can use the Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal to earn extra points on your Chase card. You can also use portals to gain airline miles, such as with the AAdvantage shopping portal, which earns you extra American Airlines miles through certain retailers. To take advantage of these bonuses, visit the portal sites, search for the retailer you plan to use, and click through to the retailer’s site.

3. Purchase discounted gift cards to use online.

Buying discounted gift cards can save you large percentages (that can be stacked with coupons and sales for even bigger savings). Search for your store at a site like Gift Card Granny, filter for online gift cards, and buy a card for, say, $60 that you only paid $50 for. This is a great way to save at stores that rarely have sales or coupons.

4. Cashback rewards sites.

Programs like Ebates or Mr. Rebates can be installed as extensions in your browser. When they offer cashback rewards, you’ll get a pop-up that you activate with a click. It takes a few seconds and they’ll mail you a check or send a PayPal payment.

5. Putting it all together.

If all these options have your head spinning, don’t despair — there’s a site for that, too. EV Reward will allow you to search for a retailer and they’ll give you a list of cashback rewards on various credit cards as well as points-earning opportunities. (I have it bookmarked and make it a habit to run a quick search before I shop online.)

How do you save money shopping online?