As the holiday shopping season rolls around, you might be looking for opportunities to save a few dollars. When you’re online shopping, it’s easy to get sucked into trying to find a good deal. While there are some great resources for finding deals online, there are also scams out there to be aware of. We’ll cover how to find the best deals online, as well as how to protect yourself from online shopping scams.
Finding deals online
To find deals online, you can start by looking at the retailer of your choice and check to see if they accept promo codes. For example, Away just recently had their first sale, and they’ve been in business since 2015. Not all retailers have sales, but if they do accept promotional codes, there’s a good chance that you can find or get one online – more on that in a minute.
You can also keep in mind that major holidays tend to be celebrated with sales, like the 4th of July or Labor Day. Plan bigger purchases around these dates to save money. There are also retail-specific holidays, like Prime Day from Amazon. Though Amazon doesn’t have a set date for their big sale, it usually happens in the summertime. Many other retailers will also run promotions around the same time to keep up with the eCommerce giant. Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) and Cyber Monday (the following Monday) are also great sales to take advantage of, so be sure to sign up for email notifications from your favorite brands so you don’t miss out on opportunities.
There’s an added benefit if you sign up for a retailer’s email list. Often, you will receive a code to get a percentage off your purchase just for opting in to receive their emails. Retailers will send out email notifications for sales and other promotions throughout the year as well. Some brands even have exclusive email lists for loyal customers with great extra perks, so it pays to be a subscriber. If you want to get serious about signing up for email lists and getting discounts, you might consider creating a second email account just for this purpose.
To get an abandoned cart discount, make sure you are logged into your account with the retailer. Then try filling your online cart with goodies, and close out of the screen before you check out. The retailer will often send you a promo code to motivate you to complete that purchase.
Next, you can install a browser extension, like Honey or Wikibuy, which will automatically find coupon codes for you when you go to check out. Or you can use a good source like RetailMeNot, which rounds up sales and promotions from a huge variety of brands on a daily basis. Coupons.com includes both digital coupons for online shopping and printable coupons to use in-store.
Finally, make sure you’re getting free shipping. Sites like FreeShipping.org or FreeShippingDay.com list all the retailers that offer free shipping and includes promo codes for that perk. Some retailers have a minimum purchase for free shipping, so save up your purchase until you’ve reached the right amount. Or have the retailer ship your item free to a local store and go pick it up in the store or with curbside service, which more retailers offer today.
Protecting yourself from scams
To keep online shopping fun and safe, you can take a few precautions that will keep your financial information secure and ensure that you are buying products from reputable sellers.
- Make sure you are on the right website. Scammers are very good at imitating the real thing, even down to the website name. When it comes to searching for your favorite store on Google, make sure you are clicking on the right one — paid advertisements can make it look like you’re going to the right place when you’re going to a knockoff store instead.
- Check that the website you are shopping from is encrypted and secure. look for https:// instead of just http:// for verification before you put in your credit card information. This means that the page is encrypted and won’t leak your financial information.
- Use a credit card instead of a debit card when you shop. Credit cards have more protections due to federal law and will allow you to dispute some charges. Reputable organizations will not ask for your social security number, so avoid companies that do. You should also refrain from sending any financial data over email — always go through the website to make secure purchases.
- Data breaches can happen to retailers too, which can leave your sensitive information up for grabs. You can take steps to protect yourself by using strong, unique passwords for each account you create online.
There are lots of deals to be found online, but the best and safest ones come directly from the retailer. While many stores partner with coupon sites, you can always establish a relationship with the retailer yourself by signing up for the email list. And while you score killer deals, make sure you also work to keep yourself safe as you shop online. We hope you found these tips helpful as you search for great deals. Happy shopping!