Americans are shopping online more than ever before. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, online retailers in the United States took in about $513.6 billion in 2018, an increase of more than 14% from 2017. That works out to over $1,500 for every man, woman, and child in the country.
As we all spend more online, we also become more interested in finding ways to save online. We use sites like PriceGrabber and Google Shopping to compare prices for the same product across multiple sites. Then, once we’ve decided where to buy something, we search for coupon codes that provide deals such as discounts or free shipping on that site. Tricks like this can save you money, but they take extra time – sometimes more time than it’s really worth to save a dollar or two.
Fortunately, there’s an easier way to save when you shop online. All you have to do is install a browser extension, a plug-in that extends the capabilities of a Web browser such as Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer. There are several money-saving browser extensions that can do the work of online bargain hunting for you, comparing prices, finding and applying coupon codes, and cashing in on cash-back deals. Here’s the skinny on some of the most popular browser extensions for online shopping.
Browser Extensions to Save Big When Shopping Online
Of all the money-saving extensions you can add to your browser, none get more rave reviews than Honey. This free add-on saves you money in four different ways:
- Coupon Codes. If you’re tired of searching for coupon codes every time you shop, Honey can do the work for you. It automatically seeks out promo codes for thousands of online retailers, including Amazon, Nordstrom, Best Buy, Expedia, and even eateries such as Pizza Hut. The extension compares all the available codes for the site where you’re shopping and automatically applies the one that gives you the biggest discount.
- Amazon Price Comparison. When you shop on Amazon, Honey can tell you which of the many sellers in the Amazon Marketplace offers the best final price on an item, including sales tax and shipping. Honey also lets you know how much you could save if you’re willing to wait longer for shipping. And if you’re an Amazon Prime member, Honey lets you know about any special deals that your Prime membership provides. (As of the writing of this article, this feature of the extension is available only for shoppers in the United States.)
- Cash Back. Honey users in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia can also gain access to Honey Gold, which earns you cash back at over 4,000 participating sites. Every time you shop on one of these sites, Honey awards you a randomly selected number of points for each dollar you spend. Once you accumulate 1,000 points, you can cash them in for a $10 gift card at one of several participating stores, including Amazon, Walmart, and eBay. The only catch is that you can’t use Honey Gold along with other cash-back programs on the same browser.
- Bonuses. When you first sign up for Honey, you earn a Welcome Bonus, a discount of $5 to $20 at one of the extension’s partner stores. The site will offer you several discounts to choose from, and you’ll have a limited amount of time to make a purchase and get your discount. You can also earn bonuses for referring your friends to Honey. You send them a link, and when they sign up and use Honey Gold for the first time, you earn 500 Gold points – the equivalent of $5.
Honey works with the Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera, and Safari browsers. Honey also offers a rewards app for iOS versions 9 and up called the Honey Smart Shopping Assistant. Like the browser add-on, it can automatically find and apply coupon codes and deals, but it has an extra perk: You can access all of your favorite stores at once through the app. That allows you to find the best deal and cash in on it without having to visit multiple sites.
2. Rakuten Cash Back Button
The rewards site Rakuten, formerly known as Ebates, offers a browser extension for Chrome called the Cash Back Button. Like Honey, it gives you access to cash back and coupon codes at over 2,500 stores. It displays a popup message to tell you when there’s cash back available at a store where you’re shopping, and if you’re on a site that doesn’t have a cash-back offer, the extension will let you know if you can find the same product for a lower price on a site that does.
However, unlike Honey, Rakuten tells you up front how much cash back you can earn at a particular store; you don’t have to roll the dice each time you shop. The percentage you get varies from store to store and changes over time, but it’s generally between 1% and 10%. You can compare cash-back offers across multiple stores and choose the one that will give you the best deal. The money you earn goes into your Rakuten account, and you can cash it in once a quarter for a check or PayPal credit.
Not only is the Rakuten Cash Back Button free to install, but the site also offers a $10 bonus when you first sign up. You can choose from a Walmart gift card or $10 paid into your Rakuten account.
3. CouponCabin Sidekick
This free browser extension from the rewards site CouponCabin has two main features: coupon codes and cash-back offers. Whenever you visit a store that works with CouponCabin, a CouponCabin Sidekick window pops up to tell you how much cash back you can earn there and how many coupons are available. You can then click the “Activate Now” link to receive cash back or the “See Offers” button to see all coupons and deals available on the site.
One major perk of CouponCabin Sidekick is that it lists the offers available to you not only when you shop, but also when you search on Google. For instance, let’s say you’re searching for the latest season of “Game of Thrones” on DVD. Right in your search results, above the name of each store that offers the DVD set, you’ll see a little cabin icon showing what discounts and cash-back offers are available at that particular store. That way, you can choose to buy from the store that offers you the best deal overall.
CouponCabin Sidekick is available for Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Safari.
Ibotta, a popular mobile coupon app, is now also available as a browser add-on for Google Chrome. To use the Ibotta extension, you must first set up an Ibotta account, if you don’t already have one. Once you sign up, you’ll receive a $20 bonus into your account.
The Ibotta extension works with over 50 online retailers, including Home Depot, Old Navy, and Bed Bath & Beyond. Whenever you make a purchase through one of these sites, the app will display a button that says “Get cash back.” When you click this button, the extension will pop up a window where you can enter the total amount of your online purchase.
It will then display a button that says “Buy gift card.” By clicking this button, you will purchase a virtual gift card through Ibotta that’s exactly equal to the amount you want to spend. To use it, select “gift card” as your payment option in the online store, and paste in the gift card number and PIN provided in the pop-up window.
The amount of cash back you earn with the extension varies by retailer. Your cash shows up instantly in your Ibotta account. As soon as you have at least $20 in your account, you can log into the Ibotta app on your mobile device and select “Withdraw Cash” to cash in your earnings via Venmo, PayPal, or a gift card.
5. Gumdrop by Goodshop
If you like the idea of supporting charities while you shop, Gumdrop by Goodshop is worth a look. This free add-on for Chrome, Explorer, Firefox, and Safari works much like Honey or CouponCabin to find and apply coupon codes for you. However, instead of giving you cash back, Gumdrop donates a share of your spending to a school, church, charity, or cause of your choice.
Gumdrop can find coupons and donation deals at over 45,000 stores, including Amazon, Walmart, and Kohl’s. When the extension finds you a deal on a particular site, it displays a flashing icon in your toolbar, which you must click to activate the deal. It also shows you what percentage of your spending on that site will be donated.
6. The Camelizer
Many frequent Amazon shoppers already know about the website camelcamelcamel, which tracks the prices of millions of products on Amazon over time. Since prices on Amazon change from day to day and even from minute to minute, being able to see a product’s price history helps you figure out whether the current price is a good deal or not. The site can also import your Amazon Wishlist and alert you when the price of any item on it drops so that you can jump in and snag the product at the lower price.
Now, camelcamelcamel also offers a free browser extension, called The Camelizer, for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. This add-on lets you see a product’s price history directly from Amazon without having to visit a separate page. Currently, The Camelizer tracks only Amazon prices, but it has covered a couple of other retailers in the past and could do so again in the future.
Like The Camelizer, the free PriceBlink extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari helps you find the best price for a product. However, instead of tracking prices over time on just one site, PriceBlink compares prices across thousands of sites and lets you know when there’s a better deal elsewhere.
For instance, let’s say you’re looking at a pair of boots for $100 on Amazon. PriceBlink recognizes the brand and style and instantly searches more than 11,000 other sites to see if any other store carries the same boots for less. The PriceBlink toolbar in your browser window will show you which stores offer a lower price, and you can simply click on the toolbar to see the product listing on another site.
PriceBlink can also help you find coupon codes, just like Honey or CouponCabin Sidekick. Whenever you’re visiting a retail site, the PriceBlink toolbar can show you a list of the best coupons available on that site. You can click on a particular offer you want and be taken to a PriceBlink page that lists the coupon code, where you can click again to copy it to your clipboard. Then, you can paste it into the appropriate field when you check out.
If you’re not sure what product you want to buy, PriceBlink can help you there too. Whenever you’re looking at a product on a retail site, you can click “Ratings” in the PriceBlink toolbar to see how users have rated the product on other sites. It gives you a better overall picture of users’ opinions than the ratings on just one site, and it takes much less time than visiting multiple sites to check reviews there.
If that sounds like an awful lot of information to have cluttering up your screen at all times, don’t worry. The PriceBlink toolbar stays hidden most of the time and only pops up when it finds you a deal on a particular item you’re viewing.
Comparing online product reviews through PriceBlink is handy, but there’s one problem: You can’t always tell whether those reviews are real. It’s not unheard of for sellers on Amazon and other sites to hire people to post good reviews for their products. Even if a product has a five-star overall rating, you can’t necessarily tell if it’s a great product or the company has just paid lots of people to say it is.
That’s where Fakespot comes in. This free Chrome plug-in analyzes product reviews on a specific site and looks for suspicious patterns that suggest they’re fake. It then gives the product a grade from A to F indicating how trustworthy the reviews are.
If you want, you can click on this grade to see a more detailed analysis showing what phrases reviewers are using most often and what percentage of the reviews appear to be legit. Fakespot can even show you similar products that have more reliable ratings.
The Fakespot extension has several options to make it more convenient to use. For instance, it can show Fakespot grades on Amazon product pages and listing pages, so you can simply skip over products that have a bunch of bogus reviews. It can also include Fakespot grades in your Google search results. However, you can turn these features off if you don’t want to use them.
One drawback of Fakespot is that it only works if you’re logged into a Google account. If you don’t use Google or Chrome, you can still analyze reviews by visiting Fakespot’s website and pasting in the URL for the product page you want to check; it just adds an extra step.
Like PriceBlink, InvisibleHand compares prices when you shop and displays an alert when it finds a better deal somewhere else. It also works with Google Search to show you the lowest price on a product you’re viewing. However, unlike PriceBlink, InvisibleHand only works with a few retailers: Sears, Lowe’s, Best Buy, NewEgg, and Buy.com.
The primary use of InvisibleHand is for finding travel deals. When you search for flights on an airline’s website or a price comparison site such as Orbitz, InvisibleHand lets you know if there’s a cheaper flight available to the same destination and gives you a link directly to the lowest price. It can also find deals on hotels and rental cars.
Another unique feature of InvisibleHand is that it can find hidden prices on retail sites. Sometimes, retailers don’t reveal the price of an item until you put it in your shopping cart. Typically, they do this because they’ve promised the manufacturer not to advertise the product for less than a specified minimum price. InvisibleHand gets around this limitation, ferreting out and showing you the real price of the item.
InvisibleHand is available for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.
Each of these browser extensions can save you money on its own. However, there’s no need to limit yourself to just one. For instance, if you’re shopping on Amazon, you can use Fakespot to see if the reviews on the product you’re viewing are legit. If it looks good, you can consult The Camelizer to see how Amazon’s price for the product looks today and whether you’d be better off waiting for a better deal. And finally, you can check PriceBlink to see if there’s a better price available on another site.
Even when two different add-ons have similar benefits – for instance, finding coupon codes and cash-back offers – it can’t hurt to have them both installed. The list of retail sites that work with Honey isn’t necessarily identical to the list for Rakuten or CouponCabin Sidekick, so installing more than one of them increases the chances that you’ll be able to find a deal no matter where you shop. You can’t earn cash back from more than one extension for the same purchase, but you can use a coupon code from one and earn cash back from another.
Do you use any browser extensions to save money when you shop? Which are your favorites?