It’s hard to beat the convenience of online shopping — you can browse stores at any hour in your pajamas and have purchases delivered right to your door. But saving online isn’t as easy without a little forethought and footwork on your part.
But free shipping, deep discounts, and additional rewards are within your grasp if you know how to find them.
Ways to Save Money When Shopping Online
There are numerous ways to save money when you’re online shopping, from apps and browser extensions to group buys and digital marketplaces.
Most savings apps are available for free for both iOS and Android devices as well as through online portals. Some of the best rewards-based shopping apps include:
- Ibotta. Get cash-back rewards on purchases you make through the platform. It offers rewards on online grocery purchases as well as other products, like clothing and beauty products. For a complete list of pros and cons, see our Ibotta review.
- Drop. Available only for mobile, Drop rewards shoppers who make purchases through its app. You can earn points in various ways, including shopping through the app, playing games, and completing surveys and redeem your points for online gift cards.
- Fetch Rewards. Scan receipts for groceries and household purchases from grocery, convenience, pet supply, hardware, and liquor stores as well as gas stations into Fetch Rewards. It checks to see if you made any purchases from their partnered brands, such as Heinz, Knorr, and Kraft. For more information, see our Fetch Rewards review.
- Store-Specific Apps. Many stores, such as Target, Instacart, and Asos, have their own apps, which can keep you from having to pay full price on your online purchases. Many store-specific apps offer exclusive discounts and rewards to app users, so before you make a purchase, check to see if a simple download can help you save money.
2. Online Tools
You can use rewards-focused online shopping tools in various ways, from browsing and shopping to earning points through games and surveys. Others save you money by tracking price changes for purchases you’ve already made.
- Groupon. Groupon allows you to search for deals on products and services from local merchants. It’s perfect for local classes and events and activities like photography lessons, festivals, and city tours. But you can also find discounts on products and services, like flower bouquets and massages. Learn more in our full Groupon review.
- Swagbucks. You can earn rewards by shopping through Swagbucks, completing surveys, conducting online searches, playing online games, and watching videos. Find more details by reading our Swagbucks review.
- RetailMeNot. If you’ve ever searched for online coupons before making a purchase, chances are you’ve visited RetailMeNot. Although the site has been a popular place to find coupons and deals, it now offers a rewards program as well. You can shop via a browser extension, the RetailMeNot website, or a mobile app for free. See our RetailMeNot review for all the details.
- Paribus. Paribus works a little differently from other savings apps. Instead of providing coupons and discount codes, it tracks purchases you make and lets you know when the price changes. When it detects a lower price than the one you paid, it lets you know so you can request a price match.
3. Browser Extensions
Browser extensions work with most browsers, such as Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, and Edge. Most extensions conveniently apply coupons to your virtual carts before you make a purchase, making saving money simple and stress-free.
- Honey. Honey gathers coupons and discount codes from across the Web and automatically applies them to your shopping cart. Honey’s codes are typically more reliable than the ones on other sites. As you shop, you accrue rewards points from qualifying stores, which you can then redeem for digital gift cards from various popular retailers. To learn more, read our complete Honey review.
- The Camelizer. Always get the best price with this Amazon-specific browser plugin from CamelCamelCamel that monitors and tracks the highest and lowest prices of specific products, sends you price-drop alerts, and saves you from having to monitor your wish list or cart. It also features Amazon’s pricing history so you can see if merchandise is currently at its lowest historical rate.
- Rakuten. Formerly known as Ebates, Rakuten gets you cash back on purchases you make at hundreds of online retailers, from Walmart to Dyson. Just add the extension, shop, and get paid through PayPal. Rakuten also has an app for in-store shopping. Take a look at our Rakuten review for more information.
- Capital One Shopping. Formerly Wikibuy, Capital One Shopping’s browser extension applies discounts to online checkouts and offers coupon codes, a price-comparison tool, price tracking, and loyalty rewards from partner retailers. For a full breakdown, read our Capital One Shopping Review.
Capital One Shopping compensates us when you get the browser extension using the links provided.
4. Avoid Shipping Fees and Order Minimums
Shipping fees can significantly increase the amount of money you spend at an online store. That’s especially true if you only need a few inexpensive products that don’t add up to the free shipping minimum.
But there are several ways to save on shipping costs and meet order minimums to keep more cash in your pocket.
Group Shopping and Bulk Buys
Group shopping is when you go in on an online order with friends, family members, or neighbors. You can even find Facebook groups for group buys among strangers, who come together to place large orders to save on delivery costs at stores like Ikea.
Group shopping is ideal for meeting minimum shipping amounts and saving on delivery costs, especially for large merchandise like furniture. Some products even go down in price the more you buy, so having multiple people go in on a single bulk order reduces or eliminates shipping costs and gets you the lowest price on your purchase as well.
Even when you can’t avoid shipping fees, bulk buys allow you to split the cost with the other buyers, which can significantly reduce your delivery charge.
Sometimes, the style or size you want is only available online. If you can’t avoid having the goods shipped but don’t want to pay fees, check to see whether the retailer offers free delivery to your local store. You may even be able to pick it up curbside.
Place Larger Orders
Most stores have a minimum you have to meet to qualify for free delivery. It’s partially a ploy to get you to spend more. But you can benefit from it if you wait to place a larger order that includes only things you need.
For example, if you’re ordering clothing or home goods, save what you want in a cart or on a wish list until you have enough to make a single order instead of making one-off purchases more than once. By waiting a few weeks, you can save money and avoid waiting for multiple deliveries.
5. Browse Incognito
You could be shown different pricing, messaging, and discounts than other users simply based on your cookies, meaning you aren’t necessarily getting the best price.
To prevent that, browse incognito (also called private browsing) to keep websites from seeing and storing your cookies. If a website can’t identify you, they can’t customize the prices or discounts you see.
6. Shop at the Right Places
Aside from shopping at traditional retailers, you can receive hefty discounts by using online marketplaces, scoring outlet deals, and purchasing open-box and refurbished goods. Peruse these alternatives before making a purchase.
Digital marketplaces are where regular people sell new and used goods. Typically, they let you skip the retailer and buy directly from an individual.
Some examples include Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and Craigslist. Although you may have to dig for a deal, many people sell items in like-new condition because they can’t or don’t want to return them or just want to make some quick cash.
When possible, look for merchandise with tags or original packaging or that’s still under warranty. That way, you score a brand-new product with a discounted price tag.
Most top brands have online outlets where they send their out-of-season or overstocked merchandise. Even Nordstrom, Adidas, and Guess have virtual outlets where you can shop for deals and markdowns. In terms of fashion and home decor, they may not stock cutting-edge fashion trends. But you can find basics and seasonal pieces at discounted prices.
Before hitting the buy-now button in your digital shopping cart, check whether the store also has an online outlet. As a bonus, most browser add-ons like Honey still work for online outlets, so if you nab a working coupon code, you save even more.
Warehouse, Refurbished, and Open-Box Sections
Warehouse, refurbished, and open-box merchandise isn’t limited to brick-and-mortar stores. Digital marketplaces and shops have them too. You just have to know what to look for.
Expensive gadgets like kitchen appliances and personal electronics come with hefty price tags, but scoring an open-box or refurbished deal can save you a huge chunk of change.
For example, on Amazon, warehouse deals are typically barely used — like-new gifts people returned, impulse buys, or merchandise in packaging too damaged to sell. An Amazon employee assesses each product before listing it, and each listing details its condition.
And technology companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Dell sell refurbished laptops and phones on their website at a significant discount.
Many retailers even offer warranties and returns on these goods, so you aren’t left in a bind if it’s defective or isn’t quite what you were looking for.
You can’t always find the specific open-box product you’re looking for. But it’s worth a little digging before you take the plunge and pay full price.
Google Shopping helps consumers compare prices from different retailers without navigating through multiple websites.
Enter the name or description of the product, and Google populates results from various sellers. You can broaden or narrow your search as needed and filter your results by factors like price, brand, delivery cost, and rating.
And since Google Shopping searches stores for you, retail websites can’t identify you and modify the prices you see. That ensures you see the best price every time, instead of a price based on a website’s ability to recognize you.
7. Join Email Subscriptions
Most stores offer their first-time email subscribers a discount, such as a percentage off, free shipping promo, or discount code. Plus, if you stay subscribed, you hear about new coupons and upcoming deals before anyone else.
It helps to create an email address specifically for promotions to keep your personal inbox from being overloaded with marketing emails.
But if staying subscribed isn’t worth it for you, sign up, claim your code, and unsubscribe.
8. Shop Seasonally
Most retailers stock merchandise based on seasonality. As one season ends, they sell any leftover products at a deep discount because it’s the store’s last chance to profit from them.
For example, buying patio furniture in the fall or a winter jacket in the spring comes with the perk of saving yourself a considerable sum of money.
Everything from books to video games and electronics experience seasonality. Even large appliances have best seasons to buy. That’s because their industries often base new releases around prime shopping times, like the holidays.
So if you can, don’t buy products at the peak of their popularity. Instead, wait until they’re out of season and reap the rewards of being a strategic and patient online shopper.
9. Buy Discounted Gift Cards
We’ve all received a gift card we can’t use, whether it’s because of personal taste or location availability. And that’s why sites that allow you to sell and swap gift cards exist.
Some of the most popular include:
These sites allow you to purchase people’s unwanted gift cards at discounted rates, saving you money on things you actually want. You can also find unwanted gift cards on digital marketplaces like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.
10. Join Loyalty Rewards Programs
Many brands have loyalty programs that provide coupon codes and discounts based on previous purchases. If you buy from a particular brand regularly, joining their loyalty program lets you save money shopping online just for buying products you’d purchase anyway.
But read the fine print and watch out for disclaimers. For example, some loyalty programs prohibit combining rewards with other promo codes or coupons. Check which price is better before using your rewards to maximize your savings.
11. Wait for Discount Days
You know Black Friday and Cyber Monday are go-to discount days you can expect each year. But there are other discount days and periods throughout the year, such as Prime Day, and on certain holidays like Independence Day, Memorial Day, New Year’s Day, and Presidents Day.
You can also find a ton of discounted seasonal goods immediately after holidays like Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Christmas. The best finds during these periods are often holiday-specific. But it’s the perfect time to buy discounted decorations and gifts for next year.
Saving money when online shopping helps with budgeting and enables you to make strategic purchases. With a little planning, you can get the most bang for your buck through discounts and rewards on brand-name products.
Pay attention to how, where, and when you shop to maximize your savings and snag the best deals.