Shopping for shoes online might be the most indulgent, enjoyable way to procrastinate.
But while discount sites offer nice prices, they don’t always have the quality I’m looking for. I’m not saying I’m a sucker for a name brand, but … I might be.
For a while, I assumed I couldn’t I couldn’t afford to shop at Zappos. But over time, I’ve found the best answer to my shoe-shopping needs is hiding right under my nose, in plain sight.
If you refuse to shop without a free shipping code or discount coupon, read on: We’ve found the best ways to save at Zappos — and they might surprise you.
The Only Way You Can’t Save at Zappos
First things first: There’s no such thing as a Zappos coupon code.
Stop searching. It’s a waste of time.
“Many online sites may claim to have Zappos.com coupons or discounts,” the retailer’s website explains. “But the truth is Zappos.com does not offer coupons or promotion codes.”
So while you won’t be stacking codes to get 99% off, there are still ways to save big at Zappos.
Here are our top six tips for satisfying shoe shopping.
1. Get Free Shipping Just for Showing Up
Ever scrambled to add $4.25 worth of product to an order so you could get free shipping?
Be warned, though, free shipping doesn’t mean your order will arrive immediately. Your shoes or sweaters or satchels are going to take the slow truck to your doorstep.
Getting a product in four to five business days isn’t long to wait — but it might seem like it in our instant-gratification-focused lives.
And if that shoe or sweater doesn’t fit? All returns are free, and you have an entire year to return new merchandise for a full refund.
2. Show Up Enough That You Get VIP Status
The Zappos VIP program is mysterious.
There’s nothing on the company’s site about how to be eligible or how to sign up. It just sort of… happens.
How many purchases does it take to get VIP status? I have no idea.
I’ve been a customer for about five years, but have only made a few purchases a year (maybe three pairs of shoes). I am an unreliable narrator.
When I asked Zappos to spill the beans, I received the response I expected: The VIP program is “something we like to remain a mystery,” according to Molly Beare, PR communication advisor to the CEO.
But once you’re in, you never get kicked out of VIP — and you get free one-business-day shipping all the time.
There’s even an exclusive customer service number for VIP members, should you need help with a return or other problem.
One-day shipping without VIP status costs $25.
3. Use the Zappos App
Not a VIP customer? No problem.
Zappos also indicates app users get the first look at new merch, but you’ll have to try it for yourself to see how good the sneak peeks are.
4. Check for Price Changes
Keep an eye on your recent orders!
Zappos is known for its customer service, which includes considerable efforts to keep money in your pocket.
If an item you order from Zappos goes on sale on the site within 10 days of your purchase, get on the horn with the company. It’ll refund the difference to your original payment method.
(Don’t feel like monitoring potential price changes yourself? There’s an app for that.)
5. Get the Visa Rewards Card
If you’re in the market for a new credit card, Zappos has you covered.
The Zappos.com Rewards Visa card offers three points for every dollar spent on the retailer’s site, and one point per dollar spent elsewhere.
Rewards are automatically delivered by email: Every time you hit 2,500 points, you’ll get a $25 Zappos.com gift card.
Need more reasons to sign up? There’s no annual fee, and you get a $25 statement credit after your first purchase with your shiny new card.
6. Use Discounted Gift Cards
One of our favorite penny-hoarding secrets is to buy discounted gift cards before making online purchases at our favorite stores.
If you haven’t tried it yet, be warned — you’re going to get hooked.
Discounts and availability fluctuate, but while writing this post we checked out Zappos gift cards on Raise. There were $100 gift cards available at an 8.7% discount, for $91.33. These e-cards are available instantly, perfect for those late-night shopping kicks.
Saving 8.7% might not seem like a lot, but wouldn’t you rather save $8 so you have it to spend on something else?
As we like to say around here, if you take care of the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves.
Your Turn: What are your best tips for shopping and saving at Zappos?
Lisa Rowan is a writer, editor and podcaster living in Washington, D.C. She spends more time shopping for shoes than anything else she owns.