The Ultimate Guide to Saving (and Making) Money Every Time You Shop Online
What are my hobbies?
Reading, watching Netflix, cross-stitching, playing with my kitten… and shopping online.
OK, the last one isn’t really a “hobby” in the traditional sense, but it might as well be. And it’s a very dangerous one for my wallet.
Sometimes I just “Windows” shop. (Get it?) Other times, I splurge — especially if the return policy is lenient and the deals are plentiful.
But those online shopping deals aren’t always obviously pasted on a site’s homepage. With a little effort, though, you can find tons of cash-back opportunities online and through apps.
Without further ado (because I know you’re itching to get that box on its way), here’s your list of resources, tips and tricks you’ll want to check out before clicking “submit” on your next order.
1. Earn Cash Back Through the Ibotta App
Download the app (and score that $10 sign up bonus), then tap “Find Rebates.” Select the mobile shopping category to see what you’re working with.
My favorite recent addition is its partnership with Amazon. You can pocket a $20 Amazon gift card when you sign up for Prime.
Other online deals available (at the time I wrote this article) include:
- 10% cash back on BloomThat flower delivery purchases
- 10% cash back on Booking.com hotel reservations
- Up to 10% cash back on Groupon deals
- 10% cash back on anything from Jet
- 5% cash back from Urban Outfitters
There are tons of other offers, too.
Do note you’ll need to launch these shopping sites through the Ibotta app in order to score the deals.
2. Share Your Email Receipts
Eeek. Those order confirmation emails that clog my inbox usually elicit a guilty tinge. But Paribus gives me a reason to feel a little better.
Paribus digitally connects to your inbox and keeps tabs on your online receipts.
It monitors nearly 30 retailers including Target, Walmart and Zappos. If you shop with one of these retailers and an item’s price drops, Paribus will issue you a refund for the difference.
Signing up is painless, and once you do, you’ll just go about your normal shopping business.
3. Share Your Amazon Purchase History
And that’s all.
The Harris Poll, a well-known survey company that measures U.S. public opinion, operates something called ShopTracker. Basically, it anonymously tracks what products users are purchasing from Amazon.
It’ll pay you $36 a year for that access and promises to keep your information private.
Before you sign up (it’ll take something like 3 minutes), here are the basic requirements:
- You should shop on Amazon, naturally.
- You must be 18 and live in the U.S.
- You’ll need at least a Windows 7-compatible PC. If you have Windows XP or a Mac, it won’t work.
Go ahead, and install the app for free. Then, log into your Amazon account to bank an extra $36 this year. No, it’s not a ton, but it’ll absolutely cover some impulsive Amazon purchases.
Or at least shipping…
4. Score Cash Back Through Ebates
Ebates is an online shopping portal that offers cash-back opportunities at more than 2,000 stores.
You’ll need to sign up (and score a $10 sign-up bonus!) and shop through the platform.
You can score up to 40% cash back on your purchases. Here are some examples of our favorite deals (at the time of writing this):
- Get up to 10% cash back on wedding decor and gifts from Etsy.
- Score $20 off your Tom’s order.
- Take up to 25% off your next car rental from Thirfty.
- For a limited time, Macy’s upped it’s 3% cash-back offer to 10%.
The deals are always changing. Just a few weeks ago, Ebates was offering 10% cash back at Walmart. There are thousands of offers, so I’ll spare you. But you can see if Ebates has something for your favorite online retailer (probably) by signing up here. And don’t forget that $10 bonus!
5. Check Out With Your Rewards Card
Maximize your cash back in a painless, passive manner with a cash-back rewards card.
You can find a number of rewards cards — even quite a few without annual fees. Some reward you in airline miles, others in points and a few in straight cash, like the Barclaycard CashForward™ World MasterCard®.
First, you can bank a $200 bonus if you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days of opening it. That’s 20% off whatever you buy. Just make sure you pay your card off in full each month to avoid interest.
Additionally, you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase. Plus, each time you redeem your bonus, you can snag a 5% cash rewards bonus you can use toward your next redemption.
Bonus: There’s no annual fee.
6. Check Out Through MyPoints
You’ll be able to exchange these for gift cards to your favorite retailers.
Download MyPoints, a rewards site that’ll pay you just for shopping through the portal.
Here’s how it works:
- Sign up for MyPoints using your email address.
- Next time you buy something online, use the MyPoints portal. It’s connected to thousands of stores — so chances are the one you desire will be on there.
- If you spend $20 at one of these stores, MyPoints grants you 1,740 bonus points, which you can redeem for that $10 Amazon card.
Points on points. Sign up for free and snag that bonus here.
7. Earn SBs Back and Exchange ’Em for Gift Cards
What’s an SB, you ask? It stands for Swagbucks, which are points you can exchange for gift cards.
Poke around our beginner’s guide to Swagbucks. Then sign up.
Whenever you make an online purchase, sign in and be sure to shop through the portal. If you order something from Target, for example, you can score 2 SBs per dollar spent. At Amazon, you can get up to 3 SBs per dollar. Macy’s offers 6 SBs per dollar.
Once you hit 500 SBs, you can cash them out for a $5 Amazon gift card. Or you can keep on saving for a larger redemption.
You’ll even snag some bonus SBs when you sign up here.
8. Sign Up for Price Drop Alerts
Do you waste money impulse shopping? You need a way to save things you want to buy later — and nab them when they’re on sale.
Yeah, a personal shopper would be fabulous. Who wouldn’t want someone to take care of the less-fun parts of shopping? But a personal assistant is, you know, uber expensive.
The next best thing? A mobile app and browser extension that does it for you.
Through Shoptagr you can save items you want from over 1,600 online retailers to a single wish list
The app and Google Chrome extension notify you in real time when an item goes on sale (down to specific size and color), so you can always get the best price.
Online shopping prices are constantly fluctuating. Make sure you’re not overspending just because you you’ve got an itchy “buy now” finger.
Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.