CostShredder: This Free Tool Helps You Save a Ton of Money While Shopping Online
I'm a huge fan of stacking savings. By using coupons, discounted gift cards (that you paid for with a rewards credit card), and a cash-back shopping site, you can save an incredible amount of money on your online (and offline) purchases. Of course, it does take a little bit of work and time to maximize your savings.
To combine these processes and make saving easier, I like to use CostShredder. It helps me stack savings without as much effort by doing a lot of the work for me, and it’s really easy to use. If you’re searching for holiday gifts this weekend, give CostShredder a try.
How CostShredder Works
You don’t need to sign up to use CostShredder. Simply go to CostShredder.com and follow these steps:
- Enter the name of a store.
- Estimate how much you'll spend.
- Click either "In-store or online" or "Online only."
- Click the "Save" button.
At this point you'll get a four-step plan to follow, complete with links to the best discounted gift cards and cash-back websites. For example, a quick search for "JC Penny," "$175," and "In-store or online," shows this result:
The first line usually says "Use Capital One Quicksilver," but the drop-down menu lists other cash-back credit cards. Line two has other options via the drop-down tab, but the first link goes the discount gift card that provides the highest savings on the purchase. Line three shows the cashback website with the highest payout, and usually has one other option. Line four has a site-wide coupon code that you can enter for a discount.
Note: If you haven’t tried using a cash-back website, don’t worry -- they’re easy to use. Just sign up for one site and go through its links to shop normally at various retailers. The site makes commissions from the retailers and pass some of those earnings back to you, paying you rebates by PayPal or direct deposit.
You may notice that some results say "No coupon" even though a search of RetailMeNot turns up several coupon codes. The website explains that, "CostShredder.com currently retrieves only coupons that can be used site-wide." Since coupons may be for specific departments (appliances, electronics, etc.), they won't be shown.
A simple work-around for that problem is to Google "coupons" plus the retailer's name. There might be an item specific coupon code for whatever you're buying, so search for it.
Where Are the Biggest Savings?
My favorite way to use the site is to find deals on things to resell on Amazon. By stacking enough savings, you can sometimes buy below wholesale. But I don't use CostShredder for shopping on Amazon, because it's rare to find discounts on their already low prices.
You can use the site to save money on everything from tires to outdoor gear, and even restaurants. But in my experience the biggest savings are on clothing. Use CostShredder to shop at clothing retailers and you can often save up to 40% off the regular price, especially if you use these extra tricks.
How to Save the Most Money Using CostShredder
CostShredder reminds you to stack your savings. The results link to a cheap discount gift card, saving you the time and trouble of searching. You also get a link to the cash-back website that offers the best percentage, so you can skip that search. That's a lot of time saved.
You can save even more money if you add two elements to the CostShredder system. First, use it when there is a sale on whatever you’re buying. This is a simple strategy, but means you’ll need to keep an eye on retailers’ websites and ads.
Second, if there are not discounted gift cards, use a better cash-back credit card. If you have one with rotating categories -- where different categories of purchases, like clothing, groceries or gas, earn different amounts of cash back -- use the card when the things you're buying generate 3% or 4% cash back.
With that in mind, here's how to get the most out of CostShredder:
- Enter your desired store and projected cost.
- Use your best cash-back credit card (you might do better than 1.5%).
- Buy the discounted gift card CostShredder suggests.
- Wait for a sale to maximize savings (if you have the time).
- If shopping online, use the cash-back website CostShredder suggests.
- Before completing your order, search for item specific online coupon codes to save even more money.
Using CostShredder.com for Christmas Shopping
Want to save extra cash on those gifts you’re buying for the holidays? Let’s walk through the whole process to explain how to maximize your savings using CostShredder.
Say you want a 32" HD TV from Target. It costs $209.99, but you recall that similar models went for $150 just before Christmas last year, so you wait for a sale. Meanwhile you enter "Target" and "$150" into CostShredder tool. The results suggest the following:
- Use Capital One Quicksilver to purchase the below Gift Card and save 1.5%
- Buy $90.58 Gift Card for $87.41
- Sign up with Topcashback and get 5% cash back
- No coupon
You use your 2% cash-back card instead. Since the gift card amount is only part of the purchase price (a common issue), you search CostShredder again for "Target" plus "$60" and get a link to a $59.52 gift card for $57.44, also from Giftcard Zen. You buy both and have two gift cards worth $150.10 total. You sign up for Topcashback, and you're ready.
When the big sale comes, the TV drops to $159.99. You search for "Target coupon codes" and find a code good for 5% off electronics. You buy the TV through TopCashBack.com online (perhaps for in-store delivery) using your gift cards and your coupon code, and pay the rest using your cash-back credit card. Here's the result (assuming you live in a state without sales tax, for simplicity’s sake):
Original Price: $209.99
- Savings from sale ($209.99 minus $159.99): $50
- Cash back on credit card (2% of $144.85 for gift cards): $2.90
- Savings from discount gift cards: $5.25
- Savings from coupon code (5% of $159.99): $8.00
- Savings from TopCashBack.com (5% of final price of $151.99): $7.60
- Savings from cash-back credit card (2% of the $1.99 not covered by gift cards): $0.02
Net Cost: $136.22
Total Savings: $73.77 (35%)
You could just enter "Target" and "$210" (based on the current price of the TV) and follow the steps given. But that results (at the moment) in a final price of $194.71, for a savings of just $15.29. Tweaking the CostShredder system a bit can help you save a lot more money.
CostShredder Isn’t Perfect, But It’s a Great Tool
While the site saves you time and money, it does have a couple of drawbacks. If you're shopping at a physical location, you'll have to either wait for your discounted gift card to arrive in the mail or buy one you can print. Another option is to see if the retailer lets you buy online and pick up your items at the store. That way, you can use a cash-back website and coupon codes to save more.
Not all retailers have gift cards or can be accessed through cash-back websites, so some searches will turn up nothing but the suggestion to use that cash-back credit card. Still, it only takes a few seconds to enter a name and amount, so why not check? You can also click the "Browse" button to see the retailers in the system.
If CostShredder did a better job of finding online coupon codes (and maybe sales), it would more fully live up to its promise. But it does give you a simple step-by-step formula for saving money within seconds. That's not bad for a free site that's easy to use, right?
Your Turn: Have you ever used CostShredder, and did it save you money?