While most of this blog focuses on Chicago deals and happenings, I wanted to take a step back and focus on deals in general. Or rather, shopping. Of the online variety. If you think my deal-scouting abilities can be contained within just one city, I’m about to blow you away.
Here’s my 5 step process to online shopping:
1. Get a credit card that rewards you.
I have 5 credit/debit cards in my wallet:
- Chase Credit Card with Amazon Rewards
- Victoria’s Secret Credit Card
- Chase Debit Card
- American Express Blue Cash Everyday Rewards Credit Card
- Target Debit Card
Each one gives me specific benefits (minus the chase debit card, which is really just an ATM card). I won’t go into too much detail in this article, but if you’re not getting rewarded for your spending, you’re leaving money on the table. Just don’t become the type of person who uses their credit card as an excuse to spend more than you have. I never carry a balance more than I can easily pay off.
2. Check RetailMeNot for a coupon code and sign up for the retailer’s email newsletter
Here’s two easy opportunities to save big. RetailMeNot is a website that aggregates sales and promo codes from thousands of popular online retailers. As far as I’m concerned, if the promo isn’t on RetailMeNot, it doesn’t exist. Furthermore, many popular online retailers offer first time buyer promo codes between 10-25% off. Sign up for their online newsletters! You can always unsubscribe if you don’t want email spam. Or create a separate junk email account specifically for promotions and email signups.
On another note, if you have a favorite brand, Know their sales. Just like Victoria’s Secret has their popular semi-annual sales events, so does Lululemon and Athleta, who are otherwise notorious for almost never discounting their products. I found out about both by signing up for their email newsletters!
3. Activate cash back through Ebates
Ebates is not the easiest concept to explain, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a try. Here’s the gist: You create an Ebates account and automatically get a $10 bonus giftcard. You enter your shipping address as part of your profile, because Ebates is going to send you a Big Fat Check when all is said and done. The next step is a habit you need to create. Before you purchase something online, you need to go to the Ebates website (Or install their browser extension to get a reminder whenever you’re on a partner’s ecommerce website). You click a button to activate getting cash back. Most participating websites offer 3-6% back, but frequently there are “double cash back” days. That cash comes back to you in the aforementioned Big Fat Check periodically, which is every 2 months or so. I just got one worth $140, after buying a Groupon Getaway by activating the Ebates cash back.
4. Price compare on Amazon
I don’t think anyone will argue with me about the fact that Amazon is a great one-stop-shop for deals. Whenever I’ve got my eye on a popular product, I always use the Amazon app or website to find the best price. Here are a few additional tools to find the lowest price through Amazon:
- See if Amazon offers the lowest price
- View pricing history on Amazon to figure out the best time to buy
- Set alerts for price drops on Amazon
Furthermore, depending on the product, consider buying from the “used” section on Amazon. If there’s a book I’ve got my eye on, this is often the lowest-price acquisition strategy.
5. Before you make a purchase, buy a discounted gift card through Raise
Raise is a gift card reselling marketplace that was founded by a Chicagoan! While there are other lookalike gift card reselling marketplaces online, Raise is my favorite because it’s so easy to use. While it’s a great resource for reselling a gift card you don’t want (helloooooo Christmas presents), for the purpose of this article, let’s focus on it’s value in cutting down your online shopping bills. Once your shopping cart is full, find a gift card that covers the value of your purchase. That’s why it’s important that you save this step for last. You can usually save at least $10 by ending your online shopping experience with Raise.
Online shopping is one of my favorite activities, and by using this 5 step process, I have more money to play with in the rest of my life.
Did I miss any steps? Let me know your online shopping secrets in the comments!
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