Online Shopping Tips & Hacks To Save You $$
How to get stuff for a way, way less than retail price.
I am a frugal person by nature. I’m always trying to find hacks to get the best deal possible. Here are my best tried-and-true hacks to get deals while shopping online:
Get a % of your purchase price back, in cash:
You probably know that some American credit cards give you a certain number of points per dollar spent, which you can redeem to pay off purchases or pay down your credit card balance, or just straight-up cash back. But did you know that when you shop online, you can get cash back and extra credit card points/miles just by clicking through a portal?
Here’s why it works: Basically, the credit card companies like Mastercard, Visa and AMEX, and the banks they’re associated with, are always competing for you to use their cards. In order to incentivize you, they partner up with merchants to make cash-back deals in the hopes that it’ll push you to use their card and shop at their partner’s store. You can find out about each of these cash-back (or miles) offers on the credit card website, but that’s a PITA. The solutions below are hacks to find out about –and cash in on– these offers with far less effort.
Cashback Monitor has a massive list of online shopping retailers and shows the rewards (credit card points and airline loyalty miles) and cash-back options for each. Once you find your preferred portal, just click the link and it’ll take you to the portal’s website where you can then click through to the store and earn your miles (just make sure you’ve created and linked an account with your preferred loyalty program first). If that’s too much work, you can install the Cashback Watch extension, which is a quick-reference linked to several cashback portals.
Another option to save time and get the best bang for your buck while shopping in-store or online, is the Earnin mobile app. Just browse the shop and it’ll show you the cash-back amount, tell you which credit card to use, and credit you the cash-back once the purchase clears.
You can also use Earny to find coupons and cash-back offers (via their browser plugin). If you link your Amazon account, it’ll also track all your Amazon purchases, then, if the price drops on something you purchased, Earny will submit a request to your credit card (provided your card has price protection) and get you the difference in price credited back.
Another way to get money back if the price drops, is Paribus. They monitor your purchases and help you get money back directly from the stores. (Our little secret: you can do this in addition to the cash-back and credit card price protection to sometimes get your product free! This works especially well if you buy right before a big sale…)
Hacks to Make eBay Super Easy:
I just bought a gorgeous new pair of Dolce & Gabbana lace booties for only $130. US (believe it or not, the retail price on these is $1050. US). I also bought a new off-white Coach clutch purse for 40 bucks (the in-store retail price is $140.) In fact, my entire wardrobe is filled with designer clothes, shoes, and accessories that I have purchased for a fraction of their retail price. How? I shop online at eBay.
Like my friends, you’re probably in disbelief. Last week we all went out for dinner. I wore a skirt to show off my new lace boots. My friends noticed them right away. The compliments didn’t stop all night. At dinner, one of my friends asked where I got them and how much I paid. When I told her there was dead silence, followed by “how do you buy designer clothing for cheap online?” Everyone looked puzzled as if I had just explained a new theory of relativity.
We then entered an interesting conversation about online shopping. Some think I’m crazy. They say that they would never shop online. They need to touch the fabric and try on the clothes before they buy. Some thought they’d get ripped off and lose money. Others wanted to get in on the deals. The funny part is they seem to believe I’m the only one capable of finding these discounts. The reality is anyone can do it, here’s how:
How to Get Those DEALS!
If you want deep discounts on clothing, the best way to get them is to shop on eBay. This is how I get all my clothing at 90% off. Don’t just buy the first thing you see. Here’s my 6-step process, and how to get the best prices:
- Figure out what brands you like and what size you are.
- Search for it and narrow down the results until the descriptions for the items showing up are basically what you want. Select a price range (keep it low) on the left, and specify your size.
- Click “save search”, so it’ll email you daily with the new listings. In your email, filter them into a folder (so they don’t clutter up your InBox) and check that folder every few days.
- When something good comes up at a low price, copy the ‘eBay Item Number’ (it’s in small lettering at the top right of the description box, or you can just search the page for it).
- Paste the ‘eBay Item Number’ into Just Snipe (or any other ‘eBay sniper’), and it’ll automatically bid for you in the last few seconds, so you don’t have to wait around for the auction to end. Say the item is at $50 and you’d pay a max of $120 for it, well the sniper will bid $51, and if someone else has a max of $80, then the price will go up to $80, then the sniper will bid $81, and you’ll win it for that.
- Pay via PayPal using a credit card with good buyer protection (PayPal and eBay also offer additional buyer protections), and wait for your item to be delivered. Fun!
Here’s everything you need to know, in more detail:
Know the value of the merchandise
It is important to know if an item on eBay is listed at less than its regular price. You will be upset if you pay more for an item online than it sells for at a department store. Peruse catalogs and visit shops to know the retail price of an item. When shopping online, read the item description closely to find the material, as well as whether it is new or used. Both help determine its value.
Look for keywords
When buying designer items, look for the word “authentic” in the item title or description. Beware of descriptions that say “designer-like” or “designer-style”. Most likely these items are knock-offs. Also, locate misspelled listings – they are likely to have fewer bidders.
Set saved searches
I search for items I like, in my size, and narrow the search down until I think it’ll capture when someone lists the items I want. Then I save the search. eBay will then send me a daily digest of the new listing that fit that search. I filter these into a box in my email (to spare my InBox), and look through them every so often. I usually find what I’m looking for after a week or two.
Know your measurements
Most power-sellers include size charts with their garments or will have exact measurements in the item’s description. I personally prefer to stick to brands I know fit me well. Keep in mind that a used item may have stretched or shrunk from its original size.
Always look at the seller’s feedback. This feature rates sellers on service. They don’t need to have 100 per cent positive feedback. For example, a seller who has sold more than 500 items and has 98 per cent positive feedback is more credible than a seller who has sold three items with 100 per cent positive feedback. Their rating should be at least 95 per cent and the more items they’ve sold the better.
Check delivery charges and payment methods
An item usually lists delivery charges. Keep this in mind when bidding. If a listing does not specify the delivery charges ask the seller BEFORE bidding. All auctions require the buyer to pay for shipping and handling unless stated otherwise. As for payment methods, PayPal is the most common. Again, check which payment methods are accepted before bidding.
Check the location
If possible, bid only on items that are from the country where you reside to avoid being slapped with a customs surcharge. Be cautious of sellers from Asia as they produce a lot of replica (fake) items.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
eBay shopping is straightforward to find exactly what you want because a photograph and description accompanies almost every item. However, if you are not provided with enough information, feel free to ask questions about an item. Ask questions BEFORE bidding though. This is proper eBay etiquette and will save you and the seller from frustration.
Use a sniper
Bidding too early can raise the price of an item. It also decreases your chances of winning the auction. I learned this the hard way a year ago when I bid on a fabulous Roberto Cavalli dress three days before the auction ended. I was outbid in the last half-hour of the auction. I wanted the dress so badly that I entered a higher maximum bid. I was outbid again in the last five minutes of the auction. I bid again. I won the auction but spent much more on the dress than I intended. You can avoid all this by using an eBay auction sniper. It’ll bid for you (automatically) in the last five seconds. That way you’ll keep the bids low and you won’t have to be by your computer when the auction ends.
Look at the seller’s other items and eBay Stores
Many eBay power-sellers have an eBay store where you can find great items at low buy-it-now prices. Look at the seller’s other items or their eBay store if you need an item in another size or color. Also, if you have interest in buying more than one item from the same seller, ask for combined shipping to save money. Periodic visits to eBay stores help me find exactly what I want. You can buy styles that are impossible to find anywhere else. This is ideal for anyone who lives in an area with limited access to stores and outlets. I always do an eBay stores search in addition to a regular search because sometimes different items pop-up. Some of my favorite eBay stores include bm-co, prada-m and designer-exchange.
Pay using a Credit Card
Many premium credit cards have fantastic charge-back policies that favor the buyer (you). If PayPal fails to do a charge-back on an item that the seller won’t refund you for, filing a dispute with your credit card provider is a backup.
Remember that eBay shopping is safe. Both eBay and PayPal have fraud protection programs that are effective. I recommend that you do NOT make any purchases outside of eBay as you will not be protected, regardless of how attractive an offer from a seller may seem. Remember that eBay works on an effective feedback system and that the majority of fraudulent transactions are reported to the eBay community.
Once you get into it, you’ll find that the reward is well worth the effort. At first, I was hesitant to shop online. But now that my entire wardrobe consists of designer shoes and brand name clothing, I am hooked. Shopping for clothes on eBay costs a fraction of original prices without having to waste time rummaging through sales racks at department stores. Your eBay shopping experience will be uncomplicated and valuable, and you’ll have the best wardrobe imaginable.
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