Shopping online can be a terrific way to order something you may have had difficulties finding in-store, and it can also be the best way to get great prices on certain things. Of course, there’s also the convenience of online shopping that’s worth mentioning, as it can allow you to buy just about anything from anywhere you have an Internet connection, and at any time of the day or night. Unfortunately, a lot of online purchases often tack on additional fees for shipping. Sometimes these fees can be minimal, but if you shop online often, they can add up very quickly. A good sale price or deal might not be that much of a bargain anymore by the time you factor in shipping costs. But by planning your online purchases ahead of time, you may be able to lower your shipping costs, or even eliminate them completely:
Many consumers will automatically go to the vendor that advertises free shipping—but this doesn’t mean you’re getting the best deal available. Compare prices from different vendors first for the item you want to buy, and even from the websites that charge for shipping. If a website is offering a great sale on that item, but still imposes shipping charges, you might still save money in the end. You may not get free shipping, but if you’re getting the best deal possible, that’s probably more important.
Place a bigger order
A lot of vendors will offer free shipping as an incentive for placing larger orders. However, you want to avoid unnecessary purchases if you’re just trying to meet this minimum and qualify for free shipping. But if you’re only a couple dollars (or even just a few cents) away from that minimum, buying something else can actually save you more money in the end if it saves you on shipping costs. If you frequently order from the same website that offers this type of incentive, try to make fewer (but larger) orders so that you don’t have to pay for shipping with each order.
Look for coupon codes
Even without a minimum order, there are often available coupon codes floating around that will give shoppers free shipping. Sign up for promotional emails for your favorite online stores and follow their social media accounts so you’ll find out about these limited-time offers. You can also check coupon code sites like RetailMeNot.com to see if there is anything available for free shipping before you place your order.
Pick up your purchase in-store
If you’re ordering from a vendor that also has an actual store nearby, you could usually have your purchase shipped to the store at no charge—it may even be available to pick up the same day that you order it.
Sign up for Amazon Prime
Amazon is a great website for ordering just about anything you can think of. In fact, many of the exact same items that you’ll find on Amazon are often cheaper than what you’d find on competitor websites. Whether you want to start ordering from Amazon or you already do order from them often, invest in an Amazon Prime account. There is a small, upfront annual fee, but with your Amazon Prime membership, you can get free 2-day shipping on millions of items. If you shop online often, that annual fee will pay itself off in no time.
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Nothing above is meant to provide financial or tax advice. You should meet with appropriate professionals for such services.