The internet is a wonderful thing. There is endless information and products to buy online. Saving money is fairly easy as well when buying online. A simple search for the store you are buying from along with the term “coupon” or “coupon code” will be able enough to save a few dollars. But did you know there are many other ways to save money online? Below I highlight 3 such ways.
Cash Back Sites
Instead of buying items directly from an online store, you can instead go through a cash back website. There are many of these out there, a simple search will yield many results. They work like this: you go to the cash back site and log in to your account (you will create an account to sign up. Don’t worry, it’s free.) and then find the store you want to shop at on the cash back site. A new window will open and you will be redirected to the online store you want to buy from. Make your purchase as usual and you’re done. In a few days (or weeks), you will have a cash balance in your account at the cash back site. Once it gets to a certain amount, usually $5, you can get the cash sent to your PayPal account.
The savings from shopping this way range from 1% to 5% cash back. The sites are able to offer this because they are getting a referral fee from the retailer. The cash back you earn is a piece of the referral fee the cash back site gets from the retailer.
Note the turn-around time for receiving your cash back. Many times, you won’t see the cash back until the return period ends. Otherwise you would be credited with the purchase, cash out your cash back amount, then return the item. Now the cash back site is stuck with trying to get the cash back amount back from you.
Credit Card Malls
Credit card malls are identical to cash back sites. They can offer the cash back because of the referral agreements they have with retailers. But in this case, you will see your cash back show up immediately. Since the credit card controls the process, it is easier for them to handle credits and returns of cash back should you return an item you purchased.
My first stop lately has been to my credit card mall. I’ve found that 5% to 10% cash back is standard. Note that you do need to own a credit card with the company to enter their cash back mall. For example, if you don’t have a Discover Card, you cannot access the Discover Card mall.
Daily Deal Sites
Daily deal sites are a great way to save money. You can find brand new or refurbished items for sale at steep discounts. With their popularity, there are many to choose from. A simple internet search for daily deal sites will yield plenty of results for you to choose from.
Of course, the two biggest daily deal sites are Groupon and Living Social. These are great options for saving money locally. But if you are traveling, here is a tip: sign up for these services and use your destination as your location. Doing this will show you things to do at a discounted rate in your destination city. It’s a simple way to save money when on vacation.
Of course, the whole idea of these options is to save money. Don’t get suckered in by buying things you don’t need or have a use for. Additionally, think long and hard about buying services from Groupon and Living Social. We did this once and had a horrible experience. It turned out the service provider was overwhelmed by the demand and had to sub-contract the work out. The people we talked to on the phone that wanted to do the work sounded very shady and when we told them “no thanks” they tried to undercut the price and do the job without the service company that sub-contracted them out.
Be smart when shopping online. Taking a few extra minutes to find cash back sites or coupons could be the difference between paying full price and getting a nice discount.