Money Matters: Tips to save on online shopping
A consumer reporter says shoppers can maximize their online shopping by saving on shipping. Shazia Khan filed the following report.
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You've surfed for hours, maybe days, for that perfectly-priced item, but you can also penny pinch when it comes to having it shipped.
Kelli Grant, a senior consumer reporter with SmartMoney, says this year, there are good free shipping deals, but be sure to read the fine print.
"We see a lot of free shipping on all items, free shipping on very specific items or orders of a certain total, so you want to know the terms and how likely you are to get it," Grant says. "It's not really a smart idea to buy a lot of extra things that you don't need to save on a shipping charge. You have to weigh where you're really getting the value out of that."
While some of the free shipping offers kick in automatically at checkout, you may need a coupon code for other orders. You can find them on the retailer's site, or on sites like freeshipping.org or coupons.com or just use a search engine. And since coupon codes offer discounts on more than just shipping, you would need to do a little math to maximize your savings.
"A lot of sites still only let you use one coupon code per order, and this time of year, it may come down to, do you want that extra discount or do you want free shipping?" Grant says. "So try putting in both and see which one offers the bigger discount.
One trick is to use a coupon code to save on the actual purchase. Then, if a retailer allows it, schedule a free site to store shipping with in-store pickup.
If you're flying out of town for the holidays, Grant says you may just want to ship gifts to recipients rather then haul them to the airport and get hit with checked baggage fees.
And a word of caution: just because you paid extra to have the item arrive in, say, two days, doesn't necessarily mean it will.
"A lot of times, online retailers pad their delivery estimates," Grant says. "They give themselves a couple of days to process that order, and if the item is popular or it's been back ordered, sometimes there can be a longer wait."