10 Online Holiday Shopping Hacks That Will Save You Big

Prostock-Studio/iStock via Getty Images
Prostock-Studio/iStock via Getty Images / Prostock-Studio/iStock via Getty Images

There’s a lot to consider during the holidays, but near the top of the list is establishing a spending strategy that ensures that you’re getting the best deals possible on all the gifts you’ll be buying. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to save money and make the holiday season easier on you and your wallet. Check out these incredible shopping hacks, presented by Discover and Mental Floss, to find out how to buy your gifts online without breaking the bank.

1. Make a list and stick to it.

The best way to stick to a budget while shopping online is to know exactly who you’re shopping for and what you’re buying before you even turn on your computer. Without a list, you’re prone to making impulse decisions or shopping at more stores than necessary, which will inevitably increase costs. Once you know who’s on your list and the perfect gift for each of them, then it’s time to put your plan into action.

2. Compare prices.

Before you buy, search the web to make sure that another site isn’t offering the product you want for a lower price. Because there are so many options for online shopping these days, it’s understandable that people like to stick with sites they already know and trust. But as long as you check the reviews and order from reputable sites, it’s OK to shop around for the lowest possible price.

3. Take advantage of rebates.

The digital age has gifted us with scores of websites and apps that you can use to earn percentages back on certain purchases through certain vendors. Sometimes rebate sites have plug-ins you can install in your browser, which will automatically qualify you for the rebate. Otherwise, be sure to start your shopping on the rebate website, and then click through to the site from which you’ll make a purchase.

4. Check online thrift and consignment shops.

Discovering the perfect present for a loved one in a hole-in-the-wall thrift store is now an experience you can have without leaving the comfort of your own bed. Online thrift and consignment shops offer thousands of designer, antique, and just plain nifty items that make for unique, personal gifts at a fraction of their original value.

5. Use a credit card that offers rewards.

How familiar are you with your credit card’s cashback deals? These perks can really add up over the holidays, so make sure you use the card that gets you the most from your cashback deals. If you’re taking advantage of the rewards offered by the Discover it card, for example, you can earn rewards on every purchase. Additionally, Discover will match all of the cash back you earn, dollar for dollar, at the end of your first year. It’s unlimited, automatic, and an easy way to save money on the gifts you buy over the holidays. Best of all, you can use the extra cash back to buy a gift for yourself. Visit Discover.com/match to learn more.

6. Buy multiples.

Some deals are so incredible that it’s hard to resist the impulse to buy a few of the same item—think buy two, get one free or buy one, get one half off. We say: Go for it. If the price is right, and you know your mother-in-law and best friend from college will both adore that spice rack or balsam candle, there’s no reason you shouldn’t take advantage of that deal. Even if you don’t have a recipient in mind for the second item, it might still be a good idea to buy it just in case a last-minute gift exchange arises or you realize you left someone off your list.

7. Subscribe to email newsletters.

Maybe it’s become second nature for you to ignore the pop-ups that ask you to sign up for a website’s newsletter, but this holiday season, don’t click away quite so quickly. Most sites include special deals and discounts in their newsletters, and there might even be a new subscriber discount for your first purchase, so don’t be so shy about signing up. You can always make it a New Year’s resolution to clean out your inbox and unsubscribe to them when 2020 rolls around.

8. Download the app.

Much like signing up for a retailer’s newsletter, downloading a retailer’s app can unlock more deals and discounts, especially for first-time users. Plus, you can also allow apps to send you push notifications, which will guarantee that you’ll never miss an opportunity to save.

9. Fill your cart—but don’t check out yet.

If you stock your cart and wait a few days, some retailers will figure you’re still ruminating over the purchase and email you a discount to sweeten the deal. This little added incentive is another reason to subscribe to sites’ email newsletters—if they have your email address, they can send you extra price cuts and other relevant information about items you may be interested in based on your cart history.

10. Check for price drops after you purchase.

All hope is not lost if you find out that an item you’ve just recently bought has since been marked down—some retailers will honor the markdown and refund you the difference. If that happens, you can check their terms and conditions or talk to a customer service representative about your options. It’s definitely worth monitoring the site in the days following your purchase, just in case you do have the chance to retroactively claim the discount, especially on big-ticket items like electronics or appliances.

If saving big is your goal, you can make it even easier with the Discover it card—which automatically matches all the cash back you earn, dollar for dollar, at the end of your first year. Visit Discover.com/match to learn more.