Online shopping is a double-edged sword. Is it convenient? It sure is. Does it expand the selection of products available for you to buy? Absolutely. But can it tempt you to spend more than you can afford, resulting in financial burdens and stress? Sadly, yes.
Retailers use all kinds of tricks and tactics to get you buying more stuff. It’s manipulative and it works. Fortunately, there are counter-tricks that you can use to reduce how much money you waste online, and the sites on this list are great for that.
Over time, the following sites can easily save you thousands of dollars. Check them out and incorporate them into your online shopping workflow as soon as you can!
Full disclosure: I’m a huge Amazon fan. Save for groceries and certain items that tend to be overpriced online, I get everything from Amazon because my Prime membership makes it worthwhile. Plus it lets me justify all of the other benefits of a Prime membership.
But if you shop on Amazon often, especially for expensive items like laptops or DSLR cameras, then there’s one website you absolutely need to start using: CamelCamelCamel, which has two main features.
First, you can view the price history of any item on Amazon going back several years (or to when it first appeared). Price histories are tracked separately for Amazon’s price, third-party “New” price, and third-party “Used” price. I use it to see if an item’s sale price is actually a deal or not.
Second, you can create price drop alerts on an item-by-item basis. Let’s say you want to buy a fancy new kitchen mixer that’s priced at $400 but the price history tells you that it periodically falls as low as $325. With CamelCamelCamel, you can be alerted by email when the item drops below a threshold.
It’s amazing and I highly recommend it. I’ve been using it for less than a year but it has already saved me hundreds of dollars.
The web has no shortage of deal-hunting sites, but many of them are either too slow (the deals end shortly after being posted), too meager (not enough deals to be worth checking every day), or too unreliable (the deals don’t work even when they should).
Perhaps that’s why SlickDeals remains king, boasting so much traffic that it’s a top-150 site in the U.S. If you’re a deal hunter, bookmark SlickDeals right now.
Here’s how it works: members post deals that they find around the web, other members vote on whether the deal works and whether it’s a good value, and then those deals are shown on the front page (or curated as Featured by editors).
If you’re in the market for an item, you can search SlickDeals, but the best way to use this site is to check in daily and snag great deals as you spot them. For best results, use these SlickDeals tips!
The next time you’re shopping online and about to click the “Submit Order” button without a promo code, take a moment to open a new tab in your browser and visit RetailMeNot. Depending on how fortunate you are, you could end up saving a good chunk of money.
RetailMeNot is an aggregator for coupon codes and promo codes for retail sites all over the web. Whether you’re shopping at Target.com, Dominos.com, or even YankeeCandle.com, there’s a good chance you’ll find a code to use. The selection is surprisingly wide.
For example, the other day I shopped for clothes on J.Crew’s online store and found a code on RetailMeNot that gave me 30% off of my entire cart plus free shipping if the order totaled $150 or more. The same cart of items would’ve cost me twice as much without it!
RetailMeNot also tracks other stuff like gift card deals, product deals, and cash back offers, but the checkout codes are still the best bit. If you can’t find an applicable code here, you can also try these other online coupon sites.
I’ve used Groupon a handful of times in my life and it was always for deals at local restaurants and businesses. Little did I realize that Groupon actually has sections that are extremely useful for buying things online and saving a lot of money in the process.
The main thing you should check out is the Clearance section, which has hundreds of items marked significantly below retail value. As of this writing, I see Ray-Ban Sunglasses for 35% off, Kenneth Cole Boots for 60% off, and Calphalon Ceramic Pans for 44% off.
And like RetailMeNot, Groupon is another nifty source of coupon codes. The selection may not be as wide, but it’s nothing to sneeze at either. It’s definitely worth checking before you buy something online.
Groupon has been known to be problematic at times, namely that certain deals don’t actually save any money and that some items are sold under misleading or fraudulent descriptions. But as long as you’re careful and aware, Groupon can be great.
Amazon might be my personal first stop when I need to buy something, but I’ve learned that Amazon doesn’t always carry the best price. Sometimes the best deal is found on a big-name competitor’s site, and sometimes it’s found on a niche site you’ve never heard of.
Instead of burdening yourself by checking all possible retail sites, let BizRate do it for you. With one search, you can get a side-by-side comparison of prices from hundreds of different places.
Maybe you’ll find that Amazon’s price really is the best. If so, great! And that will happen often, in my experience. But the fact that you can get confirmation that Amazon is the lowest price? That alone is enough to get me checking BizRate.
Note that BizRate isn’t the only price comparison site worth using. Other good ones include NexTag, Bing Shopping, Pronto, and PriceRunner (if you’re in the UK).
How Do You Save Money When Shopping Online?
The biggest difference between shopping online and shopping locally is shipping, so don’t forget to check out these tips for cutting down on shipping costs. Better yet, try these methods for scoring free shipping every time.
Do you have any other sites, tips, or tricks that we missed? We’d love to hear from you, so please share them with us in the comments below!
Originally written by Sharninder on May 25, 2009.