Who doesn’t love a good deal? Unfortunately in the world of online coupon codes and special offers, it’s not always easy to find dependable and trustworthy bargains.
We’ve all seen it while shopping online—that little coupon code box that shows up during checkout. A small rectangle represents a fabulous window of opportunity for extra savings on your order. Use it wisely, and you can maximize your potential savings—but it takes a little know-how to navigate the constantly changing, vast amount of coupon and sales information available on the web.
Savvy online deal hunters can strike it big with discounts using certain savings tips and tricks; however, it can be hard – and time-consuming – to find the lowest prices when it comes to online shopping, so we’ve done the detective work for you. Below, we share our top eight tips and tricks for getting the best deals when shopping online.
When you’re able to combine these with your Splender membership, you can score even bigger savings! But do your homework first – not all coupons can be combined with others (read the fine print) or can be tracked via Splender. That’s why we will always let you know before you start shopping which coupons we’ve found that you can combine with your Splender cash back.
- Connect over social media.
Not finding any coupons? Try following your favorite retail brands on Twitter and friend them on Facebook. You’re not just increasing their followers, there is a benefit for you as well. Retailers often reward their social media followers with exclusive online coupons codes or early access to major sales. You can be sure that these coupons will be legit, unlike using a secondary website.
- Sign up for email alerts.
Another way to secure timely, accurate coupon codes is to sign up for your favorite brand’s email alerts or newsletters. Companies often send coupons to those on their email list. Some of these offers are single use, but if you sign up with multiple email addresses, you can rack up multiple unique coupon codes. Also, many stores such as Bloomingdales, Kohl’s and World Market offer a percentage off of your first purchase just for joining their mailing list.
- Compare online prices between retailers.
Search for a product on Splender, and we’ll show you prices from various sites (including how much you’ll save in cash back at each retailer). Also, websites like bizrate.com, PriceGrabber and Google Shopping allow you to compare prices between stores with a few taps on your keyboard. You reap the benefits of running from site to site and retailer to retailer to find the lowest price without having to do the legwork yourself.
- Compare in-store prices with online prices.
Prices in store and online don’t always match. Now that we’re all armed with smartphones, it’s easy to compare the product in your hand with its online price. Even if you’re shopping online, sometimes it’s as easy as a quick call to your local retailer to find out the price in store.
- Escape the “dynamic pricing” trap.
Dynamic pricing is a strategy online retailers use to offer different prices to different customers on demand, considering market factors and each user’s browsing and spending patterns. This technique has become more sophisticated now that websites can track your Internet surfing and online behavior. Retailers use this data to determine your price point, which means when you go to purchase a product, you could see a higher price tag than someone with different spending habits using a different computer.
The best way to avoid getting charged higher prices is to erase your browser’s cookies and log out of your account. You can also try using your browser’s version of a “private” window, so cookies aren’t saved during your search. Just a reminder though, before you use a cash-back service like Splender, make sure your cookies are enabled so your cash back can track properly and be awarded after your purchase is complete.
- Abandon your online shopping cart.
If you aren’t in a rush to get something in the mail, place desired items in your cart and leave them in there for a couple days. We know this seems counter-intuitive, but trust us. Retailers want to close the deal, so they’ll find a way to draw you back. You might get a coupon or an offer for a better price sent to your email to entice you to go back and check out.
Keep in mind, you must have an account with the retailer’s site for this to work and be logged in when you leave your cart. It might not work for every website, but a lot of stores use this tactic, so it’s worth a shot!
- Check the coupon source.
If an online coupon doesn’t come directly from the company’s website or a legitimate coupon site, don’t click it!
One way to identify a legitimate source is to visit the company’s website to check. If the coupon is sent via email, it is important to verify the source. Scammers are able to make the source of an email look authentic, but if you hover your mouse over the link in the email, you can see the real destination on the lower left hand corner of the screen. And if the destination of the link looks a little dodgy, don’t click on it!
One way to search for reviews of any source you don’t recognize is to check with the Better Business Bureau online.
- Double check that the discount was successfully applied.
Stores vary widely in how they handle online coupon codes in the checkout process. The best retailers are up-front and clear about their codes. They apply them right away in the shopping cart, clearly display your discount and perhaps even provide the exact details of the coupon once it is applied.
However, if your particular purchase isn’t eligible for the discount, some stores will help you find something that is eligible by noting the restrictions. Many, but not all, stores will at least display a message explaining that your purchase is invalid or not eligible for the discount.
Finally, be sure to enter the code correctly. Most codes are in caps, and some are case-sensitive, so the code may not work if you enter it in lowercase. If you copy-and-paste the code, be sure there are no blank spaces before or after that could prompt an error message.
When it comes to landing the best deals in online shopping, diligence pays off. Ensure that any coupon codes you use come from legitimate sources, compare prices online as well as with in-store products, and be sure to sign up for email offers to score the deepest discounts. Speaking of great deals—Splender members can earn extra cash back through January 31, 2016. Sign up today!