NINE Tips For Online Holiday Shoppers

Category: Shopping

In last year's holiday shopping season, spending totaled $887 billion, up over 14 percent from the previous year. Post-pandemic shoppers are back in stores, but ecommerce sales are expected to rise again. Fortunately, some tools have emerged to help consumers find the best deals. Check out these clever tips to help you save money when you shop online for the holidays...

Try These Online Shopping Tools

Shopping online is a two-step process; first, find the product you want, and then find the best price for it. A lot of factors may come into play, including sales tax, shipping fees, and the availability of discount coupon codes. Here are some nifty tools that will try to help you get the lowest price when shopping online...

Lots of people shop on Amazon because of their "free 2-day shipping" option for Amazon Prime members. But the truth is that free shipping isn't always free, and Amazon's price for a given item is not guaranteed to be the lowest.

Paypal Honey automatically finds coupon codes for you while you are shopping. Just register at Honey’s site and install the browser extension for Chrome or Firefox. Then, when you add an item to a site’s shopping cart, click the Honey icon to display the coupon code that saves you the most money (or learn that no coupons are available).

When shopping on Amazon, Honey compares sellers for you, and takes into account shipping costs and your Prime status. Honey's price tracking and price history tools will tell you if it's a good time to buy the item, or if it might be better to wait. The Droplist feature lets you mark an item you're not ready to buy yet. If Honey detects a price drop at that store, they'll notify you.

The coupon codes provided by Honey work most of the time and save users considerable amounts of money. The company says that users save an average of 17.9% (or about $129) when shopping with their 30,000 participating merchants. Honey has a loyalty rewards program that pays “Honey Gold,” a feature that lets you earn gift cards which can be redeemed at popular stores. Honey's privacy policy is refreshing and clear: "We know how important your personal data is to you, so we will never sell it without your express permission first. "

Capital One Shopping, formerly known as WikiBuy has price comparison and coupon finder tools, similar to Honey. Capital One Financial Corporation bought WikiBuy a few years ago, and I have shied away from it since. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they also bought Paribus and rolled it in to the Capital One Shopping app. Paribus snoops around in your email inbox to find out where you've been shopping and what you buy. Or maybe it's the new name, so closely associated with a huge financial corporation, that gives me pause. (What's in my wallet? None of your business, Jennifer Garner.)

Rakuten (formerly Ebates) has a simple, straightforward business model known as a loyalty program. The company earns a commission from participating sellers each time a Rakuten member makes a purchase. Part of that money is shared with members as cash back payments. Rakuten has over 15 million members and they’ve paid out over $2 billion in cash back rewards since 1999. According to their stats, the average member saves $63.50 per year.

Rakuten offers up to 25% in cash rebates when you shop online at popular stores like Amazon, Best Buy, JCPenney, Kohls, Macy's, Old Navy, Target and over 3500 more. There are no points, and no “funny money" -- you get cash to spend however and wherever you wish. You get paid every three months via your choice of Paypal or paper check. You can join Rakuten for free and get a new member $10 Welcome Bonus if spend at least $25 within ninety days.

Price comparison services like Google Shopping are also handy for bargain hunters. Other price comparison tools such as Bizrate and Pricegrabber let you compare prices when shopping for computers, electronics, clothing, cameras, sporting goods, furniture, appliances, toys, and other popular categories.

The Camelizer extension works only with Amazon. It provides a shortcut to the CamelCamelCamel database of historical prices, presenting charts that show how the price of an item has varied over time. Amazon prices, along with new and used Marketplace sellers’ prices are plotted on a single graph. At a glance, you can see the volatility of an item’s price and which sales channel you should choose. If an item’s price is pretty stable, you may as well buy it now. But if it has fluctuated significantly in the past, you may want to set a future date on which to check the price again. The Camelizer accommodates these options. The Camelizer works with a slew of national retailers, and is available for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Opera and Safari.

Here's one I recently discovered that has worked out really well. offers coupons that you can use at Lowes or Home Depot. The coupons cost a few dollars but you can save a lot on big ticket items. Some are valid in-store only, and some can be used both online and in-store. Some current offers are $25 Off $200 Purchase at Home Depot ($3.45) and 20 Percent Off any purchase at Lowes ($4.99, max saving $100). Your coupon comes to your email, so you can use it right away online, or print and use at your local retail store.

Depending on the source, ecommerce stats show that 40-50% of all online purchases happen at Amazon. I try to keep in mind that there are plenty of alternatives to buying on Amazon. So often I'll check first at, which has a wide selection of goods, including clothing, electronics, toys, groceries, home furishings, auto, beauty and many more. Sometimes I find that the price for an item is lower than on Amazon. And like on Amazon, there's a Walmart+ Plan, which offers free delivery on most items. Other perks include video streaming with Paramount+, discounts on gasoline, and the option to use mobile scan & go to skip the checkout line in stores. Walmart+ costs $12.95/month, or $98/year. If you don't join Walmart+, you can still get free shipping by spending a minimum of $35 on your order.

Other times, I'll start a shopping trip with a Google search and then use a price comparison tool, which often leads to me finding an excellent supplier with good prices.

Each of these shopping tools has unique features, any of which may be decisive if you have to choose just one shopping tool. But you don’t have to make that choice. You can disable any or all of them for most of your web-surfing time, and enable one or more only for significant shopping sprees. (Use your browser's settings icon in the upper-right corner to turn extensions on or off.)

I really don’t need to compare five prices when shopping for pencils; the price differences are going to be negligible. But when it comes to expensive geek toys or power tools, I will often use at least two of them to find a good deal. Note that I didn’t say “the best deal.” That is and will remain as elusive as a unicorn.

Do you use these or other tools to save when shopping online? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "NINE Tips For Online Holiday Shoppers"

Posted by:

21 Nov 2022

Any tips for online CHRISTMAS shoppers?

Posted by:

21 Nov 2022

Great to have all these options in one spot ... Thank you Bob.

We have been successfully using CamelCamelCamel for a while after you recommended it previously.

Happy Thanksgiving to all who live where it is celebrated (or anywhere else).

Posted by:

21 Nov 2022

What about the coupons that pop up when using Edge browser, I get those all the time when shopping and I've saved money using those. But since you didn't mention Edge coupons I'm wondering, am I really saving?

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