I never purchase anything online without performing the following list of activities:
First, I use comparison sites like Froogle and Price Grabber to find the cheapest online prices available. I type the top names from my search results into Ebates and Giving Assistant. I’ve written about Ebates a lot in this blog, but it really is my favorite online rewards site. To date I’ve gotten back over $520 in cash. (By the way if you sign up right now via this link you’ll earn $10 after you make your first purchase.)
I compare the rewards between these sites because they provide different cash back incentives for the same store. For example, right now Ebates is offering a 6% reward for Petco, while FatWallet is offering 10%. If the two rewards are equal I always go with Ebates (it’s just a personal preference.) I also know that there are other referral sites out there, but I’m not a big fan of sharing personal information with smaller websites, so I tend to stick with one of these.
If the selected store isn’t in the list at either of these reward sites try UPromise. UPromise has a very large list of stores offering cash back rewards. This weekend I used UPromise to earn 2% back at LL Bean, which neither FatWallet or Ebates support.
With this information in hand I search the Internet for coupon and promotion codes. I usually check RetailMeNot first, but if I don’t find anything good I’ll do an old fashioned Google search to find a coupon. I make certain to check the price at the lowest store against other stores offering promotional discounts. For example, a store may carry an item at a higher price but provide free shipping. Shipping alone, even on a small item is usually in the range of $6 – $8. So when comparing items don’t forget to take shipping and other discounts into consideration.
Just for comparison I often search for used items on eBay as well. But beware, eBay is rarely the cheapest alternative. If fact, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen individuals pay more than retail for an item.
When I find the store with the lowest price I log into Ebates, search for the given store, enter my promotion code, (if I have one), and finalize my purchase.
I realize this seems like it must take forever, but actually I can usually do all of this comparison shopping in less than 10 minutes. In fact, I won’t search for longer than 10 minutes to find the best deal. After all, I don’t want to waste an hour of my time to save myself $1.
Lastly, it never hurts to comparison shop in brick and mortar retail stores. The other day I was shopping for a doll for my niece. In the store the item cost $19.99. Online the cheapest price was $29.99. When I calculated the shipping the item cost over $35. I would’ve kicked myself if I overpaid this much for an item.