How to Maximize Your Online Shopping | ModMoney

Earn Points & Save Money When You Shop Online

This post may contain affiliate links. How many of you are big online shoppers? I have to admit, I will do almost anything to avoid fighting weekend traffic at the mall. My mother will tell you that I've always been this way. She used to beg me to go to the mall with her anytime I needed new clothes. In fact, shopping became a punishment for me. Whenever my sisters misbehaved, they went to time-out. Whenever I misbehaved, I went to the mall. Yes, I was quite the abnormal child. And trust me, I was a pretty good kid, largely influenced by the threat of this cruel and unusual punishment.

Over time, my extreme abhorrence for in-person shopping has evolved into a mild distaste. I still much prefer to shop online. Amazon Prime has made it so easy to ship almost anything in 2 days, and many retail stores are great about free shipping and returns. Y'all, I even have my toiletries shipped to me. Long are the days when I weave through Target and fill my cart with toilet paper, toothpaste, and paper towels to last a year.

Since I do most of my shopping online, I'm always looking for new ways to maximize those purchases. Because holiday shopping is just around the corner, I wanted to share a few tools I use to make sure I'm maximizing every dollar I spend.

Online Shopping Portals

Online shopping portals are one of my best kept secrets (until now). A lot of people don't know about them! These are platforms that incentivize you to shop at participating retailers by offering extra cash, miles, or points. There are several types of portals, and I'll group them into the following:

Let's walk through how this process works. Let's say I watched Jaclyn Hill's latest makeup tutorial, and now I want to make a purchase at Sephora. Instead of going directly to Sephora's website, I would first navigate to one of these portals. Let's use the Southwest Rapid Rewards Mall as an example. I type "Sephora" into the search bar and discover I can earn 4 Rapid Rewards points for every dollar I spend. I click the "Shop Now" button, which directs me to the Sephora website, and I continue making my purchase as usual. If I spend $100 at Sephora, I have earned 400 Rapid Rewards points just by clicking through a shopping portal first!

But how do I know that Southwest offers the highest return for Sephora purchases? There are many other shopping portals out there, and it would take a lot of time to click through every single one. That's where Cashback Monitor comes in. This is a platform that compares incentives across every portal. In this case, I search for Sephora and find that the American AAdvantage mall offers 10 miles per dollar, while several other Independent portals offer up to 10% cash back. Both options are more lucrative than the Southwest Rapid Rewards mall.

Many people don't realize that you can use any credit card to make a purchase through a portal. You don't have to book with a Southwest-branded card in order to use the Southwest Rapid Rewards portal (you just need a mileage account). On that same note, you don't need to use a Wells Fargo credit card in order to earn incentives through the Wells Fargo Rewards portal. However, using the same card does make it easier from a customer service perspective if you run into issues. In the example above, I might make the $100 Sephora purchase through the AAdvantage portal with my Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Not only would I earn 1,000 AAdvantage points, but I'd also earn 100 Chase points just by booking through that card (assuming 1x points on all purchases).

Cashback Monitor

Coupon Codes

One of my dearest friends used to work for RetailMeNot, which offers a platform for finding online coupon codes, among other services. For the last few years, anytime I shopped online, I would check whether RetailMeNot suggested any coupon codes for that particular retailer. I would then manually test several codes during the checkout process, hoping that one would work. This saved me a good amount of money on online purchases, but it was often pretty time consuming.

Enter Honey. Honey is a browser extension that searches and tests for coupon codes and automatically applies the best one. Now, anytime I navigate to my shopping cart on a retailer's website, a Honey window pops up and offers to test available codes.

I will caveat with the fact that RetailMeNot has a wider range of coupon codes, as they have direct relationships with retailers and often receive exclusive promotions. So if Honey isn't returning a good coupon, go ahead and double check RetailMeNot.

Honey Coupon Codes

Price Comparisons

A lot of us default to Amazon when we make online purchases. After all, it's difficult to beat simple, trustworthy, and free 2-day shipping! However, Amazon does not always offer the lowest online prices. In my Home Decor on a Budget post, I talked about using the Google Shopping tool to compare prices across retailers. This tool works well, but if I'm looking at a product on Amazon, I prefer to use Wikibuy. Wikibuy is a browser extension that activates when you shop on Amazon. While you browse, the program searches for the same product at the lowest price available across other sellers such as Walmart, Target, Ebay, and Jet. Wikibuy will present you with a lower price offer and guaranteed delivery date. If you choose to accept the Wikibuy offer, it will purchase the product on your behalf at the lower price. Many of us prefer to use Amazon Prime for its free two-day shipping option. However, if you prioritize price over delivery speed, Wikibuy is a great way to go. Also, you'll automatically earn $5 when you sign up!

On top of the price comparison tool, Wikibuy also offers a cash back option for some retailers (similar to an Independent shopping portal) and also tests for coupon codes. On the surface, it seems like Wikibuy has it all. It's a combination of a price checker, a shopping portal, and a coupon code tester! With that said, I still like to check Wikibuy against Cashback Monitor, Honey, and RetailMeNot to ensure that I'm getting the best promotions and incentives available. All of these platforms have different retailer relationships and vary in their offers.

Wikibuy

Double Dipping

The best part about shopping portals and coupon codes is that you can often double dip. This means that you can combine a cash back (or points or miles) option with a coupon code. Using my Sephora example, I might shop through a portal that offers 10% cash back and also find a coupon for 20% off. My transaction would look like this:

  • Pay $80 (20% off of a $100 purchase)
  • Earn $8 cash back (10% on $80)
  • With my $20 discount and $8 cash back, I would effectively pay $72 for a $100 value!

I do want to caution you to be careful when double dipping. Some shopping portals will only let you use coupon codes that they advertise on their own sites. Make sure you check their terms & conditions before applying an external code. For example, the Ebates portal may not allow you to use a RetailMeNot exclusive promotion code and still earn cash back.

The Bottom Line

I think I have made my aversion to in-person shopping pretty clear. And now, tools like Cashback Monitor, Honey, and Wikibuy offer even more incentive to make purchases online versus in store. These applications make it so simple to find discounts and earn rewards with the click of a button. I know I didn't cover all of the available online shopping tools, so I'd love to hear what you all use to save. Comment below!

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