Coupons and sales make it simple to save big on purchases. But what about those times when you need to buy something and a coupon or sale is nowhere to be found?
Following are three simple steps that can help you save at least 10 percent off anything you could possibly need to buy.
Step 1: Find a discounted gift card
The first savings step is to buy a gift card, but not any old gift card. Instead, you want to head to a website specializing in reselling gift cards at a discounted rate.
Here are some of the biggest sites in the reselling business:
These sites let individuals with unwanted gift cards unload them by selling to others at a discount. While the sites advertise discounts of as much as 35 percent, you’re typically going to save less than 10 percent for most cards.
You can learn more about discounted cards in our article about saving every time you shop.
Step 2: Buy through a rebate site
In some cases, you can save 10 percent by simply using a discounted gift card for every purchase. However, we want to save you more.
If you’re buying online, make your purchase through a rebate site. These sites often offer another 3 or 4 percent off your purchase. You’ll pay the full amount when you buy, but receive the discount back in the form of a rebate.
These are some of the most popular rebate sites:
Before shopping, check out the store availability and terms at the rebate sites. Some sites send checks automatically every few months, while others require you to request a payment once you hit a minimum amount in your account. Participating retailers and rebate amounts vary between sites.
We’ve got a whole article about rebate sites, so be sure to read that next.
Step 3: Use a cash-back credit card
The final step to saving 10 percent or more is to use a great cash-back or rewards credit card.
Depending on the card and what you’re buying, you could save anywhere from 1 to 5 percent on your purchase. As with rebate sites, you’ll pay the full price at purchase but receive the cash back as a rebate or statement credit.
If you like to keep things simple, Fidelity’s Rewards Visa Signature card offers unlimited 2% cash-back on everything you buy deposited automatically into a linked Fidelity account. There’s no fee to open a brokerage, checking (“cash management”), or retirement account at Fidelity, and the card has no annual fee, so the whole 2% is yours to keep.
Of course, using a credit card comes with the caveat that you must pay off your balance when the bill arrives. Paying interest on a credit card is a sure-fire way to negate your savings.
Other ways to save
While these three steps should save you at least 10 percent off just about anything, don’t stop there. Read this article on simple, proven strategies to save on everything you buy.
How will you save this holiday season — and beyond? If you’ve used a discounted gift card or rebate site, tell us about it our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.