Every year, consumers do more of their shopping online. And it’s no wonder. Shopping sites like Amazon.com make it easy to find the best prices in minutes, and cash-back sites like Rakuten (formerly Ebates) enable you to get cash back on most purchases you make.
However, pesky shipping fees remain one of the biggest drawbacks to shopping online. Fortunately, you can avoid such costs with a little ingenuity.
Following are five great ways to score free shipping on your online purchases.
1. Check out FreeShipping.org
FreeShipping.org alerts you to free and reduced shipping offers, among other deals. If a code is required to land the deal, you will also find it on the site.
This is a great site to check before you make a purchase online. If you like, you can also ask FreeShipping.org to email you when a specific retailer adds a new deal. Click on a retailer to view this option.
2. Use the ‘Ship to Store’ option
This is one of the best ways to cut your shipping costs. Let’s say you’re shopping at Walmart.com and find a great price on a paper shredder. Unfortunately, the item’s cost is far less than the $35 minimum order required to get free shipping. What’s a shopper to do?
Simple — just ask Walmart to ship the item to a store near you, a free option the retailer calls “store pickup.” Then you can simply pick up the item the next time you shop at Walmart. You might even receive an extra price break called a “pickup discount.”
This strategy works especially well if you are a regular Walmart shopper who frequents the store at least weekly, as Walmart stores will hold items for seven days.
And remember, Walmart is just one of many retailers that offer a ship-to-store option. Check with your favorite retailer about its policy.
3. Pay a little for free shipping
Yes, this sounds like a contradiction — paying to get free shipping. But if you shop online a lot, it may make sense to pony up for a one-time fee that will get you free shipping for a year.
Amazon Prime is probably the most famous example of this type of service. Sign up for Prime — $119 for one year — and you will get free two-day shipping on most items. You’ll also get access to various other freebies and discounts.
ShopRunner is a similar service. The site partners with hundreds of retailers to offer free two-day shipping and free returns. It costs $79 for one year, but there’s a free three-month trial. Yahoo, American Express and PayPal members also can get the service for free.
Note that a handful of ShopRunner partners require you to spend a minimum amount on goods to get free shipping. But returns to any partner stores won’t cost you a penny. ShopRunner will provide you with a postage-paid return label to use when returning items that were shipped to you via ShopRunner.
4. Shop around holidays
A little patience goes a long way toward getting free shipping. Many retailers offer free shipping around retail holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the kickoff to the winter holiday shopping season. But don’t overlook Memorial Day, Labor Day and even Valentine’s Day and July Fourth.
The mother of all free-shipping holidays is probably Free Shipping Day, which is in December. The free-shipping holiday started in 2008, and more than 1,000 retailers now participate in the holiday.
5. Ask for free shipping
Sometimes, the best way to get free shipping is simply to ask for it. Andrea Woroch writes at The Muse:
“Shipping charges are the number one reason online shopping carts are abandoned. Retailers know this, and if you get all the way to checkout and hesitate before clicking ‘Buy,’ they’re sometimes willing to throw in a discount in order to make the sale.”
Woroch recommends opening a chat window at checkout to make your request. Even if you don’t get free shipping, the retailer may throw in a coupon or other goodie.
For more about stores that offer free shipping, check out “31 Retailers With Free Shipping — No Matter How Little You Spend.”
Do you have other tips for getting free shipping? Share them by commenting below or on our Facebook page.
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