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 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 some ways to score free shipping on your online purchases.
1. Shop at the right retailers
There are numerous sites that offer free shipping on every order, every day of the year, as we detail in “38 Retailers That Offer Free Shipping — With No Minimum Purchase.”
2. Pay for an annual membership
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 membership. Sign up for Prime and you will get free one-day shipping on more than 15 million items with no minimum purchase requirement. You’ll also get access to various other freebies and discounts. And in some cases, you actually can get Amazon Prime for free.
If you prefer Walmart over Amazon, you can get free shipping with no minimum — among other perks — by joining Walmart+.
ShopRunner is another option. The service partners with dozens of retailers to offer free two-day shipping and free returns. ShopRunner is free with a FedEx Delivery Manager account or PayPal account.
3. Check your credit card
Free shipping may be a perk offered by your credit card.
If you have a U.S. consumer credit card or small-business credit card from American Express, for example, you’re likely eligible for a free lifetime ShopRunner membership. If you’re a Mastercard World or World Elite cardholders, you may also be eligible for a free ShopRunner membership.
You can compare American Express, Mastercard and other cards using Money Talks News’ free credit card search tool.
4. Consider a store card
Some store-branded credit cards and debit cards also offer the perk of free shipping with no minimum purchase requirement. Holders of Target RedCard credit and debit cards, for example, get free two-day shipping on hundreds of thousands of items.
So if you have a favorite online retailer besides Target, you might want to look into whether it offers a store card with this perk. Just be sure to read “4 Benefits and 4 Downsides of Store Credit Cards” before actually opening a new account so you are aware of what you’re signing up for.
5. 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 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. Then you can simply pick up the item the next time you shop at Walmart.
And remember, Walmart is just one of many retailers that offer a ship-to-store option. Check with your favorite retailer about its policy.
6. 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, as well as throughout the first half of December to lure people who procrastinated on their holiday gift shopping. But don’t overlook Memorial Day, Labor Day and even Valentine’s Day and July Fourth.
7. Ask for free shipping
Sometimes, the best way to get free shipping is simply to ask for it.
You have nothing to lose by opening a chat window on a retailer’s website and asking a customer service rep to throw in free shipping. Even if you don’t get free shipping, the retailer may offer up some other type of incentive.