Online shopping not only offers an unparalleled level of convenience, but it can also give you savings that you might not enjoy if you shop in-store. You may have heard of some well-known hacks, such as signing up for first-timer discounts or using referral promo codes, but these strategies have limited mileage. To enjoy consistent, reliable savings each time you tap the checkout button, follow these simple steps.
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Text: Chip Chen
1. Sign up for ShopBack
Want to get cashback on everything from fashion to home furnishings to supplements to food delivery to travel and even insurance? With a ShopBack account, every time you shop at a participating online merchant, you will be entitled to further savings in the form of cashback. Ranging from a fixed value to a certain per cent of your spend, you can quickly rack up savings across purchases – on top of whatever other discounts and promos your merchant is offering.
However, some merchants may disqualify ShopBack transactions from earning rewards, such as free hotel nights. Always check to see if this is the case! And the best part? You can withdraw the cashback you earn, as real cash.
2. Stalk Sale Sites
Before you commit to an online purchase, always look to see if there’s a discount code or voucher you can use, or upcoming/ongoing sales. Chances are good that you can always find one.
And you don’t even have to hunt high and low, thanks to websites such as SINGpromos, CupoNation and SGD Tips. Just bookmark your favourite sites, and make a quick check before you hit the checkout button.
3. Play the Waiting Game
So you found the cutest cocktail dress online, and it’s available in your size and colour? Tempting as it may be to make the purchase immediately, you might want to try waiting a while.
Thanks to ‘abandoned cart’ marketing strategies, online retailers are apt to throw in an additional discount, store voucher, free shipping or other perks if you fail to complete the checkout process.
All you have to do is to login to your account, put the item in your shopping basket, then exit the browser. In a day or two (or even as quick as an hour), you’ll get an email reminding you of your abandoned cart — and maybe also a little something extra to sweeten the deal.
4. Sign up for Deal Alerts
If you’re always missing deals on your favourite brands, or finding out about them too late, you might benefit from a little reminder.
Sign up to a price-tracking website and you will receive alerts whenever deals are posted for the brands, products or services you want to save money on. Try Slickdeals which tracks promos across several well-known brands, or Camelcamelcamel to get notified when prices drop on Amazon.
5. Eliminate High Delivery Charges With a Third-party Forwarder
Sometimes, the actual shopping spree isn’t that expensive — until you have to pay for overseas delivery. This is especially so if you’re shipping bulky items from faraway sites.
Delivery charges can easily double your shopping bill, but you can avoid them altogether by buying through a third-party forwarder (such as ezbuy, SGshop, vPost or Comgateway). These service providers consolidate your orders with others, unlocking bulk shipping fees which are way lower than if you were to ship on your own.
Some forwarders also let you hold your purchases until you’re ready to ship them altogether, which often gives you further savings.
6. Use the Right Credit Card
When doing your online shopping, pay attention to the credit card you are using. Some credit cards give bonus rebates for Internet purchases, which can save you a pretty penny if you satisfy the minimum spend criteria. Others help you save further by giving you cashback on overseas shipping.
Some good cards for online shopping include the OCBC 365 Credit Card (6 per cent cashback on online food delivery) and the OCBC FRANK Card (6 per cent cashback on online shopping with selected merchants).
If you’re a Citibank customer, know that the Citi Rewards Visa Card offers 10x points (equivalent to four air miles per dollar) when you buy clothes, bags and shoes over the Internet. Weekend shoppers should check out the UOB YOLO Card, which gives up to 8 per cent cashback for weekend online shopping.
Finally, the Spree Credit Card by StanChart gives you 3 per cent rebates for all foreign currency spends, and all vPost shipping charges. For local currency transactions, you’ll enjoy 2 per cent rebates.
7. Sidestep Foreign Currency Exchange Charges With an MCA
Here’s another financial trick you can use for automatic savings.
Sign up for a Multi-currency Account (MCA) and link it to your debit card to pay for your Internet purchase. You can avoid conversion fees that come with cross-border spends, which typically costs 1.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent each transaction.
An MCA also lets you purchase the currency you want at the FX rates you choose, which helps you avoid paying high currency exchange fees. You can also control your online spending by limiting your basket to the amount you currently have in the corresponding currency.