6 Cyber Monday Shopping Tricks

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How you can save more and worry less during the e-commerce blitz.

In case you haven’t checked a calendar recently, Black Friday (Nov. 24) and Cyber Monday (Nov. 27) are coming — soon! Last year, consumers spent $3.45 billion online during Cyber Monday, making it the biggest day of U.S. e-commerce ever! And between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we’re poised to spend even more this year with Americans dropping an average of $743 each.

So, how can you capitalize on the Cyber Monday sales to check off your Holiday 2017 list? We’ve rounded up some of the best tips and tricks to help you save money!

Trick No. 1: Skip store credit cards

Store credit cards have a lot of flashy upfront perks and incentives to lure you in (save 20% on your purchase today!). However, they have notoriously high APRs — an average of 24.99%, one study found!

If you don’t pay off the entire card by the next statement, you’ll be stuck paying more in interest than you intended. In most cases, you’ll be better off with one of the best cash back credit cards, which you can use at many stores to save money year-round.

Trick No. 2: Develop a credit card holiday shopping strategy

When shopping online you’ll need to use a credit card, but not all cards are created equal. Depending on what you’re shopping for, you’ll need to develop a strategy.

Trick No. 3: Make a list, check it twice

It’s easy to get carried away with the “add to cart” button online, but making a list of the items you intend to buy, stores they can be found at, estimated prices, discount codes and more will help you stay on budget and not be lured by promos and sales throughout the day. Also include any promo codes that are released in advance so you’re not scrambling while trying to check out. Using the notes or reminder function on your smartphone is a way to store everything. There’s also a number of shopping apps or browser extensions that can help you save money.

Items tend to go fast during Cyber Monday, so having a Plan B is helpful. List all of the stores the item can be found at and also if the store will price match a lower offer somewhere else. Additionally, you’ll want to know the exact specs and details about the products you’re looking at to ensure you’re getting a quality item. Just because a big screen TV is discounted to $300 doesn’t mean it’s worth it if it has poor resolution that will hurt your eyes while watching.

Trick No. 4: Sign up for newsletters and create accounts

Many companies will release information about their Cyber Monday sale in advance to loyal customers so get on the newsletter now. If they allow you to combine promo codes you may be able to save even more as a first-time newsletter subscriber. It’s not uncommon for businesses to offer a welcome discount (such as 10% off your first online order) for signing up. Set up your store accounts in advance as well so you’re not trying to create a login and password and enter your address while checking out.

Trick No. 5: Check the shipping and return policy

Ideally, you’ll shop at companies that offer free shipping and returns so you can easily receive your items and return anything that doesn’t work out without any extra costs. In many cases, though, you’ll need to spend a minimum amount to qualify for free shipping. If your total falls short of that minimum, do the math first — if shipping will cost you $15, then it’s not worth it to buy a $25 item that you don’t actually want or need.

Trick No. 6: Protect your ID and credit card information

Why is protecting your identity included in this list of savings tips? Because if you fall victim to identity fraud, you could be on the hook for hundreds of dollars (or more) in financial damage. If the Equifax data breach taught us anything this year, it’s that you can never be too safe when it comes to protecting your personal information.

Especially when it comes to online shopping, you’ll want to ensure you’re taking steps to minimize risk. Some things you can do:

  • Make sure the URL has https:// with an “s” on the end for secure.
  • Go to retailer websites directly instead of clicking ads, which could have malware.
  • Double check retailer URL spellings. It’s not uncommon for hackers to set up fake websites that are similar to the real thing, but with a misspelled URL.
  • Use a credit card instead of a debit card since they have stronger fraud protections should you have to dispute a charge.
  • Check your statements thoroughly to ensure there are no fraudulent charges.

If you like a good deal, but don’t want to fight the crowds during Black Friday, then Cyber Monday may be the best day to tackle your holiday 2017 list. When you shop strategically, Cyber Monday can be a great way to get all your shopping done at once from the comfort of your couch while saving money.

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