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71% of holiday shoppers are buying online — here are 4 easy ways to save money

More shoppers are buying online for the holidays. These tips can help keep you from overspending.

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This year 71% of holiday shoppers plan to do most of their purchasing online, up from 51% last year, according to a new CreditCards.com survey.

Shoppers are making holiday purchases out of convenience — they plan to buy holiday essentials and gifts online this year to avoid crowds at big box stores and malls.

"Holiday shopping is going to look very different this year," says Ted Rossman, industry analyst at CreditCards.com. "Covid-19 is accelerating the existing trends toward e-commerce and digital payments."

Here are four ways to save when shopping online this holiday season.

1. Use an online shopping portal

One of the best ways to save money when shopping online is to avoid shopping directly on a retailer's website, Rossman says.

Log into a third-party platform like Rakuten or RetailMeNot or even card-specific platforms like Chase Ultimate Rewards or Barclay Card Rewards Boost, says Rossman. They work by offering consumers cash back and deals when you use their sites to shop.

VIDEO3:5203:52
How to save shopping online during the holidays

Video by Mariam Abdallah

"Use their link to Nike, Macy's, or wherever you're shopping, and you're gonna get a kickback," he adds. "Maybe an extra 3% to 5% cash back, and sometimes even more."

"What's really great is that you can stack [these deals] with other discounts,'' Rossman says. "So you can also use a store coupon code, and also use a rewards credit card. Now you've found multiple ways to save on that same purchase."

2. Use credit card-linked offers

Your credit card's website may have offers from popular retailers. Choices run the gamut, such as Starbucks, Dell, and other well-known brands. "Card-linked offers are basically digital coupons that can help you save," Rossman explains. "And these can actually be used in-store or online."

This comes down to simply researching your bank or card company and their offerings. They go under brand names like Amex Offers, Chase Offers, and Wells Fargo's Earn More Mall.

"You log in to any of these credit card websites, either on the computer or on the phone, and then preselect the offers that you want," Rossman says. "And when you make a purchase, that offer will automatically be applied."

Covid-19 is accelerating the existing trends toward e-commerce and digital payments.
Ted Rossman
Industry Analyst, CreditCards.com

3. Take advantage of credit card buyer protections

Sometimes credit card purchase protection can be more valuable than rewards. After buying his wife an Apple Watch and it breaking soon after, Rossman was able to save big on repair costs. "We were actually able to get that $300 repair covered by our credit card, because we had paid with a card that offered purchase protection," he says.

You might sacrifice a little upfront, but insurance can be valuable if an expensive appliance breaks and you can get that additional coverage.

4. Use browser extensions

Extensions like Honey and Paribus can help you find coupon codes and price drops across different retailer sites.

"If you buy something from a popular retailer that's supported by their platform like Walmart, Target, or the Home Depot, and it drops in price, they're gonna help you track down a refund," Rossman says.

These savings can add up, says Kelly Smith, a personal finance and lifestyle YouTuber and blogger at Freedominabudget.com. "If you earn 2% cash back on all of your purchases throughout the year, come December you might have [an extra couple hundred] worth of cash back sitting in your credit card statement."

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