It seems like we do everything online these days, from paying bills to ordering food to keeping in touch. And of course, getting that retail therapy fix and making travel plans! Aside from the convenience, I love shopping and booking travel online because I can save a nice chunk of change. With cash back programs like Ebates, loyalty clubs, and more, saving money online is easier than ever. Check out my top five ways to save money on travel and shopping online.
Get cash back with Ebates
Ebates gets my vote for being the easiest way to save money on online transactions. After you’ve created your account, you are literally a couple clicks away from a nice cash back check. How does Ebates work? Ebates gives you cash back for a percentage of your purchase total – anywhere from 1% to 15% or more – just by going through their links to over a thousand sites. Or, even easier, you can download the Ebates Chrome Plugin. The plugin will pop up whenever you’re on a site that gives cash back with Ebates, and it will also find relevant promo codes to save even more $$$.
Sounds great, but does Ebates work with sites I would actually use? Yes! I’ve gotten cash back from Hotwire, Expedia, Sephora, Lulus, Amazon, Groupon, and more. I’ve even tried some great online stores for the first time, like eBags, thanks to Ebates. The cash back you earn is paid out quarterly, and you can either receive a check or a PayPal deposit.
Sign up here to receive a $10 cash back bonus after you make your first purchase! And when you refer a friend, you’ll get a nice bonus too.
Shop through your credit card portal
If you have a credit card, you likely also have access to some great discounts or cash back offers. Usually they just take a little extra effort to find. I love Chase’s “Shop Through Chase” site and American Express’s cash back offers.
Chase gives you extra Ultimate Rewards points in a program similar to Ebates. Simply access the online store through Chase’s portal, and you’ll receive your bonus points within a couple days. Sometimes Chase has a better offer than Ebates, and visa versa, so I will check both before making a purchase. And remember that Chase’s Sapphire Preferred and Reserve cards can cash in points for 1.25 or 1.5 times their value. Unfortunately you can’t combine both Ebates and Shop Through Chase.
American Express’s offer program gives you statement credits for a variety of different purchases. The offers change regularly, and you must add the offer to your card in order to receive the statement credit. If you think you might possibly use the offer, I recommend adding it as soon as you see it, because Amex caps the number of people who can sign up. The offers are visible online and on Amex’s mobile app. This program is just another awesome benefit to advantage of when you’re maximizing credit card perks!
Find exclusive discounts through travel loyalty programs
Ever wonder how frequent travelers get great deals? One way to save money online is through travel loyalty programs – whether through hotels chains or online travel websites, like Expedia or Booking.com. When you create an account on many of these websites, you’ll get access to exclusive “Members Only” discounts.
Some websites even have programs that earn points or other perks when you stay. For example, Hotels.com has a loyalty program where you get a free night after staying for ten nights in any hotel! This program is great if you’re a frequent traveler who stays in hotels of different brands or independent hotels.
Sign up for the email list or as a new user
Gmail is your friend here! Have you ever visited a website and seen that annoying pop-up that says “sign up and get a special discount?” More often than not, that email subscription will come with a new subscriber discount, especially at online retailers. Have you already used that sign-up perk once? Just sign up with a new email and you’ll get the promo code again!
New users to certain sites can also benefit from credits – like if you’re new to Airbnb, you can save $40 when you book your first stay. Guess that’s the online version of beginner’s luck! 🙂
Use promo codes
But what do you do if the online retailer doesn’t offer a sign-up promotion? Or maybe it’s a site where you can’t create a new account (or it’s just not worth the trouble)? Promo codes are easy to find with a quick Google search or by using the Ebates plugin. There are some other plugins that will find promo codes for you too, like Honey, so you can save money online with just a click.
Websites like Groupon and many online fashion retailers have active promo codes all the time, and if you can’t find one on Google, you can probably sign up with your email address (or a new email address) to get a first-timer’s discount.
How do you save money online? Do you book travel online to save money? Don’t forget to pin these tips for later!