Home / Smart Shopping Tips / 10 Must-Know Tips and Tools for Shopping This Holiday Season

 

How to shop online this holiday season

If we’re all being honest with ourselves, holiday shopping is pretty awful any way you cut it. It’s time-consuming, it’s expensive, and you always have that one really tough person to shop for. If you’re not going to use SubmitAndForget.com’s free product and price comparison service, then you might as well use some of the tools and techniques that our staff members employ when hunting deals and comparing products for our users.

Take a few minutes to look over these tips and tools for shopping online this holiday season. I guarantee you’ll save time and money with a few of these trade secrets!

1) PriceBlink Web Extension

PriceBlink logo

What is it? PriceBlink is a web extension that automatically notifies you if an item you’re viewing is available with another major retailer for a lower price.

Why you need it this holiday season: So you don’t pay more for any item than necessary. For example, say you were shopping for an external hard drive on Newegg.com with PriceBlink installed. You’d see this:

PriceBlink's savings notification

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A notification pops up at the top of your browser showing you where to buy this item for less and links you directly to the item on the competitor’s website. You’ll also receive notifications when a retailer has coupon codes available such as free shipping, 10% off certain departments, etc… PriceBlink is available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer.

2) The Camelizer or CamelCamelCamel.com

CamelCamelCamel.com logo

What is it? CamelCamelCamel.com is an archive of historical pricing data for just about any item you can imagine. Input an Amazon URL or product name and view exactly how much that item’s price has risen or dropped over the past year.

Why you need it this holiday season: There are a lot of holiday “sales” online. Even on Black Friday and Cyber Monday a lot of internet retailers carelessly throw the word around just to get you to buy while your guards are low.

camelcamelcamel.com pricing graph

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CamelCamelCamel will protect you from getting duped into buying something that isn’t priced any better than it usually is, but it’ll also make it VERY clear if a deal you’re seeing online is a truly rock-bottom price that you should act on immediately. You can also set pricing alerts for any items you’re willing to hold out on until the price drops a little further. The company also offers an extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.

3) Gixen for Ebay Sniping

Gixen logo

What is it? Gixen is a free Ebay sniping service that bids on auctions seconds before they close. Never again will you get tied up in a bidding war that ends up costing you more money. Whether it’s pronounced “Jixen” or “Gixen” is the world’s greatest mystery.

Why you need it this holiday season: If you’re competing in Ebay auctions and NOT sniping, you’re spending more money than you need to be. Gixen is a free service that allows you to input the Ebay item number, set your maximum bid, then kick back and relax.

Just a few seconds before the auction ends Gixen will place your maximum bid so that your competition doesn’t have enough time to re-up before the auction closes. Just to be clear, even if your maximum bid is $50 and the next highest bidder’s maximum bid is $38, you won’t have to pay $50 using Gixen, just slightly more than the next highest bidder’s maximum bid ($38 in this example). But make sure to set your maximum bid as high as you’re willing to pay! You won’t get a second chance if someone has their maximum bid set higher than yours.

4) Leverage Amazon Wishlists for Easy Shopping

Amazon Wishlist logo

What is it? Used properly, Amazon Wishlists are basically where gift wishlists meet the 21st century.

Why you need it this holiday season: Stop worrying about keeping track of everyone’s individual Christmas lists and move into the age of the internet. Have loved ones build out a new Wishlist in their Amazon account and send you the link (or you can search for the email affiliated with their Amazon account and view any public Wishlists they’ve built). This way everyone gets the EXACT item they wanted and you can stay super organized, shopping in your pajamas while sitting on your couch (bag of Funyuns optional).

Save items to Amazon Wishlists from anywhere on the web

Most people don’t realize you can save non-Amazon items from anywhere on the web to your Wishlist too. So you can even hunt for the best price online and save it to your list so you know your friends/family members are paying the lowest price possible, thereby allowing more room in the budget for extra gifts (in theory).

5) DealTrunk.com & Chrome Extension

DealTrunk logo

What is it? DealTrunk.com is a deals aggregator that collects limited-time and daily deals from all over the web. It puts all of this information in one place so you can browse all deals at once without hopping site-to-site.

Why you need it this holiday season: I waited for a site like DealTrunk for a long time, and in October 2014 Christmas came early and I found the service I’ve always wanted. No more hopping from Amazon’s Gold Box Deals to Ebay’s daily deals to Woot.com’s sales. Visit one site and compare daily deals from multiple major retailers across the internet. Check it a couple of times a day and you’ll be shocked at how many items you can cross off of your shopping list. There’s also a Chrome extension to keep you updated as new deals arise.

6) Claim Partial Refunds on Amazon Price Drops within 7 Days

Amazon's price drop guarantee

What is it? Most people don’t know this, but if you purchase any item that’s sold by Amazon.com (important detail) and the price drops within 7 days of your purchase, contact customer service and they’ll give you a partial refund to compensate you for the difference.

Why you need it this holiday season: Because if you didn’t know about this and a gift you bought drops in price within 7 days, you’re just leaving money on the table.

7) Subscribe to Amazon Price Drops with PriceTrace

PriceTrace logo

What is it? Highly related to the last tip, if you want to know when an item’s price drops on Amazon just set a reminder through PriceTrace and you’ll be notified the moment that item drops in price.

Why you need it this holiday season: Maybe you’re waiting for an item to get a little bit cheaper before you spring for it, or maybe you’re meticulously trying to capitalize on Amazon’s 7-Day Price Guarantee that you just learned about. Either way, PriceTrace will save you money if you take a few second to program a new price drop notification. This free web extension is available for Firefox and Safari.

8) Pay Attention to Used & New Pricing on Amazon

new or used pricing

What is it? A frequently overlooked buying option that can save you a lot of money on Amazon.

Why you need it this holiday season: This is something you should always pay attention to even if you’re not interested in used options. Frequently other sellers are competing with Amazon that, even if very closely priced, will save you from paying sales tax on your purchase but ONLY if you click on the “New & Used” pricing option and pick them manually.

Amazon’s selection often defaults to their own stock over closely priced competitors within $1-$2 of Amazon’s price. Many of these options are fulfilled by Amazon and still offer Amazon’s shipping benefits (2-day shipping for Prime members and Super Saver shipping for everyone else) but save you from paying sales tax if you’re in a state that requires it.

Used and new pricing on Amazon

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And on top of that, if you’re okay with buying used you can save a ton of money by keeping an eye on these options.

9) Claim Your Amazon Prime Free Trial for the Holiday Season

Amazon Prime logo

What is it? If you’re not already an Amazon Prime member and you’ve never claimed your trial, you’ll get 30 days of free unlimited music and movie streaming, but most importantly free 2-day shipping on all orders fulfilled by Amazon and early-access to Gold Box Deals.

Why you need it this holiday season: If you’ve never tried Amazon Prime, it’s just about the coolest service ever rolled out for online shopping. I’ve personally been a Prime member for about six years (yikes) and the service has expanded a lot since then, but the main reason I maintain my subscription is the free 2-day shipping. It comes in VERY handy during the holiday season.

Every gift you buy that’s fulfilled by Amazon (most items on Amazon) will be delivered to your doorstep within 2 business days. You can order gifts a couple of days before Christmas and receive them on Christmas Eve. No lines, no waiting – just click, ship, open, and wrap.

Amazon's Gold Box Deals

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Recently Amazon began allowing Prime members early access to all Gold Box Deals too. With a Prime Membership you’ll have access to Amazon’s best deals before everyone else. Throw in the fact that you’ll have access to hundreds of holiday jingles and unlimited movie/TV streaming through Amazon Prime while the kiddos are on break, and you’re definitely squeezing every ounce of value out of your 30 day trial.

If you don’t want to remain a Prime member, cancel within 30 days and you won’t be charged a dime. If you decide you want to keep enjoying all of the benefits of Prime, just keep your membership active and you’ll be billed for your first year at the end of the trial.

10) Leverage Rewards Programs and Credit Card Points (RESPONSIBLY!)

rewards credit card snippet

What is it? Leveraging online retailers’ loyalty programs and your credit card program’s rewards points smartly can put hundreds of dollars back in your pocket after the holiday season is over.

Why you need it this holiday season: Did you know that Overstock.com has a loyalty program where they give you 5% back on everything you purchase? Maybe you have a Chase Freedom card like my wife and I, which pays 5% cash back during the holiday season for many department stores and all purchases made on Amazon. That means that I can shop at Kohl’s and between their 5% rewards program and my 5% cash back from Chase, my wife and I are getting 10% back on everything we purchase.

Or if I shop at Overstock.com where I’ve purchased a membership to their loyalty program (5% returned for all purchases) and pay with our Barclay card which rewards us with 2% towards travel for every dollar we spend, we’re effectively getting 7% back for everything we buy. Or I can use our Best Buy credit card to receive 5% Rewards Zone points for every gift we buy.

Paying attention to how you leverage loyalty programs and rewards points this holiday season can earn you hundreds of dollars in rewards vouchers and cash back if you pay attention and plan your purchases properly. Pay close attention to make sure you don’t rack up your credit card balance past a point you can pay off within 30 days. Carrying interest for even a single month will likely negate any savings you made by doing all of that strategic shopping.

Conclusion

So there you have it – using the 10 tips and tools above will make you a holiday-shopping guru. You’ll save a massive amount of time and money if you properly leverage any or all of the tips and tools above.

I hope you found it helpful, and don’t forget – if you have product research or price shopping that you need to do, let SubmitAndForget.com’s highly trained professional shoppers do it for you instead. Just take 3-5 minutes to tell us what you’re looking for, submit the request, and go about taking care of everything else in your busy life. Within 24 hours we’ll send you some of the highest rated, lowest priced products on the internet that meet your needs.

Enjoy your time with friends and loved ones this holiday season, everyone! And of course – happy holidays!

 
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