You’ve just scored a killer deal on the power tool set your husband has been asking for all year. You click to check out, feeling pretty good about how much you’ve saved. Then for the rude awakening: The shipping cost pretty much negates all that savings. Sound familiar?
If so, you’re not alone. Paying for shipping is one of shoppers’ biggest pet peeves, experts say, so much so that they’re looking for a way around it: 79% of shoppers say that finding free shipping is the most important online deal they seek while holiday shopping, according to a study by Discover.
Shoppers, you’re in luck: The eHow team talked to experts about how you can avoid paying for shipping on holiday gifts. Here’s what we discovered.
1. Work the web.
The first place to look for free shipping is on FreeShipping.org, which lists free shipping offers from thousands of online retailers. Next, consider signing up for a 30-day trial membership with ShopRunner.com — a shopping website that partners with hundreds of retailers to offer free two-day shipping — then cancel the membership after the holidays, says consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch. Andrew Schrage, the founder of personal finance site MoneyCrashers.com recommends you do something similar with Amazon: Sign up for a month-long free trial for an Amazon Prime account, which will give you 30 days of free shipping, then cancel it at month end. You can also find a bunch of free shipping deals on cash-back sites like FatWallet.com and DealNews.com.
2. Buy on December 17th.
On December 17th, thousands of retailers will offer free shipping. (You can see the complete list of participating stores at FreeShippingDay.com.) “Not only will you find free shipping offers with guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve, but you will also find lots of big markdowns as stores begin slashing prices to move goods before the end of the season,” says Woroch.
3. Know where to shop.
Many stores offer free or dirt-cheap shipping year around, including during the holidays. “Walmart has become a new leader in the online shipping game,” says Dan de Grandpre, the CEO of online deal site DealNews.com. “Most items on Walmart.com get free shipping with orders of $45 or more, and many of its apparel items, even clearance items under $10, qualify for 97-cent shipping.” Other online stores that frequently offer free shipping (often with no or a low minimum buy) include shoe stores like Zappos.com, Shoes.com, ShoeMall.com and Piperlime; and luxury department stores like NeimanMarcus.com, Saks.com, Nordstrom.com, he adds. Just remember that “free shipping” doesn’t always mean you save money. For example, jewelry stores often promote free shipping during the holidays, but jewelry prices during the holidays are often at their highest, says Grandpre.
4. Purchase more items at fewer stores.
A lot of stores will offer you free shipping if you spend a certain amount of money with them, says Woroch. Barnes & Noble offers free shipping within the U.S. if you spend $25 or more for a single order. “Though it isn’t always smart to spend an extra $25 to save $10, it does make sense however to buy multiple gifts from the same retailer so you don’t have to pay for shipping on those various items,” says Woroch.
Just beware: More than one in four people who shop with a retailer offering one of these kinds of free shipping deals ends up adding unplanned items to their carts to meet this threshold, according to a study from Forrester Research. So, before you do this, see if you can find a free shipping offer for that store that doesn’t require a minimum purchase amount or one in which the minimum purchase amount is very low.
5. Ask for it.
Sometimes, you can get free shipping by simply calling customer service and asking for it, says Woroch. It may be helpful to point out to the representative that other, similar stores are offering free shipping; the store doesn’t want to lose your business so they may give you free shipping.