If you’ve been procrastinating on your holiday shopping, you’re in luck: Today is the fifth annual Free Shipping Day, when over 1,300 merchants will provide free shipping, discounts, and delivery by Christmas Eve.
This event is a great way to save, but there are a lot of other things you can do to minimize your shipping charges, both this holiday season, and all year long. (Why pay that extra $7.95 if you don’t have to, right?) Here's your complete guide.
1. Chat it Up
Shipping charges are the number one reason online shopping carts are abandoned. Retailers know this, and if you get all the way to checkout and hesitate before clicking “Buy,” they’re sometimes willing to throw in a discount in order to make to the sale.
So, try keeping those live chat help windows open for once, and ask to get free shipping with your order. Even if they say no, they may have other coupon codes you can use for an extra discount.
2. Apply a Coupon
When you don’t have any luck asking customer service for a better deal, take matters into your own hands with one of the numerous coupon sites out there. As the name implies, FreeShipping.org is one of the best places to track down free delivery—it features coupon codes and other deals for more than 4,000 stores.
3. Buy in Bulk
As with most good things, there’s often a catch for free shipping: Many merchants want you to place a minimum order before you receive the service. While it doesn’t make sense to spend more than you planned just to meet the threshold, you can plan your shopping strategy accordingly to meet minimums. If you can find gifts for everyone at one or two retailers, for example, you’ll likely save in shipping costs by ordering everything all at once.
4. Get a Subscription
If you’re a frequent online shopper, it might be worth paying a small fee to receive free shipping with every order. Services such as ShopRunner partner with most major merchants to provide free two-day shipping. While there’s a yearly fee of $79, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial to take advantage of the service through the holidays. (Just remember to cancel before the trial is up or you’ll be automatically enrolled and charged the annual fee.)
Similarly, check out Amazon Prime. In addition to free two-day shipping on Amazon orders, the service also includes access to streaming videos and e-books.
5. Pick Up in Person
In recent years, site-to-store shipping has become increasingly common. Major retailers such as Best Buy and Walmart provide the option to have an online order delivered to a local store at no additional cost. All you have to do is stop in and pick it up at your convenience. Amazon is even getting on board with the recent introduction of locker delivery in Staples stores.
6. Dare to Compare
Free shipping with every order is ideal, but sometimes it’s actually a better deal to pay for shipping. Since merchants know free shipping is so desirable, they’ll sometimes increase product prices to make the offer available. So, before you buy anything, take the time to compare a few different sites. Low-cost flat rate shipping combined with a lower total price can end up saving you more than free shipping alone.
Photo of shipping boxes courtesy of Shutterstock.