Boy, did Home Depot serve me with a jolt of reality recently.
I was minding my own business and reviewing my shopping list for my latest DIY attempt. I strolled through the store’s automatic doors and soaked up that swoosh of cold air.
Inflatable Christmas-themed yard decorations.
From the top industrial shelf, nearly touching the warehouse-style ceiling, they peered down at me.
The waving Santa seemed to say, “Hey, guess what month it is? That’s right, it’s not even Thanksgiving, but we’re already in the Christmas spirit.”
The pink pig with a candy-cane scarf tied around its neck taunted me, “Cha-ching! Where’s your piggy bank? It’s about to be empty!”
Admittedly, the whole scene wasn’t this dramatic. It was more me saying in a tiny voice, “Wow, Christmas already?” to the nice greeter who handed me a shopping basket.
Still, those inflatables were a not-so-subtle reminder that holiday shopping looms.
Some Slick Ways to Save Money While Online Holiday Shopping
If you’ve felt that same momentary panic when walking into retailers lately — brace yourself — we have to say the feeling is justified.
According to new numbers from the National Retail Federation, holiday sales are expected to increase by up to 4% this year. Although that sounds like a reasonable amount, it pushes last year’s $655.8 billion spending total up to $678.75 billion.
But don’t crumble up the wrapping paper and hide in an empty Amazon box just yet.
Keep in mind you have time to prepare by building an army of savings apps and browser extensions that’ll help you save while online holiday shopping. We found some of our favorites to get you started.
(Or you can opt for DIY presents, but that’s another story.)
1. Earn Cash Back With Ibotta
Traditionally, Ibotta is known for its cash-back offers on groceries, but it’s seeping into other markets now — like travel, restaurants and online shopping.
Let me give you a few examples that might help you tackle that Christmas list:
- For the outdoor enthusiast, snag 6% cash back from Backcountry.
- For the world traveler, earn 10% cash back from eBags.
- For the fashionista, bank $10 cash back from Stitch Fix.
Other online shopping offers hail from Gap, Groupon, Houzz, Kohl’s, Overstock, Target and more.
Just download the app, find your favorite retailer and shop through the portal. After you earn your first rebate, you’ll pocket a $10 bonus.
Bonus: If you don’t have Amazon Prime yet, the service can be a huge lifesaver for last-minute presents. If you decide to take the plunge and sign up, do so through Ibotta. You’ll earn a $20 Amazon gift card!
2. Protect Your Prices With Paribus
Have you ever ordered something online only to see that, one day later, the price has dropped? Yeah, that’s frustrating.
You’ll want to sign up for Earny, a price-protection tool that’ll monitor these prices so you don’t have to worry.
The stores it will negotiate price-drop returns from include big names, such as Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Walmart and Zappos — among others.
When an item’s price drops, Earny will automatically hand you the price difference.
3. Get Reimbursed for Price Changes on Amazon
Are you one of those people who only orders from Amazon? (Yup, I once had a gift in mind for my dad but then had to find an alternative because I couldn’t order it through Amazon. Sorry, dad.)
Paribus used to reimburse you for price changes on Amazon. However, we’ve found a solid replacement. It’s called Trim, and it’s a little bot that lives in your Facebook messenger app.
Once you sign up, it’ll register your Amazon purchases and will reimburse you for any price fluctuations.
For example, did that coffeemaker you ordered for mom suddenly drop $15? Trim will reimburse you.
4. Score Cash Back Through Ebates
Unfortunately you can’t double dip with Ibotta and Ebates cash-back opportunities, but it’s worth checking to see which platform offers the best deal.
Ebates is an online portal that allows you to find tons of rebates from participating retailers.
Here are a few gift-giving examples:
- For your favorite yogi, get 5% cash back from Lululemon.
- For the makeup obsessed, earn 4% cash back from Sephora.
- For the concertgoer, snag up to 3.5% cash back from StubHub.
- For the crafter, bank $2% back from Hobby Lobby.
Ebates also offers tons of coupons, so even if your preferred retailer doesn’t have a cash-back opportunity, you might be able to find a solid coupon to apply to your order.
5. Share Your Amazon Purchase History
The Harris Poll, a well-known survey company that measures U.S. public opinion, operates something called ShopTracker.
Basically, it anonymously tracks what products users are purchasing from Amazon.
It’ll pay you $36 a year for that access and promises to keep your information private.
Before you sign up (it’ll take something like three minutes), here are the basic requirements:
- You should shop on Amazon, naturally.
- You must be 18 and live in the U.S.
- You’ll need at least a Windows 7-compatible PC. If you have Windows XP or a Mac, it won’t work.
Install the app for free. Then, log into your Amazon account to bank an extra $36 this year. No, it’s not a ton, but it’ll absolutely cover a present for your nephew.
Or at least shipping…
6. Sign Up for a Rewards Card
The wonderful thing about this last option is you can deal-stack it with any of the above.
When you sign up for a rewards credit card, you’ll get points or cash back on purchases. (Just be sure to pay that card off each month!)
We always recommend the Barclaycard CashForward™ World MasterCard® because you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on anything you buy.
Plus, when you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days of signing up (perfect for the holidays), you’ll get a $200 bonus. That’s like getting 20% off your purchases.
Even better? There’s no annual fee.
Here’s a list of a bunch of other rewards cards with no annual fees.
Be sure to read all the fine print, then you can sign up online.
Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which The Penny Hoarder receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). We do not feature all available credit card offers or all credit card issuers.
Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s definitely not buying one of those inflatable yard ornaments to haunt her dreams.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, one of the largest personal finance websites. We help millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. In 2016, Inc. 500 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the No. 1 fastest-growing private media company in the U.S.