Search, click, buy, repeat.
This year, for the first time in history, online purchases overtook in-store buying on as the busy holiday shopping season got underway, according to retail surveys.
Cyber Monday was the largest online shopping day ever with $6.5 billion in sales. Apple Air Pods, Sony PlayStation VR and Amazon Echo and Google Home assistants and gift cards are at the top of shopping lists.
Use these sneaky tricks and tips to save more online.
Install free browser extensions. There is no need to Google coupon codes before making purchases. Get them automatically and ensure you're getting the best prices by using plug-ins installed on Chrome, Safari and Firefox browsers, which run in the background while you surf for deals. They’re easy to install. Honey (JoinHoney.com) will find coupon codes automatically at checkout when you put items in your shopping cart. CouponFollow.com and InvisibleHand.com are also good choices.
Use free price trackers. CamelCamelCamel.com finds the best prices on Amazon.com. Enter the URL of an Amazon item and the site magically finds you the lowest price. You also can review price histories on more than 18 million products and opt to get alerts via email or Twitter. Use the free ShopSavvy.com app to scan product bar codes to find the best prices online and in stores from more than 20,000 retailers. It also offers cash back on purchases, as does Ebates.com.
Track sales. Retailers are offering hot doorbuster deals at different times online and in stores. Use GottaDeal.com's Online Black Friday Deal Tracker see start times of sales with links to ads. The list can be sorted by store or time zone. The site also has an online coupon section.
Save more on Amazon.com. Sign up for Amazon Prime. If you're not member — it costs $99 a year and includes free two-day shipping on purchases of $25 on millions of items — now's the time to sign up for a free 30-day trial at Amazon.com/Prime. Thousands of Lightning Deals and more than 30 Deals of the Day kick off at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday. Use the Amazon mobile app to set alerts and preview deals at Amazon.com/BlackFriday. New this year: Alexa voice shoppers get early access starting at 3 p.m. Wednesday. If a purchase is under $25 and won’t qualify for free two-day shipping, use the awesome Amazon Filler Item Finder (FillerItem.com). It compiles a list of cheap items that can be added to your cart to meet the shipping requirement.
Abandon items in your shopping cart. Figure out what you want to buy, create an account (if you don't have one) and then leave items in the cart without paying. Usually, retailers will send emails offering additional discounts and even free shipping to close the deal. Another benefit: You'll be ready for a speedy checkout when hot deals go live. Another trick: Change the ZIP code (use Google to find them) when searching retail sites to see if you're getting the lowest price. Many big-box retailers set online prices based on region.
Get free shipping. Paying for shipping is always a deal-breaker for me. Target, Best Buy and Bloomingdale's are offering free shipping and returns with no minimum purchase through the holidays. Sears and Kmart ship free on purchases over $25. Wal-Mart offers free two-day shipping with most purchases of $35 and in-store pickup discounts on online orders. Toys R Us and Bed Bath & Beyond ship free with $29 purchase; Macy's will offer it with $49 purchases on Nov. 23-25. Also, Free Shipping Day is Dec. 15, when more than 1,000 retailers offer the service with guaranteed delivery by Dec. 24. Sign up for an email reminder at FreeShippingDay.com. If you can’t get free shipping, consider ordering online and picking up in stores, a free service offered by most retailers.
Use price matching. Retailers have generous holiday price-match policies, but they are usually not valid on limited-quantity doorbuster deals. Still, Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Toys R Us, BrandsMart U.S.A. and many others price-match against each other, including Amazon and local competitors.
Sign up and save. Join reward clubs, sign up for mobile alerts and download apps to get early notifications of sales and discounts. Programs are free to join and you earn points for more savings. Also, follow brands on social media to unlock special savings.