We all love shopping online, but hate the shipping costs. Here are five ways to get around them:
1. Ship to the store for free
Some online retailers with brick and mortar stores – such as Lowe’s or Sears–let you have your item shipped to one of its stores for free. You then retrieve the item from the designated pick-up location at the store you choose. It takes s few minutes out of your day, but could save you plenty.
Amazon has several options for free shipping:
a. Free super saver shipping on select items with orders that total more than $25. (See below for tips on bundling to meet free shipping purchase requirements and Amazon’s helpful filler item finder program.)
b. A $79 annual membership program called Amazon Prime gives you free, 2-day shipping in addition to some other perks. Sign up for a free 30-day trial, make your purchase with free shipping, and then cancel (via the Manage Your Prime Membership page) before the 30 days are up. If you forget to cancel, you’ll be automatically upgraded to the $79 membership.
c. Amazon Mom is a hybrid of Amazon Prime, offering a free, 3-month membership for parents and caregivers that provides free shipping and discounts on certain child-related items. Again, be sure to cancel before the trial period is up, or you will be upgraded to the $79 Prime membership.
d. Amazon Student is another offshoot of Prime. It offers free, 2-day shipping for six months. If you don’t timely cancel, it converts to a half-price Prime membership plus perks such as free instant video streaming
3. Bundle your order to meet “no shipping charge” deals
Most stores offer free shipping for orders over a certain amount. For example, Macy’s offers free shipping on most purchases of $99 or more, and drugstore.com offers free shipping on orders over $35. If you don’t meet the amount, and it’s not essential that you have your item immediately, just save it in your cart (or wish list) until you need something else. Then add the additional item to your order to meet the minimum purchase requirement. Or, if you’re close to the cut-off amount, add an inexpensive item that will bring it there. If you’re shopping on Amazon, that’s particularly easy with its item filler finder: you just plug in the amount you need to meet the $25 for free shipping, and a list of items for that price pop up. It’s worth buying a bottle of shampoo for $1 if it saves you $5 on shipping.
4. Promo codes
We recently did a story on the value of promo codes for online purchases . And, one of the most popular deals is to offer free shipping. Check out free shipping.org to look for companies with codes that specifically provide free shipping. For example, a recent search revealed a free shipping code for Kohl’s orders paid with a Kohl’s credit card.
5. Sites that offer free shipping with no restriction
Some online retailers, such as L.L. Bean never charge for shipping. A few, such as Shoebuy and Zappos also provide free shipping for returns. Freeshipping.org has a list of 20 retailers that regularly offer free shipping, but be sure to check with the store site to see whether that policy has changed. ( I recently found some of the sites listed, such as Land’s End, no longer offer unrestricted free shipping.)
While free shipping is great, always compare prices on different sites; one that offers your item for $40 plus $6 shipping is a better deal than one selling it for $50 with free shipping. Also, be aware that free shipping may have a longer delivery time.