On the eternal quest for the best deal, we asked some top shopping experts to share their little-known tricks of the trade. Read on for their surprising strategies to ensure you get the rock-bottom price on anything you buy!
Snap a photo to receive cash back.
“It’s a smart idea to get cash back for shopping. Two apps I like: Walmart’s Savings Catcher, which gives you an e-gift card for the price difference if a competitor offers an item at a lower price, and Checkout 51: Just take a photo of your receipt, then select offers to redeem; they’ll credit you with rewards you can claim by check or via PayPal once you reach $20.” — Andrea Woroch, shopping expert
Stack gift cards with coupons.
“One of the best ways to save money — in addition to using coupons — is by making purchases with discounted gift cards. I use discounted digital gift cards to make about 80 percent of my purchases. For example, I’ll fill my cart on the Kohls’s website and enter coupon codes, then head to Raise to buy a $100 Kohl’s gift card for $88 and use it as payment.” — Joanie Demer, cofounder of The Krazy Coupon Lady
Make a “wish” for online savings.
“You may already know to leave an item in your shopping cart and abandon it so retailers will send you offers to sweeten the deal. But here’s another tip: Make a wish list at your favorite stores. It’s easy to check it to see if prices have dropped, plus retailers will send you coupons to get you to buy items on it. I love Nordstrom wish lists because you can also see when something has been ‘racked,’ or moved to the outlet store, where you’ll get the best deal.” — Alex Tran, deal finding pro at Schimiggy Reviews
Ask for a replacement coupon.
“If you have a product that’s broken and past its warranty, ask the manufacturer for a coupon to buy a replacement. Recently, my Fitbit activity tracker broke and it was no longer under warranty. On a whim, I contacted Fitbit and explained the situation. Turns out, my device was so old that not only was it not under warranty, it wasn’t even being produced anymore. Then they offered me a one-time 25 percent off discount on a new tracker, which was much better than any coupon I could find anywhere else!” — Kyle James, founder of Rather-Be-Shopping.com
Erase your purchase history.
Chat with online reps.
“When it comes to finding great deals online, I always begin by logging on to a cash-back website like Ebates. There, you’ll find a clearinghouse of coupons, plus you can earn cash back on your purchases at many online retailers. But if you’re not seeing any discounts or are dissatisfied with the coupons you find, consider going to the website you’re shopping at and opening an online chat to ask a customer service rep if there is a coupon code available. Sometimes they’ll be able to give you access to offers you won’t find anywhere else.” — Cherie W. Lowe, money-saving expert at Queen of Free
Sign up for price alerts to snag great deals.
“When it comes to clothes shopping, I find that it’s a smart idea to sign up for price alerts at sites like Price Owlert or ShopStyle, so you can be notified when an item is marked down. Simply sign up and enter items you’re interested in, and you’ll receive an email when the price drops, which can help net you big savings with little effort.” — Michelle Madhok, founder of SHEfinds
Try the “basket” trick to save big.
“Impulse buys at the supermarket can seriously increase your bill. But you can sidestep unnecessary purchases by placing a small handheld shopping basket in your cart before you start shopping. Then as you make your way around the store, place any items you pick up that weren’t on your shopping list in the basket. When you get to the cash register to check out, you can see how much extra money you’ll be spending on things that weren’t on your list, and you can decide whether or not you really need them. Studies show that for the average shopper, a whopping 60 percent of items in the cart are impulse buys —and that can really add up!” — Teri Gault, author of Shop Smart, Save More ($8.69, Amazon)
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.
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