Basic Steps To Find the Best Prices When Shopping Online
Published 10/31/07 (Modified 3/8/11)
I do a lot of online shopping shopping. In fact, I'm looking to buy a cheap laptop soon and will absolutely buy it online. Other than groceries or items I need right away, I try to plan ahead and purchase everything through the internet where I can often obtain the best deals.
Here are the basic steps I take when I am looking to buy something online at the best price possible:
1) Use Froogle
My first stop is to compare prices using Google's Product Search engine. The program used to be called Froogle but Google changed the name a few months ago. Personally, I liked the old name better and still refer to it as Froogle. Not a whole lot of people use it, but I use it often.
Froogle works the same as your usual Google search engine except it compares prices based on your keyword search. It scours the web for store and auction prices and surprisingly yields a decent size list of results. It gives you an idea of the range of prices online retailers are charging.
2) Use eBay
After I have a general idea of the range of market prices, I visit eBay to run keyword searches of the item I want to buy. As I mentioned in an earlier eBay related post, it is always best to run several searches using different combinations of keywords to maximize your chances.
After factoring in the cost of shipping I compare the eBay total selling prices with the Froogle prices including shipping to see which one is most favorable. Generally, I prefer to purchase from online retailers rather than from eBay sellers because I can more easily contact and trace down the online retailer at its source if I need to resolve a purchase dispute, but if the price is right and the eBay seller is trustworthy, I will go with the online auction route.
3) Use Craigslist
Some people like to use Craigslist because it's free to use but I generally avoid it as a buying option. The wild west frontier feel of it makes it too risky and unregulated to suit my taste. Craigslist doesn't have a system of referral reviews yet, which makes the environment more enticing for scammers.
I've also found that eBay sellers tend to offer better deals than Craigslisters. I personally would only buy something through Craigslist if I had the option of arriving in person to pay for and pick up the merchandise.
4) Make the Purchase Through A Shopping Portal Giving Cash Back or Reward Points
After determining which place offers the best deal, it's time to make sure you are maxing out all possible discount and cash back opportunities. If you have to choose between several choices, it's almost always best to choose the option that will allow you to purchase via a shopping portal to earn extra cash back or reward points. Recommended portals include Ebates, Jellyfish, and Fatwallet.
Even if you decide to buy through an eBay auction, you can still earn extra cash back by clicking on the eBay link through a shopping portal like Ebates. Ebates offers customers 1% cash back when they make winning bids via their portal's eBay link.
5) Use A Cash Back Credit Card To Fully Maximize Your Savings
Finally, when it comes time to paying for your online purchase, you may want to consider making payment using a credit card that will provide you usage incentives such as reward rebates or cash back. Because online purchases generally do not fall under the special categories such as grocery stores or gas stations that can qualify you to earn bonus rebates, your best bet is to utilize a card that will earn you at least the standard 1% cash back for your entire purchase amount. A few such as the Fidelity Investment Rewards Visa and the Amex Blue Cash�� Card offer an even better 1.5% back for all online purchases. Browse around my list of credit card rewards for more suggestions.