How to hack online shopping this holiday season | theSkimm
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The Story

Malls during the holiday season are super fun. That is, if you like massive crowds and fighting over parking spots. There’s a reason why Santa and his crew stick to the North Pole. 

So we’re partnering with Bank of America to help you hack holiday shopping, without ever leaving your couch. (Hint: It starts with using the right credit card.)  

Never settle for the first price you see.

Prices fluctuate during the holidays, and not just on the obvious days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Retailers know that everyone and their mother is shopping, and they’re willing to offer some killer deals. 

That doesn’t mean you have to waste hours clicking around. Apps like Fluctuate (we see what they did there) help users track the prices of any items they’re watching, so you can snag the best deal when it comes along. The same goes for browser extensions like Honey, which automatically applies the best coupon codes available when you check out. 

If you’d prefer to keep it more old school, just Google the name of the store where you’re shopping plus ‘coupon code’ or ‘promo code.’ It’s like deals roulette. 

Pick the right card.

Using a credit card that rewards you for spending money is a no brainer (hello, free money). But not all rewards cards are created equal. So it’s best to pick one that’s best for your lifestyle. If you don’t travel that often, you probably don’t want a card that only gives you points for flying.  

The Cash Rewards card from Bank of America gives you money for every dollar you spend. And you get to pick which category to earn 3% cash back on. So when you’re ready to buy all these gifts from your couch, you can choose to earn 3% cash back on online purchases. If you’re not a big shopper normally, go ahead and switch the category later. Maybe dining, travel or gas is your thing. 

Follow the brands you love.

So many companies have newsletters with exclusive offers for anyone who joins their email list, so it can pay to sign up. Other brands share their deals on social media instead. 

Plus, getting gift ideas sent right to your inbox helps you avoid the endless scroll on 47 different shopping sites.  

Welcome cookies.

No, not chocolate chip. (But also, yes?) Browser and web cookies let your favorite sites do things that make online shopping easy. Like storing anything you put in your shopping cart. Think of them like magical online elves who do a lot of the work for you. Cookies help sites remind you if you’ve forgotten something in your cart, and offer suggestions for other gifts you might like, or even a promo code to hit the ‘buy’ button.

Pay close attention to shipping guidelines.

First thing’s first: Try and get your shopping done in the first half of December, and not just because you’ll feel like an overachiever. It’s harder for online retailers to offer free shipping as the month wears on. 

Also, a lot of sites make it clear when you have to order by to get your package in time for  Christmas, Hanukkah or whatever you’re celebrating sans expedited shipping. If there’s one or two sites you’re watching, put these dates on your calendar. Look at you being so organized.  

If you *have* to brave the mall, make it easy on yourself.

You said you wouldn’t wait until the last minute but well, well, well… look at the clock. So you might have to actually go outside and into the wild (er, mall). Look for brick-and-mortar stores that have a buy online and then pick-up IRL option, so you can still earn 3% cash back for your online purchases with the Cash Rewards card from Bank of America. And you can get in and out of the mall before anyone notices you basically showed up in PJs.  

theSkimm

No matter how many holiday decorations they put up, the mall is kiiiind of the worst during the season. Avoid it like a lukewarm hot cocoa. And get the most out of your time and money by shopping smarter. It’s in the (Santa’s) bag.