Saving money when shopping online requires strategy. Careful planning, using the right tools and resources, and shopping with the right websites are essential to getting the most bang for your buck. Part of that process also includes finding the right credit card to help you stack the savings with online deals and coupons. Here are the best ways to save money when shopping online.
How to Save Money When Shopping Online with Credit Cards
Here are four basic steps to help maximize your savings when shopping online with credit cards:
Find the Right Credit Card
Using a credit card to save money online starts with finding the right credit card for you. However, with so many credit cards on the market, it can be challenging to know where to start.
The first consideration when choosing a credit card is your credit score. People with excellent credit or a good credit score will have the best options when selecting a rewards credit card or low APR card. Just because you have average credit (or even poor credit) doesn’t mean the door to saving money with credit cards is completely shut, though.
Many closed-loop store credit cards are available to individuals with average credit. Because these cards only work for purchases in-store or online with that retailer, they offer an excellent option for those with fair credit that want to enjoy savings and discounts with their favorite retailers.
Other bad credit options for people looking to repair their credit include merchandise cards, like the Fingerhut Card, Boost Platinum Card, Unique Platinum Card, Buy On Trust, or the Group One Platinum. These cards offer a line of unsecured credit towards purchases with online catalogs that feature various products. Some secured cards like the Surge Platinum Secured Mastercard also provide cash back on purchases – letting you build credit while saving money on purchases.
The other major decision when finding your perfect credit card is what type of rewards you want. Credit card rewards come in program-specific points (frequent flyer miles, hotel points, gas rewards programs), general rewards (Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, Amex Membership Rewards, etc.), or as cash back in the form of statement credits, gift cards, or direct deposits.
Before applying for any credit card, make sure to study the rewards program that card offers carefully. Study how to redeem points, if points expire, and whether you can upgrade (or downgrade) to a different credit card product if your particular needs change.
Create a Budget Based on Your Cards’ Rewards Structure
Budgeting is an excellent habit to get into – whether shopping online, in-store or just looking to get a better hold of your finances. However, creating a budget based on your credit cards can help you save even more than with basic budgeting by optimizing where and when you spend on select purchases.
Credit cards that earn bonus rewards in select categories are an excellent way to maximize savings, especially if those credit cards earn cash back on every purchase. Cash back credit cards, like the Discover It Cash Back and Chase Freedom Flex, offer up to 5% back on purchases in rotating categories each quarter.
Discover’s Cashback Calendar, for example, currently earns 5% back on the first $1,500 in spending on restaurants and PayPal from July through September. The holiday season will see cardholders earn 5% back for online shopping with Walmart, Amazon, and Target. Previous categories in 2021 have included gas stations, grocery stores, and pharmacies.
The main benefit of Discover is the Cashback Calendar that allows cardholders to plan their major expenses each year beforehand, allowing them to maximize cash back. The other bonus with Discover, however, is the Cashback Match. This bonus provides a cash back for cash back match after the first year as a cardmember, meaning if you were to earn $500 cash back in year one, Discover would match it – for a total of $1,000 cash back.
Chase Freedom Flex
Chase’s Freedom Flex is similar to the Discover It in that it offers up to 5% back on rotating categories. For Q2 2021, that bonus category is select streaming services and grocery stores.
Unlike Discover, however, Chase offers special, limited-time introductory offers, with the latest being 5% cash back on eligible grocery store purchases on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. This unique introductory offer means new cardholders could earn up to 9% cash back on groceries from July through September of 2021.
The Freedom Flex also offers additional cash back on set categories, including:
- 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 3% on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services
- 3% on drugstore purchases
Budget Using Your Ideal Cards
Regardless of which credit card you use (including travel, gas rewards, or other rewards credit cards), make sure you take the time to carefully consider which purchases you will spend most on in the upcoming months. Then choose the right credit card to maximize savings in those categories. These savings can be used for future holidays, savings on fuel, or even as deposits into your checking account.
Use Bank or Payment Network Benefits to Save Even More Money Shopping Online
Many credit cards offer additional benefits and protections that most consumers fail to use to their advantage. Credit card issuers and payment networks provide different benefits depending on the card type (Mastercard, Visa, Amex, Discover) and the card level (World Mastercard, Visa Signature, etc.). These features include benefits such as:
- Purchase protection to protect cardholders if they purchase an item and find it cheaper elsewhere
- Extended warranty coverage on select items with a U.S. manufacturer warranty
- Travel insurance, including rental car protection, lost luggage reimbursement, and more
- Cell phone protection for loss or damage when the phone plan is paid using the card
Stack Coupons Using Card-Exclusive Deals
Credit card issuers, banks, and payment networks offer member-exclusive savings for thousands of retailers and merchants. These deals include coupons for savings on select items, cash back on purchases over a set amount, and bonus items when making eligible purchases. Because these offers are tied to the credit or debit card network, using your card to make purchases on deal portals and coupon sites can help stack the savings – helping you stay within your budget and even stretching that budget further than you expected.
BestCards Membership is one example of a deal site that can help you maximize your savings – and even earn a little money back. The BestCards Membership site allows members to combine their favorite credit cards with coupons from leading retailers, credit card networks, and more. Not only that but select deals through BestCards can earn you money through special rebates.
Members can even earn additional rewards when they sign-up new members through referrals – and those users make eligible purchases through BestCards, helping you earn even more cash back! Best of all, BestCards Membership is free to join.
Related Article: The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards for Groceries & Delivery Services
Featured image by Sarah Pflug/Burst
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