Bagging an online bargain should be a core MoneySaving skill. New stats suggest we've spent £80bn on web purchases this year already. So before you buy, browse our top 19 hacks, codes and tricks - then shop till the price drops with our 44 Online Shopping Tips and 15 Tricks Shops Don't Want You To Know. (Of course, you should never overspend but if there are things you'd buy anyway, this is how to get 'em cheap.)
1. 'I haggled £300 off my laptop.' You don't have to sweet-talk your way to a better deal in person - you can do it online via chat windows. Last week Brian tweeted this massive success: "@MoneySavingExp Have tried online haggling a few times and always get a discount. Best was £300 off a £1,200 Dell laptop via online chat." See how to haggle online - and tell us how you've done.
2. £5 off £20 Amazon trick for much of Eng & Scot... Via Amazon Prime Now app. Do you qualify? See Amazon £5 off.
3. ... plus check your Amazon account for a 'free' £7. Selected customers get a £7 code, provided you haven't bought a gift card from it in the last 2yrs. 'Free' Amazon £7
4. No code or sale for the brand you're after? Get clever. Even if a brand isn't offering a discount on its own site, you can sometimes slash the price via a department store or multi-brand shop. Eg, a Yumi dress was £38 at Yumi, yet this week's 'big brand' sale at House of Fraser has it for £27. See a full list of dept stores which offer multi-brand discounts.
5. Buy from China - but with caution. Rock-bottom prices are possible on sites such as AliExpress. Our guide covers how to buy safely. Forumite Tazdev said: "I've just received my first order using AliExpress - a men's analogue quartz watch for £2.58 incl shipping - and I cannot fault the quality."
6. Bag 5% off ALL shopping for three months. Cashback credit cards pay you when you spend on them. The Amex Plat Everyday (eligibility calc / apply*) is the top payer, giving a huge 5% for the first three months (max £100) and up to 1% after (though you need to spend £3k/yr to get any cashback). Of course, always repay it IN FULL each month to avoid the 22.9% rep APR interest.
Now's the perfect time as the 5% covers the high-spend Xmas & Jan sales period. Full help in Top Cashback Cards. PS: To get rewarded by THIS CHRISTMAS see Amex Gold below.
7. Set the price YOU want to pay. Got your eye on something? Ask price-drop sites to email you when the cost falls, or when it hits what you're happy to pay. We found £55 Kurt Geiger loafers and got emailed when they dropped to £29.
8. CODES [now expired]: Body Shop, H&M, Gap. If you're going to buy, always check first if there's a discount code. This week, biggies incl Body Shop £25 off £50, 25% off H&M and Gap 25% off (till 11.59pm on Weds). [These deals have now expired but see our Deals pages for ALL codes.]
9. Don't bother going out of town - hit the web outlets. Lots of big names such as Argos, Mothercare and Tesco offer up to 70-80%+ off via special online outlets. See Outlet Store Discount List.
10. Buy MORE, pay LESS - the simple trick to get free delivery. Always check what you need to spend. It can be cheaper to add an extra item than pay for delivery. Eg, we found a £49 John Lewis clutch bag, delivery £3.50, but add a £1 Christmas decoration and it's over the £50 free delivery threshold. Even better, with Amazon there's a 'free delivery trick' tool to help.
11. Instantly compare prices across scores of stores. A shopbot, or shopping robot, scours a range of e-tailers in seconds to find the cheapest price. As different bots deliver different results, our MegaShopBot finds the best overall.
12. Free £100 gift card in time for Xmas by shifting your spending. The Amex Rewards Gold charge card (eligibility calc / apply*) gives accepted newbies who spend £2,000+ on it in the first 3mths a 20,000 membership rewards points bonus. This can be converted into a £100 M&S/Boots/Amazon etc gift card (exact stores can change). While £2k sounds a lot we're saying shift ALL your daily and Xmas spending to it, replacing cash, other cards etc.
The bonus is usually added soon after you hit the trigger £2,000 spend (though T&Cs say it could take 1mth), then you can choose your reward. Those who hit £2k quickly may make it for Xmas - if not, hopefully January.
- This is a charge not credit card, ie, you must fully repay each month. No interest's charged, but don't miss repayments or it's a £12 charge & credit file black mark. Only spend if you can afford to repay.
- There's no annual fee in year one - after it's £140/yr. If you don't want to pay, get the reward & CANCEL.
- You will be credit-scored; use our eligibility calc to see your chances of getting the card before applying. Full details & help: Amex Gold.
13. Abandon your online basket to score a discount. See Shopping Secrets for how, incl 26 stores we hear give discounts.
14. Check Amazon Europe. It can massively undercut the UK, even with the weak pound. Eg, Sennheiser headphones for £153 on Amazon UK cost £115 delivered from Amazon Italy. Use a cheeky Amazon EU tool.
15. Pay just 1p on a credit card to protect £100s. Buy goods costing £100+ and even if you pay just 1p of it on a credit card (and the rest of it any other way), the card company is jointly liable with the retailer for the WHOLE amount. See full Section 75 protection info.
16. Check if that Amazon discount's really a bargain. Prices move like a yo-yo, but a nifty price-checker tool tracks the changes. Eg, we found a Fisher-Price Jumperoo at £66 with "45% off" - but when we checked, it was actually £56 the month before.
17. Get an eBay alert when the item you want is listed. After something specific? eBay will let you know when your heart's desire is available. MSE Jenny said: "Saw a pair of ankle boots I liked for £110. Set up an eBay alert, someone listed them & I got them virtually new for £20." Set up eBay alerts.
18. You've a right to change your mind online - you DON'T in store. You may be surprised to learn you've got more rights when you shop online than on the high street. Here are the rules:
- Online purchases: You've 14 days after delivery to change your mind, and then a further 14 days to send the items back. See web rights.
- In-store purchases: You can only return items if they're faulty (although many store policies go above and beyond this).
19. Can you get cashback on your shopping? Don't let cashback sites dictate where you shop - only once you've found where what you want is cheapest should you see if there's cashback for that store available. See full pros and cons in Top Cashback Sites.
This article first appeared in the weekly email on 5 October 2016 and was fact-checked and updated on 11 October 2016.