smart spending

9 secrets to online bargain hunting

Read the fine print

Great online deals can save you bundles of money. However, if a particular promotion looks too good to be true, it probably is.

For starters, many Web sites offer price reductions on select items but carry cost-prohibitive shipping and handling charges that can offset savings.

Location can be another impediment to a great deal. Many Web-based businesses are scattered around the world. Make sure you're dealing in U.S. dollars when making a purchase. If not, use an online currency converter to get a more accurate idea of what you can expect to pay.

Also, examine return policy details, such as whether returns are allowed, whether items can be returned in-store and who foots the bill for shipping returned goods.

"With a small mom-and-pop store, you can get some good deals," Webb says. "But often they have a no-return policy and that can be difficult if the item is inferior (in) quality to what you expected."

Nor are there any promises that a particular promotional offer will actually save you money.

"You're not guaranteed a deal until the merchant accepts the promotion code and that money is taken off your purchase," says Freedman.

That's especially true if you're using a coupon that isn't necessarily "merchant-sanctioned," so closely examine your order summary before submitting your credit card number.


Show Bankrate's community sharing policy
          Connect with us

Discover new ways to cut costs and save more every day. Reduce your spending, not life’s pleasures. Delivered weekly.

Partner Center

Connect with us