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The 6th day of credit: Shipping

By Janna Herron · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Posted: 3 pm ET

One annoying way to add to your credit card charges is to pay for shipping, which can range anywhere from a few bucks to $20 depending on how fast you want your packages to arrive. And procrastinators -- and who among us can say they've never been one -- get hit the worst.

But you don't need a magical sleigh and supersonic reindeer to get your gifts where they need to go for free. You just need a few tricks.

  1. Here's a 'duh' suggestion: Buy your gift in the store and deliver it in person. If you're buying online to save yourself from holiday shoppers, maybe it's time to put on the padding and get into the hustle-bustle instead of shelling out five bucks to ship every gift you buy online. Of course, this doesn't work if your loved one lives far away.
  2. If you must buy your gifts online, then get them from retailers participating in Free Shipping Day, Wednesday, Dec. 18. Enjoy no shipping charges from stores such as REI, Overstock, Nordstrom and Modell's Sporting Goods.
  3. Keep an eye out for special promotions or exclusive memberships. Some stores offer free shipping if your order exceeds a certain amount. If you can get several gifts at that one retailer, maybe it’s worth it. It's silly, though, to buy things you don't need to get free shipping. Another option includes eBay's "Free In-Store Pickup" that allows you to pick up electronics at a Best Buy store. Amazon offers free two-day shipping on any order for Prime members. The Amazon Prime membership costs $79 a year, but there's a 30-day free trial that you can cancel at any time, such as after you take advantage of the free shipping.
  4. Opt for gift cards. Almost half (49 percent) of the 63 gift cards in Bankrate's 2013 gift card survey are shipped for free. And 56 percent of gift cards come in an email version, for those of you who wait until the last possible minute to send gifts.
  5. Last, you could just own up to it: If you're shopping too late and need expedited shipping to get the package to its destination on time, maybe it's time to embrace your procrastination to save a few bucks. Send an email to your loved one about the belated gift. Maybe something like this:

"Dear Aunt Kathy,

I want you to know that your gift is on the way, but it will probably get to you after Christmas Day. There's no good reason for the delay other than my own laziness, and I'm so sorry for that. I hope you like the gift because I took some time (obviously TOO much time) to pick it out just for you. Enjoy opening the gift for the New Year, while, at the same time, I will resolve to stop my habitual procrastinating.

All the best,
Me."

Please note that I wouldn't make this an annual habit and would plan better for next year. But at least the shipping fees won't put you over your budget and into credit card debt. Happy shopping and shipping!

What is the most you've ever paid for shipping? Was it worth it?

Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron.

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