All of our usual shopping haunts have data on our browsing and purchasing habits. While that can be disconcerting, we can use it to our advantage. Our shopping behaviors can reward us with cool stuff like coupon codes, discounts, free shipping, and bonus gifts. Here are five surprising ways to game the system and get deals. (See also: 50 Best Coupon code Sites)
1. Abandon Your Shopping Cart
We have all done it. We shop around for items and add some to the cart, then something distracts us and we move on, forgetting to purchase the cart. Online retailers notice. Their job is to make sure we buy what’s in the cart.
Simply shop, leave items in your cart, and move on (you’ll need to log in to your account so they know how to reach you). Wait a day or two. Check your email, and you might see an email from the retailer with a discount coupon or an offer for free shipping! Sites that are known to do this include Zappos, Best Buy, and Home Depot. Of course, some retailers just send annoying reminders that you left something behind, but ignore those.
2. Cancel Your Service
How many times have you been on the phone with your cable or Internet provider, threatening to cancel, when they then offer you a small discount to keep your business? Well, the discounts get better after you’ve already cancelled.
Your mileage may vary with many of these, but in general, you will come out ahead. Try cancelling your Netflix, and a few days later, they will offer you a lower monthly fee than what you were paying. Amazon Prime is so determined to keep you that if you cancel, they might offer you a new membership for about half off.
Almost every cable company will offer you a very special deal for joining their service again, to keep you from signing up with the competition. Try out this tactic out with a few services that you can do without for a couple weeks, like entertainment services.
3. Price Matching
It still works! Back when we all still shopped at stores, all the big box chains touted their price matching policy: Show the Best Buy circular at Circuit City, and they’ll beat their price by one cent on your VCR. Gone are the days of advertising that tactic, but you can still take advantage of the deal. (See also: Price Matching Cheat Sheet)
Ask your clerk if they price match, and if they don’t know, go to customer service desk and ask for a manager. Almost every brick and mortar store has an unwritten price matching rule, and they prefer you not know about it.
4. Reddit Deals
It’s true: There’s a subreddit for everything! Reddit is a huge online community whose generally savvy and persnickety users are good at weeding out bad or useless deals. This leads to a really good selection of deals from all around the web, many of which are surprising and new.
Check out Reddit Deals for the heads up on all kind of discounts, deals, and temporary price cuts for things like video games, tech gear, clothes, subscription services, and more. Then, pay it forward and be sure to share the information on deals you might discover with the Reddit community, to get more karma points.
5. Credit Cards
Lastly, and possibly most surprisingly: credit cards. You may not have noticed, but odds are your credit card issuer provides some really neat deals on everyday expenses and good cash back rewards. Some cards, like the Discover it card, offer 5-20% cash back if you shop through their online portal. Other cards offering really good cash back deals include Citi Dividend, Capital One Quicksilver, Chase Freedom, and BankAmericard Cash Back Rewards card. For example, this month I have been getting 10% cash back on all my Delivery.com orders using my BankAmericard.
In addition, some cards offer other services that help you find deals. Select Citi cards (such as Citi Simplicity and Citi Diamond Preferred) offer a service called Price Rewind that searches through hundreds of online retailer sites 30 days after your purchase of a product. If they find a lower price elsewhere (difference of $25 or more), Citi automatically credits the difference. (See also: 10 Awesome Credit Card Perks You Didn’t Know About)