How To Save Money On Shipping When Shopping Online

April 21, 2007

Would you pay $27 to ship an item that only cost you $35? Believe it or not, someone actually paid me that much yesterday for an eBay item. Of course, they live in Greece so that explains the high cost but it made me think about how shipping costs are out of control for online shoppers.

Shipping Costs Gone Wild
As the price of fuel rises, so does the cost of shipping. Not all online sellers have passed it onto their customers but as the price of gas continues to climb I imagine more and more merchants will raise their shipping rates. Here are some things you can do to help offset higher shipping costs for your online purchases.

Consumer Leverage
Google Checkout is on the hunt, trying to lure both merchants and consumers away from Paypal. Competition is always good for consumers, both Google Checkout and Paypal offered consumers free money recently in order to win or keep users.

Sign up for these types of offers when they occur, I used the $10 for signing with Google Checkout to pay the shipping costs and even some of the purchase price of my latest online buy.

Amazon Super Saver Discount has a Super Saver discount that offers free shipping as long as you spend a $25 minimum on their products. While this can save you money, beware of buying more than you need just get the free shipping. I’ll bet Amazon did a lot of research to determine which Super Saver Shipping minimum price to set to get people to buy more stuff. One way to take advantage of the free shipping without buying more than you planned is to combine an order with a friend or co-worker.

Amazon update thanks to MoneyChangesThings and philskaren

Amazon also offers a program called Amazon Prime that costs $79 a year and has the following features:

* Free Two-Day Shipping on qualifying items
* Overnight Shipping for $3.99 per item
* Ship to any eligible address in the contiguous United States
* No minimum purchase required
* Share the benefits of your Amazon Prime membership with up to four family members living in the same household

eBay Purchases
A common problem you may have encountered on eBay is people heavily discounting an item but charging exorbitant shipping fees. eBay has tried to crack down on this practice recently but it’s hard to police.

The best advice I can give on lowering your shipping cost on eBay is to simply to ask for a discount. If you’re only buying one item don’t expect the seller to budge much or at all. However, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Maybe they’ve been sitting on that item for a while and will offer lower shipping in order to make the sale.

If you’re already planning on ordering more than one thing, then definitely ask the seller for a discount for combined shipping. You can even ask for a lower sale price if you’re buying more than one. If someone asks me I’ll almost always give them a break on price and shipping if it means I’ll sell more products. Of course the seller might say no but why not try?

Shipping Basics
Here are a few more strategies you can use to lower your shipping costs that are pretty basic but worth mentioning.

Buy Online, Pickup In the Store
Removes some of the convenience but if the store is on your way then it can save you shipping without costing you extra gas money.

Location, Location, Location
This might not apply for larger retailers but for sites like eBay, if you can find a seller that’s located closer to you then you’ll pay less shipping.

Slow Ship
Time is money, the less time you have, the more it costs to ship. If you can wait a little while for your item you can save money on shipping.

Shipping Tips
I’m always looking for a way to save money when shopping online. What are some tips or tricks you’ve used to cut your shipping costs?


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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16 Responses to How To Save Money On Shipping When Shopping Online

  • Benjamin Hellweather

    You can also save money by using PaidByCash — pay cash to buy something online at Safeway or Rite Aid instead of racking up credit card debt. All my kids use this, and i am just not comfortible using my credit card on the Internet so i think its great.

  • Ben

    Tiffany, where do you find your shipping coupons?

  • Ben

    Thanks for the Amazon Prime tip MoneyChangesThings and philskaren, I made an update to include this.

  • philskaren

    If you have a large family, you can have 4 people on the amazon prime account. it is great for our family so that we can all buy gifts, etc and always get free shipping. 2 day shipping even!

  • MoneyChangesThings

    For $79 a year, you can join Amazon prime and all shipping on Amazon Prime marked products is free and upgraded to 2nd day.
    Read more about it at the link below, but know that not all Amazon products are included. I got a free 30 day membership. Then you pay or quit, I guess.

  • Tiffany

    I ALWAYS look for online coupons that can offer me a free shipping discount or a percentage off to help offset the shipping cost. I’d say that I find a helpful coupon at least 50% of the time!


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