Common Online Shopping Mistakes That Cost You Money
No question, online shopping can be wonderful. Online shopping is such a huge part of our life that it’s hard to even recall when it wasn’t possible to get what you needed with just a few clicks. While the selection of items is nearly limitless and delivery can be fast, there are also many ways to mess up when shopping online.
Here are some of the most common and costly online shopping mistakes:
1. Paying with your debit card
Because using a debit card to pay for purchases is more like using cash than using a credit card, it is always safer when shopping online to use a credit card. The minute you check out with a debit card, money leaves your bank account. And, even more worrisome is than that card numbers entered online are more vulnerable to theft and hacking.
Under federal law, credit card transactions enjoy more protections than debit card transactions. If someone gets your credit card info and uses it fraudulently, you’re not out money while your credit card company investigates. That is often not true if the wrong person gets your debit card info, they might be able to drain your checking account of all its funds. When criminals fraudulently use your credit card, they’re spending the credit card issuer’s money. However, when criminals fraudulently use your debit card, they’re spending YOUR money.
2. Missing out on cashback
Whether shopping online or in a brick and mortar store, there are multiple ways that you can get paid to shop. There are several apps such as SavingStar and Ibotta that give you cash rebates when you shop. We believe Checkout51 is one of the best apps because it pays when you scan receipts from virtually any physical store or by scanning itemized packing slips for online purchases. Shopkick differs from the other cashback apps in that you don’t have to make a single purchase to start earning. You just have to walk into stores and scan items’ barcodes. (Use code EASY808823 to get started with 250 free kicks.) Of course, you’ll earn more points when you make purchases (online or in-store) with a connected card or snap photos of qualifying receipts. You can also get cash rebates by shopping via cash-back websites such as Rakuten Ebates, Drop, TopCashback, and Swagbucks Shop.
You can get cashback, also, by paying with a cash-back credit card. Just be sure that you pay off your bill in full every month to avoid interest charges. And of course, be sure that you take advantage of retailers’ own rewards programs to get more for your money.
3. Using a public Wi-Fi connection
You’re hanging out at your coffee shop or killing time while the kids play in the ball pit and remember that you need to order a gift. Hold that thought and that purchase!
|“Sure, shopping doesn’t seem like it involves sensitive data, but making purchases online requires personal information that could include bank account and retailer login credentials. Shopping isn’t something you want to do on an unsecured Wi-Fi network.”|
Wait until you get home, you don’t want to transmit your sensitive info over a public internet connection.
4. Being fooled by fake list prices
Don’t be tricked by a big red slash through a supposed list price, claiming that the item has been hugely discounted. They may be claiming an item as 50% off, but what is the real original price of that item?
Some items don’t have list prices, so they could have just made one up. Or, they could have raised the list price to make the discount appear greater than it really is. Several big-name retailers have been sued for allegedly misleading customers by manipulating list prices.
The practice of raising the list price is also done by companies offering discount codes for items. They make you think you are scoring a great deal when you could have purchased the item at the same or lower price without the code on another seller’s listing, on another site, or even in your local store.
Thankfully, just as it’s easy to do our shopping online it’s also easy to find out how good of a deal you are really getting. Simply, search for an item on other sites and see how the prices compare.
5. Depending on reviews
Online reviews are a great resource but you still need to do your own research. We tell our children not to take candy from strangers so why would you spend money based on an opinion of a random stranger?
Reviews can be manipulated. It’s always in someone’s best interests that you fork over your hard-earned cash for a purchase. But websites such as Fakespot and ReviewMeta can help you ferret out fake or suspicious critiques.
These sites use algorithms to analyze reviews, parsing them for signs of phoniness. ReviewMeta only works for Amazon reviews, but Fakespot now analyzes reviews on the sites of other retailers, including Walmart, Best Buy and Sephora. Learn more about these two product review analyzers.
6. Not knowing the return policy
Be sure the site you’re shopping has a clear and generous return policy. You should know the answers to these questions before buying:
- Under what conditions does the site accept returns?
- How long does the site give you to return an item?
- Will the site provide a paid mailing label, or are return shipping costs on you?
- Can you return an item to a local store instead of mailing it back?