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An Incredibly Easy Way to Save Money Shopping Online

With the year’s biggest shopping season now coming into clear view, it’s time to gather our wits, sharpen our resolve, and determine to know everything we possibly can about how to save money. Today I want to show you an online shopping hack that will help stretch your holiday dollars until they scream!

I used to love a good shopping mall. But those days are long gone and I don’t miss them one bit since I’ve discovered the joys and convenience of online shopping. In fact, I’ll do just about anything to avoid having to go inside a mall. Or even a grocery store.

I’m going to walk you through the basic steps of an incredibly easy way to save money shopping online, using an actual purchase I made as an example.

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From time to time, I will stop by Chicos.com to check out “New Arrivals.” I’ve been looking for a jacket that would be appropriate for speaking engagements and I must be very picky because for weeks I haven’t seen even one that might be a good candidate.

On this particular day, something catches my eye—a jacket that just might be perfect, except for the $99 price. It’s available in my size and color preference so I put it into my shopping cart. And I leave the site.

Go away for now

I’ve learned that unless I need an item immediately, putting a few days between the time I put something in the shopping cart, and when I actually check out may turn up any number of incentives to encourage me across the finish line.

Check back

About a week later I return. Bingo! The jacket is still in my shopping cart but with a new reduced price of $41.99. But I don’t buy it. Oh, no … not yet!

Head to Rakuten

Instead, I head to Rakuten (formerly Ebates.com—don’t worry, only the name has changed) and sign in to my account there. Super easy.

Rakuten is a rebate site and because I’ve have signed up, I can click on any of the store links on the Rakuten  site (there are hundreds including favorites like Amazon, Old Navy, Chico’s, JCPenney, JCPenney, Lowes, Groupon and on and on!), make a purchase and get cashback—2% to 10% of the total sale is typical. Rebates are small, but over time they all add up. Every three months I get a rebate check in the mail for cold hard cash, provided I’ve earned at least $5 in rebates.

Back to the deal: I click on the Chicos link at the Rakuten site and in seconds I’m back at Chico’s site just as if I’d never left. But now I’m positioned to get a cash rebate should I make a purchase.

I make sure I am logged into my Chico’s account, recheck my shopping cart and head to the checkout. Immediately, I see a nice little discount because I, as a Chico’s Passport Member, get an additional 5% off everything I buy there, plus free shipping.

Pay with discounted gift card

When it’s time to pay, I don’t use a credit card. Instead, I use my Chico’s gift card purchased from Raise. (Hang on; this will all make sense very soon.)

Raise is a site that resells gift cards at a discounted rate—gift cards others have received but want to sell to get the cash instead. You can find gift cards for just about any store, available to use almost immediately. (I was suspicious at first, but I’ve confirmed that this is legitimate, legal and completely above board.)

Several weeks earlier I’d purchased a Chico’s gift card at Raise for 26% off its face value and had been holding onto in anticipation of this kind of deal on a great jacket.

But wait, there’s more: I bought that Raise gift card with a credit card that gives me 2% cashback!

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Add up the savings

Considering all that I saved and earned in this process, the $99 jacket cost me $27.53 out of pocket and that includes tax—it works out to 72% net discount and free shipping!

Upon its arrival, if the jacket isn’t right, I’m not stuck. I will return it to the Chico’s store near me (I’ll run in and out really fast) and get a full refund back to my Chico’s gift card—the one I purchased at Raise.

There are so many ways you could use these same steps to make your own great deals by shopping online.

Example: Let’s say it’s time to go clothes shopping and your kids are fans of Old Navy. You head over to Raise.com to buy an Old Navy gift card at a significant discount, paying for it with a credit card that gives you cashback.

Next, you log in to your Rakuten/Ebates account (you can sign up here if you don’t have one) and click through to the Old Navy site. Look for sales and additional coupons there (be patient, you’ll find them). At checkout pay with the Old Navy gift card you purchased at Raise and enjoy that nice discount (start looking now).

While in my example, I took the long way to the finish line. There are many ways to use the principles in this online shopping hack. You can, in fact, us it in-store and Rukaten now offers that offer—to cashback into your Rukaten account when store shopping.


There are lots of ways to save money shopping online and here’s my best favorite method in a nutshell: Start at Rakuten, never pay retail price and when you find a great deal, pay with a discounted Raise gift card. 


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First published: 5-22-18; Updated with additional information 10-20-19

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10 replies
  1. Emily Booth says:

    I tried Raise. I tried eBates. Shopping is already very involved for me. 4 different stores for groceries. I shop at Amazon and eBay. I check retail prices 1st and comparison shop online between Amazon, eBay & the retailer. I have an Amazon rewards card where I earn 5%. My purchases at major retailers are few, prob. 1X – 3X a yr, and specific. I have their apps for coupons. There were too many steps involved with Raise and eBates and I didn’t save that much $$ to warrant the time & energy. I think for bigger spenders this approach would work.

  2. Susan Frontera says:

    That was brilliant about the way you saved money on that jacket. Going to try this soon. (I’m already registered with ebates)!

  3. Pat C says:

    Also, never assume that Amazon or Wayfair have the cheapest prices. I always double check at local bricks and mortar stores. Plus check Amazon against Wayfair. This week I found the same item on Wayfair for $186 and on Amazon for $86. That’s not a typo. The very same item! And of course, if you’re in Canada, Amazon/Wayfair prices may be completely ridiculous compared to the price at Home Depot Canada or Lowes Canada. Be careful about paying for the convenience of on line shopping.

  4. Andi says:

    another great tip to saving online (well, in a way) – try and get free shipping! The websites will tell you how much you have to spend in order to get it!

  5. plantsower says:

    At Ebates you can download a little add-on to your toolbar. Then whenever you go to a site that accepts Ebates, an Ebates window pops up to give you the discount. You don’t need to keep going back to Ebates and sign into your account. It’s a great timesaver. Sometimes when it pops up it also shows you coupons you can use on that site besides your percentage cash back. Win win.

  6. Connie Pyburn Lancaster says:

    I love ebates! I’ve gotten $58 back so far and have $16 coming on next check. It’s so easy and you don’t have to do anything but make sure you log in with ebates! It’s my mad money! I shop for my mom plus use it for all our things. It really adds up!

    • Fay Pitz says:

      I also can attest to Ebates sending me cash back. I joined in 2013. I thought I’d give it a try to see if it is legit. I was convinced after my first check came. It is so easy to use their site. Sign up, click on the store you are looking for (there are literally thousands of them), shop as usual at the store’s website. So only one extra click at Ebates to start with and then you are shopping as usual! This is amazing to me to have received so much back in less than 5 years since joining. I don’t buy THAT much online but it has added up. Are you sitting down? I have been sent $1,022.00 back in less than 5 years. I know!!! Amazing!!! I sound like a crazy commercial for them, but it’s for real and my wallet is happy about it. I have also used Raise and CardCash and GiftCardGranny to buy gift cards to my favorite stores as Mary suggested.

      • Connie Pyburn Lancaster says:

        Wow! I just started late last year before doing any Christmas shopping. I’m going to try Raise and I’ll have to check out the other two!

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