Have a low tolerance for standing in line? Dislike broken limbs (and teeth)?
Sounds like you’re probably planning on avoiding the masses of people at the local mall this holiday season. Good on you. You’re probably considering shopping online instead, however — you still might want to do some homework beforehand.
You’ll need to protect yourself from high prices and identity thieves alike. Here are seven sites that you should visit before you even think about purchasing anything online:
Fear online identity theft? Look no further than ShopShield! The site allows you to make secure online payments by using a “virtual” credit or debit card, thereby protecting your name, billing address, e-mail address, credit and debit cards, and bank accounts. The cards, which are anonymized using secure encryption measures, expire after one use. (You can choose to have a reusable card for one merchant in order to gain frequent shopper rewards, and a special travel card uses your real name while keeping your billing information anonymous.) It’s free for sixty days, and also free when you charge purchases directly to your checking account. The “Free Plus” plan allows you to pay as you go (with $1.99 per transaction), while the “Unlimited” plan comes out to about $99 a year.
If you’re thinking about doing your holiday purchasing at a local online retailer, GroupOn might just be for you. GroupOn is a hugely popular deal-of-the-day site with 2 million members (and counting). Featured in Forbes, Time, CNN, and The Wall Street Journal, among others, GroupOn works by negotiating deals with businesses, then offering deals to members via e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter. The deal is activated once a minimum number of people agree to buy. You print out your coupon (or use your online voucher), present it to the participating business, and voila! 50-90% off. You’re welcome.
If you’re looking for major savings, MyCoupons posts real-time coupon codes and printable coupons on its website. You just search the merchant you want to shop, find a coupon code, and enter it in at check-out time (they also have printable coupons). Coupons are also grouped by category on the site, and the “Holiday deals” one is hot this time of year — so make sure to check it out fast!
MyPoints offers points and rewards for shopping through their website (as well as lists coupons and daily deals). Rounding up points earns you more savings on shopping, and free giftcards (for example, 11,700 points gets you a $100 Macy’s giftcard). A great option if you’re planning on doing the majority of your shopping online.
Shop It To Me (www.shopittome.com)’
Ever needed a personal shopper? If you’re a style-conscious man or woman, then Shop It To Me is the next best thing. Just tell it your favorite designers/brand, styles, and your size, and it’ll update you with deals, secret promotion codes, and coupons via “Salemail.” You decide when you receive Salemail, and it’s totally free to use, too. Shop It To Me limits its retailers to only top-quality brands, though - sorry, Wet Seal fans.
Overstock specializes in grabbing excess merchandise from retailers and selling it online at heavily discounted or clearance prices. From couches, to clothes, to cameras, Overstock has an extremely diverse set of inventory to pick and choose from — but beware: items sell out, and fast. That sparkly new tupperware set you saw last week might be gone tomorrow, so don’t delay if you see something you want. Oh, and shipping is $1, flat, for all purchases. Sounds like a winner to me.
Gotta Deal (www.gottadeal.com)
Gotta Deal is an all-around “deals” site, much like some of the ones listed above — but its real draw is its online community forum, where savings-savvy users post hourly on deals (the “Online Hot Deals” board is the most active with over 170,000 posts.) This site is also immensely popular — it has up-to-the-minute “leaks” from major retailers like Target, Walmart, and Sears. Gotta Deal also has a free app, so make sure to put that iPhone to use, if you’re so inclined.
About the Author: Daniel Flores is a freelance writer for Oval and Round Mirrors. The company specializes in selling a diverse selection of wall mirrors in all sorts of shapes such as oval, round and rectangle mirrors in many sizes and finishes. Most of the frame styles have been developed especially for us and are therefore not available anywhere else on the internet.