10 Tips for Getting Free Shipping When Shopping Online

Key Takeaways:

  • Look for free shipping promotions around major holidays and peak shopping times. Retailers often offer site-wide free shipping during these periods.
  • Meet free shipping minimums by getting your order total over the retailer's threshold.
  • Choose in-store pickup when available to get free shipping to the store.
  • Stack discounts and coupons to lower your order total to the free shipping minimum.
  • Buy household essentials in bulk quantities to qualify for free shipping.
  • Find special free shipping codes on social media from brands and influencers.
  • Join loyalty programs and credit cards for free shipping perks.
  • Look for stores that offer free shipping guarantees with no minimum order.

Online shopping has become increasingly popular in recent years, with more people than ever choosing to shop from the comfort of their own homes. However, one downside to shopping online can be the extra shipping costs that are added at checkout. Paying for shipping can quickly turn an affordable purchase into an expensive one.

Luckily, there are ways savvy shoppers can get free shipping and avoid these extra fees. Here are 10 tips for getting free shipping when you shop online.

1. Look for Free Shipping Promotions

The easiest way to get free shipping is to look for retailers that are offering site-wide free shipping promotions. Many stores will offer free shipping with no minimum purchase around holidays or other peak shopping times.

For example, some popular free shipping periods include:

  • Free Shipping Day – Usually the last Friday before Christmas
  • Valentine's Day
  • Mother's Day
  • Back to School season
  • Black Friday and Cyber Monday

It's worth timing bigger purchases around these dates to take advantage of the free shipping offers. Just be sure to read the fine print, as some promotions may exclude oversized or heavy items.

2. Sign Up for Free Shipping Subscriptions

Another way to routinely get free shipping is to sign up for membership programs that offer free shipping as a perk.

Amazon Prime is probably the most well-known example, with free two-day shipping on millions of eligible items for members. But many other retailers also offer free shipping subscriptions, including:

The membership fees vary, but frequent shoppers can easily recoup the cost through the free shipping perk.

3. Meet Free Shipping Thresholds

One of the most common ways retailers offer free shipping is by setting a minimum order size to qualify. For example, get free shipping on all orders over $50.

The threshold amount tends to vary by retailer and product type. Apparel and beauty retailers often have lower free shipping minimums, while thresholds for furniture and home goods stores are typically higher.

If your cart total is shy of the free shipping minimum, consider adding a small filler item you need to push it over the threshold and get the free shipping.

4. Choose In-Store Pickup

Ordering online and choosing in-store pickup is another way to avoid shipping fees. The item ships free to the store, and you simply stop by and pick it up when it arrives.

Retailers like Walmart, Target, Best Buy and more offer in-store pickup. Some may even offer curbside pickup options where they bring the order right out to your car.

5. Stack Discounts and Coupons

Look for coupons and promo codes that offer free shipping or a percent/dollar amount off your purchase. If you can stack a few different coupons, you may be able to get your order total down to the free shipping minimum.

Retailers like Kohl's, JCPenney and Macy's are known for offering stacking coupons to maximize savings. You can find promo codes on the retailer's website, through email signups and on coupon sites.

6. Shop Secondhand Sites

Secondhand shopping sites like ThredUp and Poshmark offer inexpensive used clothing with free shipping bundled into the pricing.

For example, ThredUp offers free shipping on all orders over $79. Poshmark sellers offer flat rate shipping that is built into the listing price.

Since the items are pre-owned, you can get major discounts compared to retail prices – and still get free shipping.

7. Buy in Bulk

Some retailers will offer free shipping once you reach a certain quantity of an item. Stock up on everyday essentials you use regularly to take advantage of the bulk pricing.

For example, household supplies like paper towels, cleaning products, pet food and health and beauty items are commonly offered with free shipping over a certain quantity.

Buying in bulk also has the added bonus of saving you trips to the store.

8. Check Social Media for Free Shipping Codes

Follow your favorite retailers on social media for special free shipping codes and flash sales. Brands will often post free shipping codes on platforms like Instagram and Facebook to promote sales or new product launches.

You can also look on social media for user-generated codes from influencers and brand ambassadors. For example, search a brand's Instagram name plus “coupon code” or “discount code” to find active codes.

9. Join Loyalty Programs

Signing up for store loyalty programs and credit cards can unlock free shipping perks.

For example, Sephora Beauty Insider members get free standard shipping on all orders with no minimum spend required. Nordstrom credit card holders get free standard shipping with no minimum purchase.

Loyalty programs are often free to join and provide a range of member-only benefits.

10. Look for Free Shipping Guarantees

Some retailers like Zappos and Nike offer a free shipping guarantee – free standard shipping on all orders, all the time, with no minimum order size.

Before you checkout, browse retailer guarantees and policies to see if they offer free shipping on every order. If you shop frequently at a particular store, signing up for their credit card can provide an ongoing free shipping perk.

Conclusion

Getting stuck with hefty shipping fees can really dampen the fun of shopping online. Use these savvy tips to keep more money in your wallet and enjoy the convenience of free shipping. Time promo periods, shop secondhand, buy in bulk, join loyalty programs and keep an eye out for store guarantees. With a little strategic planning, you can master the art of getting free shipping and save big on all your online purchases.

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