With more of Australia in lockdown with the recent outbreaks, there’s sure to be an uptick in online shopping. This week I bring some shopping tips to get the most out of your dollars spent: ways to get coupons, deals, cashback and more.
Disclaimer: I’m not an affiliate marketer, and receive no compensation whatsoever. For the cashback sites I have included referral links, should you decide to sign up.
The two main sites for Australian consumers are Shopback and Cashrewards. They offer varying rates of cashback for purchases from major retailers and brands, and both of these sites have a minimum cash out amount of $10.01. ‘Upsized’ cashback rates of 10%-15% are offered occasionally at different retailers (most of the time they are around 1%-5%). The categories of products available for cashback for each individual retailer are constantly updated as well, so make sure your product is in the right category for cashback.
For me I’ve mostly used Shopback (as it was the first one I’d seen recommended – for my monitor upgrade last year). With regular cashback purchases, they will become redeemable after 3 months following payment. As mentioned the minimum withdraw amount is $10.01, and will take around 3-5 business days. Shopback also offers limited-time ‘challenges’ to complete with extra rewards.
However someone I know has only been able to successfully redeem 1 of their 7 completed challenges. While seeking assistance they came across a well-hidden ‘chat support’ link – which unfortunately takes users less than useful chatbot and not a real person. Additionally, it was only after signing up that I found out about their cybersecurity breach that happened 2 weeks prior (mid Sep 2020).
Cashrewards is a website offering similar cashback services: a cursory comparison shows that it shares many of the same retailers, online shops and major outlets as Shopback (with the same cashback rates, upsized options and cashback product categories). While appearing mostly the same as Shopback, the one advantage is that it has yet to be reported in the news as having fallen victim to a cyber attack breach – for that reason, I’d probably have chosen them in retrospect.
Coupon Sites + Extensions
For coupons there are two main options I use (or have tried):
OzBargain is a site that differs from others in that it is a more community-driven site (affiliate deals are present, accounting for around 50% of deals). Users share and upvote special shared offers – think Reddit, but for coupon codes. It also features a separate forum, which is likely the source of unruly reviews of the site (mostly about poor moderation at the hands of power-tripping mods).
It’s a real mixed bag of deals – offers may range from $1.50AUD Instant Noodles (in a 5-pack!) to iPhone XRs and video game sales. There are also freebies (mostly in the form of ebooks and udemy courses).
I came across OzBargains last year when price checking Xiaomi’s 34″ Ultrawide monitor: finding an upvoted link to a verified ebay seller and the recommendation to use Shopback for 10% cashback. I proceeded to make the purchase (and received $59AUD cashback a few months later).
Honey is by far the easiest to use as it works best as a browser extension. After registering and signing into the extension, it will helpfully show you working coupons and codes for discounts on whatever website you’re browsing. On the Honey website it’ll also display ‘Live Codes’ (including how long ago they were used, codes exclusive to Honey, and websites with high traffic).
Note: like many other browser extensions, in order to work it’ll need to access data for all websites you browse (except private windows, provided you leave that unchecked in settings).
Using a VPN to Shop
A lesser known use of a VPN service is to take advantage of dynamic pricing. Dynamic pricing is a method that (mostly airlines and hotel) companies use to offer individualised prices based on personal data they collect about you. When you use a VPN to make such purchases, you can save up to USD$50-70 per flight.
However, flights and hotel bookings likely aren’t on your radar at the moment. Being in lockdown, you’ll be far more likely to go for streaming services such as Spotify and Netflix. With online subscriptions you’ll be connecting via VPN to the countries with the cheapest month/yearly prices.
Generally the lower a country’s cost of living is, the cheaper the prices are likely to be for online subscriptions. For example, the cheapest Spotify premium subscription is from India (119 rupees, which is a little over $2AUD/month), and the country offering the most cost-effective Netflix plan is Argentina (279 ARS, just under $4AUD/month).
It’s worth noting that Netflix has been more effective in blocking VPN server connections in the last year or two, so while it’d be cheaper to subscribe in Argentina it’s likely you’ll run into more issues accessing its streaming library.
Related: Top 3 Paid VPN services I recommend
Abandoned Cart Discounts
Some online shopping platforms will offer an abandoned cart discount. If you add an item to cart and leave it there for a day or two, you may receive a discount offer as incentive.
Whether this happens (and how much discount) depends on the seller as it is a “private offer”: once I received 16 such discounts from the same seller: most of them were for 10% (although I did receive 20% and 5% off as well).