There’s no denying that the popularity of online shopping has increased dramatically in the last decade. With Toys R Us planning to close all it’s 800 U.S. locations and the 133-year-old Sears officially closing 439 of its doors throughout 2018, it’s safe to say that cyber purchases are a force to be reckoned with.
Case in point: shopping at the mall or at a physical store takes a really, really long time, especially if you’re looking for something specific.
Parking, crowds, impulse purchases, stopping for lunch, lugging your bags everywhere (not to mention the total nuisance of having to put on pants) are all reasons why you should stay in the comfort of your own home and do your shopping online. This way, all the products are nicely photographed, reviewed, described, and delivered right to your door.
A quick google search might be all it takes to find exactly what you’re looking for, rather than having to search for hours at a multitude of different retailers.
Do your shopping online
Online shopping isn’t a new thing, but there are plenty of people who don’t take advantage of the “interwebs” for their shopping list.
Picture this: Sitting in the comfort of your own home, sipping on a warm cup of coffee (with some Bailey’s mixed in), your favourite movie playing in the background, and your trusted credit card by your side.
Sounds picture perfect, eh?
But the truth is, online shopping should still be approached methodically.
With all the news of data breaches and credit card scams, it’s unnerving to know just how easily your data can be compromised.
Plus, there are other things that could go wrong when you can’t see the physical product before buying. So, it’s important to do your research ahead of time before you click “buy”.
If you follow these 6 online shopping tips, you’re sure to get the most out of your online shopping:
- check the shipping time before ordering,
- use a secure website,
- check reviews on products,
- know the currency that you’re buying with,
- earn rewards with the the right credit card, and
- take advantage of your credit card’s purchase insurance.
Consider the time it will take to deliver
One of the most common mistakes when ordering online is underestimating what could go wrong when it comes to the shipping time.
Usually, websites will give you an ETA of their ship time, plus the option to pay a bit more for faster shipping if you want.
You can also often check what country your package is coming from. If you’re in Canada and it’s coming from the U.S. it’ll probably be fine. But it will take quite a bit longer to come from Asia, for example.
But even if the package comes from the next province over, some things could go wrong between submitting, transmitting, picking, and shipping the order – I always like to mentally add a few more days to that ETA, just in case.
A little extra wiggle room never hurt anyone.
And for the last minute shopper, if you need to, pay that extra few dollars for faster shipping.
Think of it this way: Doing your shopping online saves you time and money. Not only will you be scoring some great online deals, but you’ll also be saving on gas, parking, Starbucks, and any other impulse buys stores will try to tempt you with. Why not spend some of those extra dollars on shipping?
Buy from a secure website
Perhaps the most important tip: Only buy from a safe, secure website.
Using a less secure website could cost you. You could:
- get scammed out of your money,
- have your credit card compromised, or even
- have your identity stolen.
Now that is a pain. To say the least.
Here are the warning signs to look out for when browsing the web:
Without getting too technical, if the URL you’re on contains “http” rather than “https” at the very beginning, the website is not as secure as it could be.
That small but very important “s” means the site is secure using an SSL Certificate. This certifies that your data will be handled safely by the website you’re visiting.
There are different levels of certification, but the ones that you know you can trust beyond a doubt should have a padlock icon in the browser address bar. Some browsers will even warn you of this on their own.
But at the very least, if you see “http” instead of “https”, that’s a red flag.
Often, phishing scams will copy popular domain names and their layout to try to get you to buy from their fraudulent website. For example, amaz0n.com rather than amazon.com.
If you’re not careful, small details like that could easily be overlooked.
If the domain spelling seems a bit off, red flag.
Legit business details
Make sure that the business you’re buying from actually has a physical address, phone number, a return policy, privacy statements, etc. listed on their website.
Reputable companies will always list some way for you to contact them on their website.
If there’s no mention of any of this, red flag.
If there is, but it’s full of really obvious typing errors, or it seems not very well thought out or structured, red flag.
Too good to be true?
Always be wary if the listed price seems incredibly low. You might end up with a knock-off, a stolen item, or no item at all.
If it seems like it’s too good to be true, chances are it is. Red flag.
Check product reviews
When it comes to product reviews, it’s important to take them with a grain of salt.
It seems like the first thing people do when they get a really disappointing product is leave a bad review.
However, when we receive a really good product, most of the time we don’t take the time to leave a good review. This is something I like to keep in mind when looking through user comments. A bit of skepticism could be well warranted.
That being said, if a product only has negative reviews, it might be a good idea to take a pause.
Make sure to read the comments thoroughly and do your own research when it comes to specific products. Check out similar products provided by different suppliers, compare prices, make sure the materials are good quality, and make sure to read the small print.
Take note of the manufacturer’s product warranty, if any, and always read the website’s return policy carefully.
Be mindful of currency
One “little” detail that a lot of people tend to forget is currency, and why it’s important.
When you buy online with your credit card in a different currency, your bank charges you a currency conversion fee that is usually 1%. On top of that, the vast majority of Canadian credit cards will also charge you 2.5% on those currency conversions.
If you’re doing a lot of online shopping, it can add up.
There are, however, a few cards on the Canadian credit card market that waive those pesky foreign exchange fees:
Home Trust Preferred Visa
The Home Trust Preferred Visa has been a nearly unanimous favourite for many Canadians since Chase removed it’s Amazon Rewards credit card. It completely waives the foreign exchange fee, allowing you to shop surprise-free.
Plus, this card has no annual fee. It’s basically win-win.
The only downside here is that it could take months for your application to be approved, so if you’re in a rush, there’s also…
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite
The next card on our list is the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite, one of the only cards from the big 5 banks that offer no foreign exchange fees.
It does have an income requirement of $60,000 personal or $100,000 household, however, which makes it a bit less accessible to everyone.
The right credit cards to earn the most rewards
The most important part of shopping online is arming yourself with the right weapon: a kick-ass rewards credit card.
Some of the best cards to keep in mind for online shopping are:
, ,and .
American Express Cobalt card
A top contender in pretty much any category you throw at it, the American Express Cobalt card makes an appearance in here as well.
The Cobalt card allows you to connect directly with Amazon, so you’re able to use your points to make purchases. Talk about convenience.
National Bank Echo CashBack Mastercard
Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite
Then there’s also the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite with its new 10% welcome bonus.
Until February 28th, 2019, you’ll get:
- 10% cash back on all of your purchases (capped at $200) and
- $0 annual fee for the first year.
…And did we mention this card is currently the best cash back card on the Canadian market?
Credit card purchase insurance
One thing that credit cards give you that other payments don’t is extended warranty, purchase protection, and price protection.
Extended warranty, if provided by your credit card, extends the manufacturer’s product warranty for a period of time. Usually, it doubles it, for up to 2 years.
Purchase protection protects your purchases from any accidents that may happen, usually up to 90 days or 120 days from your purchase date, depending on the card.
The insurance company will usually reimburse you for either the cost to repair or to replace your damaged product.
Cards that offer price protection insurance will reimburse you for the difference in price of an item if you see it advertised elsewhere for a lower price. Within a set period of time, of course.
The bottom line
Doing your shopping online is fast, easy, and convenient.
If you remember our 6 tips, you should have a seamless online shopping experience everytime.
Happy shopping, everyone!