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6 Things To Remember When You’re Shopping Online

6 Things To Remember When You’re Shopping Online

Online retail sales are surging. In fact, in the first four months of 2016, all online retail sales rose to an 8.1% percentage growth from over a year ago, according to the Commerce Department. Internet retailer outlets which seem to provide lower prices and convenience are being favored over in-store retailers as more consumers turn to online shopping.

More than just an easy way to shop, online shopping stores benefit consumers in many ways. Convenience is the number one perk that makes shopping online suitable for people who don’t have the time, the energy, or the mood to visit malls. Aside from its accessibility, the internet is a great place to find cheap products and good deals. With a variety of choices, shoppers have all the freedom to choose an item based on their preferred style, brand, or color. Here are several tips for creating smart online shopping habits.

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1. Always Examine Product Details

Not reading the product description is a grave mistake. The problem with the majority of online consumers today is that they make most of their purchase decisions based on the displayed product image. They don’t take time to read and understand the contents of the item. To avoid suffering from a bad case of buyer’s remorse, always check product information before adding the item on your cart. Don’t be fooled by edited and photoshopped pictures which may distort the item’s real appearance.

2. Check Shipping Costs

The law states that an online retail store must ship an order within the time stated upon purchase or as seen in its ad. In cases where the timeframe isn’t stated or is subject to changes, the product should be delivered within around 30 days of the order’s placement. Shipping costs can also vary depending on your location, the cost, the size, and the date you want your order delivered. Most companies have “free shipping” applied to bulk orders or to orders over a certain amount. This can be a good way to save money but can discourage consumers who want to simply buy one or two items.

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3. Compare Prices of Similar Products

When comparing product prices, your goal is to purchase the best product for the best price. While some consumers will willingly spend their money on discounted and bottom-priced goods, others are more wary of these “too good to be true” deals and discounts. After all, doesn’t a low price also mean low quality? The best way to get more bang for your buck is to be discerning in prices and product quality.

 4. Read Product Reviews

A simple way to find the best product or item is to go through product reviews. Buying guides and product reviews help you learn a great deal about the item you are planning to buy. Some user reviews can give you a comprehensive and realistic expectation of the item. These are based on real customer experiences and can help you decide whether or not you may want to buy the product.

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5. Know Your Rights

Every e-commerce and online store has policies about the process in purchasing their items. They may have strict return policies for every item. Some stores forbid the return of items such as electronics and personalized goods once the package is opened. As a customer, it is your right to know the refund and return policies of the store. You can visit the site’s help pages or contact customer service to learn more about your rights.

 6. Be Wary of Scams and Fraud

Lastly, avoid getting scammed. Privacy and security is a serious concern among users who worry about deceitful fraudsters who may use different methods to access your valuable personal details, such as your usernames and passwords. There are many deceitful websites out there disguising themselves as online shopping stores in order to to get information from you. But how can you tell if a website is fake? By using Google Trusted Stores, a verification system for all online shopping sites, users can determine which shop is trustworthy or not.

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Featured photo credit: Dai KE via images.unsplash.com

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Armela Escalona

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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