Two strategies to save more money on your online purchases

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With Thanksgiving behind us, it’s officially that time of the year when your inbox gets slammed with shameless promotions from just about every retailer on earth. However, the high inflation that we’re all experiencing is going to make affording gifts more difficult. Per a 2022 study by RetailMeNot, 85% of consumers expect inflation to impact their holiday shopping, with 41% being forced to reduce their overall budgets and 24% needing to dip into savings.

Against a backdrop of high inflation, what actions can you take to save more money this holiday season (and beyond)? Luckily there are two simple strategies: downloading browser extensions and using credit card merchant offers.

Download browser extensions

Browser extensions notify you when visiting a website

What it is: Browser extensions are essentially apps for your browser. The shopping-based extensions, like RetailMeNot, are great because they are free, find the best coupon codes, and offer cash back when you purchase items from a retailer’s website.

How it works: You first need to download the browser extension and create an account. Below are three extensions I currently use.

When shopping online, the browser extension will identify the retailer website that you’re visiting and alert you to the coupon code and cash back that you can receive. Within the checkout page, the extension will automatically run through their database of coupon codes so you don’t need to go hunting for them, at which point you can activate or apply the coupon code.

While you can download several browser extensions and enable them, you can only apply one browser extension’s set of coupon codes and cash back offer. So even if RetailMeNot and Capital One Shopping alert you of coupons, you can only select coupons from one of them. After checking out, the retailer website will communicate your purchase details to the browser extension which will initiate the cash back.

Where to view savings: Once coupon codes are activated, they will be applied at checkout where the discount can be viewed. On the other hand, cash back can take some time to receive. For example, I bought my mom a pair of Uggs. After activating the 15% RetailMeNot cash back offer, I automatically got the reward 45 days later as promised by RetailMeNot. However, I recently made some purchases that didn’t apply the cash back in the communicated time frame. In response, I sent the browser extension company an email with the receipt of my cash back promotion and they quickly sent me the money. Once you get the cash back within your account with the browser extension, you can collect the money via various methods like Venmo or gift cards.

Capital One Savings generates coupons upon checkout

Steps to use browser extensions:

  1. Download the browser extension and make an account
  2. Enable the browser extension on your laptop or phone
  3. Within the checkout page, view the browser extension alerts of coupon codes and cash back, apply the best deals, and make the purchase
  4. Set a reminder for the final day you should receive the cash back and follow up, if necessary

Pros of browser extensions:

  • Automatically finds and applies great coupon codes that sometimes you never know about
  • Offers cash back
  • Free to use


  • You might not receive the cash back for some time (e.g. 45 days), or you may need to follow up if not received
  • If you have multiple extensions enabled, you’ll get many notifications once landing on a retailer’s website
  • The cash back rewards might come in the form of gift cards
  • The browser extension may track your web activity, purchases, and more. You can read the privacy policy of each service for more information

Use credit card merchant offers

Chase merchant offer

What it is: Most credit card companies now provide merchant offers to cardholders, and these can often be viewed within your credit card provider’s online account portal. As an example, Chase has a section called "Chase Offers" within their account portal, and they list cash back offers for many merchants such as Adidas, Exxon Mobil, J. Crew, and more.

How it works: All you have to do is log in to your account with your credit card provider, click on the merchant offers that interest you, and you’re done! You can select as many merchant offers as you’d like.

Where to view savings: Once you make a qualifying purchase at the merchant (online or in store), the credit card provider will apply a statement credit to your credit card. Chase does this within 7-14 days. Something to note: debit cards, Google Wallet, and other companies have similar merchant cash back offers. I’ve used Chase and Google Wallet merchant offers in the past.

Pros of credit card merchant offers:

  • Cash back offer is automatically applied


  • You need to do the leg work to find and activate the offers within your credit card’s provider account portal

Examples of how I’ve used the strategies

Purchased shirts from J. Crew Factory
  • Original price: $184 ($177 for clothes, $7 for shipping)
  • RetailMeNot DealFinder® found and applied 50% off coupon: -$88.50
  • RetailMeNot DealFinder® applied 10% cash back: -$8.85
  • Chase Sapphire merchant offer applied 10% cash back: -$9.55
  • Net purchase price: $77.10 (saved $106.90)
Purchased hoodie from Madewell
  • Original price: $78.50
  • RetailMeNot DealFinder® found and applied hoodie coupon: -$33.20
  • RetailMeNot DealFinder® applied 16% cash back: -$7.25
  • No merchant offer available: $0
  • Net purchase price: $38.05 (saved $40.45)

In conclusion, these strategies are great if you are willing to research them. However, just because rewards are available doesn’t mean that you should make a purchase. If you’re going to buy something, make sure that you would make the purchase even without the presence of rewards. With that frame of mind, the cash back rewards and coupons are simply a bonus!

Do you have any tips? Please drop us a note!

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