Boy, did Home Depot serve me with a jolt of reality recently.

I was minding my own business and reviewing my shopping list for my latest DIY attempt. I strolled through the store’s automatic doors and soaked up that swoosh of cold air.

Then, bam.

Inflatable Christmas-themed yard decorations.

From the top industrial shelf, nearly touching the warehouse-style ceiling, they peered down at me.


The waving Santa seemed to say, “Hey, guess what month it is?”

The pink pig with a candy-cane scarf tied around its neck taunted me, “Cha-ching! Where’s your piggy bank? It’s about to be empty!”

Admittedly, the whole scene wasn’t this dramatic. It was more me saying in a tiny voice, “Wow, Christmas already?” to the nice greeter who handed me a shopping basket.

Still, those inflatables were a not-so-subtle reminder that holiday shopping looms.

Some Slick Ways to Save Money While Online Holiday Shopping

If you’ve felt that same momentary panic when walking into retailers lately — brace yourself — we have to say the feeling is justified.

According to new numbers from the National Retail Federation, holiday sales are expected to increase by nearly 5% this year. Although that sounds like a reasonable amount, it pushes last year’s $717.45 billion spending total up to $720.89 billion.

But don’t crumble up the wrapping paper and hide in an empty Amazon box just yet.

Keep in mind you have time to prepare by building an army of savings apps and browser extensions that’ll help you save while holiday shopping online. We found some of our favorites to get you started.

(Or you can opt for DIY gifts, but that’s another story.)

1. Earn Cash Back With Ibotta

Traditionally, Ibotta is known for its cash-back offers on groceries, but it’s seeping into other markets now — like travel, restaurants and online shopping.

Let me give you a few examples that might help you tackle that Christmas list:

  • For the outdoor enthusiast, snag 4% cash back from Backcountry.
  • For the world traveler, earn 6% cash back from eBags.
  • For the fashionista, earn 8% cash back from Clarks.

Other online shopping offers hail from Gap, Groupon, Houzz, Kohl’s, Overstock, Target and more.

Just download the app, find your favorite retailer and shop through the portal. After you earn your first rebate, you’ll pocket a $10 bonus.

Bonus: If you don’t have Amazon Prime yet, the service can be a huge lifesaver for last-minute presents. If you decide to take the plunge and sign up, do so through Ibotta. You’ll earn a $20 Amazon gift card!

2. Protect Your Prices With Paribus

Have you ever ordered something online only to see that, one day later, the price has dropped? Yeah, that’s frustrating. You deserve some money back.

One of our secret weapons is called Paribus — a tool that gets you money back for your online purchases. It’s free to sign up, and once you do, it will scan your email for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from one of its monitored retailers, it will track the item’s price and help you get a refund when there’s a price drop.

Plus, if your guaranteed shipment shows up late, Paribus will help you get compensated.

3. Get Paid for Shopping on Amazon

Calling all Amazon shoppers!

This is such an easy, passive way to rake in an extra $36 a year. ShopTracker, one of the leading public opinion research companies, wants you to share your Amazon purchase history. And you’ll be paid for every month you share!

When you sign up for ShopTracker, it keeps your private information, well, private. All it wants to see is your order information.

To earn your first gift card today:

  1. Sign up, and download the ShopTracker app on your Windows computer and Apple or Android phone. It takes about two minutes. You’ll need to answer a few questions about your Amazon use to qualify.
  2. Open the app and log in to your Amazon account to automatically share your purchase history. You’ll receive your Visa e-gift card code for $3 via email within 48 hours.
  3. Take a couple of minutes to share your purchase history to earn another $3 each month.

4. Swipe Cash Back on All Your Purchases

If you’re looking for a passive way to earn some money throughout the year, a cash-back credit card is perhaps one of the easiest methods.

You just have to be sure you don’t get too carried away with those purchases — and that the card is paid off at the end of each billing period.

Here’s an option we like: It’s the Chase Freedom Unlimited card*. Its claim to fame? You’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. Plus, if you spend $500 in your first three months of opening the card (hi, groceries), you’ll pocket a $150 bonus.

Get signed up — and 0% intro APR for 15 months — here.

5. Score Cash Back Through Ebates

Unfortunately you can’t double dip with Ibotta and Ebates cash-back opportunities, but it’s worth checking to see which platform offers the best deal.

Ebates is an online portal that allows you to find tons of rebates from participating retailers.

Here are a few gift-giving examples:

  • For your favorite yogi, get 2% cash back from Lululemon.
  • For the makeup obsessed, earn 4% cash back from Sephora.
  • For the concertgoer, snag up to 3% cash back from StubHub.
  • For the crafter, bank 2% back from Hobby Lobby.

Ebates also offers tons of coupons, so even if your preferred retailer doesn’t have a cash-back opportunity, you might be able to find a coupon to apply to your order.

6. Share Your Amazon Purchase History

The Harris Poll, a well-known survey company that measures U.S. public opinion, operates something called ShopTracker.

Basically, it anonymously tracks what products users are purchasing from Amazon.

It’ll pay you $36 a year for that access and promises to keep your information private.

Before you sign up (it’ll take something like three minutes), here are the basic requirements:

  • You should shop on Amazon, naturally.
  • You must be 18 and live in the U.S.
  • You’ll need at least a Windows 7-compatible PC. If you have Windows XP or a Mac, it won’t work.

Install the app for free. Then, log into your Amazon account to bank an extra $36 this year. No, it’s not a ton, but it’ll absolutely cover a present for your nephew.

Or at least shipping…

*The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card has been collected independently by The Penny Hoarder. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. The Penny Hoarder is a partner of Credible.

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s definitely not buying one of those inflatable yard ornaments to haunt her dreams.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

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