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Kip Tips

How to Get Free Shipping for Holiday Gifts

There are several ways to shop online without paying for delivery. For procrastinators there's Free Shipping Day.

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On one special day, hundreds of thousands of people gather together to celebrate a joyous event: Free Shipping Day. On December 18, 2015, more than 1,000 retailers will apply free shipping on all online orders, no matter how big or small, and guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve.

See Also: Ways to Waste Money During the Holidays

What's the origin story for this happy day? Luke Knowles first thought up Free Shipping Day in 2008 and cobbled together about 250 participating retailers for the first go-around in just two weeks. In running an Internet-based business, he noticed that online holiday shopping seemed to peak around December 12. After that, more people tended to head to stores in person to guarantee they'd have their gifts in hand by Christmas. He wanted to encourage people to continue shopping online even closer to the holiday. "We needed a shopping holiday like Black Friday, only for procrastinators," says Knowles.

Free shipping has come a long way since those humble beginnings. Last year, holiday shoppers spent $926 million online on Free Shipping Day, according to comScore, up 7% from 2013. And more than 250,000 people visited the FreeShippingDay.com Web site. As of late November, the site shows 588 merchants participating in 2015, including first-timers Target and Walmart. Most of the site's listings are small businesses, including Etsy shops. (Some retailers ask not to be listed until the actual day.)

Other Ways to Score Free Shipping

Some retailers are offering free or discounted shipping throughout the holiday season. For example, Best Buy is offering free shipping on eligible items ordered between October 25 and January 2, 2016. Target is also shipping orders for free between November 1 and December 25. You can also check out Knowles's original site FreeShipping.org or other coupon sites such as CouponSherpa.com, RetailMeNot.com and DealNews.com to find coupon codes for free shipping and other discounts. Retailers may even offer such deals themselves, if you like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

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Loyalty might also gain you free shipping. It's one of the perks that comes with some store memberships, rewards cards and credit cards. For example, Amazon Prime members get free two-day shipping on all eligible orders throughout the year. Annual membership costs $99 and, in addition to free shipping, comes with access to streaming music, movies and television shows, among other perks. People with a Target credit or debit REDcard also get free shipping all year long.

If all else fails, try asking anyway. You can call customer service, join a live chat with a sales representative, email the company or make contact through social media. With free shipping such a commonplace offering now, retailers may feel pressured to jump on the bandwagon just to close the deal. "In today's ecommerce world, retailers have to offer free shipping if they can because their competitors are doing it," says Knowles. "If it takes giving somebody a free shipping code to make the sale, they'll do it. They might say it's against their policy, but it never hurts to ask."

Of course, remember to read the fine print. Many retailers require minimum purchases to qualify for free shipping. Consider doing all your holiday shopping at once from a single shop to hit those minimums without overspending. And don't forget to take shipping costs into account when comparison-shopping: Whether you have to pay for shipping may make or break a deal, but free-shipping offers aren't guaranteed to be the best bargain.