Smart Buying

Get Free Shipping on Online Holiday Purchases

You can shop on Free Shipping Day, look for promotions now or buy from merchants that ship to their stores for free.

There's a good chance you can avoid paying shipping costs on holiday gifts purchased online this year. More than 600 retailers already have signed up to participate in Free Shipping Day on December 18.

This year every merchant participating in this annual event will offer free shipping on all orders, with guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve. Last year, at least one-third of the merchants had minimum purchase requirements. The homepage of Freeshippingday.com lists the participating merchants, however some may not be featured on the site until December 18 because they don't want consumers to know in advance that they'll be offering free shipping (so they'll continue shopping now), says Luke Knowles, creator of Free Shipping Day. He does expect many big-name retailers that have participated in the past but aren't listed on the site now to take part in Free Shipping Day. Also, many retailers will offer special discounts in addition to free shipping.

If you don't want to wait until December 18 to do your holiday shopping or the retailer of your choice isn't participating in Free Shipping Day, you might be able to get free shipping on orders now.

Some retailers, such as Zappos.com and Nordstrom.com offer free shipping all the time. And several retailers have been running free shipping offers (some with minimum purchase requirements) as part of holiday promotions. You also can find free shipping codes and coupons at FreeShipping.org.

Or you might be able to avoid paying for shipping by having your purchases shipped to a retailer's brick-and-mortar store. Best Buy, Target, Toys"R"Us and Walmart are among the merchants that have free in-store pickup.

Before jumping at a free-shipping deal, though, make sure you're getting the best price for an item. Use a price comparison site, such as Amazon.com or PriceGrabber.com, or the browser add-on PriceBlink to see whether another retailer is offering a similar item at a price that's low enough for you to come out ahead even without free shipping (if it isn't offered).

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