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How to Avoid Shipping Charges This Holiday Season

If you’re doing most of your holiday shopping online, shipping costs can stretch your budget. With shipping fees for regular-sized packages generally ranging between $5 and more than $10 per order (depending on the merchant and shipping time you choose), the costs of ordering multiple gifts for the holidays can add up.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to avoid shipping costs, especially if you shop early and wisely.

[Read: Shopping Holidays: The Best Days to Shop in 2018.]

Find Retailers That Offer Free Shipping on All Orders

This is even easier to do during the holidays because some major retailers, in an attempt to compete against each other, offer free shipping on everything.

For the 2018 holiday season, for example, these stores are temporarily offering free shipping on all orders, with no minimum:

Amazon: The online retail giant is offering free holiday shipping on all orders. Note that this promo includes Amazon’s five- to eight-day free shipping option, not the free two-day shipping that Prime members get. Normally, to get free shipping without Prime membership, you need to place an order of at least $25. Amazon started this free-holiday-shipping promo on Nov. 5, but hasn’t announced an end date.

Best Buy: Get free standard shipping through Dec. 25 on all orders, no minimum. Normally, Best Buy’s shipping costs are calculated on a per-item or per-pound basis. Note that items labeled “in store only” are not available for free holiday shipping.

Samsung: Through Tuesday, Dec. 19, shoppers can get free two-day shipping on all orders (except for TVs). TVs are eligible for free one- to five-day shipping.

Target: Through Dec. 22, Target is offering free two-day shipping on all orders, no minimum. The two-day shipping speed and Target’s huge selection arguably make this the best free-shipping promo of the season. Normally, you’d need to place an order of at least $35 or be a RedCard member to get free two-day shipping at Target.

[See: 12 Shopping Tricks to Keep You Under Budget.]

Some retailers, meanwhile, offer free standard (or better) shipping year round, no order minimum. These include Zappos, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Barneys New York.

Look for Limited-Time Free-Shipping Promos

As the holidays approach, retailers that don’t ordinarily offer free shipping may offer one-day-only free-shipping promos. They may offer free shipping on all orders. This is common on National Free Shipping Day, which takes place on Dec. 14 this year, and is a promotional shopping holiday that retailers observe by offering free shipping. Or they may simply lower their free-shipping threshold, meaning that smaller orders qualify for free shipping. Sign up for your favorite stores’ email lists to scout these offers.

Shop as Early as Possible

Most retailers’ free-shipping promos apply only to standard shipping. In addition to a shipping time of about three to eight business days, you’ll have to wait for the store to process your order and prepare it for shipping, which can be delayed during the holiday rush. For most retailers that means the cutoff for guaranteed free shipping by Christmas is around Dec. 14 this year. So, to give yourself the most options possible, start scouting for free shipping specials early.

[See: 6 Ways to Treat Yourself on a Budget.]

Plan Shopping to Meet Stores’ Free-Shipping Minimums

If your favorite retailers aren’t offering free-shipping promos, check their free-shipping minimums. You may be able to consolidate your gift shopping to take advantage. For example, if you were planning on buying several items at Macy’s, which generally has a $99 free-shipping order minimum, and several items at Kohl’s, which usually has a $25 free-shipping order minimum, see if you can buy all those items or comparable items at just one of those stores to reach the free-shipping minimum. Even if you’ve found a mix of lower prices at both those stores, free shipping may save you more in the end.

Consider Free In-Store Pickup

If you can’t find a way to snag free shipping at your favorite retailers, consider free in-store pickup. Many retailers allow you to place an order online and pick it up in store, thus circumventing shipping costs.This can be a good option for last-minute shoppers, too, as items available locally may be ready for pickup the same day you place your order.

If you’re dreading long waits in customer-service lines to pick up your items, you may be pleasantly surprised. Some retailers, including Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods, have automated the order retrieval process with pickup kiosks. For eligible items, Sears and Target will bring your order straight to your car if you schedule a specific pickup time.

Companies and products mentioned in this article may be promoted on www.offers.com.

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How to Avoid Shipping Charges This Holiday Season originally appeared on usnews.com



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