How to Find Free Shipping E-tailers

By Marilynne Rudick on September 26, 2010

I buy a lot of things online. I like the convenience of having large objects–a lawnmower, reams of paper–delivered to my door. I like to avoid the hassle of running around malls looking for the perfect pair of boots. What I do not like is paying for shipping and handling. With fees typically 15% or more, the shipping and handling charges wipe out most of the savings from a 20% off sale. And then there’s the postage for returns.

Free Shipping Websites

That’s why I check out free shipping offers before making an online purchase. These three sites aggregate free shipping offers. You can search by store or by product.

  • BeFrugal
  • Ebates
  • Make sure you go to–not Free–which lists free shipping offers, but charges a monthly subscription fee of $12.95 to access them.

Free Shipping on Wedding Gifts

This summer I was invited to a number of weddings. That meant wedding registries. They make buying wedding gifts effortless (and impersonal!). I especially hate shipping and handling fees charged by gift registries. It’s a gravy train for merchants, and they have to do absolutely no work for the sale. The least they could do is ship for free. That why I was happy to discover two free shipping alternatives for wedding gifts.

I purchased china for a cousin’s wedding gift at Best Crystal. In addition to free and speedy shipping, they offer free gift wrapping, no sales tax and discounted prices. Another couple registered for wedding gifts at Target. I was pleased to find that the KitchenAid Stand Mixer, an item on their registry, would ship free. You don’t have to be ordering a gift to get free shipping from Target. They ship any of 500,000 items free if your total order is at least $50.

Free Shipping Both Ways

If I like free shipping, I love stores that pay return postage, too. A pioneer in free shipping both ways is Zappos, which started out as a shoe store and has expanded into clothing, housewares, accessories, and beauty products. Now almost all online shoe stores and dozens of other stores offer free shipping both ways. To find merchants that ship free both ways, check out’s listing.

Beware! Faux Free Shipping

Sometimes free shipping is bait and switch. For example, Amazon offers it on orders of $25 or more. But their free shipping is via the slow boat to China–as long as two weeks. If you want your order delivered in timely manner you have to switch to paid shipping.

Equally annoying are offers that require you to spend a high minimum. For example, a recent e-mail promotion from J.Jill offered free shipping on orders above $150. I found myself adding items to my shopping cart that I didn’t want or need to qualify. When I realized that I was spending an additional $75 to save $9.95, I bit the bullet and paid for shipping.

Let’s Make Free Shipping Standard

I make an effort to reward Free Shippers with my business. Perhaps if we let merchants know we want this by buying from free shipping e-tailers, it will become the norm.

Categories: E-Commerce, Saving Money
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