You can shop in the comfort of your own home- and bathrobe- these days, and millions of people do just that. Online shopping has become the new normal and each year millions of online items are bought and sold. The trend has become so popular that sites offer Cyber Monday as an alternative to Black Friday shopping. Daily shoppers are bombarded with gift ideas, discounts, and daily ads from online retailers. With online shopping being so common and easy, many people fail to think about the proper ways to shop online.

Beware Your Credit Card

Online shopping generally requires a credit card. There are other ways to shop online, but the credit card is the most popular and preferred way to shop on the Internet. The issue with using credit cards online is that the card can get stored and identity thieves can steal it and your identity. There are ways you can minimize the risk to shopping, though. First, make sure that any sites you shop with have security measures in place and will protect your identity. To determine if a site is secure, look for an “s” in the site’s URL address. For instance, https is the way secure sites begin. If the “s” is not present, the site is not secure. Never send your credit card or bank account information through email.

Online Promos May Not Be the Best deal

You may find a site that offers a coupon for a percentage off of your purchase or free shipping and think you have a good deal. Big name stores like JCPenney occasionally has a promo code like this one. If you buy a certain amount you can save, which leads some people to buying more than they intended and spending more than they wanted for that bit of savings. Also, the free shipping generally is on orders of a certain amount or more, which may also lead to more spending.

You Could Be Charged to Return an Item

If you return an item that you’ve bought online, you could be charged to return and restock it. Online retailers have to pay workers, so in order to keep up with demand and fees they charge restocking fees on returned items. You will get your refund minus the restocking fee. Sometimes the agreement for this fee is in the terms of the sale.

Order Early If You Can

If you can purchase your items early, do so. Waiting on shipping is one of the worst parts about ordering online, and if the shipment is late you will have more issues with waiting. Your item may even be late when you need it by a certain time. This can cause people to pay extra for shipping, which means you aren’t really saving when shopping online. If you order early enough the standard shipping charge and wait time won’t be so bad.

Online shopping may take over in-store shopping before long. When shopping online these are a few things to be aware of that will help make your shopping experience safer and better. Order early, use promo codes wisely, and watch out for your credit card and hidden fees.

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