The Internet not only reinvented social attitudes and trends, it brought into existence a whole new way of commerce. Most notably known as eCommerce, online shopping is perhaps one of the most dynamic areas of the Internet. Remember when Amazon first advertised during the Superbowl? Nowadays, online merchants like Buy.com, Overstock.com, and eBay are big name merchants with mass popular appeal. About the only thing that has stopped ecommerce from growing has been the identity theft crisis. A problem which companies like Microsoft and Google are trying to resolve as quickly as possible. However it is still possible to shop online and find some interesting bargains in the process if you know where to look that is.
Before heading out on the Internet to do your bargain hunting, it is best to protect yourself and your money. You should setup a separate checking account for all your online purchasing. This way if the account is compromised, the damage will hopefully be minimized to that one account and not your main checking account. I recommend opening the checking account at a completely different bank or institution as well. Some banks even offer online purchasing protection for free, so read carefully and compare different institutions.
Next you can setup a PayPal account and associate it with your new checking account. Although not all online merchants accept PayPal, many merchants do and occasionally you will find some merchants even offer a slight discount to PayPal users. Plus if you want to buy anything on eBay, it is easier to just use PayPal, since PayPal offers buyer protection for inexpensive eBay purchases.
You should also think about applying for a new credit card that you will reserve only for online purchasing. As with the checking account, many institutions offer various buyer protection plans, so shop carefully and find a card that offers the best incentives for you.
Bargain Hunter Sites
Unlike the local mall, the Internet not only offers plenty of places to shop, it also offers plenty of help in finding good bargains. Bargain and deal sites are plentiful and they really do help you track down good deals. The important thing to keep in mind is that not all of these sites give you unbiased opinions, many times bargain sites only work with select merchants, so it is best to use a variety of bargain deal sites, and not rely on anyone exclusively.
FatWallet is perhaps the best bargain site of all time. It offers general bargain advice and scoops, but the best part about FatWallet is its membership payback and deals program. If you signup with them, you can then get exclusive deals for FatWallet members and also get cashback. The way it works is very easy. You simply go to their site and then click on any of the cashback links from a variety of merchants, then make your purchase on the merchant site, and about 90 days later, FatWallet will setup your cashback bonus in your account. At this time you simply transfer your bonus amount to your PayPal account and you have your cashback bonus money. The cashback amount varies and not all merchants participate. However the FatWallet membership is free and it does pay to be a member.
TechBargains is my second favorite bargain site. If you are looking for anything related to technology, TechBargains probably has a deal for you. Bargains are updated multiple times a day, and TechBargains does a really good job of getting clearance items and coupon deals posted before other sites. The TechBargain forums are popular enough too to be helpful.
DealNews, along with its sister sites: DealMac, DealRam, offer a variety of technology related bargains. The RAM site works with a variety of merchants like Newegg to give you the best realtime price for memory. If you are into Apple products, the DealMac site is a must bookmark for you.
PriceWatch is the best computer parts shopping engine. Unlike regular bargain sites that manually add deals to their site, PriceWatch is simply a catalog of several technology merchants. The simplicity of PriceWatch lets you search for a particular item and then list out the prices from multiple merchants. While there are other big name shopping engines that work this way, PriceWatch is the only one that features multiple merchants that sell discounted OEM computer parts. This is why savvy computer geeks continue to use PriceWatch.
DealsPlus is a new bargains site that works similar to the news site Digg, where site visitors can vote on the popularity of certain deals. Think of social networking but for online shopping. I am not sure the concept works as well as regular sites like FatWallet and TechBargains, but it certainly is interesting to use every now and then.
Newegg is not really a bargain site, it is a merchant of computer and technology products. It just happens to be the undisputed king of all technology merchants at this time. Newegg excels in selling computer parts like many of the small time merchants featured on PriceWatch, but it has a huge catalog and has some of the best prices. Another great feature are buyer reviews which are real and not made up. If a product is less than stellar the reviews will show it. Newegg is so popular that it makes technology stores like BestBuy and CompUSA obsolete. I can honestly say that Newegg is almost addictive, you can find yourself researching products on their site for days sometimes.