Category Archives: Internet shopping

Use virtual cards for online payment

We buy more and more online these days. So our card details are out there in so many places – and can be in the hands of bad players.

Many online-only banks offer ‘virtual’ cards. These are cards that can be used several times or just once. In the latter case this is great for a site that you are not sure about.

Even if you don’t have an account that offers this but do have an iPhone you can create these cards through Apple Pay. Google offers the same for Android users, but so far only in the USA.

Good points are that you can use the card just as many times as you want, cancel it if suspicious things start happening and set up a new one.

However, some vendors won’t accept them for subscriptions and if you cancel the card it is hard to get a refund, but it is a useful method to get another level of security.

Search for discounts on Amazon

I do just tend to set the sort order to ‘price low to high’ when I am buying a specific product, but if you are searching for a category, like televisions, then discount can be telling.

One can just look for heavily discounted items from the home page by adding a code to the end of the search, such as ‘television &pct-off=40-’ to see TVs with 40% or more off normal selling price. Just alter the 40 to whatever you want. Using ‘pct-off=20-40’ will show discounted items between 20 and 40% off.

Another option is, which is a sophisticated search engine for Amazon. Make sure it is set to the UK at the top-right. Now you can see lots of search options for Amazon. It works pretty well, but as it is creating a search for submission to Amazon, it can sometimes be a little off the mark. Definitely worth trying, though.

Buying stuff for less

Everything costs more right now, so I thought I’d review what you can do to buy stuff for less.

I’ve covered a few things before, like cashback sites such as topcashback who give you money back on purchases from many websites, price checkers and alerters like camelcamelcamel to check the price history or set a target, but now am going to cover voucher sites.

Voucher sites search for online vouchers around the web so that you can use them for your purchases. Examples are vouchercodes, vouchercloud and myvouchercodes where you search for your retailer and see what vouchers are available. Some times you can get the voucher direct – other times you need to supply an email address.

Paypal has bough Honey, who provide an add-on for your browser. This looks for online deals while you shop and applies vouchers automatically at checkout. For some retailers it also has ‘Gold’, which is a way to get points that can be exchanged for gift cards. Just sits in the background and does its job.

Remember that you can also try to combine all these methods.

Shopping for less

We are all feeling the squeeze at the moment, but what can we do?

I’ve been working with a number of internet tools that may help.

Firstly we can get cashback with a number of sites like topcashback. You download their browser addon and create an account which give you – cash back – when you shop online across thousands of sites like Currys and Argos.

Second is voucher collectors like pouch, which is another extension. When you are at the checkout, this looks for vouchers across the web to get your price down.

Thirdly is camelcamelcamel, a price tracker for Amazon. This has a number of features.

One shows you the price history of the item you are looking at (either by their website or the Camelizer extension) so you can see whether you are getting the bargain you hoped for.

What I find more interesting is that I can set price drop alerts. Select the product in question and set as target price. When the item goes below that, then I get an email.

Find Amazon brands

Amazon sells a lot of its own brands and it can be a reassurance if you don’t know much about the stuff you are shopping for. There is an extension for most browsers called Amazon Brand Detector that identifies and highlights Amazon stuff on the search page. It also shows Amazon Recommended products.

On the other hand,, you may be dead set against buying Amazon products. Now you can see which is which.

Getting the best price on Amazon

Prices on Amazon go up and down with demand and supply. How can you be sure that you get a good price?

I’m trying the camelizer at www.camelcamelcamelcom from Cosmic Shovel (Yeah, I know!). This monitors Amazon prices for items over quite a long period of time. Either copy the URL at Amazon into the camelcamelcamel web site or install the extension for Chrome and Firefox.

You do need to create an account but in return you can set up price watches to get an email when and if your target price is reached.

More security for contactless and online payments

Some of us are concerned about using contactless cards in case they are intercepted. Others are frustrated that the maximum payment limit is so low.

New regulations coming into force on 14 March mean that if you make a single purchase of over €50 (just over £40) or purchases in one day that exceed €150 in total, then the card provider must email or text you a code for you to enter to verify the purchase. This also covers on-line purchases by card of €30 or €100 respectively.

The risk of fraud is far less but you may find another stage to go through when using your card

Catching fake reviews

Other peoples’ opinion of products and services is a very important factor in purchase decisions. So we need to be able to trust the reviews.

So some vendors have been very keen to get good reviews for poor products and services, even actively asking employees and outside people to give good reviews in return for free items, for example. So online stores like Amazon started checking that the items had actually been bought. So unscrupulous vendors now give a complete refund after the purchase has been verified.

Happily, there are sites that can be used to test the reviews and give a confidence rating:

fakespot tests Amazon, yelp & tripadvisor reviews and has browser extensions to make it even easier. Just paste the page URL into fakespot and off it goes. It seems to look at spelling, grammar, suspicious traits and other reviews the same reviewers have made to see if they are reliable or not.

I’ve just tested it on couple of places that I’ve stayed in recently and it was pretty accurate in whether the reviews that I had read were real.

Reviewmeta is much more focused on Amazon and claims to identify suspicious reviews (and tell you why). It then adjusts the Amazon rating if these reviews did not exist.

Even the people behind these sites understand that nothing and no-one can lick up every false review, but these tools can go a long way to help