Shopping online and paying with credit cards is a perfectly safe activity today, you just have to be a little bit careful.
The websites included on this page are all known and reputable (although I’m not liable for issues).
A large number of online payments are processed through one of the payment systems listed above, most notably PayPal.
When using these websites or reading emails from them, always make sure to verify that they are who they say they are.
No emails from any company will ask you to click on a link and then type in your password; if you see an email like this it is a fake.
One way to make sure the website you are on is legitimate is to copy the web page address (URL) and paste it into one of the link checkers included above, which detect various forms of scams and viruses.
They aren’t foolproof, but are still very useful. You can also check to make sure that the URL begins with
https rather than
http, as the former is more secure.
These are search engines which include products from many different merchants, allowing you to see the different prices available for the same item offered by each. Most of these are based off of feeds, which are files that merchants provide to these companies listing their products and prices. A few, such as ShopWiki and TheFind are instead based off of crawling the web and extracting product information.
Many of these companies own or license their technology to other companies. Most prominent is PriceGrabber, which provides the shopping search for AOL, Yahoo!, MySimon, Bestcovery, and ProductWiki. Shopping.com was created by eBay after purchasing and combining DealTime and Epinions. Bizrate is operated by Shopzilla, which also runs Beso. Pronto is owned by IAC which owns a large number of popular websites in many categories.
Milo and ShopLocal are built to help people research online to make purchases offline, which they do by tracking inventories in retail stores. Google also has this feature but only for a very small number of stores. PriceGrabber offers this by licensing the data from Milo. If you are looking specifically to find stores and retail locations, use the Maps Search page on Fagan Finder.
Most price comparision websites as well as many retailers such as Amazon have excellent product information, especially ratings and reviews. Ratings and reviews are often licensed or provided between websites, such as reviews from Amazon which can be found on many sites. ShopWiki includes a wiki about shopping (naturally) for which links can be found on the side of product search result pages. The tools included here in the product reviews and information section are those that make this information their primary purpose.
Buzzillions is run by PowerReviews which provides reviews capability to many retail sites as well. Wize is owned by NexTag however the acquisition is fairly recent and it appears that the information has not yet been integrated into NexTag, which is why Wize is included here separately. The Household Products Database is run by a department of the US government and provides excellent health and safety information.
FixYa includes some product manuals but is mostly based around a discussion forum for each product where one can get help on repair. Most of the product manual websites include manuals in PDF format, so you will need a PDF reader such as Adobe Reader to read the files. One thing to watch on for is that some of the manual sites are heavily loaded with advertising and it may be difficult to distinguish the actual manual links and advertisements on some of the pages.
Most products worldwide use some form of product code such as UPC (North America) or EAN (Europe). These numbers are typically printed right below bar codes which present the same number but make it easier for machines to read. If all you have is a product code, the the product code search engines on this page can help you find out more information about it. UPC Database includes only searching by code, whereas Check UPC and UPCData.Info also allow you to find codes by searching for a product name/description. UPC Database has a very useful feature (unfortunately requiring you to log in), listing nearby products, as in those with similar product codes. This is helpful because while many codes cannot be found in any of these websites, seeing the nearby products provides good secondary information.
These are all websites (in both the general and handmade/vintage sections) in which people can both buy and sell products. eBay is by far the largest of these, and while they began as an auction-only site, they now have fixed-price purchasing as well. This is also true of iOffer and eBid as well, and uBid has a separate website for fixed-price purchases. Unlike the others, uBid only allows merchants (not individuals) to be sellers. Listia is the real odd one out as it is all auctions however bidding is done via credits rather than directly with dollars, and their credits can be had by signing up (and getting friends to do so), purchasing them, and “selling” your own items.
Etsy and Artfire are marketplaces for handmade and vintage goods as well as art and craft supplies. Bonanza is similar, selling goods which are not massed produced such as clothing, antiques, jewelry, and collectibles.
Online classifieds are an great place to buy, sell, trade, and give away unwanted items. Almost all classified websites are very regionalized, with separate websites for each city, region, or country, with few tools that allow searching across all areas. For this reason, few are included as search engines on this page; most of them are links to directories where you can find the website for your location and search from there. Craigslist is by far the largest classifieds website globally, and if not number one, then at least among the most popular classifieds websites in almost every place. See Craigslist search help for some good tips on finding items within Craigslist. Oodle provides the classifieds for many large websites including Facebook Marketplace, Myspace, AOL, and others, as well as including listings from eBay websites (eBay Classifieds, Rent.com). OLX is most popular in Latin America. Some notes on eBay classifieds is in the next section.
One of the online shopping pioneers, eBay now also owns a variety of shopping websites including Shopping.com (DealTime and Epinions, as described above), Rent.com, Half.com, StubHub (tickets), and the PayPal payments system. Greenzer uses merchant feeds from Shopping.com for its product listings.
An early Craigslist employee left the company, selling his shares to eBay. Craigslist is a very insular company, making far less money than they could, and this has been a great source of conflict between the two.
Not satisfied with their ownership stake in Craigslist, eBay acquired or launched classified websites around the world, including Gumtree (UK and others), Kijiji (Canada and others), Marktplaats (Netherlands) and Loquo (Spain). It seems they also own at least part of Slando which operates mostly in central/eastern Europe. eBay Classifieds is now the name used for their classified websites in the United States, Germany, and former Loquo websites, and may possibly replace the Kijiji name elsewhere in the future.
Craigslist and eBay have sued each other, and not all cases have been resolved yet.
For products which you just need for a short time, renting or borrowing is often more helpful than buying. These are online marketplaces meant meant for short-term transfers, although many of them (including Zilok, BorrowMe, and Neighborrow) have features allowing purchases as well. Typically this works best when the person providing the item lives nearby, so location is heavily built into these websites and you will probably want to narrow by that after searching from this page. Other than erento and rentcycle, which only include items from rental companies, all these sites allow you post items for other to rent or borrow. The terms “rent” and “borrow” here refer to paid rental and free borrowing, although those are not always the same meanings used by the website. Follow the prices (including free) as on the sites themselves.
There are thousands of groups worldwide where people can post unwanted items or request wanted items, where everything is free. They are typically run as mailing lists, usually using Yahoo! Groups or sometimes Google Groups, and so it is not possible to do a global search within all of them. Instead, locate and join the group for your area and look within there. Most of these groups are run by The Freecycle Network, although due to various conflicts there are now a number of other organizations including FreeSharing.org, and The ReUseIt Network. Fortunately groups from all of these networks have been mapped by the Recycling Group Finder included here, where you search for your location and can easily find the nearest group.