Monday was Free Shipping Day, and if you're not done with your holiday shopping, you could be forgiven for thinking you'd missed out on your last chance to get free shipping on gifts. After all, Christmas Eve is now less than a week away, and the ground shipping option at most online retailers (what you're usually getting in a free shipping deal) can take several days. That means that if you want guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve, you'll not only need to pay for shipping, but pay a premium for the expedited shipping.
Well, not so fast. If you need your merchandise to arrive in time for Christmas and still don't feel like paying big shipping charges for the privilege, you might want to look into ShopRunner and Amazon Prime.
Amazon Prime is well-known to frequent online shoppers: In addition to providing access to its library of streaming video, it offers free two-day shipping on millions of items and overnight shipping for $3.99. ShopRunner, meanwhile, is essentially Amazon Prime for the rest of the Internet: The subscription service offers free two-day shipping for 70 online retailers (and counting), including ToysRUs.com and NewEgg.com. And while it doesn't offer a cheap overnight shipping option, it does one-up Prime with free returns.
Prime and ShopRunner both cost $79 for the year, but as we've previously noted, if you only intend to use them for the holiday season you can sign on for one-month subscriptions that will take you through Christmas and into the new year. ShopRunner's monthly option runs $8.95 a month, and as we reported recently, Amazon is currently experimenting with a monthly version of Prime that costs $7.99 a month. Just note that the monthly Prime subscription is still in its testing phase, so it won't show up as an option for all users.
Even an $8 or $9 fee might be too much for you if you're only going to be buying one gift with it. But here's a hint: if you've never used Amazon Prime or ShopRunner before, both services offer a 30-day free trial. You can take advantage of free two-day shipping for the rest of the holiday season without paying a dime in subscription fees, then simply cancel before the end of the trial period. Of course, if you find yourself liking either service, you can let it automatically roll over into a paid subscription at the end of the trial period.
Between Prime and Shoprunner you should have no problem getting free shipping on whatever you're looking to buy: Amazon's product selection is legendary, and ShopRunner has deals with a host of major toy, electronics and apparel merchants. That should have you covered for any gifts you want to buy your loved ones -- or anything you'd like to buy yourself if Santa doesn't come through for you on Christmas.
Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.