3. Security is priority one. We only shop at sites we trust (Zappos.com, Target.com, Gap.com) — retailers big enough to have security measures in place that we can rely on (or have some recourse with should something go wrong). That quirky little retailer in Timbuktu might have a sweet deal on that Gucci bag, but do you really trust them with protecting your credit info (or with guaranteeing authenticity, for that matter? We’re gonna say no).

4. Be aware of shipping costs. Sometimes a great deal isn’t so great once you figure in shipping. Fortunately, the huge amount of competition in online retailing these days has created a situation in which free shipping is the go-to giveaway during the holiday season. Watch for flat rates, free shipping offers, and shop early enough so that you can just go with the regular ground shipping for the cheapest rate whenever possible, and still get your items in plenty of time.

5. Know your return policies. There’s always a risk with purchasing something you haven’t actually seen or tried on (and especially when you’re buying a gift for someone else), so be sure that the company has a return policy you can live with. Some offer free return shipping and/or include pre-printed return labels, but others aren’t quite as accommodating. It’s worth a few minutes of clicking around and reading the fine print to save yourself a whole lot of grief later on.

The Budget Fashionista’s  Holiday Shopping Guide Series shares shopping tips and advice to help you save money this holiday season. For more posts in the series, visit our Holiday Shopping Guide Page. Please share your Cyber Monday Shopping Tips Below.