What Is ShopRunner?

Definition & Examples of ShopRunner

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ShopRunner is a service offering consumers free two-day shipping and returns on online orders placed with certain retailers.

Learn how it works and how much it costs, its pros and cons, and how to get it.

What Is ShopRunner?

ShopRunner is an annual membership from the company of the same name that grants subscribers free two-day shipping, free returns, and exclusive benefits on orders they place with retailers in the ShopRunner network.

How ShopRunner Works

If you’ve ever shopped online, you're probably aware of shipping fees and how much they can add to your total costs. In the past, you may have even bought extra items you didn't need just to reach the spending threshold needed to activate free shipping.

ShopRunner avoids unnecessary spending by offering free two-day shipping at nearly 100 retailers. And—bonus—you get free returns.

You can use ShopRunner in three ways:

  1. Visit ShopRunner.com and sign in with your email address to view a list of merchants in the ShopRunner network. Start your online shopping session with one of the merchants. While shopping or during checkout, look for the ShopRunner logo on items you wish to purchase, which indicates that it’s eligible for free two-day shipping. Free two-day shipping and returns will be applied to eligible orders. If you don't like what you ordered, return it to the retailer at no cost with a prepaid shipping label.
  2. Start your online shopping session with one of ShopRunner’s merchants. Look for the ShopRunner logo at checkout. Click it and log in to ShopRunner to receive free two-day shipping and returns on eligible orders.
  3. Browse items and make purchases through ShopRunner's companion mobile app, District, to take advantage of free shipping and returns.

How Much Does ShopRunner Cost?

Annual membership costs $79, although free trials and even free memberships are available through partnering services. ShopRunner members can also add up to four other household members to the membership at no additional cost.

ShopRunner doesn't offer monthly billing; you'll be charged annually at the end of your subscription period.

How To Get ShopRunner

There are a few ways to become a ShopRunner member:

  • Get it via PayPal or Yahoo: Sign up online for ShopRunner as a PayPal member or Yahoo! member and you may be eligible for a free one-year trial.
  • Get it through your credit card: ShopRunner offers complimentary memberships to consumers with the following credit cards: Chase, American Express (U.S. consumer and small business cards), or World Mastercard and World Elite Mastercard. Enter your card information on the ShopRunner site for the corresponding card issuer or network. If your card offers this benefit, your account will be activated.
  • Obtain membership via the website: Go to ShopRunner.com to sign up for a free trial, or purchase a membership if a trial is unavailable.

Like Amazon Prime, ShopRunner has an annual subscription fee. But you may be able to get ShopRunner for free temporarily or permanently—through your credit card, for example. The key is to figure out if your card offers it, then take advantage of complimentary membership.

Pros and Cons of ShopRunner

ShopRunner Pros
  • Special discounts

  • Comparison shopping tool

ShopRunner Cons
  • Differing return policies

  • Limited retailers

  • Shipping restrictions

Pros Explained

Besides the obvious free two-day shipping and no-cost returns at select retailers, there are several more perks that come with a ShopRunner membership, including:

  • Special discounts: Visit the ShopRunner website to browse through exclusive member-only discounts from partner merchants, which can help you get an extra percentage off certain purchases or snag products at marked-down prices, on top of free shipping and returns.
  • Comparison shopping tool: You can also use ShopRunner to discover the different products on offer at different retailers before finding the one that’s right for you.

Cons Explained

No service is perfect, and ShopRunner does have a few shortcomings. These probably aren’t deal-breakers if you’re getting a free membership, but they might give you pause if you’re considering paying the annual fee:

  • Differing return policies: While shipping is fairly straightforward, return policies vary a bit more, ranging from “all sales are final” to returns accepted within one year. In addition, certain retailers only provide refunds on commercial products. You can see a full list of retail partner policies on the ShopRunner site.
  • Limited retailers: Nearly 100 retailers are represented, but if your favorite brands don't partner with ShopRunner, membership probably won’t have as much value for you.
  • Shipping restrictions: Not every item will be eligible for the free, two-day shipping, and many merchants also require that you meet a minimum spending threshold of $25 to take advantage of free shipping and returns. That can be annoying, as the whole point of a service like this is to not spend more to get free shipping.

ShopRunner vs. Amazon Prime

Both ShopRunner and Amazon Prime make free shipping a no-brainer and come with an annual subscription fee. You might even decide that you can benefit from having ShopRunner and Amazon Prime memberships. But if you had to choose one, there are a few key distinctions to consider.

If choosing between a ShopRunner and Amazon Prime membership, much comes down to retailer preference. ShopRunner partners primarily with name brands like Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, or Peet's Coffee. You might prefer Amazon Prime if you don't mind buying primarily from third parties (although they do offer goods from name brands, too).

That said, Amazon Prime beats ShopRunner in its sheer breadth of product offerings, which include movies, music, TV shows, and e-books in its library. ShopRunner doesn't offer streaming media—only physical goods in nine categories ranging from clothing to home products.

You'll find that Amazon Prime also offers more free shipping options. In addition to free two-day shipping, your membership can also help you score free one-day or same-day shipping. ShopRunner doesn't have a one-day shipping option. However, many retailers in the ShopRunner network offer express checkout, allowing for single-click ordering. This is comparable to Amazon Prime's one-click ordering option, which is available for eligible products.

Of course, you'll pay more for Amazon's myriad offerings and increased shipping options—$12.99 per month or $155.88 per year compared to ShopRunner's $75 annually (and free in many cases). Like ShopRunner, Amazon Prime also offers free trials, albeit not typically of the duration that ShopRunners offers them.

Of course, there’s no reason why you can’t have both, especially if your credit card offers free ShopRunner membership. Having both gives you more free shipping options so you’re not at the mercy of one or the other (or running out to a brick-and-mortar store) for items you need quickly.

ShopRunner Amazon Prime
$75 per year, or potentially free $155.88 per year
Free two-day shipping and returns, and some discounts Free same-day, one-day, and two-day shipping, and a large streaming library of movies, music, TV shows, and e-books
Some retailers offer an express checkout option, but not all Very easy to use, with one-click ordering options on desktop and mobile app
Mostly well-known chain stores  Mostly third-party, independent retailers, but carries some name brands

Is ShopRunner Worth It?

At the end of the day, if you can get a free ShopRunner membership through your credit card, there’s no reason not to sign up. Even if current merchant partners don't appeal to you, when it’s time to order a gift, knowing that you can get it in two days for free might help you avoid a dreaded holiday-season shopping trip.

If you'll have to pay for ShopRunner, the membership is valuable if you think you will regularly shop with at least one of the partner retailers in a dollar amount that meets the minimum-spending threshold. Taking advantage of a free trial can help reduce your costs.

Key Takeaways

  • ShopRunner is a $75 annual membership that grants you free two-day shipping and free returns on orders placed with nearly 100 partnering retailers.
  • You can shop through the ShopRunner website or companion mobile app, or shop directly through the retailer's website to avail yourself of the benefits on eligible orders.
  • It also offers member discounts and can be used for comparison shopping, but different return policies between retailers and limits on retailers and shipping are drawbacks to consider.