What Is ShopRunner?

What you need to know about this free shipping service

A delivery man hands a box of merchandise to a woman at her front door
•••

 

10'000 Hours/Getty

If you’re an online shopper, you know that nothing takes the wind out of your sails more than shipping costs. In the past, you’ve probably even bought extra items just to reach a spending threshold, just to activate free shipping. Services like ShopRunner are taking a page out of Amazon Prime’s playbook, aiming to make free shipping a no-brainer.

ShopRunner can help you save with free, two-day shipping at over 100 retailers. And—bonus—you get free returns.

Like Amazon Prime, there is an annual subscription fee. However, you may be able to get ShopRunner for free several ways—including through your credit card. Certain card issuers offer free ShopRunner for members as part of their added cardholder benefits. The key is to figure out if your card offers it, and then take advantage.

How ShopRunner Works

Start your online shopping session at one of ShopRunner’s merchants. Then look for the ShopRunner logo on items that you wish to purchase, which will indicate that it’s eligible for free two-day shipping. 

The ShopRunner browser extension for Google Chrome alerts you when the item you’re shopping for is available at a ShopRunner retailer with free, two-day shipping and returns.

During checkout, you’ll see a prompt to sign in to your ShopRunner account (if you’re not already logged in). Once that’s done, select ShopRunner as your two-day shipping option, then sit back and wait for your item to arrive.

How to Get ShopRunner

There are a few ways to become a ShopRunner member.

ShopRunner Membership

Annual membership costs $79, although free-trial offers may be available. ShopRunner members can also add up to four other household members to the membership, at no additional cost.

PayPal or Yahoo

PayPal or Yahoo users get a complimentary membership for one year when signing in to ShopRunner with either of those accounts.

American Express U.S. Consumer and Small Business Cards

Enter your card information on the ShopRunner site. If your card offers this benefit, your account will be activated. 

World Mastercard and World Elite Mastercard Credit Cards

Enrollment works the same as with Amex. Just enter your card information to verify your eligibility, and then get started with ShopRunner.

Pros and Cons of ShopRunner

ShopRunner Pros
  • Special discounts

  • Comparison shopping tool

  • Free returns

ShopRunner Cons
  • Differing Return Policies

  • Limited retailers

  • Some restrictions

ShopRunner Pros

Besides the obvious free, two-day shipping at select retailers, there are several more perks that come with a ShopRunner membership.

Special discounts. An extra percentage off of your purchase, on top of free shipping? Now, that’s appealing. Visit the ShopRunner website to browse through member-only from partner merchants.

Comparison shopping tool. Search for an item such as denim jacket on ShopRunner and discover the different products and shopping options before finding the one that’s right for you.

Free Returns. Online shopping return policies can vary wildly, so it’s nice to know that anything purchased via ShopRunner can be returned for free.

ShopRunner Cons

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 the process is fairly straightforward for shipping, return policies vary a bit more, ranging from “all sales are final” to returns accepted within 365 days. Things can get tricky since some retailers may charge restocking fees, or may only provide store credit on refunds. You can see a full list of retail partner policies on the ShopRunner site. 

Limited retailers. Yes, over 100 retailers are represented, but if your favorite brands aren’t partnered with ShopRunner, membership probably won’t have as much value for you.

Some restrictions. Not every item will be eligible for the free, two-day shipping, and some merchants might also require a minimum spend. For instance, bulky items might incur a shipping charge. That can be annoying since the whole point of a service like this is to not spend more to get free shipping. 

ShopRunner vs. Amazon

It’s not necessarily a fair apples-to-apples comparison, and you might decide that you can benefit from having ShopRunner and Amazon Prime memberships. But if you had to choose one, here’s what you might consider.

  Amazon ShopRunner
Cost $119 per year $79 per year, or potentially free
Benefit Free shipping, and a large streaming library of movies, music, TV shows, and e-books included Free shipping, some discounts
Use Super easy to use, with one-click ordering options on desktop and mobile app Some retailers offer an express checkout option, but not all
Retailers/Merchandise Mostly third-party, independent retailers, but carries some name brands
 
Mostly well-known chain stores 

If choosing between an Amazon and ShopRunner membership, much comes down to retailer preference. Amazon doesn’t sell everything from every retailer (although it might seem that way). ShopRunner might be very valuable if you buy clothes directly from brands like Saks Fifth Avenue or Bloomingdales, or order from Harry & David or 1-800-Flowers.com a few times per year.

Of course, there’s no reason why you can’t have both, especially if your credit card offers free ShopRunner membership. At the very least, it gives you more free shipping options so that you’re not always at the mercy of Amazon (or running out to a brick-and-mortar store!) for items that you need ASAP. 

The Bottom Line: Is ShopRunner Worth the Cost?

At the end of the day, if you can get a free ShopRunner membership, there’s no reason not to sign up. Current merchant partners may not appeal to you, but 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.

Article Sources

  1. ShopRunner. "Stores," Accessed Dec. 9, 2019.

  2. ShopRunner. "Partner Benefit Terms & Conditions," Accessed Dec. 9, 2019.

  3. ShopRunner. "PayPal," Accessed Dec. 9, 2019.

  4. ShopRunner. "Yahoo," Accessed Dec. 9, 2019.

  5. ShopRunner. "About Us," Accessed Dec. 9, 2019.

  6. ShopRunner. "What is ShopRunner and How Does It Work?" Accessed Dec. 9, 2019.