If you're planning to fill the Christmas list by shopping online, you'd better get clicking to avoid high charges for express shipping. Here are some tips for...

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If you’re planning to fill the Christmas list by shopping online, you’d better get clicking to avoid high charges for express shipping.

Here are some tips for online shoppers:

Pay with a credit card. The company will back you if you contest a charge for an item that is not received.

Use only one credit card for all online holiday purchases. You will be able to see quickly if there is a mistake.

Order from a secure Web site. Ways to tell? Look for the unbroken key or closed lock in your browser window or a pop-up box that says you are entering a secure area. Some Web sites use the words “Secure Sockets Layer.”

Phone it in. If you really don’t want to give payment information online, many merchants allow you to order online and then phone in your payment.

Keep a paper trail of all online transactions.

• Order all holiday gifts by Dec. 1. Ordering early will help you avoid outrageous shipping costs and ensure gifts arrive by Dec. 25.

Read product reviews using sites like Amazon or Epinions before ordering online.

Use comparison Web sites, such as Bizrate, Shopzilla, Froogle or PriceGrabber to compare prices on similar products from thousands of merchants.

Look for coupons. Before ordering a product online, go to Google or MSN Search and enter the merchant’s Web site with the word “coupon” or “promotional code.” You may find a discount on your purchase or shipping costs or both.

Pick it up yourself. Cut shipping costs by ordering an item online and picking it up at the store.