It’s no secret that I love Amazon. Living in the sticks, it is often the most efficient way for me to shop. I don’t have to get in the car, waste a lot of time, and use a lot of gas to get to town. I just sit at my computer, find what I want, and click “Add to Cart.” I’m done and can get on with my day. The prices are already pretty low on most things, but over the years I’ve found ways to save even more just by being alert and knowing how the various areas of the site work. If you shop Amazon frequently, here are some ways to save even more.
Sign up for Amazon Prime
For $79 per year, you get free two-day shipping on almost everything that is either sold by Amazon.com, or “Fulfilled by Amazon” (meaning it’s sold by a third party, but the item is housed in one of Amazon’s warehouses and Amazon handles the shipping and payment). You don’t have to reach the magic $25 required to qualify for free shipping. If you have an urgent need, you can get overnight shipping for $3.99 per item. Prime is worth it if you order frequently and you’ll get your $79 back in shipping benefits alone.
With Prime, you also get access to Amazon’s free streaming video library which has a good assortment of movies and TV shows. If there’s enough you want to watch, you may be able to ditch your cable and/or Netflix subscription, saving you some more money. If you have a Kindle, you also get access to their lending library which lets you borrow one book per month for free (titles and availability change often, but there is plenty to choose from in all genres).
Use Free Super Saver Shipping
If you don’t sign up for Prime, at least take advantage of the Free Super Saver Shipping program. If you order $25 or more of qualifying items you get free shipping. If you don’t have enough, save your items in your cart until you need a couple of more things.
Check the Gold Box
At the top of the home page is a link to “Today’s Deals.” Here you can find the Gold Box Deal of the Day where Amazon marks down one product per day. There will be many days when it won’t be anything you want or need, but when it happens to be something you’re looking for, you can save a lot of money. (Just don’t get sucked into buying things you don’t need just because it’s a “deal“)
Check your personal Gold Box
You can only see this when logged in, but on the bottom of the main “Gold Box” page you will often find a small selection of items that are on a one-day markdown for you. These are based on your order history and are things that Amazon thinks you will like.
Buy from third parties, or used
Amazon offers a lot of different ways to buy. In addition to buying from Amazon itself, you can buy from third party sellers. Some of these sell new items and others sell used. Some charge shipping and some are “Fulfilled” by Amazon which means they qualify for free shipping or Prime. Check all the options before assuming that Amazon offers the lowest price.
Check the sale/deal page of each department
Most of the departments at Amazon (books, clothing, toys, etc.) have their own sales and deals. The placement of the link on each page varies, but it’s usually located on the left hand side or along the top. You may have to look a bit to find it, but there are sometimes good deals to be found.
Get free/low priced Kindle Books
You can find a large number of free Kindle books on Amazon. Some of them are bad, but you can occasionally luck into a really good title going for free, particularly if the author is promoting a new release. The Kindle store also offers a daily deal. One book (usually a “hotter” title than some of the free books) is marked down to $1.99 for the day.
Look for combo offers
Sometimes you will find that Amazon offers you the chance to purchase two or more items for a discounted price. For example, if you buy DVD “X” and “Y” in the same order, you may get a price break. Just make sure the price is really a deal. Sometimes you’ll see “Frequently bought together” but the price is the same as buying all of the items individually. Do the math before jumping in.
Look for special offers and similar items that may be on sale
Sometimes you’ll be looking at an items’ product page and you’ll see an ad for a similar product that’s on sale. For example, one time I was looking at jigsaw puzzles. The product I was looking at was made by Springbok, but a little further down the page was a note that puzzles by Ravensburger were buy one get one 1/2 off. I ended up buying the Ravensburger deal. You won’t find these on everything or all the time, but when they appear, they can lead you to better deals.
Join the Amazon Mom or Student programs, if eligible
You can get into Amazon Prime for free for six months (with a reduced rate thereafter) if you are a student. You can also get in for free for three months if you join the Amazon Mom program. Both programs have other benefits, as well as eligibility requirements you must meet. Check out the programs to see if you are eligible and if they would benefit you.
Sign up for Amazon’s newsletters, or use Facebook or Twitter to be notified of more deals
Under your account, there is a page that lets you subscribe to a variety of newsletters and marketing emails. You can pick and choose amongst your interests so you’re not bombarded with stuff you don’t want.
Get free/discounted MP3′s
There are many free MP3′s (both singles and albums) on Amazon. Some are from emerging artists and others are promotional offerings. There are also sometimes deals for deeply discounted albums and songs from current top artists.
Check Amazon Local
Amazon Local is Amazon’s version of Groupon. In addition to deals for your area, though, they sometimes run special promotions like buy a $10 Amazon gift card for $5, or get a free credit for music or movies (in other words, they just give you a couple of bucks to spend on a certain product, hoping you’ll spend more than the value of the credit.)
Get a Kindle with Special Offers
If you’re going to get a Kindle, get one with the Special Offers. The ads are unobtrusive (they only appear when the unit is asleep or at the bottom of your home screen, never in an actual book) and the purchase price is lower than a Kindle without the ads. You’ll get a variety of offers. I’ve gotten things like “Buy any book for $1 (from a limited selection), “Get a $2 credit for the music store,” and “Save 50% in the back to school store.” The deals aren’t great all the time, but when you find a good one, it can save you money.
Sign up for the Amazon credit card
If you shop Amazon a lot (and are good with credit cards), Amazon offers their own card that lets you accumulate points you can spend at Amazon. It’s not the highest earning rewards card out there, but if you shop there a lot, you might do well with it. Just don’t use it to get yourself deeper in debt.
Use your Discover points at Amazon
Amazon now allows you to spend your Discover card rewards dollars directly at Amazon. You don’t have to do anything more than set up your Discover card as your payment method. After that, if you have any rewards in your account, you’ll be asked at checkout if you’d like to use them to pay for the order. It’s convenient and a good way to knock a little off your order total.
Check the Lightning Deals
On the right hand side of the “Gold Box” page are the Lightning Deals. These are products that Amazon puts on special for a limited amount of time, sometimes for as little as an hour, or until all the “deals” of that item are claimed. Sometimes the deals can be good, but make sure you know your prices so you know whether the deal is really great or not. (See number 25, below.)
Use Amazon’s coupons
Amazon actually offers coupons on a variety of items. When you go to the Amazon coupon page, you simply click the coupon you want to redeem and the discount is added to your cart.
Use Subscribe and Save
Amazon is one of the retailers that offers “Subscribe and Save” on some items. This can work for you or against you. You have to evaluate your needs carefully before deciding whether or not such a program will save you any money.
Try the Outlet and the Warehouse
Amazon has two ways of getting rid of overstocks and returned merchandise. The Outlet and the Warehouse. You can find good deals at both so it can be worth a quick check if you’re looking for something and aren’t too picky about the specs or brand.
Sort by price or discount
Amazon offers you the ability to sort search results by price from low to high. This saves you the time of looking for the lowest price offerings among hundreds of choices. On the sale pages, you can also search by discount level. So you can narrow your results to only items that are fifty percent off, for example. This is helpful if you have a “bottom line price” in mind that you don’t want to exceed.
Get free gift cards
If you’re doing surveys, focus groups, or GPT sites, many of these pay in, or offer the option to be paid in, Amazon gift certificates. Using these gift cards means that you reduce the amount of “your” money that you spend, freeing it to be used on other things.
Get free/cheap apps/games
You can get free apps and games for your Kindle and Kindle Fire, as well as other Android devices. Check the app department for specials.
Watch your Wish List
When you find something you want but aren’t ready to buy right then, you can add it to your Wish List. If it’s not an immediate need, having it on your list gives you the opportunity to watch the price over time. You might log in one day to find that it is deeply discounted. Of course, you can also point friends and family to your list when they want to buy you a present.
Know your prices
As with anything else, you can save the most money on Amazon if you know your prices. If you see something that looks like a great deal, you can check CamelCamelCamel.com or other price watching sites to see if the price has ever been lower. While Amazon’s prices are generally great, they aren’t always the lowest. Know what things sell for around you and don’t assume that Amazon is automatically the lowest. If it’s not an immediate need, watch Amazon’s prices over time as they fluctuate fairly often and you may snag a better deal if your local store has a sale or you have coupons.
Like many retailers, Amazon is always experimenting with promotional strategies and offers, so what’s available today might not be available tomorrow. (It may also not be in the same place since they redesign their site from time to time.) However, you can usually find some deals going on that might save you a little money. As the holidays approach, be aware that it always seems like the deals ramp up as the holidays get closer. There are more and better Gold Box offers and Amazon runs their own Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions. Keep your eyes peeled and you can really save on those holiday gifts.