16 Amazon Deal Hacks You May Not Already Know
Shopping on Amazon is already a money and time saver. Check the Sunday ads for brick-and-mortar electronics stores such as Best Buy, or browse a bookstore, and chances are you can find the same items on Amazon for less. But there are so many methods for finding deals on Amazon that most of us don't know all of them. These simple tricks can take your Amazon savings to a whole new level. (See also: Amazon Rewards Visa, a Top Credit Card for New Parents)
1. Subscribe & Save
Many food items and household supplies belong to the "Subscribe & Save" program, which means that if you order regular deliveries of this product, Amazon will ship it free and give you a 5% discount. If an item qualifies for Subscribe & Save, you'll see that option in the blue box in the right-hand margin of the order page, right below the regular order option.
But that 5% off is just for starters. Mir Kamin of Wantnot.net pointed out that if you schedule five or more subscriptions in one month, you'll get 15% off on all of them. You can also get a larger discount for subscriptions if you join one of Amazon's special groups — more on that in Tip #3, below.
What if you only want one delivery? No problem! You can cancel future deliveries right after you order and still claim the discount. To cancel, select "My Account" on Amazon, then "Your Subscription," and you'll find the option.
2. Free Prime Trials
Amazon Prime is a $79-a-year service that gives members free two-day shipping on orders of any size (instead of free shipping on orders of $25 or more like regular customers get), plus some free content such as free streaming videos and the right to borrow e-books from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library.
Whether Prime is a money-saver at $79 a year depends on your habits, but using Prime for free is definitely a saver. Right now, you can sign up for a 30-day free Prime trial that confers all the benefits of a paid membership. At the end of 30 days, Amazon will charge you $79 for a one-year membership, unless you turn off auto-renewal.
One more money-saving tip for Prime members: You can share your Prime free shipping benefits with up to four other people.
3. Amazon Mom and Amazon Student
Amazon offers extra discounts to members of these two membership programs. Right now is an especially good time to sign up for Amazon Mom because Amazon is offering new sign-ups (who meet certain conditions) a free three-month trial of Amazon Prime. During this trial you can enjoy Prime's shipping benefits, but you don't get the free streaming video content or e-book borrowing. Amazon Mom members with Prime, whether paid or free-trial, also get 20% off diapers and wipes purchased through Subscribe & Save, and 20% off five or more subscriptions per month. That's an extra 15% discount compared to what common citizens get. (See also: Save With an Amazon Membership Program)
You don't have to be a mom to join Amazon Mom — Amazon says it's offered to all caregivers, one per household, and no proof is required.
If you join Amazon Student right now, you'll get six months of free two-day shipping and some other discounts (but again, no streaming content or e-book borrowing), and then if you want to pay for Prime, you'll get 50% off the first year, bringing the cost down to $39.
To qualify for Amazon Student, you need a .edu email address or other proof of student status.
4. More Buying Choices
An oft-overlooked way to find lower prices on Amazon lies in the "More Buying Choices" box, which you may see in the right-hand margin of an item page just below the regular ordering box. This is an opportunity to order the same item through sellers other than Amazon, sometimes at a lower price. Make sure to check the shipping cost — even if you qualify for free shipping on Amazon, you may have to pay for shipping from these sellers, which might lead to a final cost that's higher than the Amazon price. Fortunately, you can sort the other buying choices by "Price + Shipping" to make sure you find the overall best deal.
5. Amazon Warehouse Deals
This is where you can save on open-box, used, refurbished, or warehouse-damaged items, often at big discounts.
6. Free Apps and Kindle Books
The Amazon Appstore for Android offers a free app of the day.
There are usually a number of Kindle books offered for free on any given day. Start in the Kindle Store category called "Top 100 Free". Or, type "Kindle freebies" into the product search box on Amazon. (See also: Free Things to Do With Your Kindle)
I don't have time to browse through tons of free books every day on Amazon, so I rely on some favorite bloggers, like Mashup Mom, to highlight free books I might like. There are also blogs that focus on free and cheap Kindle books, like Pixel of Ink.
7. The Kindle Daily Deals Page
8. Today's Deals
One of the places to start when cruising Amazon for deals is the "Today's Deals" tab at the top of the page, to the right of the Amazon logo. This is where you find the Gold Box these days, but instead of just one "Gold Box Deal," you'll find a lot of deals on this page now. A single "Deal of the Day," a number of "Lightning Deals" all good for limited times throughout the day, links to the Outlet, any special sales going on, and other savings opportunities can all be found on this page.
9. 7-Day Price Guarantee
Amazon used to guarantee its prices for 30 days. This year, it changed to a seven-day policy. So, if the price of an item drops within a week after your purchase ships, contact Amazon and they will refund you the difference. This policy is not posted on the Amazon site, but a customer service agent confirmed it to me. GroovyPost offers step-by-step instructions on getting the refund.
10. Amazon Deal Sites
Jungle Deals and Steals is a blog that highlights nothing but Amazon deals, every day. There used to be a number of search sites that turned up deep discounts on Amazon, but most of them have either disappeared or didn't produce impressive results for me.
11. TV and Cell Phone Price Matching
Amazon does not match competitor prices in most product areas, but it does for cellular phones and televisions. For cell phones with service plans, if you find a better price within two weeks of purchase from select retailers, Amazon will refund the difference.
The same goes for TVs, with a much longer list of qualifying retailers. Instructions for claiming a partial refund if you find the TV cheaper elsewhere are here.
12. Special Offers
When you click on a product page, before you add it to your cart, look for text that says the item is eligible for special offers. It might be a "Buy three, get the fourth free" promotion, for example.
13. Coupon Codes and Clippable Coupons
You don't generally find a coupon code for a straight discount off anything at Amazon, but there are a lot of codes out there for specific item categories. The Amazon section of RetailMeNot lists a code for 20% of a $100 boots purchase (NEWFALL2), for example. And Amazon itself sometimes shares codes for free MP3s or streaming movies.
On Amazon's coupon page, you can click to "clip" coupons for various products. These coupons may be similar to the ones you're used to clipping from the Sunday paper, like $1 off toilet paper, or they may be for a 15% discount off a book or electronics item.
During certain times of year, you'll see sudden price drops on seasonal items. For instance, unadvertised price drops on toys make the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas the best time of the year to stock up on toys. (See also: The Best Time to Buy Anything)
Deal blogs are a good place to find out about these price drops. You also might find them on the "Bestsellers" list for the target category. Chances are, a toy that suddenly got cheap will pop up here. You can find "Bestsellers" at the top of a category page, just to the left of the category name, and below the search box.
15. Add-On Items
Amazon recently started selling Add-On Items, which are small things at low prices that you can only get if you're buying $25 worth of products from Amazon. If you come across an Add-On Item you'd like to buy (they're marked "Add-On Item" with a blue label), you can put it in your cart and wait until you have $25 worth of products to qualify for it. Or, you can make up a $25 order completely of Add-On Items.
Are Add-Ons really a bargain? Amazon says that Add-On Items are new, low-priced items that they wouldn't sell otherwise, but customers have noticed that some items that were sold previously for the same price are now listed as Add-On Items. This annoys folks who are paying for Prime to get free shipping on any size order, but now have to order at least $25 worth of stuff if these items are included.
16. The Outlet
Type Amazon.com/outlet to get to this page, which offers categories to browse by percent markdown. Amazon says the Outlet is for "clearance deals, overstocks and more," but I've found the savings to be hit or miss, since when I start out browsing there I often end up on items that don't appear to have major markdowns.
Any Amazon deal hacks I've missed? Please share them in comments!