Faster Free Shipping on Amazon With No Minimum Order -- Free Prime Trial

by Carrie Kirby on 30 September 2008 17 comments
Photo: Steve Keys

I want to take a moment to remind you all to wait til the last minute to Christmas shop online this year.

Wha??

Well, you can, once you have a free three-month trial membership to Amazon Prime, the service that gives you free 2-day shipping on orders of ANY size. There's a bit of a trick to getting a three-month trial instead of the more common one-month, but it's not hard. This should work for anyone who has never been a Prime paid or free member before:

1) Go to Amazon but DON'T sign up for the free 1-month trial.

2) Instead, put a $100 worth of textbooks in your cart. I used this one. Don't worry, you won't have to buy it.

3) Proceed with the check-out process. Before you get to the final purchase page, you will get an offer for a free THREE-MONTH trial.

(NOTE: Thanks to reader Brian for pointing out the exact location of the link, which you might not see right away: "the link is after you enter a credit card, and when you're finalizing your shipping options. It's kind of wedged in there among the existing shipping options, but it's definitely there.")

4) Accept it!

5) If you don't want the textbook, delete it from your cart.

And if going partway through the check-out process for a $100+ snoozefest biology book makes you nervous, remember that you can always just cancel Amazon orders before they ship at no charge, by logging into your account. It's easy.

Why you want Amazon Prime for the holidays:

I did a lot of my "Santa" shopping on Amazon last year, and enjoyed the fact that I could order the kids' gifts while they were tucked in bed, instead of trying to shop with them in tow ("Hey! Isn't that Rudolph out the window there? Clerk, could you wrap this, stat?) or wasting precious childcare hours at the mall. This year, local sales tax increases have given me even more incentive to shop online.

But I ended up paying a lot in shipping last year. I'd carefully choose several items together in order to hit the $25 minimum for free Super Saver Shipping, only to realize at the last minute that one or two of the purchases were from independent sellers and didn't qualify. Then I was faced with two choices: Stay up late searching for fillers to bring the qualifying portion of the order up to $25, or just pay shipping on the whole thing.

To be sure, the items that are ineligible for Super Saver are generally also ineligible for Amazon Prime -- stuff from indie merchants who don't use Amazon fulfillment, according to the Amazon Prime FAQ. However, I clicked around and found lots of potential gifts that do qualify. I think this will be a Godwend when I inevitably realize I need ONE MORE stocking stuffer or Secret Santa gift and the month of December is getting long in the tooth.

OK, of course you know how shipping gets during the holidays, so I'm not saying wait until the last, last minute. But still, if you do end up pushing it timewise, the promised 2-day shipping with Prime is a better bet than the regular Super Saver. Also, Prime members can upgrade to overnight shipping for $3.99 per order.

A lot of people love Amazon Prime, so maybe you'll even want to keep it after the trial, when it will cost the regular $79 a year. But if you think you WON'T want to keep it, you can also prevent that bill from hitting your credit card in three months: Log onto your Amazon account, where you will see the option of managing your Amazon Prime membership. From there, you'll be able to click a button that turns off the "auto upgrade" to the paid membership.

I signed right up for the three-month trial after reading about it on Wantnot.net. I'm excited to try it before the holidays, maybe by snapping up some grocery clearance items.

Oh, and if you don't like the idea of the textbook fake-out, you can always just sign up for a monthlong trial and do all your shopping early.

And then just hope that Christmas isn't cancelled this year due to financial apocolypse.

Disclosure: This post is riddled with affiliate links.

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Guest's picture
Shalimar

Fab advice - I love using Amazon prime trials - just sign up with numerous credit cards & addresses. Thanks for the trick to the 3 month - noted for the next few months for Xmas shopping!

Myscha Theriault's picture

Cool! Ours is about to expire, so I'm wondering if we'll get the three month offer too. Worth a try. Regardless, this is great info for everyone else, Carrie.

Great tip.

Guest's picture
Colin

My year of Prime subscription ended about 3 weeks ago. I did not renew for two reasons.

1) Prime makes you much more likely to spend money. Compound with credit card vs. cash purchases and it's like walking through a candy store as a 6 year old saying "I want that, and that, and that" and getting it (you get the bill a month later).

2) Amazon discontinued the 30-day post-order price guarantee, which means the price could drop $20 tomorrow and you can't get the difference (it can and does happen). I watched each of my purchases for price drops so I did use this many times. Ultimately this means Amazon does not price match *anyone* (not even themselves except the 30-day pre-release price guarantee).

Since Prime led me to more carefree purchasing I was mostly fine with it knowing I didn't really have to "sale hunt". No more price guarantee means I don't want to be so carefree in purchasing: no more Prime for me.

I have since written a program that pulls down the prices for my wishlist items and keeps tabs on the prices. You would be *amazed* at the price volatility (one item has changed price 203 times in the month of September). I now price hunt and buy when it's cheap which *drastically* has cut down my spending. Bad choice on Amazon's part for (2).

Guest's picture

Tried it exactly as you said. Got all the way out to the place your order page and never once was given a chance to register for Amazon Prime.

Carrie Kirby's picture

That's the only thing i can think of. it's worked for everyone else who i've had test it. 

I blog at www.shopliftingwithpermission.com.

Guest's picture
Mikal

I followed your instructions exactly and it never gave me an opportunity to get a 3 month Prime. And, no, I have never been a prime member before, never used a trial of prime either.

Guest's picture
Brian

I went through all the motions, but it denied me after offering me the trial, because I had previously done a trial.

For those it didn't work for, the link is after you enter a credit card, and when you're finalizing your shipping options. It's kind of wedged in there among the existing shipping options, but it's definitely there. Just too bad I don't get to use it. Back to super-saver shipping for me.

Guest's picture
Guest

Buying books new, even with free shipping, isn't very frugal.

Guest's picture
Wilson

Be careful about canceling Amazon orders. Often Amazon will immediately list them as "preparing to ship", especially when ordering with Prime.

Carrie Kirby's picture

Wilson, this exact thing happened to me this week when I tried to cancel a diaper order I'd made. I was trying to qualify for a $15 magazine rebate and I did it wrong, so I wanted to cancel, but it was already shipping.

The customer service agent who returned my email gave me the most surprising advice: He told me to refuse delivery of the package when it arrived, and I would get a full refund with no shipping charges. I had to call UPS and tell them the tracking number, and they are supposed to come pick it up today.

I blog at www.shopliftingwithpermission.com.

Guest's picture
Michael

Wilson commented that Amazon often "prepares to ship" immediately.
In that case how can you get back to "your account" quickly enough to cancel the order?
The last thing I want is to be stuck with a book on biology and be out of pocket to the tune of $100.
Even though you say you can refuse delivery from UPS I'd still be down by $100 until Amazon passes the credit which could be one or two weeks later.
I've also never been a Prime Member or used a Prime trial so I'm a bit wary on the one hand but want the 3-mth free shipping on the other!
Any thoughts about this?
I'm also a bit puzzled Carrie.
If you refused the diaper package why did you have to contact UPS at all? Didn't the UPS person take it back straight away?
Also why the need to spend $100? Why not $50 or $30?

Carrie Kirby's picture

I just tested the textbook offer and it would appear that it's no longer available. So you don't have to worry about all that. However, if you still want to try a 1-month trial, it's easy. Just click one of the links in my original post.

And about my order, I didn't refuse the diaper package directly to the driver because I was not there when he left it on my porch. My UPS guy never rings the bell or anything, he just drops stuff off. So I had to call and schedule a pickup.

It was pretty easy, and I got my refund, but I would hesitate to do that again with an independent merchant, because I realized as I was going through the process that the merchant was going to be out the shipping cost. Or at least I think they would be, and I felt bad about that. I wouldn't mind doing it with an Amazon product, tho, since their own customer service suggested it to me.

I blog at www.shopliftingwithpermission.com.

Guest's picture
Michael

Carrie,
I've just read your reply to my questions to you about Amazon on Wisebread.
Thanks for that.
What makes you think Amazon hasn't got the 3-month freebie anymore?
Did you try again and bombed out or worse had to accept a fake order?
Do keep well.
Michael.

Carrie Kirby's picture

After seeing reports that Amazon isn't offering the 3 months again, i signed in with a separate email address to test the textbook offer. once i had the books in my cart, i did not get the offer for 3 months of prime. only 1 month.

of course i didn't try to sign up since i already have a free prime trial. but i did not see the offer anymore. anyone else still seeing the 3-month offer anywhere?

I blog at www.shopliftingwithpermission.com.

Guest's picture
Michael

I reckon Amazon must've read what you've been up to and closed the loophole
I think I'll just wait until closer to Christmas and then take them up on their 1-month free trial.
Cheers.

Carrie Kirby's picture

I have no idea if they will start offering it again before Xmas, but the 1-month promo I know of ends TODAY. If you're lucky, you have until midnight Seattle time.

I blog at www.shopliftingwithpermission.com.

Guest's picture
Grissom

I never knew this fact before, thanks for those genius who found this. But I have my secret way to get deep discount deals from amazon.com - try amazon discount codes center.