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Amazon.com is a huge marketplace, possibly the Internet’s biggest, so it might be hard to navigate your way through their website with the deals, discounts, and coupons scattered all over the place.
However, over the years, Amazon has launched many features that will save customers big money. In this article, I will introduce the most useful of them.
1. Amazon Prime
Probably the most common service of Amazon, Prime, lets you enjoy free 2-day shipping. This service costs $10.99 a month or $99 a year. But for those who order a lot of stuff from Amazon, Prime will be a money and time saver. They also offer a 30-day free trial if you’re unsure about the service at first.
There are also a few other benefits to Amazon Prime. For example, the membership lets you to stream movies, listen to music, and read Kindle books without paying extra. Talking about Kindle books, you also get to read some titles before they are officially released to the public.
Furthermore, if you are a friend of groceries, Prime Pantry allows you to fill a 45 lbs box with grocery items and the box will be shipped for a flat $5.99 fee. Lastly, Prime members get to enjoy unlimited cloud-based storage for their photos.
I usually call Prime the most useful service of Amazon because for ten bucks a month you’re getting a lot. Not only the free shipping but all the other benefits mentioned above are available to you. If you shop a lot at Amazon or are looking for entertainment and cloud storage, Amazon Prime membership will be probably worth it!
2. Sign Up For MyPoints
MyPoints is a service that gives you points for going to sites, filling out surveys, and making purchases. I’ve been a member for over 10 years and end up getting about a $100 gift card every year out of it.
Whenever I make a purchase at Amazon, I log into my MyPoints account and use their affiliate link to complete my order. By doing so, I get 5 MyPoints points per dollar or 3.4% back. I can use accumulate the points and redeem them for gift cards.
3. Free Shipping on Many Orders
If you don’t want Prime with free and fast shipping on all orders, you’re not out of luck. As Amazon states on their website, “all orders of $35 or more of eligible items across any product category qualify for FREE Shipping.” So in other words, buy products for at least 35 dollars and you won’t be paying anything for shipping.
The downside of this free shipping without Prime is the time it takes. The items will reach your address in 5-8 business days (remember, with Prime the shipping is only two days). If you can wait that long and don’t buy that frequently from Amazon, enjoying the Primeless free shipping should be worth it. In the same vein, if you buy products from Amazon very often, Amazon Prime service will pay itself back after some time.
4. Subscribe & Save
Usually used for household products, with the Subscribe & Save feature you get new items (like dog food or toilet paper) shipped to you on a regular basis every month. There is a discount of 5-15% off these items when you use the subscription. You can cancel the subscription at any time so there are no long-term contracts.
On top of that, you’ll get free shipping and you can cancel or adjust your subscriptions at any time.
Because of price changes over days and months, the time of placing the order (and of course the items you select) play a big role in whether Subscribe & Save actually saves you money. Indeed, such a thing is hard to tell beforehand, but you can always give a try to Subscribe and Save. If it doesn’t work, ditch it.
5. Use Amazon Gold Box Deals
Amazon has so many deals going on, but probably the most famous is the Gold Box. Every day, new deals and discounts will be posted on that page. They have several types of deals on the website, such as Deal of the Day, Lightning Deals, and Coupons. Many of the deals won’t be available for long, so checking Gold Box often might be a good idea. However, if you don’t want to bother checking the site daily you can also subscribe to their email newsletter. The latest deals will then be delivered to your email inbox.
Bear in mind that while useful, Gold Box deals still don’t show the biggest discounts Amazon has. The deals there are probably handpicked by Amazon to show various products that are selling for lower price momentarily. You might find gems there, but indeed it’s not the place to find all the largest discounts percentage-wise. The next section covers this problem – how to find the really lucrative, “hidden” bargains from this huge marketplace.
6. Use A Third Party Website
There are many websites created around Amazon.com. These websites offer, for example, advanced search, top deals, discounts, suggestions, gift ideas, price tracking, and more.
The main advantage you’ll notice are the sorting options: these deal finders often have an inner algorithm to find the best discounts and show them in a way to the user that is not possible on Amazon.com. In essence, you could very well find better deals with these websites than you could on Amazon.com itself!
Another feature worthy of mentioning is price tracking. You can sign up for a price drop notification, after which the service starts pinging Amazon for the product, often several times a day. When the service gets a response that the price has dropped below the threshold you set, you get an email notification from the service. This way, you don’t need to check Amazon yourself every day – you can let the machine do that for you. The most popular of these is camelcamelcamel.com
These third-party websites are free to use, and they operate on a commission basis. When you buy a product they recommend or list on their website, they get a small commission from your purchase. The price, naturally, stays the same to you. If you don’t know where to start looking for these websites for easier Amazon shopping, you can check Google for ideas.
7. Shop Amazon Warehouse Deals
If you don’t mind buying used, refurbished or open-box items, then shopping at Amazon’s warehouse is just for you. Items that are in the warehouse are:
Damaged box items. Sometimes the box an item comes in gets damaged, which makes the item no longer new.
Store returns. Ever wonder what happens when you change your mind and return a product? They end up here. The box has been opened, but the product is still in like-new condition.
Refurbished. Items that are returned because they don’t work are fixed and re-sold. They are tested to work before being given the green light to be re-sold.
The items purchased here are all backed by Amazon’s return policy, so you should have no fear if you end up with a lemon.
8. Buy a Gift Card
When you buy a gift card on the secondary market, you’re buying a gift card someone didn’t want. Sometimes friends get you a gift card for your birthday and you don’t want it. So you go on eBay and unload the $100 gift card for $90. You’re happy with $90 in actual money and the buyer is happy getting a good deal on a gift card.
Other than eBay, you can find unwanted gift cards at CardPool.com and ABCGiftCards.com. While you may get up to 20% off on other stores, typically Amazon cards go for a modest 4% discount.
9. Use Your Rewards Credit Card
By using your rewards credit card for purchases on Amazon, you’ll be accumulating 1 point per dollar spent. You can then redeem these points for airline tickets, a gift card or a statement credit.
I have an Amazon Rewards credit card which gives me 3% in points on all my Amazon purchases. I can then use these points the next time I shop at Amazon, so it’s an instant 3% off on my next purchase.
With the Chase Freedom card you can get 5% cashback on Amazon purchases from October – December in 2014 and 1% the rest of the time. In 2015 they’ll choose another quarter to offer the 5% cashback deal.
10. Shop At Amazon’s Outlet Store
Most people don’t know that Amazon has an outlet store. Just like other brick and mortar shops, the company uses its outlet to get rid of old inventory and make room for new products.
This is where they list all their overstocks, closeouts, and clearance deals. You can get up to 70 percent off of jewelry, electronics, and apparel here.
11. Watch Out For Price Fluctuations
Based on supply and demand, the prices of goods on Amazon change frequently. Sometimes, prices change on an hourly basis. You can use this to your advantage by putting the items you want in your cart and clicking on “save for later”. You’ll be able to then track price changes in your cart to get the best deal possible.
Some users also claim Amazon drops prices on items added to the cart after a few days to entice you to purchase them.
If you really need an item now, go ahead and purchase it. If the price drops within 7 days of the delivery date, Amazon will refund the difference, so long as you let them know.
To better track Amazon’s price fluctuations, use the price history tool available at camelcamelcamel.com. This way you can see if an item you want to buy is selling at a historical low.