Everybody shops on Amazon. You probably place an Amazon order at least occasionally, even if you aren’t a fan of how gigantic Amazon has gotten. The platform’s fast shipping and practically limitless selection are a major selling point, even for people who would normally #buylocal and #shopsmall, and for those who are annoyed by the obnoxious — but effective — ways Amazon gets us to sign up for Prime.
If you’re going to use Amazon, even begrudgingly, you’ll want to know how to get the most out of your shopping experience. Sure, anybody can surf Amazon looking for a deal. And anybody can weigh the benefits of Prime, or decide whether that next-day shipping is worth it. But the Amazon tips ahead can help you save both time and money the next time you order something (or a lot of things) from Amazon. They’re especially useful during the holidays when you need to buy a lot of gifts for a lot of people in a short amount of time.
1. Shop Amazon Warehouse and Amazon Outlet
You can find great deals by shopping the Amazon Warehouse and Amazon Outlet sections of the website. But you need to know the difference between the two. Amazon Warehouse offers open-box items, while Amazon Outlet offers deals on new items. When you shop Amazon Warehouse, you’ll need to pay attention to the condition of the items you’re considering. And, as always when it comes to refurbished and open-box items, you should double-check the terms of the warranty.
2. Check out deals and coupons
Amazon offers a variety of ways to save. There are Gold Box deals and coupons, plus Amazon’s Lightning Deals and Deals of the Day. And that’s to say nothing of the promotions and seasonal deals that Amazon offers ahead of the holidays. If you’re shopping for an item and haven’t already decided on a specific item, it pays to shop around for deals and to look for coupons. Checking Amazon for deals and coupons is a great way to see if there’s a way that you can save money on something you’re planning to purchase.
3. Know Amazon’s price-adjustment policies
Many retailers will give you a price adjustment if the price of an item drops soon after you purchase it. But Amazon is no longer one of them. As Jason Del Ray reports for Recode, Amazon has stopped giving price adjustments, which it used to offer if you contacted customer service. The only product category for which Amazon still offers price adjustments is televisions. As Del Ray notes, the policy change might have something to do with the rise of startups that track prices and even request price adjustments. Which leads us to our next Amazon tip.
4. Track prices if you’re planning a major purchase
Prices on Amazon famously fluctuate. That probably doesn’t matter if you’re buying toilet paper or a paperback. But if you’re planning a big purchase, it matters more. You can track prices yourself by bookmarking an item or adding it your Amazon wish list or cart. Or, you can automate the task with a price-tracking tool. (Try those from Lootr, Keepa, and CamelCamelCamel.) You can use them to research how the price of an item has changed over time. And they can also send you a notification when Amazon’s price for an item drops.
5. Take advantage of Amazon’s trade-in program
If you need some extra cash for whatever it is you’re watching on Amazon, then make sure to take advantage of the platform’s trade-in program. As of a recent policy change, Amazon now offers instant gift cards to customers who trade in their used video games, laptops, and books. Trading in your old books or games is a great way to declutter your apartment or house. And it’s also a pretty efficient way to get some extra cash to buy the next book or the next game in the series (or just to turn unwanted items into credit for practical things like pantry staples and household essentials.)
6. Use subscriptions wisely
If you shop for toiletries or grocery items on Amazon, you’ve probably noticed the “Subscribe and Save” option. If you use the feature carefully, it can be a great way to save some money on items that you purchase regularly. Think about how often you typically repurchase an item, and then set the shipment frequency accordingly. Using the feature will save you a percentage of the purchase price, which can add up over time. And it also saves you the time and hassle of having to shop for the same items every month.
7. Compare prices internationally to find cheap books
Most books can be found pretty cheaply on Amazon. The exception is often textbooks, the recent editions of which are often pretty expensive. But you can compare prices on Amazon’s international websites to find a better deal on the books you need. An easy way to do that is by using CheapRiver, which will automatically compare prices on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, and Amazon.co.uk. The prices the site shows even include shipping, and the site helps you take advantage of current exchange rates when ordering books.
8. Find someone’s wish list with their name or email
Especially around the holidays and birthdays, it can be useful to have someone’s Amazon wish list. You can find someone’s wish list (or wedding registry) on Amazon by searching their name or email address. That way, you can figure out exactly what your friends or family members want without having to ask. In some cases, Amazon will even let you ship the gift directly to the recipient, which makes it easy to surprise someone even if you won’t see them in person on or before the special occasion.
9. Sign up for Amazon Prime
If you’re a frequent Amazon shopper, you’ve probably considered purchasing a Prime membership. It’s an option that’s worth considering — and not just for that guaranteed two-day shipping. (Though we won’t lie: That’s a pretty convenient benefit.) A Prime membership also gets you access to free video and music streaming. It gets you free cloud storage for your photos and access to a Kindle library. Plus, it gives you early access to discounts and access to services like Amazon Dash, Prime Pantry, and Amazon Prime Now.
10. Be careful not to overpay just to get an item on Prime
If you’re in a rush to get your purchase, you may be OK with paying a little bit extra to get it the next day or in two days. But when you’re ordering items that you don’t need right away, make sure that you aren’t overpaying just to get a purchase with Prime shipping. An Amazon product page may warn you that the item you’re looking at is available at a lower price from a non-Prime seller. It often pays to look at the discount that you can get by buying from a third-party seller. Just be aware of the seller’s typical shipping times to avoid disappointments.
11. Know what Amazon’s “Guaranteed Delivery” dates get you
Amazon Prime subscriptions come with guaranteed delivery dates. And sometimes, you’re really depending on getting a package in two days, or even the next day. The unfortunate truth is packages get delayed. But a shipment delay may entitle you to a shipping refund or an extra month of Prime membership if you call or email Amazon to report the delay. Amazon’s customer service representatives can offer an extra month of Prime. They can also expedite an order that hasn’t shipped yet. Or they can dispatch a replacement order for a shipment that’s been dispatched but delayed en route.
12. Gift someone a Prime membership
You can share your membership with another adult in your household. But if you’re looking for a good gift for somebody who isn’t in your household or isn’t a member of your immediate family, then you can gift them a Prime membership. You can purchase Prime for somebody as long you have their email address. And if they decide that they don’t want the subscription, they can exchange it for a gift card instead.