No one denies that Amazon is convenient. With one click, you can get anything (from furniture to a gallon of milk) delivered straight to your door, sometimes in a matter of hours. But does the giant of online retail always save you money?
The short answer is no. Like most stores, Amazon offers great deals on some things and not-so-great prices on others. But perks like free two-day shipping for Prime members and a stress-free shopping experience means millions of people keep clicking and buying. People bought $43.7 billion worth of stuff from Amazon in the fourth quarter of 2016 alone.
Chances are, you were one of those Amazon shoppers. And there’s also a good chance you could be saving more money if you were aware of a few of the tips and tricks that Amazon pros know. To help you out, we’ve rounded up 12 secrets to help you get the best deal on Amazon.
1. You can get 5% back on all your purchases
Prime members can boost their savings by signing up for the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. You’ll get 5% back on almost everything you buy at Amazon; 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drug stores; and 1% everywhere else. There’s no annual fee or foreign transaction fees. Plus, you get a $70 Amazon credit as soon as you’re approved for the card, unlike with most cash back cards where you must spend a certain amount of money to get a sign-up bonus.
2. Buying Amazon gift cards with a credit card can save you money
If you’re loyal to another cash back card, you can still save money on your Amazon purchases. Pay close attention as to which retailers are in special bonus categories. Sometimes, you may be able to get as much as 5% back on online purchases. Also, look for 5% back deals on what you buy at grocery stores or gas stations. When that happens, stock up on Amazon gift cards to use them for future purchases. For example, the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card gives you 6% back on all grocery purchases (up to $6,000 per year). That’s a pretty good reason to grab a couple of Amazon cards on your next milk run.
3. Shop through cash back portals to save even more
So, you’re shopping with your Amazon cash back credit card, and you want to save even more money? There’s a way to do that. Shopping portals like Ebates, BeFrugal, and Upromise offer cash back in certain Amazon categories. Right now at Ebates, you can get 25% cash back on magazine purchases, 3% back on luggage, and 3% back on grooming and beauty products.
4. Prime free shipping is shareable
Amazon lets you share your Prime benefits, including free two-day shipping and Prime video, with another person in your household. So, if you and your partner have separate Prime accounts, you may want to go in together to save. However, sharing Prime memberships comes with a big catch: You can only add one other adult to the account, and you have to be willing to share payment methods. In other words, don’t become Prime partners with anyone you wouldn’t trust with your credit card information.
5. Subscribe and save with caution
At first glance, Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program seems like a great deal. Sign up for regular shipments of certain items, like toilet paper or coffee, and get 5% off your order. But as this New York Times article explains, there’s no guarantee the price on future orders will be the same as it was when you signed up. Prices can fluctuate dramatically, and though Amazon sends you an email to let you know how much something costs before it ships, you could end up paying way more than you expected if you’re not careful.
Instead of Subscribe and Save, try a service like Camel Camel Camel, which will automatically notify you when the price of an item you want to buy on Amazon drops. You can track the price of items you use, then manually reorder when the price is right.
6. Prime could replace your Netflix subscription
If you appreciate the convenience of streaming movies and television shows, a Netflix subscription probably seems mandatory. But depending on your viewing habits, you might be able to get away with canceling Netflix and using Amazon Prime as your main streaming service. Amazon’s Prime Video service has more than four times as many movies as Netflix, according to Variety, though Netflix beats Amazon Prime in the number of TV series it offers.
Quantity doesn’t necessarily spell quality, of course. However, if you stream sparingly and don’t consider Netflix originals like Stranger Things must-see TV, Amazon Prime alone might meet your viewing needs, saving you anywhere from $8 to $12 per month.
7. Parents can save with Amazon Family
Parents with a Prime membership get an extra 20% off diaper subscriptions and a 15% baby registry completion discount when they sign up for Amazon Family. You’ll also get a welcome box stuffed with goodies once you buy $10 worth of items from your baby registry. Plus, there’s the convenience of having infant essentials delivered straight to your front porch, so you can spend time with your baby rather than searching for parking at the local mall.
8. Students get a big discount on Prime memberships
Cash-strapped college kids can score a free, six-month Amazon Prime membership when they sign up using their .edu email address. The trial gets you free shipping and Amazon Prime Video access. Once the trial expires, you get a paid membership for 50% off, or $49 per year. For that price, you’ll receive the two-day shipping and Amazon Prime Video benefits, plus access to Amazon Prime Music and unlimited photo storage. What’s more, you’ll get a $10 credit for every friend who you refer to Prime Student.
9. Trade in your old gadgets for gift cards
You can turn your old cell phone, tablet, laptop, or game console into a gift card by trading it in to Amazon. The site also accepts video game and book trade-ins. Some trade-ins are even eligible to receive instant payment, so you don’t have to wait until Amazon receives your items to get your money. But Amazon isn’t the only place where you can trade in your tech, so you might want to shop around to make sure you’re getting the best price.
10. Choose slower shipping to get promo credits
One of the big perks of Prime membership is fast shipping. But you may not need everything you order to arrive quickly. When time isn’t of the essence, opt for Amazon’s no-rush shipping option. In exchange for slower delivery, you’ll get credits you can use for e-book, video, and music purchases. The codes will automatically be applied to the next purchase you make. You can check your promotional code balance here.
11. Install a browser extension to find the best deals
Often multiple Amazon sellers will be selling the same item. To find the best deal fast, install Honey, a browser extension that will automatically point you to the best deal on Amazon, factoring into account the cost of shipping and taxes. (It will also search for and apply coupon codes for shopping you do at other sites.) Plus, you can earn rewards when you shop through Honey that can be redeemed for Amazon gift cards.
12. Shop at Amazon to support your favorite charity
Generous Amazon shoppers can give their charitable giving a little boost by signing up for Amazon Smile. You can choose from close to 1 million charities, from huge non-profits like the American Red Cross to your local Parent Teacher Association. Amazon will donate 0.5% of your total purchases to the charity of your choice when you shop through the Amazon Smile link.