Amazon has built a reputation for great prices. Though not always the least expensive, and often not the best source for sale and clearance items, stock is generally inexpensive and comes attached to a large and lenient customer service department. In other words, Amazon.com is a good online store.
Yet there are ways to squeeze even more savings out of Amazon. These tactics don’t drastically reduce the already solid deals, but they do help bargain shoppers save a few extra bucks from every purchase. Better yet, all of these tips require almost zero time or effort.
Take Advantage Of Super Saver Shipping
Selecting free Super Saver Shipping on purchases that qualify is an obvious move. Unless you really need the item immediately, or the item isn’t fulfilled by Amazon but instead a third-party store, there’s little reason to use any other form of shipping.
The only problem with Super Saver Shipping is the minimum purchase. Normally, you need to make $25 in qualifying purchases, and that figure can be troublesome. Want to buy two movies? Often, they’ll be just under $25. At times you may find that you’re just a few dollars or cents under the limit.
What can you do? Use a filler item to make up the difference. You can save yourself the trouble of browsing the store’s massive inventory with Amazon Filler Item, a site that automatically searches for items that make up the difference between your purchase and the minimum you need to qualify for free shipping.
Track Prices On CamelCamelCamel
Online prices are easy to track, and their history can tell you if a product is a good deal or not. While not all products are subject to price trends some, like winter coats, have obvious seasonal fluctuations. A price tracker lets you know if you’re buying on the up or down-swing.
The best tracker is CamelCamelCamel. Besides an excellent, clear interface and robust search function, this site tracks the price of Amazon direct, 3rd party new and 3rd party used inventory. Users can view a price history graph at various time scales and even sign up for automated emails when an item reaches a desired price.
While I prefer the Camel, you can try Amazon Price Tracker and The Tracktor as well. These have unique strengths even if the overall package isn’t quite as strong.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Third-Party Sellers
Amazon’s direct sales are seen as the most reliable and, to be honest, that’s true. When buying direct from Amazon you receive full protection of the company’s generous return policies. But third-party sellers are still legit and, for the most part, offer the same experience as buying through Amazon itself.
This is most true for those that offer “fulfilled by Amazon” shipping. When you see this, it means you will receive shipping with all the regular haste provided by the company and also be eligible for Super Saver Shipping. That last point is a big deal if you’re buying more than $25 of goods.
Even used sellers are usually legit because the policies governing them are strict. There’s no back-lash against shoppers who rate a seller poorly and failure to complete a transaction can result in a quick investigation. If you avoid sellers with poor ratings, and those who are new, you’ll rarely have a problem.
Use The Wish List
Amazon’s Wish List may not seem like a great tool for saving money, but it can help. By putting an item on the Wish List you can keep up-to-date on its price over time. The list helps you do this by displaying how much the price of an item has dropped or risen since it was added.
You also can open your list on mobile devices, which is great for retail shopping. When looking at an item in-store you can compare it to the Wish List to see if the item is the same and if buying online will save you money. This is more convenient and accurate than searching via text or barcode.
And let’s not forget – you can share your lists with others. So if you want something, but don’t want to spend money on it, you can always add the item to your list and then share it in hopes it’ll turn up as a birthday surprise.
If You’re A Heavy User, Go Prime
For several years Amazon had offered an unusual membership known as Prime. Unlike most store memberships, this one doesn’t give you cash back or a discount. Instead it promises free two-day shipping for all items fulfilled by Amazon, thus making the online store just slightly less convenient than the one right down the street.
Prime is $79 a year, however, so you’ll have to decide if you’re gaining or losing. Shipping costs can vary from item to item, but the cost is usually $10 or more. Taking that as a minimum, you’ll need to make at least 8 orders at Amazon per year to break even. Note that’s orders, not items, as Amazon bundles items as much as possible by default.
And you’ll also need for shipping time to actually matter on items. If you don’t care when the item arrives, you’d probably use free shipping, so the value from Prime doesn’t matter.
Still, Prime can be a good deal for people who do most of their non-grocery shopping online. I should also mention that subscribing to Prime gives access to the company’s streaming video service, which is comparable to Netflix. Some people might find that alone to make the subscription worthwhile.
Saving money with Amazon is easy. You don’t have to be an extreme couponer to do it, nor do you have to stay up until midnight waiting for an online sale to trigger. All you really need to do is visit CamelCamelCamel and use features baked directly into Amazon. Sometimes you’ll save a few bucks, sometimes you’ll save a lot more, and it all adds up.
For more tips be sure to check out our full, comprehensive guide to Amazon.com!