10 Secret Strategies to Save Big Bucks at Amazon
By Maryalene LaPonsie
What's not to love about Amazon? OK, I am sure someone can tell me why they don't love Amazon, but I'll be the first to raise my hand and say I'm a fan. In fact, thanks to Amazon, my husband and I did 99 percent of our Christmas shopping for the kids last year while sitting in bed watching "Fringe." It even offers Sunday deliveries, so it's terrifically convenient. Amazon pricing can often be lower than that of brick-and-mortar stores, but there are even bigger bargains to be found.
1. Amazon Associates
Amazon Associates is the website's affiliate program, meaning every time you send someone to Amazon, you get paid a percentage of whatever they spend. It's really geared toward bloggers and small businesses, but anyone can sign up.
The key to making it work is to find a friend who is a regular Amazon shopper and also willing to sign up. You can't earn an affiliate commission on your own purchases but you can on someone else's.
So you and your friend both sign up as affiliates. Then, when you shop on Amazon, you use their affiliate link and when they shop, they use yours. It's an easy way to make up to 10 percent cash back on each other's purchases.
2. Subscribe and Save
If you want to be sure you never run out of toilet paper or laundry soap, you can use the Subscribe and Save feature available on many household items.
Basically, it works like this. You agree to receive regular, automatic shipments of certain products and in exchange you get free shipping and a discount. The discount starts at 5 percent for a single item and climbs to 15 percent if you subscribe to five eligible items.
And I'll let you in on a little secret. Since you can cancel at any time, some people sign up for Subscribe and Save, receive one shipment at the reduced price and then cancel.
3. Amazon Prime
For heavy-duty Amazon buyers like me, Amazon Prime is the way to go. It costs $99 for an annual membership but you get free two-day shipping, which can more than pay for the price of the membership.
Plus you can borrow from an extensive Kindle library for free. And that "Fringe" my husband and I were watching while Christmas shopping? Yup, that was streaming free compliments of Amazon Prime. There's also free streaming music and free unlimited cloud picture storage.
Maybe you aren't sure you spend enough at Amazon to justify shelling out $99. You're in luck. Amazon gives you a free one-month trial before it charges you -- a one-month trial that may be perfect for, say, the month right before Christmas.
4. Deal Tracker Sites
Regular Amazon shoppers know that prices at the online store fluctuate all over the place. That's where deal tracker sites come in handy. Websites such as CamelCamelCamel.com and TheTracktor.com can show you historical Amazon price data as well as send alerts when a price on a certain item reaches a preset amount.
You can price watch on your own by clicking "Save for Later" on the items that interest you. Creating a wish list is another option. Sometimes, if you put an item in your cart and leave it there for a few days, the price will drop, assumedly to entice you to buy.
5. Amazon Mom
Moms are big business for retailers. All those diapers and wipes and baby supplies add up quickly, but you can get 20 percent off with Amazon Mom.
Amazon Mom is free to join and gets you 20 percent off diapers and wipes, as well as all the benefits of Prime membership. If you're already an Amazon Prime member, you'll receive all Amazon Mom benefits free. If you're not, signing up will get you a free 30-day trial, but when it ends you'll be charged the regular $99 charge for Prime.
6. Amazon Student
Amazon Student is essentially a reduced-price version of Amazon Prime. For half the price of Prime, you get the same benefits, plus special student offers and promotions. You can also get a six-month free trial of Amazon Student compared with the 30-day trial offered to Prime members. During those six months, you don't get access to free video streaming or the Kindle lending library, but with six months of free two-day shipping, it's hard to complain.
To get an Amazon Student membership, you need an .edu email address or must be able to otherwise verify your enrollment status.
7. Unearth Deep Discounts
Every day can be like Black Friday on Amazon if you know where to look.
- Used items. Amazon allows third-party sellers and individuals to sell used items through its site. Some of these "used" items are actually brand new and sold at deep discount. Look for items that are eligible for Prime or Super Saver shipping. In addition, watch out for those penny books that come with $15 shipping and handling charges.
- Deal of the Day. Every day, Amazon has a new deal. You can find it by clicking on "Today's Deals" next to the Amazon logo at the top of the page. As I write this, the current daily deal is up to 50 percent off select Hasbro toys.
- Lightning Deals. These are also found on the Deal of the Day page. They offer a limited number of deeply discounted items for only a couple of hours.
- Outlet Department. The Amazon Outlet can be buried on the site and may be difficult to find unless you stumble on it. Here's a direct link to the Outlet, and that's where you'll find some of the best deals on new items.
Warehousedeals.com? What's that all about? Aren't we talking about Amazon here? Sure, and Warehouse Deals is the quick link to Amazon's warehouse where you can find all their refurbished and open box items.
9. Amazon Freebies
If you watch the Deals Section on Money Talks News, you probably already know that Amazon regularly offers promos including free music downloads, free apps, free e-books and free streaming video credits.
In addition, look for items that come with built-in freebies. One of the most common deals to find on Amazon is a free instant video for streaming with the purchase of select movies.
10. Get Your Swag On
Finally, one of the best ways to save on Amazon may be to go off Amazon. A number of rewards and survey websites let you earn points that can be redeemed for Amazon gift cards.
Swagbucks.com and MyPoints.com are examples of sites offering Amazon gift cards. Another option is to shop through Ebates.com and get up to 8 percent cash back depending on the department of your purchase.
So those are 10 ways the pros pay less when shopping on Amazon. What is your favorite way to save? Leave a comment below or visit the Facebook page of Money Talks News to share your savings strategy.