10 Secret Strategies to Save Big Bucks at Amazon
By Maryalene LaPonsie
Millions of Americans are in love with shopping on Amazon.com. It's terrifically convenient, and pricing can often be lower than in brick-and-mortar stores.
However, if you know a few tricks, there are even bigger bargains to be found. Following are 10 secret ways die-hard Amazon shoppers shave even more money off store prices.
1. Amazon Associates. Amazon Associates is the website's affiliate program. 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 according to Amazon:
All you need to join is a Web site that does not violate intellectual property rights or promote sexually explicit materials, violence, illegal activities, or discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, or age.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, the plan is that 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, 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.
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 stream video for free. 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 they charge you -- a one-month trial that may be perfect for, say, the holidays.
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 -- presumably to entice you to buy.
5. Amazon Mom. Moms are big business for retailers. The cost of all those diapers adds up quickly, but you can get 20 percent off a diaper subscription with Amazon Mom.
In addition, Amazon offers a one-time 10 percent discount -- up to 15 percent for Amazon Prime members -- on select items from your baby registry 60 days before your child's arrival date.
6. Amazon Student. Why should moms get all the savings? Poor college kids need a break too.
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 or music 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 the deep discounts. Every day can be like Black Friday on Amazon.com 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 new and sold at a deep discount. Look for items that are eligible for free shipping. And shop carefully -- beware 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.
- 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 upon it. Here's a direct link to the Outlet, where you'll find some of the best deals on new items.
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 our Deals Section, 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 of 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 cash back on your purchase.
What's your favorite way to save? Let us know in our Forums. It's a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.
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