8 Easy Ways to Save Money Shopping on Amazon
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t shop on Amazon at least occasionally. With its vast inventory including everything from personal items to furniture to pet supplies, it seems like you can buy nearly everything your heart desires on Amazon. And thanks to the site’s partnership with Whole Foods and the AmazonFresh grocery delivery service, many people can now skip the grocery store and do all their food shopping online.
Even better, it’s easier than ever to find amazing deals on Amazon’s mammoth website. Here’s a look at some tools and strategies you can use within the site itself, as well as other websites that can help you save money when shopping on Amazon.
Saving Money Within Amazon
With a bit of time, patience, and know-how, you can save a lot of money on top of Amazon’s already-low prices.
1. Amazon Prime
According to Forbes, Amazon shipped over 5 billion items through Amazon Prime in 2017. In 2018, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced that Prime had over 100 million members worldwide.
Prime’s cost continues to creep up, but so do the benefits. You can see a full run-down here, but here are some of the hottest perks of Prime membership:
- Free two-day shipping on most items sold on the website. In some locations, Prime members qualify for free same-day or even free two-hour shipping.
- Unlimited movie and TV streaming through Prime Video.
- Music streaming through Amazon Music Unlimited. Non-Prime members have access to over 2 million songs; for a monthly fee, Prime members get ad-free, unlimited streaming of over 50 million songs.
- Up to 20% off diapers and baby food through Subscribe & Save.
- Free e-books and magazines for your Kindle, tablet, or phone through Prime Reading. You can also join Kindle Unlimited for a monthly fee to gain access to over 1 million books and magazines with unlimited downloads.
- Early access to new books through First Reads, which allows you to download one free book per month before it’s released to the public. Members can choose one of six books selected by Amazon editors.
- Early access to Lightning Deals, limited-time daily deals that only last while supplies do. Most Lightning Deals are discounted by at least 20%, and you’ll find many deals that are 50% to 70% off or more.
- Try-before-you-buy clothing, shoes, and accessories through Prime Wardrobe. Items ship free, and you’re only charged for the things you decide to keep. You can return everything else with the free shipping label that comes in the same box.
And that’s only a short list of the benefits you get with your Prime membership. However, it’s worth noting that if you end up purchasing a membership, you’re likely to spend more at the site, potentially erasing your savings. According to Business Insider, Prime members spend an average of $1,400 per year with Amazon, while non-members spend around $600 per year.
If you’re not yet a Prime member, it might pay to do a quick search for a coupon; Amazon sometimes runs promotions for $20 or more off Prime membership. You might also get a discounted membership rate by waiting for Amazon Prime Day or Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales. Also, students pay about half the normal price for their Prime membership.
2. Subscribe & Save
One of Amazon’s most popular programs is Subscribe & Save. With Subscribe & Save, you get additional discounts when you sign up to receive regular deliveries of products you use all the time. For example, Subscribe & Save members save up to 15% when they subscribe to five or more items shipped to a single address. Some products have coupons allowing you to save even more, and shipping is free.
What’s eligible for Subscribe & Save? Everything from paper towels to toothpaste to bottled water. Families with children can also sign up for Amazon Family to receive 20% off diapers, baby food, child vitamins, and related items delivered regularly.
3. Amazon Warehouse
You may have never heard of Amazon Warehouse, but it’s where you can find some really great deals if you don’t mind buying used.
When items are returned or boxes are broken during shipment, those products are sent to the Amazon Warehouse return center. Amazon also sells refurbished items – typically, electronics from their Trade-In program – in their Warehouse store. All items are inspected and tested by qualified suppliers and covered by a 90-day supplier-backed warranty.
At the Amazon Warehouse, you can find great deals on items such as:
- Computers and tablets
- Digital cameras
- Home and kitchen products
- Unlocked cell phones
- Kindles and other Amazon electronics
- Tools and home improvement products
- Clothing, shoes, and jewelry
- Baby products
4. Amazon Credit Cards
Amazon has a few different types of credit cards, and using them on the site can be an easy way to save and even earn money on purchases you’re already making.
Amazon.com Store Card
The Amazon.com store card is available for Prime members with credit approval. The store card is like any department store card; you can use it only at Amazon. Card features include:
- 5% back on all Amazon purchases (given as points redeemable only at Amazon)
- No annual fee
- APR of 28.24% APR
- Special 6-month interest-free financing on any purchase of $149 or more
- Special 12-month financing on any purchase of $599 or more
- Special 24-month financing on select items
Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card
The Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card is a Visa card that allows you to earn Amazon points everywhere you shop. It also provides many other great benefits, such as:
- 5% back at Amazon and Whole Foods
- 2% back at gas stations, restaurants, and drugstores
- 1% back everywhere else
- APR of 16.49% to 24.49%, depending on borrower credit score
- No annual fee
- No foreign transaction fees
- Travel accident insurance and emergency assistance
- Lost luggage reimbursement
- Zero fraud liability
- Auto rental collision damage waiver
- Extended warranty protection extends the manufacturer’s warranty protection by one to three years, depending on the item
5. Prime Newsletter
Each week, Amazon publishes their Prime newsletter, which provides a rundown of current member benefits and shopping deals. Subscribing to the newsletter is a great way to find insider ways to save even more money and be the first to know about members-only sales.
6. Amazon Trade-In Program
The Amazon Trade-In program allows you to trade in thousands of items for Amazon gift cards. You can trade in things such as:
- Kindle e-readers
- Streaming media players
- Bluetooth and Echo speakers
- Cell phones
- Gaming consoles and video games
How much you earn through the Trade-In program depends on the item you’re trading in and its condition. However, Amazon will accept some items, such as Kindles, even if they’re not working.
Another perk of the program is that it’s easy and free. You simply answer a few questions about your item’s condition, and Amazon then gives you a quote for how much you might earn on the trade-in and a pre-paid shipping label you can print. Once Amazon receives the item, you’ll get your Amazon gift card within 10 days. You might also be eligible for a significant discount off the purchase of an upgraded item; for example, if you send in an old Kindle, you’ll receive a gift card in addition to a 25% discount off the purchase of a new one.
Strategies Outside Amazon
In addition to all the money-saving strategies within Amazon, there are plenty of external tools and sites that can help you save even more.
7. Price Tracking Tools
Prices change all the time at Amazon – sometimes significantly so. For instance, last week, I was shopping for a Schleich dragon model for my sons as a special reward for doing all their chores for the past month. When I put the dragon into my cart, it cost $16.50. The next day, I logged in to finish the purchase and was floored to see the price had gone up to $29.75.
Using a price tracking tool can save you a great deal of money if you have the time and patience to wait out the ups and downs. There are several great price tracking websites to consider.
Honey is a price tracking website that allows you to track Amazon products, as well as products at other websites, including Anthropologie, Target, REI, Nordstrom, and Petsmart. You can compare sellers of the same product to find the best deal, as well as add items to your Droplist to receive an alert if the price falls below a certain amount.
Visually, CamelCamelCamel is a stripped-down version of Honey; it looks like the site was created in the early days of the Internet and never changed. However, the website is easy to use and offers some helpful tools to help you find the best prices on Amazon.
As with Honey, you can enter in an Amazon product or URL and quickly create a Watch list; the website will notify you every time there’s a price drop. However, the site also has Price History Charts, which allows you to see the price fluctuations of any product over the past several years. If you have time to wait, you can use these charts to anticipate when a product might drop to a new low and purchase it then.
Another great feature is CamelCamelCamel’s Popular Products page, which has a list of the most popular products being purchased by other users and their current low price.
8. Rewards Websites
There are several rewards websites that offer cash back rewards when you use their portal to access Amazon.
Rakuten, formerly Ebates, offers several cash back offers through Amazon, depending on what you buy. You can earn cash back in the following departments:
- Amazon Exclusive Apparel: 5%
- Amazon Devices: 5%
- Furniture: 4%
- Home Improvement: 4%
- Jewelry: 3.5%
- Luggage: 3.5%
- Watches: 3.5%
- Handmade : 3%
- Luxury Beauty and Grooming: 3%
- Automotive: 2%
It’s important to keep checking your Rakuten account because eligible departments and cash back offers change often.
Another way to save money at Amazon is to join Swagbucks. Swagbucks is different from Rakuten in that you earn gift cards and cash for things you do, such as shopping online, watching movie trailers, or taking online surveys.
There’s some debate on whether or not rewards sites like Swagbucks are legit or a scam. The general consensus is that they can be worth your time, and they’re a relatively easy way to earn some extra money to spend at Amazon. However, you’re not likely to earn a significant side income with Swagbucks.
MyPoints gives you shopping points for accessing websites through their portal, and you can redeem those points for gift cards at retailers such as Amazon. You can earn up to 25 points for each dollar you spend when you use their portal.
As with Swagbucks, you can also earn points for watching videos, taking surveys, and reading emails. Plus, you’ll receive a $10 Amazon gift card when you sign up and make your first purchase.
You can also earn Amazon gift cards using Drop. Drop is a bit different from other rewards programs in that the app is linked directly to your credit and debit cards. You then earn points on every purchase you make.
Giving a rewards app sensitive financial information can be risky, but Drop claims that they use bank-level 256-bit encryption. If you’re skeptical, feel free to pass on this one.
Amazon continues to grow at lightning speed, and for good reason. Why spend time and energy going to the store when you can find what you need quickly and easily from the comfort of home? Amazon takes the chore out of shopping, especially if you have children, and offers great prices on most items. Make use of the above strategies, and you can rack up some significant savings.
Do you have any other Amazon tips and tricks? Share them with us in the comments!