With over a million different items up for sale at any time from every nook of the globe, retail giant Amazon has become a central part of our shopping lives. Our household depends on Amazon as Prime members to get things on short notice.
The 2-day shipping is sometimes easier than putting everything down, driving to the store, find parking and trying to find that one thing in a big building full of stuff.
For the simple convenience and free shipping perks, people think you can’t find thrifty items on Amazon but that’s just not true. You won’t find everything at the lowest price but if you are savvy, discounts pricing discrepancies can happen every minute on Amazon.
For example, this is a quick example of our actual Amazon S&S haul:
This is a typical rundown of our monthly subscribe & save whereas you can see we try to:
- Buy in bulk.
- Use all the 29 other techniques we will get into below.
- And of course, lastly, buying only what we need.
Having been avid Amazon shoppers for almost a decade now, we have accumulated tons of tips & tricks on how to (almost always) find the products we need for the price point we want – very often even lower than physical retail stores.
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1. Don’t Be Afraid of Using Amazon “Subscribe & Save”
Subscribe & Save is an Amazon program that lets users save on regular items. You can save up to 20% on any S&S product under these broad categories: Household, Grocery, Baby Care, Pet Supplies, Personal Care, Health & Wellness.
You do not need to be an Amazon Prime customer in order to take advantage of Subscribe and Save. And the best part? You aren’t required to subscribe & save to any item for long.
Make sure your Subscribe & Save is over 5+ items to get the full 15%-20% discount. Are you looking for cheap S&S items as a filler? You can sort by the lowest price after you select an S&S category on the left-hand side of the page.
About 99% of the time we cancel our subscription after our first monthly package arrives. Amazon has absolutely no problem with this. It’s essentially like an instant 10-20% discount just for using S&S. It’s free to cancel.
Remember to cancel your Subscribe & Save item after the first delivery! If you forgot to cancel and the next month they send you another package on Subscribe & Save, it’s OK, you can return it. Just don’t forget to cancel too often!
You can also change your monthly S&S dates. Amazon will send you an email notification on when the last day of the month will be for you to edit your S&S order before they lock the order down and prepare to ship.
2. The Walmart Test
Double-check with prices at Walmart online. Walmart and Amazon are heavy retail competitors against each other. If a deal is really good — therefore high in demand — I will know by checking to see if Walmart deemed it important enough to drop and match Amazon’s price.
3. Subscribe & Save Has Coupons Too
Look under the Subscribe & Save section on Amazon, you can cross-reference it with additional e-clipable coupons on the left-hand sidebar of the page. You can occasionally find stackable coupons that go with 15% off S&S.
On top of that, if Amazon has a site-wide promotion (a typical example would be: spend $50, get $10 off on Select Diapers, etc.) and if those diapers have S&S options then that could also be stacked on top of the e-clipable coupon and S&S discount.
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4. Amazon Specific Store Cards
Also, when you’re at it, apply for a free Discover IT Card. Discover has rotating categories depending on the quarter and Amazon is an annual category.
5. Share Prime with a Partner
Amazon also offers the sharing of Prime benefits with just one account. The cost of the subscription can be shared with two adult members of the family, and up to four children!
P.S. Check out with Smile Amazon and Amazon will donate a small % to the charity of your choice!
6. Prime Student & EBT/Medicaid Programs
Students can become Prime members and see for themselves if the membership program is right for them in a 6-month trial with Amazon Student Prime. They also get unlimited photo storage as well as free 2-day shipping during the six-month trial.
EBT (food stamp), Medicaid, and Medicare recipients can get 50% off their Prime membership instantly as long as they provide proof of ID with their EBT and/or Medicaid cards. This drops the price of a Prime membership down to just $5.99 a month.
7. Amazon Family subscription
Amazon Family Subscription gives deals and coupons to family-related items. This is a free program for a family subscribed to Amazon Prime. Families can save up to 20% on diapers and baby food, as well as on family essentials. If you’re expecting a baby, you can get up to 15% on baby-related items with an Amazon Registry. Not to mention a free baby welcome box full of samples valued at $35!
8. Use Coupons & Discounts Available
Amazon provides daily coupons and discounts to their products almost on a daily basis. You can find different deals from different kinds of products. All you have to do is to find the items that you need and clip a coupon on this page if it’s available.
9. Utilize Prime Pantry
Have you ever just needed to pick up 3 things needed at the store but found yourself walking out with 20 things instead? Impulse buys are the devil of instant gratification shopping.
If you’re already subscribed to Amazon Prime, you can also subscribe to Amazon Prime Pantry for $5 a month. This gives you access to low-priced grocery and household essential items. These pantry products typically include snacks, personal care products, and grocery products. You can curb the instant, impulsive need to grab what’s in front of you in stores by considering it more carefully online; in the comfort of your own home.
You can check on current promotions in the Prime Pantry store. Prime Pantry members usually have a minimum of $10 requirement for free shipping and pay $5.99 if the minimum requirement is not met. This is super convenient, especially if you want to save on gas or don’t want to leave the house for groceries.
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10. Visit Amazon Warehouse or Amazon Outlet
Item returns are pretty common in the Amazon system. People return things all the time. Since these products can no longer be sold as “new” now that the wrapping or packaging is damaged, they are sold as lightly used items at a discount.
You can take advantage of this if you don’t mind slightly used products. Pay attention to the condition of items stated by Amazon Warehouse in the product listing. The condition is usually correlated to the level of discount (i.e. “Very Good” will be cheaper than “Like New”)
You can browse Amazon Outlet to take advantage of overstock items and soon-to-be discontinued products. Amazon Outlet usually offers new items cheaply because there is no middleman.
11. Trade-in Tech
Considering an upgrade for your device? You can ship your old devices to Amazon and get a trade-in dollar amount for your item. Once you ship your item to Amazon and your item was verified to the description + condition submitted, you’ll be rewarded with a gift card that you can redeem to your account. It’s super easy but the only downside is that Amazon’s Trade-In program is only available on supported items (such as mobile phones, gaming, books, tablets, etc.).
12. Use Tracking Apps & Websites
Third-party apps can track the price history of any item that you want to buy. Sites such as CamelCamelCamel sends a notification to your email if the item you’ve been eyeing suddenly drops in price. Another service called Honey sends you deals and automatically combs the web for applicable coupons before you check out.
Slickdeals & DealNews are both apps I use to keep up-to-date with Amazon flash sales. Brickseeker is another great option if you want to put a little elbow grease in finding remarkably discounted items either online or locally.
13. Package Forwarding Services (for International Customers)
International shipping can be a pain in the neck for international customers. Sometimes, the shipping fee is even more expensive, or the item is not available at all in your region. If you’re an international customer and you want to save money, consider using a package forwarding service or purchase digital items instead (if applicable, e.g. games, music, etc).
14. Check Amazon Lightning Deals
When checking for daily sales promos, you’ll likely find yourself in Lightning Deals. Lightning deals are offered in limited quantity that runs for a limited amount of time (or until the supplies last.) You can save more than 50% of the original price if you’re lucky.
15. Avoid Tax Buying With Trusted 3rd Party Sellers
For most of Amazon’s history, savvy buyers were able to (legally too!) avoid paying sales tax if the Amazon seller was in another state or country. Items that are provided and delivered by Amazon.com can be guaranteed to come in the condition promised, but if you want to save money on sales tax then consider buying items from a reputable 3rd party seller. Not all 3rd party sellers require buyers to pay sales tax.
These small-time sellers often offer matching prices to contend with Amazon.com. The possible downside is 3rd party sellers may not have the generous refund policies and item guarantees as Amazon.com.
16. Do Not Ship Items Back Yourself
Receiving a broken or defective item can be a pain in the neck! The good news is Amazon has always been strong in the customer satisfaction department when it comes to making right of items that arrived defective or damaged.
You can check your order history and submit a return or simply contact Amazon Customer Service. Either way, Amazon.com will cover the return costs associated with your item and give you a full refund. There are even UPS pick-up and UPSs drop-off options to ensure your returns are effortless and completely free to you.
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17. URL Extension Technique
Amazon’s arbitrary filter doesn’t allow you to filter the search results based on the amount discounted. If you want to shop for your item via the amount of discount, you can add a certain “extension” in the URL link. An example of the extension format is like this: “&pct-off=70-” which means 70% off. This only works on product list pages.
18. Buying Amazon Gift Cards on Balance Forgiveness
We found this clever (albeit a bit immoral) hack in this Amazon discount guide. Everyone with these credit cards has the ability to transfer free money to your Amazon gift card account and have that money forgiven.
If the total billed balance is low enough in a month, big banks don’t even bother billing you for it. That’s just how banks are right now, a dollar a month isn’t worth the trouble for them to charge you.
Your mileage may vary depending on the bank but it wouldn’t be the end of the world if you ended up charged $1.99 for an Amazon gift card you were going to need anyway.
The process is automated so a penny difference would be the deciding factor for credit back or a charge.
We tested several different credit cards, these are the ones that do small loan forgiveness. (Updated 2019).
- Barclay will forgive $0.99 max.
- Capital One will forgive $1.00 max.
- Wells Fargo at $1.99 max.
- Discover forgives up to $2.00 max.
You can do each of them once a month if you have no other outstanding balance. Other banks and credit cards we researched do not currently forgive small balances like the ones above.
19. Make Your Purchases Seasonal
There are certain times each year where some of the items are offered at a discounted price. Back to school sales period is where you will see laptops and computer prices drop. Meanwhile, games and consoles are up for sale during the Christmas holidays. You can save hundreds of dollars if you time your purchases right. Check out Consumer Report’s “Best Time to Buy Things” guide.
(P.S. Depending on your location, you can also score a free magazine subscription to Consumer Reports from your local library.)
20. Leaving Items In Carts (Works Sometimes)
If you leave the item that you want in the cart, Amazon will give you a little push to make the purchase. You might receive a deal notification if you leave the item for a few days. Now, this doesn’t work all the time, but it’s worth a try.
21. Get Cashbacks & Rebates
Shoppers who usually use Amazon’s service in order to make their purchases can benefit by acquiring Amazon Prime VISA and Reward credit cards. These Amazon store cards give you 3% to 5% cash back on every purchase you make that’s sold by Amazon.
Besides the Amazon store cards, there are also lots of 3rd party cashback programs that can be used to double up on top of your Amazon store credit cards:
I love cashback websites and eBates is the king of them all. The extra percentages back add up quickly especially when you get $10 free after you sign up.
BeFrugal is another reputable cashback program. You can score another $10 free signing up with BF. You should sign up for multiple cashback websites because the cashback percentages change quite often. You can save more money by comparing daily rates at various cashback sites.
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22. Earn With Surveys
Earn Amazon gift cards just by giving your opinion answering surveys. Online survey sites such as Swagbucks and SurveyJunkie give “points” to each completed survey. These points can be used to redeem Amazon Giftcards or Paypal. Microsoft Bing Rewards also gives out free Amazon gift cards for using their Edge browser for web searches. Download and use the Edge browser for extra Bing points.
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23. Sign Up with Amazon Email Subscription
Good deals and offers can be hard to find, especially if you’re looking for a certain item. Sign up in Amazon’s email subscription and you can receive deals based on your spending habits and search history. There are rare times when Amazon sends a good deal exclusively. This does works and it helped me a lot while looking for a budget laptop!
24. Use Snagshout
Snagshout offers discounts on items such as groceries, media, pet supplies, clothing electronics, and more. The only thing you need to do is to make an account on the website using your email or via Facebook. Find an item you want, and click on “Snag it.” You will be given a coupon which you can use when checking out on Amazon.
25. Credit Loose Coins to Amazon
Did you ever wonder what you’d do in the penny jar that has been accumulating hundreds of pennies? You can turn them into Amazon gift cards using Coinstar kiosks nationwide. Coins that are converted to Amazon gift cards are not required to pay the usual Coinstar kiosk fees.
26. Score Add-on Filler Items (Non-Prime)
Oh I love Amazon add-on items. They’re cheap (usually $1-$5) little items, usually very practical like deodorant or napkins, that are perfect to push you over the free shipping threshold. To qualify for free shipping on Amazon for non-Prime members, you will need to purchase items totaling over $25 or more. This is where add-ons items shine to save you money.
27. Consider Refurbished Items
Amazon has a high standard in order to qualify an item as brand new. That means they will qualify something as used or refurbished even if the problem is completely minor and cosmetic. If you want to save some money, refurbished items can be a good option to consider.
28. Consider Slower Shipping Options
Faster shipping means faster convenience but it comes at a price. If you don’t need the item ASAP, consider for the other free (slower) shipping options that will nab you extra shopping credit (for music, videos, Kindle books, movies, etc.) as an Amazon Prime member.
29. Compare Colors & Sizes for Price Differences
For items that come in various different colors, sizes, prints, and designs available, it might be a surprise to you seeing they might also have very different price points. The differences in color, size, print, and design usually impact the price because it correlates to consumer demand. If you don’t have a specific color or theme in mind, opt for the most affordable design, size, or color options.
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