Everyone loves the convenience of online shopping, but Amazon must be doing something special to get so many people to commit to a $120 subscription.
More than 150 million have signed up for a Prime membership, demonstrating their love for Amazon’s free shipping, crazy range of products and great digital content. (Seriously, don’t sleep on Prime Video and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.)
That said, the e-retailer has become so successful and so gargantuan that it’s easy to lose track of all of its many offers, programs, sales and deals — especially during its two-day Amazon Prime Day sale. Here are some of the many ways you can save money when shopping at Amazon.
1. Get rewarded for your patience
If you aren’t going to press your face against the windowpane as you wait for your package to arrive — we’ve all been there — choose No-Rush Shipping at checkout instead.
You won’t get your items as fast but you can earn some cool rewards. Any customer can earn a tidy $1 discount that gets applied to their order, but Prime members can also receive promotional offers for future purchases.
Keep in mind that these rewards do expire within a specified time frame if you don’t use them. To make your Amazon shopping sprees even more rewarding, pay with a credit card that will give you cash back.
2. Find marked-down items at the warehouse
The rush of getting a great deal on a previously loved item isn’t restricted to garage sales. Amazon Warehouse sells items that have been opened, used or slightly damaged — sometimes at a discount of 80% or more.
You can find a bunch of electronics and gadgets on this page, so if you’re shopping for a gift on a budget, this could be a great place to start. Amazon will tell you what condition each item is in to help you decide whether you’re actually getting good value for the price.
If you already know what product you’re looking for, just search it up on Amazon as you’d normally do and keep an eye out for “Used” offers, with Amazon Warehouse as the seller.
3. Get 'add-on' items without spending $25
“Add-on” items are small odds-and-ends, like cat toys or sticky notes, that are too cheap for Amazon to profitably ship on their own. Normally you can’t buy them unless you add them to a shipment of $25 or more.
However, there are a couple sneaky hacks that will allow you to fool the system.
If you’re a Prime member, you can enable free “Amazon Day” shipping to get whatever you buy over the course of each week delivered on a single day. You can include add-on items on that list, even if you don’t end up spending $25 by the time your stuff ships.
Alternatively, you can reach the $25 threshold by pre-ordering an upcoming book or video game. You won’t get charged for that item until the release date, but you can tack a few add-on items to your purchase that will ship right away. Then you can cancel your pre-order if you want — you monster.
4. Share your Prime membership
Get your whole family in on those Prime benefits, while paying for only one membership.
Amazon Household lets you add up to one more adult, four teens and four child profiles to an account. You can split membership fees with a spouse or family member and share digital content like eBooks, apps and games with your kids.
You aren’t allowed to share any Prime benefits with young children, however, and you can’t share Prime benefits at all if you’re using a discounted membership, such as Prime Student.
5. Get a 6-month free trial if you’re a student
With tuition fees and loans dragging them down, students need all the financial help they can get.
With Amazon Prime Student, college and university kids get an extended, six-month free trial of Amazon Prime and only pay half the regular membership fee if they choose to continue their membership while they’re in school.
Students get free two-day shipping on eligible items and access to thousands of movies and TV shows through Prime Video and songs through Prime Music. They’re also eligible for exclusive deals and discounts, so keep a lookout for textbooks and other college essentials.
6. Watch even more movies and shows for free
Don’t look down on Prime Video as a Netflix wannabe. The streaming service has some great content, and you won’t need to pay extra if you already have a Prime membership.
If you run out of free Prime movies and TV shows to watch, don’t worry. Amazon allows you to add on “Prime Channels” like HBO, Showtime and CBS All Access for an additional fee.
Each channel typically includes a 30-day free trial, so you can binge all four seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender on Nickelodeon, then cancel your subscription before the trial ends if you don’t feel like paying for more.
7. One-Day Delivery is just the start
Everyone knows about Amazon’s One-Day Delivery, which gets you items by 9 p.m. the next day. But the online retailer offers multiple free delivery options with a Prime membership.
Shoppers in thousands of cities and towns are able to get Same-Day Delivery, depending on what they’re buying. Those in Philadelphia, Dallas, Orlando and Phoenix can get their stuff in as little as five hours.
And shoppers in select U.S. cities can get their food shipped fast with 2-Hour Grocery Delivery or even get packages delivered straight into their home with Amazon’s Key Smart Lock Kit.
8. Dig deep into the digital library
Prime members get access to Prime Reading — a digital library with more than 1,000 books and magazines to choose from.
You can use a Kindle E-reader, Fire tablet or just download the Kindle app to your phone to check out some good reads. You can download up to 10 titles at a time and opt for Audible narration on some books if you don’t feel like reading.
For bookworms who aren’t satisfied with the regular service, you can try a 30-day free trial of Kindle Unlimited in order to explore over a million titles. The premium service lets you borrow books without worrying about due dates and is available for $9.99 a month if you decide to commit after the trial.
9. Trade unwanted items for gift cards
If you’ve got some old electronics or books hoarded away in your closet, don’t let them languish in the dark. The e-retailer has a Trade-In Program that lets you exchange unwanted items for Amazon gift cards.
Your items will need to meet certain criteria, so check Amazon's customer service page for more details before sending them in. Luckily, you won’t need to pay for shipping, even if the items don’t get accepted.
If you’d prefer cash for your old electronics, there are alternatives to Amazon, including one buyback service we found that almost always beats the competition.
And if you like getting free Amazon gift cards, you can earn more of them online just by watching videos and taking surveys.
10. Take some of the stress out of parenting
New parents, or soon-to-be parents? Say no more.
Prime members can get up to 20% off on diapers, baby food and other infant essentials when they sign up for Amazon Family. They’re also eligible for a 15% baby registry discount and a free Welcome Box, which includes full-, travel- and sample-size products for both the parents and baby.
Amazon also sends out a helpful email newsletter with parenting tips from experts, product recommendations and exclusive deals, so don’t give in to the reflex and shove it into the trash.
11. Save with automatic deliveries
Are you the type of person who buys everything online, including toilet paper and batteries? Long-accustomed Amazon shoppers should consider signing up for the Subscribe & Save program.
You subscribe to purchase items that you’d buy regularly and get them delivered automatically on whatever recurring date you set. You get free shipping and can save up to 15% with five or more items per delivery.
If you’re concerned about overstocking on items, no problem. Amazon will send you a reminder email before each delivery with the list of items and applicable discounts, so you can skip or cancel an auto-purchase at any time.
12. Shop Amazon Outlet for clearance items
While Amazon Warehouse gets you discounts on opened and refurbished items, it’s pretty limited to tech. Amazon Outlet, on the other hand, lets you save on all sorts of products, from gardening tools to jewelry.
Items on this digital sales rack haven’t been used or opened already but include overstocked, seasonal and clearance inventory.
It’s not all Christmas stockings in July, so be sure to check it out before paying full price on your next purchase.
13. Get deeper discounts at Whole Foods
Yet another reason to get a Prime membership: deals on groceries.
Prime members get special weekly deals at Whole Foods — which is owned by Amazon — as well as an extra 10% off items that are already on sale.
And remember that free two-hour grocery delivery option? You can get whatever you need from Whole Foods delivered within that window, so you won’t get burned if you forget the milk for tonight’s potato gratin.
14. Wait for Amazon Prime Day
This virtual holiday usually occurs over the course of 48 hours in July in celebration of Amazon’s birthday, though COVID-19 pushed the 2020 edition to mid-October.
On Prime Day, prices get slashed on hundreds of items across departments and even on some of Amazon’s paid services, like Amazon Music.
As the name indicates, however, you will need to be a Prime member to participate.
15. Automatically compare prices online
You can usually find a good deal on Amazon, but is it the best deal around?
To see for yourself, install a price-tracking browser extension or app to automatically compare prices with other online retailers to make sure you’re not paying more than you need to.
These services also search for any available promo codes when you check out and let you earn loyalty credits — which you can redeem for store gift cards.