How to find the best deals on Amazon

Amazon buyer's guide

Amazon.com is known for it’s huge selection and amazingly low prices. Amazon’s prices are based on a number of factors including supply and demand, third-party pricing and even your customer profile.
No matter what you are looking for, you only need three things to find the best deals: extra time, flexibility and ConsumerFu’s secrets to finding the best bargains on Amazon.

Conduct Multiple Searches

Before you even begin, realize that Amazon is not always the cheapest option. Sometimes the best deals are on the manufacturer’s website, eBay or Craigslist and overstock companies. Even a simple Google search of the exact item you want could turn up dozens of options.
On Amazon, the basic search lets you filter returns on the left side-rail by product specifications, brands and reviews. Once you start to narrow your search, you can define it further by price and discount. The fewer restrictions you put on your search, the higher the number of returns. For example, many people mistakenly only search for items with “Free Shipping”, which could exclude better deals.
A generic search turns of dozens of options, but don’t be overwhelmed. Amazon often lists the same products separately if they come in different colors. Each return opens up more information about the product than you can imagine; product specs, photos, reviews, accessories and buying options.
At this point you can buy the item, new or used from multiple sellers, but you still may not be getting the best price. For really big deals, discounts and closeouts you’ll need to search your item in the web pages listed under “Today’s Deals”.

Amazon’s Deals Webpages

At the top of Amazon’s homepage, click the tab called “Today’s Deals” to link to all the deals, coupons and bargain pages. The main page, also called Gold Box Deals, provides links to all the sale items and tabs to all the discount pages. Scrolling down reveals a few examples of sale items offered on each page. At the bottom, you will find links to additional businesses which are owned by or partner with Amazon; such as 6PM for clothes and shoes and MYHABIT for housewares.
Here’s what you will see on the main Today’s Deals page and the five tabs:
Deal of the Day generally offers a single item or related items at a discount for a single day while supplies last. For example, a popular brand of boots and shoes in a variety of styles, colors and sizes may be listed at 40% off, but it is only through Amazon.com, not other sellers.
Lightning Deals offers limited quantities of single items that are on sale for a limited time. The deal ends when the clock or the items run out. Don’t let the timer scare you. Be sure to research the item before you buy to make sure it really is the best deal.
Our Best Deals includes discounted items and ongoing promotions listed on several Amazon.com webpages. It’s easy to quickly scroll through to see the discount, shipping costs and when the deal expires, so this may be a good place to start.
Quick Picks are posted daily based on your profile and search history. They come with a coupon, but in many cases you can only purchase one Quick Pick a day. Choose carefully, because once you add the item to your cart, the other coupons expire and you only have 60 minutes to buy it before that coupon expires, too.

  1. Coupons
    The Coupons tab on the Today’s Deals homepage features digital coupons applied at checkout. Amazon encourages you to sign in to see all the coupons available, but don’t expect a big difference. Some products apply the coupon automatically, others require you to clip it and put it in your account, so always clip it to be sure.
    There are some instances that you cannot stack multiple coupons with multiple deals in the same order, especially with Lightning Deals and Quick Pick items. To get around this, simply place separate orders to get the full discounts on all your purchases.
  2. Outlet
    If you’ve never heard of Amazon’s Outlet, you are not alone. It’s not even on the main homepage, but is a great place to find deals on fashion, electronics, gadgets, pet supplies, household goods, and musical instruments. You’ll find mostly clearance products, overstocks and closeouts at steep discounts.
    What’s great is the ability to search for exactly what you want instead of wasting your time scrolling through a list of deals. You can also search by category. Each one has a separate webpage with multiple tabs - including tabs listing special offers, coupons and markdowns taken off the already discounted outlet price! Just keep in mind, this may not be the best the price on Amazon. A search for digital cameras pulled up good deals on both Amazon and Amazon Outlet.
  3. Deals & Bargains
    The Deals & Bargains webpage pulls together deals from several sections of Amazon. While the focus seems to be electronics, you will also find weekly office bargains, monthly book deals and savings on seasonal products. Like brick and mortar stores, Amazon loves to offer extra deals around the holidays, so check here for holiday discounts.
  4. Warehouse Deals
    Amazon’s Warehouse Deals webpage may be your best bet for the biggest deals, but you have to make some concessions. These are items that were opened, possibly used and returned. Some were damaged before they were ever shipped out of the warehouse. The items are professionally refurbished and tested, but they are not guaranteed by Amazon.
    To see what condition the item is in, click on the offers and view the list of sellers. Listings include a brief description of the overall condition, what was wrong with the item and in some cases offers a seller’s warranty. Amazon provides this excellent explanation with photos of what many of the terms mean.
  5. Digital Deals
    Digital Deals is the final tab on the Today’s Deals homepage, and it’s exactly what you would expect. Sale items include music, games, apps, video and books. There is a free app of the day (Android) through the Amazon Appstore, deals on digital books through the Kindle Daily Deals and Free-to-Play Games for a PC or Mac.

Get a Robot

Shopping robots like camelcamelcamel, the tracktor and Online Price Alert can help you track prices on Amazon, but you have to be patient. Set up an account, then simply copy the URL for the exact product you want from Amazon’s website into your account. The Camelizer and Tracktor chart out the recent price history so you know if it is going up or down. All three sites alert you when the price matches what you designed as the price you will pay.
Stuffster works the same way, but it covers more than just the items sold on Amazon. Put in the URL for any item and Stuffster will constantly scan the internet to find the item at your price.

Shipping

Shipping costs can push the up the price of a great deal if you are not careful. Amazon’s Super Saver Shipping offers free shipping when you spend at least $25 on items that qualify, excluding taxes and gift wrapping. You’ll get the order 5-8 business days after all the items are available to ship. Also, you must check two boxes to get the free shipping, otherwise it will default to a higher method.

Upgrade Your Membership

To get free two day shipping, you’ll want to join one of the membership groups. Most come with a yearly fee, but the savings may be worth it if you purchase a lot on Amazon. Plus, anyone can get a free trial and cancel at anytime.

Amazon Prime Trial

Amazon Prime costs $79 a year, and you can get a free 30-day trial.
Still sounds too expensive? With this package, you can share your shipping benefits with up to four family members or co-workers, so long as the shipping address is the same.

Amazon Student

Amazon Student costs $39 a year, and you can get a free 6-month trial. Students can keep the discounted price for four years, then it automatically increases to $79.

  • Select - “Group my items into as few shipments as possible”
  • Choose - “Super Saver Shipping” for your shipping method
  • Free two-day shipping
  • Free access to Amazon Instant Video
  • Borrow books from Kindle Owner’s Library
  • Free two-day shipping
  • Email alerts on student specific discounts and promotions
  • Free release-date delivery on video games, dvd’s and books
  • Borrow one Kindle book each month

The drawbacks are that you do not get instant videos, you must use an email address that ends in .edu, and you can only sign up for the free trial once, even if you don’t use up the whole thing.

Amazon Mom

Amazon Mom allows parents of young children to get a free 3-month trial of Amazon Prime, plus get additional discounts on baby items. After trial ends fee is $79 a year.
Free two-day shipping (not included on Subscribe & Save items) 20% discounts on baby items like diapers with Subscribe & Save

Subscribe & Save

The Subscribe & Save program lets you save on items you constantly need to restock like grocery, beauty and health products. Choose your items from a select list, and they are automatically shipped to your home on a regular schedule. The discount varies depending on the day and the specific item, but generally said to be about 15%. Keep in mind, you won’t be able to use extra coupons or tap into Warehouse sales and Amazon Prime deals. However, you can change your order or cancel it at anytime, even if you only use it once.

Amazon Groceries

Amazon Grocery & Gourmet Food section offers mostly shelf stable items like breakfast foods, pasta, drinks and packaged meals. To find coupons, bulk sales and free items with purchase check on the Special Offers tab at the top.
For discounts up to 50%, buy your groceries through the Warehouse Deals section. Keep in mind, these are products that may be closeouts or nearing their expiration dates. Many items are sold in bulk for great prices. However, on the days I looked, some items like coffee were no better than what I get on sale at my local grocery store.

Amazon Marketplace

The Amazon Marketplace includes all products sold by sellers separate from Amazon. These third-party sellers may offer better deals, used items, and competitive shipping charges. Plus, Amazon guarantees the condition of your purchases. Some sellers do not qualify for free shipping under Super Saver Shipping, but they do offer free shipping to Amazon Prime members. Take special note of this when comparing prices between sellers, and even with similar sellers on eBay and Craigslist.
You can also sign up to sell products on Amazon Marketplace for just $0.99 plus a referral fee and a variable closing fee, depending on the item. If Amazon ships the item they will charge the seller. Just make sure you read all the rules. For example, if you want to sell toys this holiday season, you have to sell at least one item by September, and show a pattern of processing and shipping two dozen items before November.

Amazon Local

Amazon Local started as a way to give customers deals at local shops and restaurants. Now you can also find goods and services for things like art, flowers and travel packages. It’s not in all states, and even large cities don’t have a ton of deals, but it’s worth viewing especially around holidays.

Promotional Codes

Promo codes are a great way to get additional savings at checkout. They can be issued by the seller, as well as Customer Service directly through Amazon. You can also find them on those digital coupon websites, but they are not always an extra discount. Sometimes they are simply the sale price currently being offered on Amazon, so don’t waste too much time trying to track down an extra code.

Save By Earning Money

If you live in the continental United States, you can earn gift cards for new or gently used items through Amazon’s Trade-In Program. They don’t want your old prom dress. They want things like electronics, video games and books. The offer is only for items that are currently listed in the Trade-In search results, and it must meet the product description exactly; product title, model number, CPU, etc.
There are many conditions and Amazon inspectors can reject items if they are not on the list, damaged, in worse condition than claimed or there are missing pieces. Read the Terms & Conditions carefully for information on payment.

Customer Surveys

Amazon occasionally sends out invitations for customer surveys which can earn you online gift cards. The surveys are done by third-parties, but be careful how much information you give out. Amazon says it never asks you to provide account information, passwords or social security numbers. If you get a survey that does, stop taking it and contact Amazon.

Amazon Credit Card

Amazon Rewards Visa card from Chase gives you a $30 gift card just for signing up for their credit card, plus you get reward points for every purchase you make. For every 100 points you earn, you can take $1 off the price of your purchase on Amazon.com or get cash back and gift cards through Chase Bank.

  • 3 points for $1 spent on Amazon.com (affiliates not included)
  • 2 points for $1 spent on gas, restaurants, office supply stores and drugstores
  • 1 point for $1 spent on everything else

If you only use it on Amazon, it comes to a 3% cash back reward. Not bad, but some say you could do better. A lot has been written about people who game the system by using credit cards to buy gift cards for things they normally purchase.
For example, buying a $100 Starbucks gift card at the grocery store could earn you $6 on program that offers 6% cash back. I caution you to read the fine print to make sure gift cards earn reward points, and to make sure the store rings them up as merchandise. Stores pay credit card networks every time you use your card, and those reward cards cost store owners even more! Remember that tidbit every time you use your high rewards card in a little mom and pop place!

Amazon Associates

Bloggers who have their own websites can also earn Amazon vouchers by linking to the site through an affiliates program. When your readers click on the Amazon ad and buy something, you get a commission of 5-15%. While it doesn’t count for anything sent to your home, it doesn’t stop you from teaming up with friends and family and asking them to use your affiliate code.