Oct 30, 2018

How to Save Money at Amazon

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t shop at Amazon, including older family members who tend to be tech-shy. I also don’t know anyone who doesn’t like to save money, and there are actually quite a few ways to save money at Amazon. (Note: This post contains affiliate links that help support this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you for clicking using them! You can read CFO's full disclosure here.)

How to Save Money at Amazon | Chief Family Officer

Easiest Ways to Save

My favorite way to save at Amazon is Prime. It might seem counterintuitive at first, since you have to spend money for Prime - right now, a one-year Prime membership costs $12.99 per month or $119 per year, which is like paying $9.92 per month. That membership gets you free two-day shipping on most orders with no minimum, access to special deals, access to Amazon features like Prime Video, discounts at Whole Foods, and more.

My husband and I joined Prime for the free two-day shipping. It’s really the lack of a minimum purchase that saves us money. Before we joined Prime, we’d have to add items to our order to get to the free shipping minimum (which started at $25, then went up to $35 or $40, and is now back to $25). We tried to buy only items that we needed or were going to buy anyway, but there were a lot of items on our wish lists that ended up in our hands simply because we wanted to hit that $25 threshold.

The other aspect about Prime’s free shipping that I love is being able to ship gifts without having to hit a minimum. It makes gift-giving so easy!

My second favorite way to save at Amazon is their Visa card. We get back 5% on all of our qualifying Amazon and Whole Foods purchases and 1-2% back on all other purchases in the form of points, which we can use toward future Amazon purchases.

Another way I easily save at Amazon is by using my Swagbucks to get FREE Amazon gift cards. There are many other reward options at Swagbucks, but aside from PayPal and Visa, you can usually get the other gift cards at a discount. (For example, I buy Starbucks gift cards at Target and get 5% off because I pay with my Target REDcard.) In fact, for the same reason, I’ll select Amazon gift cards as my reward whenever possible, such as when redeeming points from another credit card.

The Patient Way to Save

One of the techniques I use to save at Amazon is to liberally add things to my wish list. I actually have multiple wish lists, and I've already discussed my "Gift Ideas" wish list, to which I save items that would qualify as impulse purchases - things I want but don't really need. But I have other wish lists, including lists that I use to save gift ideas for other people, books that I want to own but don't need to read right away, and books that I plan to borrow from the library when I have the time/inclination to read them.

Amazon will make a note if something on your wish list has come down in price, so I check each of my lists every day. For instance, if a book that I've been wanting to buy is 50% off compared to the day before, it's a good time to buy.

Another benefit of using a wish list to track decreases in price is that if Amazon offers a coupon for a product, it will show in your wish list. That can sometimes result in big savings, especially if it's on top of a Subscribe & Save discount.

The wish list strategy can backfire if something you want is in limited supply, because then prices tend to go up over time. But if that's not a concern and you can be patient, this is one way to save big.

Subscribe & Save

I love Amazon's Subscribe & Save program, which gets you 5% off your order, or 15% off if you have five or more items in that month's shipment. However, you do need to regularly check the prices to make sure they're worth paying. The best Subscribe & Save prices come when they're stacked with a one-time use coupon, so you might want to cancel your subscription after your first order ships. It's easy to manage your Subscribe & Save items - just click on the "Your Subscribe & Save Items" link under "Account & Lists" at the top right on any Amazon page.

Additionally, each month, you should review your Subscribe & Save order. Amazon will send you an email shortly before your order is scheduled to ship, and it will include any price increase or decrease from the last time the item was sent to you. You can easily see if something has gone up in price, which can help you decide if you want to cancel or postpone an item. For example, if you have a subscription for toilet paper, but the price has gone up so that you'd be paying over 25 cents per regular roll, you might want to cancel or postpone that shipment because you'll almost certainly be able to get toilet paper for less during a sale at Target.

Deals of the Day

Amazon offers all kinds of daily deals. Some of them last one day (Deals of the Day) and some of them last for a few hours (Lightning Deals). There are also daily Kindle book deals. You almost never know what the daily deals are going to be, so you can't plan to wait for a deal to get something you need or want. But if one of the deals happens to be something you're planning to buy, you might be able to score some big savings.

What's your favorite way to save at Amazon?

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