'Til You Digitally Drop
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22 Insider Hacks and Secrets for Shopping on Amazon

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'Til You Digitally Drop
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Filter, Filter, Filter
Amazon

Filter, Filter, Filter

One of the most overwhelming parts of shopping on Amazon: Searching for a needle in a haystack of roughly 353 million products. The smartest way to narrow your options is by making liberal use of Amazon's filters, which appear on the left side of the browser window. "Filters are your friends," says Kristin McGrath, editor and shopping expert at Offers.com. "Amazon presents custom filters that vary by product type. You can filter by size, color, brand and even average customer review. And, if you need the item fast, don't forget to filter by items eligible for Prime fast shipping." For instance, searching for a laptop backpack returns thousands of results, but searching for a laptop backpack between $50 and $100 that is eligible for Prime shipping, sold by Amazon, and rated four stars and up yields 276 results — more manageable for sure. (To see the price filter, you may also need to filter by department.)

Be Skeptical of Sponsored Listings
Amazon

Be Skeptical of Sponsored Listings

Search for a particular product, and the first listings that pop up may say "Sponsored." This is simply an advertising program run by Amazon, and the products get preferred placement not because they're necessarily better than others, but because sellers have forked over big money to be among the first ones you see. "These items often have tons of reviews, but you have to know that the item's popularity did not come organically — it came from paying Amazon for more prominent placement," says Karl Quist, CEO of PriceBlink, an online price comparison service.

Designate a Charity on Amazon
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Choose an Amazon Day

Prime members hoping to better manage their deliveries can designate an"Amazon Day" when they can receive all of their packages at once, instead of in dribs and drabs. It's particularly helpful for buyers who can select a delivery day when they're more likely to be home, reducing the risk of package theft. It also makes it more likely that Amazon can combine your items into fewer shipments, leaving you with fewer empty boxes to manage.

Spot Fake Reviews Like a Pro ...
Amazon

Spot Fake Reviews Like a Pro ...

Amazon has long battled fake reviews, and while there are plenty of ways to spot them yourself, you can also outsource the chore. "Third-party tools, like Fakespot and ReviewMeta, use algorithms to analyze language and reviewer purchase history to determine which reviews are most likely to be fake," says Jason Cohen, associate editor at PCMag. "Depending how the tool works, it may either grade the reliability of the product page, or remove the fake reviews from the aggregate in order to reassess the product's rating." If you shop on Amazon a lot, you can even download a browser extension that can make"reviewing the reviews" easier.

… And Analyze the Others With a Practiced Eye
Amazon

… And Analyze the Others With a Practiced Eye

Once you're reasonably certain you're looking at legit reviews, your work doesn't stop there. Casey Runyan, managing editor for Brad's Deals, recommends zeroing on the bad ones to investigate further and decide whether something is a deal-breaker for you. "There is typically always someone looking to complain about a product or service they recently purchased. For instance, if you look at the reviews on a pair of shoes, and see that the complaints are mainly related to the footbed being too narrow, but you know that isn't usually a concern for you, you are probably fine to buy them."

Share Your Amazon Prime Membership
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Share Your Amazon Prime Membership

Among the litany of Prime perks worth checking out, this is perhaps the one that most bears repeating: You can share that pricey Prime membership with another adult in your household, but maintain your own accounts. It's an easy way to save $119 on a yearly membership, and while there are some limits, important benefits like Prime shipping, Prime Now, and Prime Video are all eligible for sharing.

Get Prime at a Discount
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Get Prime at a Discount

Speaking of Prime, some people are eligible for a price break on monthly memberships. Normally $12.99 a month, Prime is $6.49 a month for students and $5.99 a month for EBT and Medicaid cardholders. For the latter group, the discounted rate is offered for a maximum of four years.

Give Back With Amazon Smile
Amazon

Give Back With Amazon Smile

Instead of going straight to the regular Amazon homepage, shop through AmazonSmile. You'll find all the same items, but 0.5% of your purchase will go to a charity of your choice. Every little bit adds up: As of February 2020, the program had resulted in donations of nearly $170 million.

Pro Tip: Use a Price Tracker on Prime Day
Camel Camel Camel

Separate the Bad Deals From the Good Ones

When is a deal not a deal? On Amazon, it's when a product is listed at a sale price, but has previously reached a much lower price — and likely will again. You can spot these dubious discounts with Camelcamelcamel, a price tracker "that will tell you at a glance if the item frequently goes on sale, if it never goes on sale, or if it goes on sale like clockwork on Prime Day and Black Friday," McGrath says. "This gives you a fuller picture than Amazon's own price-drop labeling. Amazon's product listing may say something is $20 off, but could be using a high price that is rarely used. Camelcamelcamel gives you real pricing of an item, so you can see if the 'sale' price is actually a good price."

Don't Forget to Comparison Shop
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Don't Forget to Comparison Shop

While it certainly strives to undercut the competition, Amazon does not always offer the lowest price on every item it sells. "People mistakenly assume they always have the best price," Quist says. "In fact, more than half of the time, there is a lower price available from another online store." He recommends browser add-ons like PriceBlink or InvisibleHand to automate the process of comparison shopping. They'll alert you if there's a cheaper price elsewhere — just be sure to factor in shipping, if any, especially if you're a Prime member.

Make No-Interest Monthly Payments
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Make No-Interest Monthly Payments

If money is a little tight, Amazon will let you make interest-free payments on certain items sold and shipped by Amazon. To qualify, you have to be a U.S. resident with an Amazon account that has been active at least a year, a valid credit card associated with that account, and a good payment history.

Clip Virtual Coupons
Amazon

Clip Virtual Coupons

Just because you're shopping online doesn't mean you can't get a rush from using a coupon. You can browse available coupons on Amazon's coupon homepage, and all it takes is a click to "clip" them. But don't worry about missing out if you don't hit this page first — coupons will show up on individual product pages and are automatically applied to their purchase prices.

Check Out Amazon Renewed
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Check Out Amazon Renewed

Willing to buy a refurbished product to save some cash? Amazon Renewed allows customers to do just that, and the risk is relatively low. All products are inspected, tested, fixed, and cleaned, plus they're eligible for a replacement or refund within 90 days of purchase. How much you can save varies by product, of course, but we spotted a 6.5-quart Ninja Foodi for $156 versus $180 new. Also, "there's a lot of potential to save on Amazon's own proprietary smart-home tech items, phones, TVs, kitchen gadgets and more," McGrath says. "Plus, buying used is a more sustainable way to shop, which can be compelling for some." Runyan agrees that Amazon devices in particular are a good thing to look for, since it's always best for items to be refurbished by their original manufacturer, if possible.

Browse Amazon Warehouse
Amazon

Browse Amazon Warehouse

A close cousin of Amazon Renewed, Amazon Warehouse sells "millions of pre-owned, used, and open box items." That might mean a bit more in savings; for instance, you can get a Ninja Foodi with slight cosmetic imperfections for $148, about $8 cheaper than Amazon Renewed and $32 less than brand new. However, while Renewed items are "tested and confirmed to be 'like new,' Amazon Warehouse is generally for Amazon itself to offload returned, lost or used inventory," McGrath says. The return window is also shorter at just 30 days compared with 90 days for Renewed products.

Take a Peek at Amazon Outlet, Too
Amazon

Take a Peek at Amazon Outlet, Too

If you love browsing through stores like TJMaxx, don't miss the Amazon equivalent, Amazon Outlet. This is where you'll find "thousands of discounted overstock items," but as Runyan warns, it's best suited for browsing. "Discovering good deals can be a real challenge," she says. "It is a needle-in-the-haystack situation, so if you are happy to go on a bit of a treasure hunt, check it out. But don't assume that just because you find it in this section, that it is an incredible deal."

Look for Lower Prices From Third-Party Sellers ...
Amazon

Look for Lower Prices From Third-Party Sellers ...

It's natural to assume Amazon is always going to highlight the lowest price on an item, but in some cases, third-party sellers still manage to go lower. "Amazon doesn't always show the cheapest price on its product pages," Quist warns. "Sometimes, there are third-party sellers that offer the product for a lower price than what is shown on the main product page. Look for a message that says, 'Available for a lower price from other sellers (see below)'. Many of the lower priced alternatives still qualify for Prime shipping."

… But Use Caution With Particular Items
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… But Use Caution With Particular Items

While third-party sellers are supposed to follow a litany of rules to sell on Amazon, some have figured out how to work the system, raking in cash by selling counterfeits, defective products, or even potentially unsafe goods. It's best to steer clear of third-party sellers in higher-risk categories, Runyan says. "These include things that you put in your body or on your skin, things for children, things that plug into the wall, and safety equipment. You should also be very wary of purchasing brand-name products from third-party sellers unless you can independently verify that they are a legitimate seller of the product," she warns.

Try Out the Trade-In Program
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Try Out the Trade-In Program

In the market for some new electronics, but your old stuff still works? See if you can trade it in on Amazon. Cell phones, tablets, smart speakers, and video games are among the eligible items. Of course, what you'll get varies by trade-in, with newer items and those in good condition fetching more than older items or devices or those in poor condition. But you might as well get $5 (what we were quoted for an older Amazon Fire Tablet) or even $40 (a newer iPhone) in Amazon credit toward a new purchase.

Track Daily Deals With the Amazon App
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Track Daily Deals With the Amazon App

Amazon devotees know that the best deals are often the site's limited-time Lightning Deals, and that the best of them can sell out in minutes. To boost your chances of snagging the deal, Amazon's app will send you a notification when a deal you're interested in starts. Just tap which ones you're eyeing using the app's "upcoming" tab.

Use Points to Shop
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Use Points to Shop

Racking up those credit-card points? With select programs you can redeem them directly through Amazon. Unsurprisingly, the best way to do this is with an Amazon credit card — while the other options may be convenient, your points may not go as far as they would if redeemed outside of Amazon, according to NerdWallet.

Earn Rewards With No-Rush Shipping
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Earn Rewards With No-Rush Shipping

Not in a hurry? Opting for no-rush shipping at checkout can earn you a credit good toward video or music downloads, Kindle books, or other Amazon content. In certain cases, it can also nab you an instant credit toward your purchase.

Get a Discount With Subscribe and Save
Amazon

Get a Discount With Subscribe and Save

If there's something you order regularly, Amazon will give you a price break of up to 15% and free shipping if you agree to subscribe — that is, receive the item at regular intervals. The program is relatively flexible, allowing deliveries as frequently as every two weeks or infrequently as every six months, and you can skip a delivery or cancel at any time. The discounts are even better if you sign up for Amazon Family, a Prime benefit. You'll get 20% off Subscribe and Save orders for diapers, wipes, baby food, and other kid-friendly essentials.