The Best Amazon & Amazon Prime Hacks You Can’t Live Without!

I love Amazon.com. If I order something online, there’s a 90% chance I’ll get it from Amazon.com. We have Amazon Prime too, so almost everything can be at our house within two days. We use Subscribe and Save to get a discount on things like diapers, tissue paper, toilet paper, and other nonperishable necessities.

Our local Costco is 20 minutes away. Our local Home Depot is about 20 minutes away. If it’s not urgent, I buy it on Amazon and it saves me an hour-long trip. We still go but now we don’t need to lug massive packages back.

A few years ago, I ordered a massive 280 lb. snow blower. Not only was it delivered to my door with nice folks wearing white gloves but it was cheaper than anywhere else. (this thing was not fitting in my car!) I looked extensively.

One day, in the near future, some drone army might do the delivery with their robotic white gloves!

So in all that time, I’ve learned a few tricks about getting the best out of Amazon.com. I’ve read all the articles out there claiming to be Amazon “hacks,” where they just list membership benefits, tell you about the Fire stick, or tell you to check out Warehouse Deals or enlighten you about “subscribe and save.” Seriously, everyone knows about subscribe and save. Those posts are nice reminders, but those aren’t exactly hacks.

Warehouse Deals is where Amazon sells any open-box and used products. You can often save big bucks because this is where they sell any returns and trade-ins. You get free shipping with Prime plus a 30-day return policy. It’s certainly worth a look, there are hundreds of thousands of products here.

The next place is Amazon Outlet, where you can find big discounts on markdowns, clearance items, and overstocks. Warehouse is for used and open box items, Outlet is where Amazon is looking to empty their warehouse. Both can result in big savings.

Amazon Cash Promotion: Add $25+, Get $5 Amazon Credit

Amazon is pushing their Amazon Cash program – you get $5 Amazon Credit when you add $25 or more to your Amazon Balance. To add cash to your account, you get your barcode and go to a partner store (CVS Pharmacy, GameStop, etc.) to load into your account. It’s a couple extra steps but if you’re going to be at a partner store, you might as well get $5 for your trouble!

Learn more about Amazon Cash

Remember All Their Awesome Prime Services

I had to get the party started by singing the praises of Amazon Prime… just in case you were one of the last few people holding out.

Amazon Prime is the best. You get two day shipping, a ton of streaming content in music and video (TV, movies, etc.) plus photo storage and even special discounts, like 20% off new release video games and diapers. Oh, and you can get one free kindle book each month from the Kindle Lending Library.

There are a few versions of Prime. There’s regular Prime, Amazon Student, and Amazon Mom or Amazon Family (it was recently renamed to Amazon Family).

They’re all pretty much the same idea except Amazon Student is a 6-month trial whereas the other two are 30 days. Amazon Family also gets 20% off diapers and 15% off a baby registry.

Amazon Prime Refund: By the way, if you happened to sign up for Prime and lost track of the trial period (it’s 30 days), you can request a refund if you don’t want to continue past the membership but they billed you. Just go to Manage Your Prime Membership and click End Membership, if you haven’t used any Prime services then they’ll automatically refund you. If you have, you will have to go through the contact page and request a refund. It’s harder to get it after you’ve used services but still worth a shot.

Take the No-Rush Shipping Bribe

no-rush-shipping-credit

With Prime, you get free Two-Day shipping. Amazon, in their brilliance, often offers a bribe (especially during high demand periods) if you are willing to accept No-Rush shipping, which takes an additional 3 days.

My favorite was the bribe has been $1 credit for eBooks, digital videos, and more. I will order individual items, separately, and opt for No Rush Shipping so I can get a $1 credit each time. They will usually all ship in the same box, so I’m not hurting Mother Nature with more boxes.

I’ve read tips from folks who say you should order a bunch of items with the slower shipping but then select 2-day shipping on the last one, thus getting all your items within 2-days plus the credits. Personally, this feels more like trickery (or thievery) than savviness but I don’t begrudge anyone who does it.

Best part? Those $1 credits get used up by my lovely wife on books for her Kindle or movie rentals. (or one of these Kindle personal finance books under $1)

If you ever need to look up how many digital credits you have, click here. They don’t make that page easy to find. πŸ™‚

Consider the Amazon Prime Credit Card

We take a much closer look at the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa to see if it’s worth it, but the short answer is a resounding “yes!” if you shop a lot on Amazon.

You get 5% back on Amazon and Whole Foods, 2% at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores; and finally 1% on everything else. The cashback comes as Amazon credit by default but you can have it set to a statement credit or transfer to your bank.

As of 2018, it appears that you can only use up to $20 of digital credits per purchase. I recently tried to buy a Playstation 4 game for digital download and it limited me to just $20 of my available $29 in credit under Software / Video Games. $20 is better than $0 but worse than my full balance. πŸ™

Visit the Treasure Truck!

The Amazon Treasure Truck is a mobile Amazon.com store that offers one fantastic deal. It moves around and isn’t available everywhere but you can find out the deal of the day in your area (if they’re around) by signing up for texts. Just go to https://amazon.com/treasuretruck and sign up.

The truck itself is a little bit of fun for the kids too. When you show up, even if you’re buying anything, they give out little toys. We stumbled onto one the other day and they had bouncy balls, brass coins, colored pencils, and other fun goodies for the kiddos.

Avoid Sales Tax with Third Party Sellers

amazon-other-sellers-estimated-tax

Amazon.com collects tax in 45 of the 50 states. It used to be that they only collected in areas where there was a “nexus,” like a fulfillment center in Baltimore, Maryland. They don’t collect it on third-party sellers who fulfill through Amazon. πŸ™‚

You get all of your Amazon benefits, such as free 2-day shipping with Prime, without the sales tax since the seller is out of state and thus not subject to sales tax.

There doesn’t appear to be an easy way to look up the state of a seller but the price listing now shows you estimated tax (and shipping), so you can make a quick comparison.

Discounted Prime for EBT Holders

If you receive government assistance, defined as having an EBT card, you can get Amazon Prime for just $5.99 a month rather than the $99 a year ($8.25 a month).

You get all of the benefits of Prime with only one exception – you don’t have Household sharing. You can only get this price for 48 months and will have to qualify every 12 months.

Learn more here.

Delete Search History

If you live in a household, chances are you share the same Amazon Prime account (no sense paying for two!). During the holidays, this can make shopping for loved ones difficult because Amazon will show recommendations to everyone that’s logged into the account.

How do you avoid this? Delete your search history.

You can do it easily by going to your browsing history page here and deleting items. You can also purge the whole list on that same page by clicking on “Manage history” at the top right and clicking “Remove all items.” You can turn off browsing history too from the same drop down.

If you want it to track but just not right now, search in incognito/private mode on your browser so you aren’t logged in.

Complain About Shipping Delays

If your ordered package doesn’t arrive by the scheduled time, let Amazon know. If you had Prime two-day shipping, it might result in a membership extension or a credit to your account. It doesn’t matter if the delay isn’t their fault (like weather), because they made the guarantee so they will own up to it. If you don’t feel comfortable holding them responsible for things out of their control, then only complain about the delays you want to. πŸ™‚ The best way to complain is via the contact form.

We recently ordered a few items and due to some weird UPS delay, it arrived a week later. I initiated a quick chat with Customer Service, took a few minutes, and they credited us with a free month of Amazon Prime (valued at $8.25).

I’m glad it was messaging chat because it let me mix in a little passive aggressive faux outrage (I wasn’t upset about it showing up late, heck I usually take the bribe!).

Price Drop Policy

Update May 2016: Amazon ended it’s price drop policy for all items except televisions. :

If you buy an item on Amazon.com that is being sold by Amazon.com LLC and the price drops within 7 days, you can get a credit for the difference. Get your order number and head on over to their Live Chat system, where you can submit your request. It’s a pretty simple process, they’ve done it a million times, and you’ll get the difference as a credit you can spend later. The big thing to watch out for is that the seller is still Amazon.com, this won’t work if it’s a third party seller.

The next time I can take advantage of this I’ll post some screenshots talking you through the process, until then here’s a good walkthrough.

Find Any User’s Wishlist

Did you know that you can find the List and Registry of any Amazon.com customer? You can search by name or, more accurately, by their email address.

Just go to the Wishlist search page and surprise them on their birthday. πŸ™‚

Squeeze Last Cents on Prepaid Gift Cards into Amazon Gift Cards

Ever have a few of those prepaid VISA gift cards with like 50 cents left? You just want to get rid of them but feel bad about tossing fifty cents or a dollar? Squeeze the last few cents out by using them to buy Amazon.com Gift Cards – Email Delivery. Send them to yourself, copy out the code and paste them in your account. Boom, trash the card. πŸ™‚

(50 cents is the minimum, unfortunately)

Earn Reload Bonuses

When you “reload” your Amazon gift card balance, you can earn an extra Amazon credit bonus. Simply go to the Reload Your Balance and look at the banner at the top.

If you’ve never reloaded before, you should see a Reload $100, get a $5 reward on your first reload offer:

If you’ve reloaded before, you might see a Earn a 2% reward when you use your checking account to reload your gift card balance offer:

Either way, unless your credit card is giving you 2% cashback (the only one I’m aware of that will do this is the Discover it Cashback Match card when Amazon was a 5% category!), this is a great deal.

Twitch Prime

Do you like games? Do you enjoy watching people play games? Twitch Prime is included with Amazon Prime.

Also… if you fancy yourself a gamer, you could stream yourself and make some cash. Ever wonder how much Twitch streamers make? πŸ™‚

Amazon no longer refunds on price drops πŸ™

A while back, I requested a price drop refund on a product we purchased on Amazon and received the following message:

Hello,

We work hard to find the best prices out there and match them for all customers every day. Our prices do change over time. With the exception of TVs, Amazon.com doesn’t offer post-purchase adjustments.

However, you can let us know about a lower price by clicking the “tell us about a lower price” link in the Product Details section of some product pages.

To read more about our pricing, go to our Help pages:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=468502

We hope to see you again soon.

We’d appreciate your feedback. Please use the links below to tell us about your experience today.

Best regards,
Kavitha

Amazon used to have a great price drop policy – refunds of price drops on any purchase within 30 days. Then it dropped to 7 days.

Now it seems to have been dropped completely with one exception. πŸ™

amazon-price-drop-rejection

The Price Matching Help page has been updated to say that Amazon will only price match televisions with other retailers. For other items, Amazon.com doesn’t offer price matching.

Smile πŸ™‚

Lastly, and this won’t save you any money, but sign up for AmazonSmile. They donate 0.5% of your eligible purchases to a charitable organization of your choice. It’ll cost you nothing, other than remembering to go to http://smile.amazon.com/ or installing a browser extension) and helps a charity out.

Do you have a favorite hack I missed? Or one on this list that you didn’t know about? Let me know!

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Jim Wang

About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a thirty-something father of three who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and a farm in Illinois via AcreTrader.

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  1. Michelle Dehn says

    Hi there. Great tips.
    My biggest issue is when any customer service agent TELLS you have been issued a credit doesn’t mean it is so.! And guess what.. there is NO WAY what so ever to go view all or any of your so-called credits. The only way to see credit is to put some items in your basket and then you will see it there when you go to pay. (or not in my case many times.) So you have no idea what when or how the credit got there or for what incident it is from. They told me ‘they” could see it on their side!! I was like ‘well that’s nice I CAN’T!!” I had multiple issues with delivery, at one time (Not that I did not get the delivery but it was put at the wrong door.) I think I called every day for about 9 months. Every time I called/text to complain and ask Why ask me where I wanted packages delivered if they were not going to do it. Agents would just say Oh Ill give you a courtesy credit. I was wanting the issue fixed, not credit. That’s how I figured out you could not view the credits they say they are going to give you. So no way to double-check that anything at all was done. Sometimes you might get an email saying credit was issued but then again no way to go look at it. To me that is shady. Anyone anywhere can “say” anything. But it must be true if you read it on the internet OR hear it from an Amazon customer agent. HA. I keep on using it because I like the 2-day shipping!
    I’ll keep looking for your tips. πŸ™‚
    Cheers

  2. Phil Goetz says

    No-Rush Shipping credits have been silently discontinued. Officially, they still exist, and are promised on all Amazon’s web pages; but they are never offered on the checkout page.

    • Jim Wang says

      I have still gotten them but they’re definitely rarer, for example I just got a $1.50 offer today. (this was an item that doesn’t ship for 10 days though)

  3. James Anderson says

    “We have Amazon Prime too, so almost everything can be at our house within two days.”
    This article was update on June 8, 2020??? For AT LEAST the last several months all the Prime orders I have placed automatically default to a 7 day delivery date. What am I doing wrong, or do you just have blinders on as far as Amazon goes? Pandemic or not, Amazon should “stand up” and refund (even partial refunds) for failure to keep the promise of 2 day delivery, especially with their amazing increase in business of late.

    Like others, I now look to other online outlets and/or go direct to manufacturers when I can. Can’t say for sure, but I will look MUCH HARDER at Prime before I renew in Dec of this year, and lets not even talk about the price difference between Prime prices and regular prices plus shipping, in many cases they come out nearly the same, so why do I pay for a Prime membership? Please don’t list the “free movies, et al” that comes with the membership.

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