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!
Get $39 for Using ShopTracker
ShopTracker is an app you install on your computer or phone and link with your Amazon shopping account. After you register, you'll be given a quick 4-5 question survey to see if you qualify (ie. have an Amazon account). If you do, you download an app and log into your Amazon account to receive a $3 digital reward in the form of a VISA gift card.
You also get $3 each month, for $39 total your first year!
ShopTracker is run by Harris Poll Online and it studies your shopping behavior to better understand how people shop online. Harris Poll Online is a well known and reputable survey company that has been around for 40 years and works with 74 of the Fortune 100 companies and 500 other firms.
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.
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
With Prime, you get free Two-Day shipping. Amazon, in their brilliance, often offers a bribe 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. 🙂
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.
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 http://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.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. 🙂
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.
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. 🙂 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
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. 🙂
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. 🙂
(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.
Do you like games? Do you enjoy watching people play games? Twitch Prime is included with Amazon Prime.
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!