23 Tips Every Amazon Addict Should Know

Love it or hate it, the Seattle-based retailer and gadget maker has done more to make online shopping mainstream than anyone. Here’s how to take advantage of Amazon’s deals, shipping, payments, and more.
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23 Tips Every Amazon Addict Should Know

There was a time when shopping online seemed ridiculous, even dangerous. People were afraid to enter their credit card numbers in a browser window, hidden fees were the norm, and scams and fraud issues were paramount.

These days, few are scared to shop online, causing the brick-and-mortar store/mall closing crisis we face today. That’s all thanks in large part to one internet behemoth: Amazon.

Love it or hate it, the Seattle-based company has done more to make online shopping mainstream than anyone. Amazon sells almost everything, delivers your goods fast (especially if you’re a member of Amazon Prime), offers services like streaming video and music, plus makes an entire line of tablets, ebook readers, and smart speakers. Its web and app options make it possible to shop on any platform.

Cynics might say this is all Amazon’s way of “show-rooming” the world. Which is exactly right. It’s one more way Amazon is offering convenient shopping options.

If you drink the Amazonian Kool-aid, check out the tips below. All are here for one reason and one reason alone: to help you get the absolute best out of your shopping experience. Whether that’s better prices, faster shipping (with or without drones), or abundant purchasing options, we’ve got them.

  • 1 Smile for Charity

    Shopping for yourself doesn’t mean you can’t also give a little. The AmazonSmile program makes that easy. Always visit the site by going to smile.amazon.com. Set it up in your bookmarks/favorites, and use the AmazonSmile 1Button for Chrome or Amazon Smile! for Firefox browser add-ons to get reminded/forced to use Smile when you go to Amazon.

    Then, pick a charity—over a million 501(c)(3) public organizations are in the list. When you purchase eligible products, 0.5 percent of the purchase price will go toward your favorite charity. You get zero tax benefit, but you still get what you purchased, and your favorite charity benefits. Charities, visit org.amazon.com to register. Currently, you can’t shop with Smile on mobile.

  • 2 Prime with a Partner

    If you’re paying for Amazon Prime, you don’t go it alone. The cost of that Prime account can be shared with one other adult member of your household, plus up to four kids under the same roof. The kids don’t even need Amazon accounts. This is a smart way to keep the holiday shopping secrets, yet still get all the two-day shipping savings.

    Amazon Prime sharing includes Amazon Video with all the linked members, not to mention Prime Early Access (which offers 30-minute early access to Lightning Deals), and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. The adults get access to the Amazon FreeTime parental controls to make sure kids don’t get into anything they shouldn’t.

    To set it up, go to the Amazon Household website and click Add Adult/Teen/Child. You’ll need their email address as used on Amazon, and it will require the adults to share credit or debit card information.

  • 3 Approve Teen Purchases via Text

    The latest addition to the Prime Household is Amazon Teen, which gives kids age 13 to 17 a little more freedom to shop, but lets parent approve their purchases before it’s charged to their card.
  • 4 Prime-ary Gift

    If your most beloved family-member-turned-Amazon-addict isn’t part of the immediate household, give Prime as a gift in one-year ($119) or three-month ($39) increments to anyone with an email address. The gift membership comes with all the benefits—two-day shipping, streaming video and music, borrowing books on Kindle, etc. If the person is already a Prime member, they can exchange what you paid for an Amazon gift card.
  • 5 Get Prime Free (for a While)

    A money-saving game to play: Amazon Prime comes with a free 30-day trial. Use it during the holidays to get free shipping when you do the most shopping, then cancel before you’re charged.

    Better yet, be a student. With Prime Student, you get Prime for free for six months, and at a half-price discount thereafter (only $59 per year, or get charged monthly at $6.49 per month if you plan to cancel early).

    Adult Prime members who become parents can sign up for Amazon Family (previously called Amazon Mom). There is no specific major savings on the price of Prime this way, but parents get exclusives, such as 20 percent off diaper subscriptions.

  • 6 Don’t Get Trapped by Prime

    Because Prime offers such great shipping deals, you sometimes may order an item from Amazon that is actually too expensive, just to get it faster.
    If you can wait more than two days, look for the same object on sale from third-party sellers that don’t offer Prime shipping. If their reviews are good and you don’t need the item immediately, you could save a few bucks.

    Prime members willing to wait more than two days may also earn money toward things like future digital purchases.

  • 7 Where’s the Warehouse?

    What happens to all those products that inevitably get returned to Amazon? Those gems that are no longer “new,” but good enough? They are typically found in the Amazon Warehouse Deals site, where you’ll find “deep discounts on open-box, like-new, and pre-owned products.”

    Best of all, they are typically still eligible for Amazon Prime shipping, and if you don’t like an item, you can still return it. Similarly, you can find deals at the almost hidden Amazon Outlet store.

  • 8 Today’s Deals on Amazon

    Amazon’s best deals for new products are found in the “Today’s Deals” link on the top of any Amazon page. The section has a Deal of the Day, and time-limited Lightning Deals (where you only get hours or just minutes to snag a product on sale). There isn’t always a lot of notice, but if you use the Amazon apps on your phone, use the hamburger menu () and select Today’s Deals to see the deals on the go.

  • 9 Same-Day Delivery = Joy

    In certain cities—over 8,000 of them—you can get same-day delivery of select items. Prime members in those areas receive free same-delivery on qualifying orders over $35. Order by noon and your package will be delivered by 9 p.m., seven days a week. Order in the afternoon or evening, and get free one-day delivery. See if your city is included.

    If you need something even faster, Amazon Prime Now offers deliveries in one to two hours, from household staples and electronics and selections from Whole Foods (but it’s killing delivery from restaurants). The Prime Now delivery footprint is more limited than same-day; enter your ZIP code to see if you can get it.

  • 10 Subscribe to Products

    You probably think of a subscription for something entertaining, like a magazine, or for streaming video services, where you get new and different things. With Amazon’s Subscribe & Save, you get the same items over and over, but they are items you always need: detergent, cat litter, dog food, razor blades, toilet paper…Cheetos.

    Get as much as 15 percent off products that fit the bill if you subscribe to five or more per month. You can cancel whenever you want; there’s no year-long commitment that will force you to get, say, the same size diapers for a year. Wonder if it would work for you? Check out the page of every item eligible.

  • 11 Get a Virtual Dash Button Fix

    Once there were these things called Amazon Dash buttons, a physical button you put in your house to push whenever you wanted to re-order. Amazon killed them because no one used them. (But if you’ve got one stuck to a wall, it’ll still work.)

    You can still use a Dash button virtually, which Amazon frames as personalized shortcuts to re-order all your favorite products. If you’ve got an Amazon Echo with a screen, like the Echo Show, access the Dash button on screen. Or visit Your Dash Buttons page on the web (pictured), which are populated by things you’ve purchased in the past and are almost as silly as the physical buttons.

    For whatever reason, Amazon still sells the Dash Wand, a $19.99 barcode scanner that lets you scan and order products. Better yet: use Alexa to order or re-order any items if you’ve got any Echo device just by saying “Alexa, re-order [product name].” It’s the simplest thing to do. Just be sure to set up a confirmation code in your Alexa app to prevent family and friends and frenemies from abusing the purchase-by-voice feature.

  • The Card(s) That Pay You Back

    12 The Card(s) That Pay You Back

    Amazon has a lot of cards that make it worth your while to shop. The Amazon Store Card is for shopping only at Amazon, but offers special rates. Prime members get 5 percent back when they buy eligible Prime-only items. If you qualify for one, Amazon will also give a $60 gift card when you sign up.

    The Amazon.com Rewards Visa Card from Chase can be used anywhere, and collects points. If you’re a Prime member, you get 5 points per dollar spent on Amazon and Whole Foods, 2 per dollar at restaurants, drugstores, and gas stations; and 1 per dollar on all other purchases. (If you’re not a Prime member, you can still get the card, but get only 3 points for every dollar purchased at Amazon.) One hundred points earns you one dollar to spend on Amazon. Travelling overseas? There are no foreign transaction fees.

    Because a “purchase” on Amazon made with points doesn’t earn you even more points, the best practice is to redeem points for gift cards or as cash back via Chase. Points do not work for items such as digital downloads and some subscription and grocery items.

    You can also link other credit cards—like American Express, Discover, Citi, and more—to your Amazon account and Shop With Points.

  • 13 Amazon Add-Ons Without Minimums

    “Add-ons” are additional items Amazon sells that are very inexpensive—generally under $5. They’re so small that Amazon prefers to ship them with other orders. If your cart is less than $25 at checkout, Amazon will supposedly save add-on items for your next purchase of $25 or more, but I found lately I can add around $20 in just add-ons and order at will. Look for the blue Add-On banner on products while searching and shopping.

  • 14 Get Shipping Refund on Late Items

    When you order items using Amazon Prime, you expect that two-day shipping to be guaranteed. It’s even more important to get the one-day shipping if you pay extra for it. Check to make sure there actually is a green “Guaranteed delivery” date on the item at checkout. If not, well, you get it when you get it.

    If it’s guaranteed, but doesn’t arrive on the right date by 8 p.m., you can sometimes get a refund on shipping. Or even a one-month extension on your Amazon Prime account, if the order meets all the criteria. This works for Amazon Family and can only happen a max of 12 times a year (or once during your Prime free trial).

  • 15 Trade In Tech for Amazon Money

    There’s no lack of places to trade in old tech like phones and tablets. Amazon has a trade-in program as well, and it can be used to get money to spend on more stuff at Amazon, naturally (you get an Amazon code, not cash). The original product didn’t have to come from Amazon to be eligible. Trade-in item categories include Kindles, tablets, streaming media players, Bluetooth speakers and Echo, cell phones, books, and video games.

  • 16 Replace Stolen Packages

    Every once and a while, a package you order may get ripped off in transit (or right from your porch). You may not be completely S.O.L. There are numerous reports from customers across the web that if you make a plea to Amazon Customer Service, they may replace it, free!

    Obviously, it has to be sold direct from Amazon, you’ll need tracking numbers and other info, and this isn’t going to work more than once (maybe twice). Amazon will certainly track who it does this for, and it’s not dumb. But should an important item go missing, it’s worth a shot.

    Afterwards, upgrade your delivery security—at the very least, make sure USPS, UPS, and FedEx require a signature to make a delivery. If you’ve got a location near you with one, try Amazon Locker for pickup (and returns). If you really trust Amazon, try out Key, which allows delivery people to enter your car, garage, or home when dropping off packages.

  • Clip Some Coupons

    17 Clip Some Coupons

    Amazon has an ongoing set of coupon offers at its Coupons page. Clip any and all you might want to use; they’re mostly household goods but you can search under categories like Electronics, Toys, and Jewelry for other things. The savings of around 10 to 15 percent will automatically be applied when you make the purchase. If you don’t make the purchase, the coupon doesn’t get used and eventually it’ll expire. PCMag sister site Offers.com has a rundown of new and expiring Amazon promo codes.
  • Track Amazon Prices

    18 Track Amazon Prices

    Amazon’s not going to go out of its way to inform you when a product you love is super cheap (though if you check your Wish List a lot, it does indicate how much the price has dropped since you added it.) Luckily, there are plenty of third-party options to track prices.

    • OnlinePriceAlert will email you whenever a product you want at a certain price hits that threshold.
    • The uniquely named CamelCamelCamel tracks tons of products and provides info via email and Twitter. Set it up in your browser with add-on tool Camelizer.
    • Honey is another service with a browser add-on that shows you deals on Amazon before you buy—right in the Amazon window.
  • 19 Whole Foods Discounts

    Love shopping at Whole Foods, but hate the prices? The chain is now owned by Amazon, and thus comes with a new Amazon Prime perk: you can now get 10 percent off sale items, plus other weekly discounts. You can use the Whole Foods Market app at checkout to get the deals; the app will also show off what’s on sale. There’s also two-hour deliveries from Whole Foods, via Prime Now, in select cities. The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card also offers 5 percent back on Whole Foods Market purchases.
  • 20 The Medicaid Discount

    If you’re on Medicaid, Amazon wants to help you (buy stuff) by offering Medicaid recipients a deal on Prime: it’s only $5.99 a month, compared to the $12.99 per month (or $119 per year) everyone else pays. The same deal applies to Electronic Benefits Transfer cardholders. The deal is good for four years with either kind of card.
  • 21 Give a Giveway, Get a Giveaway

    subscriber can get an email to see a few, or go online to see a full list of the days giveaways, and try their luck to win one or all of them. Sometimes you have to sit through a video to get the option to click. (Pro tip: you typically have to watch the video, just wait about 30 seconds.) When you don’t win, you’re presented with an option to buy the product at a discount. Hey, you bought a Powerball ticket, and this is free to try, so what have you got to lose?
  • 22 Pick a Day, Any Day

    Amazon Prime’s biggest claim to fame for shoppers has always been free two-day delivery. That’ll change for many people soon, as Amazon’s going to bolster its infrastructure to make one-day delivery the norm.

    That is, unless you pick an Amazon Day. When you check out at Amazon, you have the option to pick a day of the week for delivery that will become your default day of delivery. Of course, you can change it anytime you check out to get the faster turnaround, but if you leave it for your particular day off, you’ll know that everything you ordered in the previous six days will arrive all at once. What seems like a nice thing for you is extra nice for Amazon, as it gets to make fewer shipments.

  • 23 Cancel All that Prime

    Sometimes, you just don’t want to shop. Not even at Amazon. If you’re tired of the emails and deals and discounts, you can always pull out. The steps to cancelling your Amazon Prime account not only exist, it’s pretty easy to do. After all, Amazon probably knows you’ll be back to spend even more money without the discounts.

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