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10 secret strategies to save big bucks at Amazon

If you shop on Amazon, or know someone who does, you need to learn a few tricks that can save 15% or more on every purchase.

By MSN Money Partner Dec 5, 2013 12:25PM

This post comes from Maryalene LaPonsie at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyWhat's not to love about Amazon?

OK, I am sure someone can tell me why they don't love Amazon, but I'll be the first to raise my hand and say I am a fan. In fact, thanks to Amazon, my husband and I did 99% of our Christmas shopping for the kids last year while sitting in bed watching "Fringe." If only they had offered Sunday deliveries then, we never would have needed to go to the store.

Amazon pricing already tends to be a bit lower than that of brick-and-mortar stores, but there are even bigger bargains to be found. Here are the secret ways diehard Amazon shoppers shave even more money off the store's prices.

1. Amazon Associates

Amazon Associates is the website's affiliate program. It is really geared toward bloggers and small businesses, but anyone can sign up.

The key to making it work for you is to find a friend who is a regular Amazon shopper and also willing to sign up. See, you can't earn an affiliate commission on your own purchases but you can on someone else's.

So you and your friend both sign up as affiliates. Then, when you shop on Amazon, you use their affiliate link and when they shop, they use yours. It's an easy way to make 15% cash back on each other's purchases.

2. Subscribe and save

If you want to be sure you never run out of toilet paper or laundry soap, you can use the Subscribe and Save feature available on many household items.

Basically, it works like this: You agree to receive regular, automatic shipments of certain products and in exchange you get free shipping and 15% off.

And I'll let you in on a little secret. Since you can cancel at any time, some people sign up for Subscribe and Save, receive one shipment at the reduced price and then cancel.

3. Amazon Prime

For heavy-duty Amazon buyers like me, Amazon Prime is the way to go. It costs $79 for an annual membership but you get free two-day shipping, which can more than pay for the price of the membership.

Plus you can borrow from an extensive Kindle library for free. And that "Fringe" my husband and I were watching while Christmas shopping? Yup, that was streaming free compliments of Amazon Prime.

Maybe you aren't sure you spend enough at Amazon to justify shelling out $79. You're in luck. Amazon gives you a free one-month trial before they charge you -- a one-month trial that may be perfect for, say, that month right before Christmas.

4. Deal tracker sites

Regular Amazon shoppers know that prices at the online store fluctuate all over the place.

That's where deal tracker sites come in handy. Websites such as and can show you historical Amazon price data as well as send alerts when a price on a certain item reaches a preset amount.

You can price watch on your own by clicking "Save for Later" on the items that interest you. Creating a wish list is another option. Sometimes, if you put an item in your cart and leave it there for a few days, the price will drop, assumedly to entice you to buy.

5. Amazon Mom

Moms are big business for retailers. All those diapers and wipes and baby supplies add up quick, but you can get 20% off with Amazon Mom.

Woman with laptop © Noel Hendrickson/Digital Vision/Getty ImagesUnlike Amazon Prime, Amazon Mom is free to join, plus you get a free three-month subscription to Prime's free two-day shipping option. In addition, you get 20% off diapers and wipes as well as 20% off other household items when you Subscribe and Save to five or more eligible products.

6. Amazon Student

Why should moms get all the savings? Poor college kids need a break too.

Amazon Student is essentially a reduced-price version of Amazon Prime. For $39 a year, you get the same benefits of a Prime membership plus special student offers and promotions.

One difference is that you can get a six-month free trial of Amazon Student compared with the 30-day trial offered to Prime members. During those six months, you don't get access to free video streaming or the Kindle lending library, but with six months of free two-day shipping, it's hard to complain.

To get an Amazon Student membership, you need an .edu email address or must be able to otherwise verify your enrollment status.

7. Unearth the deep discounts

Every day can be like Black Friday on Amazon if you know where to look.

  • Used items. Amazon allows third-party sellers and individuals to sell used items through its site. Some of these "used" items are actually brand new and sold at deep discount. Look for items that are eligible for Prime or Super Saver shipping. In addition, watch out for those penny books that come with $15 shipping and handling charges.
  • Deal of the Day. Every day, Amazon has a new deal. You can find it by clicking on "Today’s Deal" next to the Amazon logo at the top of the page. As I write this, the current daily deal is 50% off Ravensburger puzzles and games.
  • Lightning Deals. These are also found on the Deal of the Day page. They offer a limited number of deeply discounted items for only a couple of hours. Examples of past lightning deals include 71% off the "Cloud Atlas" Blu-ray edition, 82% off a men's Sturhling Aviator Swiss Quartz watch and 55% off bocce balls.
  • Outlet Department. The Amazon Outlet can be buried on the site and may be difficult to find unless you stumble on it. Here's a direct link to the Outlet, and that's where you'll find some of the best deals on new items.

8. What's that all about? Aren't we talking about Amazon here?

Sure, and Warehouse Deals is the quick link to Amazon's warehouse where you can find all their refurbished and open box items. Let's see what's there right now: iPad minis for $273, Platinum Keurig coffee makers for $136 and the second season of "House" for $9.

9. Amazon freebies

If you watch our Deals Section, you probably already know that Amazon regularly offers promos including free music downloads, free apps, free e-books and free streaming video credits.

In addition, look for items that come with built-in freebies. One of the most common deals to find on Amazon is a free instant video for streaming with the purchase of select movies.

10. Get your swag on

Finally, one of the best ways to save on Amazon may be to go off Amazon. A number of rewards and survey websites let you earn points that can be redeemed for Amazon gift cards. seems to be all the rage right now, but -- one of the Web's oldest rewards sites -- also offers Amazon gift cards. Another option is to shop through and get up to 8% cash back depending on the department of your purchase.

So those are 10 ways the pros pay less when shopping on Amazon. What is your favorite way to save?

More on Money Talks News:

Dec 10, 2013 9:30AM
My favorite way to save is not to spend.
Dec 5, 2013 12:47PM
Some good ideas here but, at least for electronics, Amazon's "used" prices are generally way over reality.
Dec 23, 2013 11:26AM
I have used Amazon almost exclusively for many years and have taken advantage of Student Prime. With a little research and savvy pricing, I am way ahead. I have had issues with a product here and there and found Amazon to honor their return policy. The KEY is to UNDERSTAND and fully READ the return policy on the item before you buy it. Many, many, people complaining didn't bother to READ the entire item-page AND read the entire return policy. Then they want to complain all day. A defective item is not AMAZON's problem anymore than it is a big-box store seller's problem. Your product has a defect? You take it back to the store. Example: I don't blame Sears because the Oster Blender is defective, I blame Oster's poor quality control. Same with Amazon.  Items I have returned are always covered by AMAZON if you bother to use and understand their return shipping policy.
Dec 28, 2013 9:40PM
There's a good chance that if Amazon detects a connection between your associates account and your friend's, orders that both of you place using each other's associate links to Amazon will be declared ineligible. If it keeps happening, your associates account can be closed. The associates program is actually set up to discourage these types of "friends and family" ordering tactics. 
Dec 11, 2013 9:01PM
Item #1 says the Associates discount is 15%.  That might be true on a few select Cases but it is more likely 4% or 6%
Dec 23, 2013 12:18PM
Here's a tip that I didn't see on this list. You can manipulate the URL to find heavily discounted items!

There is information about this over at The Sugarbuzz Project. Google it. 

Dec 28, 2013 5:39PM
Am very particular what I purchase from Amazon as too often, it is not the cheapest price that you can find on the 'net' and in event you do have a complaint about one of their vendors, they just fluff you off.    Sorry, but I prefer to support the small business person who relies on integrity and honesty to make their livelihood and not necessarily one who has signed on  to a large distributor like Amazon.   FTR and in a nutshell;  I am a Canadian and do a fair share of purchasing from the United States and can honestly say  ..... so far I have been totally impressed with the Customer Servicing  and ethics received from private websites,  compared to those  whom I have dealt  with through Amazon. 
Dec 6, 2013 4:32PM
I buy some from them but the last two items I bought were advertised as new turned out no so. The printer was advertised as New but was refurbished and it quit on me after one week. They offered to send me another NEW printer , it was refurbished and quit on me after printing 12 pages. If I would have sent them back it would have cost me more than I paid so I was stuck with 2 broken printers. Then I ordered Christmas lights that were advertised as "NEW" again when I got them one set was old, dirty and had a burnt wire. Really! Couldn't believe my eyes. However they did refund me the total price for them plus shipping but I still have to send them back. Will I order from them again? Nope, will go to a local store and get what I want that way I will know for sure what I am getting. It is not worth the hassle of waiting  being disappointed then having to return. Both items were from other vendors than amazon but you would think amazon would set their standards higher when they let people sell on their name. Third time your out.
Dec 10, 2013 2:04PM
Soon online stores will not have to worry about not being the lowest priced store in Amazon or wining the Buy Box, by being members of The Price Depot they will be able to beat any low price advertised in Amazon and still make more money.
Dec 6, 2013 1:51PM
Here's what's NOT to like about Amazon.  Their return policy, and their customer service.  I bought a computer from them that was clearly defective.  I returned it and they refunded the cost of the unit.  What they did NOT cover was the cost of shipping the unit back to them, even though their literature clearly says that they will do so.  They credited me about $25 for the return, which, in fact, was actully a bit over $109, by Fed Ex, the cheapest way to return the unit (I checked).  Not only did that leave me $85 in the hole  for a clearly defective desktop, but they also have consistently failed to respond to emails I've sent to try to resolve the issue. They haven't responded, or even acknowledged my messages, in any way.  Amazon may seem like a good deal if the item they sell you actually works, but if it does not, you will lose a good deal of money with no recourse whatsoever.
Dec 5, 2013 5:48PM
Its a shame that this multi billion dollar corporation does it on the backs of temp workers during peak season, false advertising for saleries and assignments and then  after long application and interview process offer less money than advertised and claim only less desirable jobs are now open. 12 hour days 60 hr. weeks during peak at almost immpossible work quotas. breaks start from your work station and end back at your work station . you are not allowed to take break in work area but it may take half of your break time to get to and from the break area. High pressure, lots of threats of job loss, lots of promises to cross over to Amazon if you excell at your job, but all temps disappear within a week after new years. This co. has one great scam and is skirting the labor laws by the closest of margins. Get the flu and miss 4 work days during an assignment, out the door with your earned hours payed at minimum wage instead of advertised wage, All temps are hired as employees for Integrity staffing solutions which gets amazon off the hook.  boils down to a modern day sweat shop with no intervention from anyone. No wonder the founder of amazon is all smiles. He has become a billionaire exploiting people searching for the american dream.
Dec 5, 2013 6:47PM

We since we won't be having Santa and his little Amazon drones invading our air space, I may purchase something from them.  I really don't want to think about flying and running into Amazon drones with Santa and his reindeer painted on them.  Fox News has assured me that the whole drone thing was a publicity stunt (yeah - like let's upset the whole nation, congressmen, and the FAA for merchandising)  Really don't use them much.  I think I have some type of program which allows me books and videos for free (nothing is free) - like Hulu, Netflix and others aren't doing the same thing.  Well, 'tis' the season for and inundation of marketing commercials.

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