For shoppers, Amazon is the ultimate rabbit hole. You can search for one item, but then you see another item and another, and soon you’re careening through a maze of products and deals. All you wanted was a new robe, and 10 minutes later you’re wondering if there’s enough room in the pantry for a fondue warmer.
Speaking of which, tap or click here for the best high-tech kitchen gadgets this season.
You could shop on Amazon for years without discovering special bargains and price cuts. Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer, so it shouldn’t be surprising that there’s a universe of tips and tricks for saving money.
And on rare occasion, Amazon may even give you free stuff with their Samples Program. Tap or click here to learn how to get free samples on Amazon.
How do you find these fantastical price-drops? And what do you need to do to secure them? Here are five ways to unearth incredible deals on Amazon.
1. Shop the Amazon Warehouse and Outlet
Some of us like to browse. We prefer used bookstores, vintage clothing shops, and second-hand furniture stores. Amazon Warehouse is just that kind of place. Here you’ll find returned and lightly used products that are still functional but don’t qualify as “new.”
Conditions range from “Refurbished,” “Like New,” “Very Good,” all the way down to “Acceptable,” and the product information includes notes on what defects or blemishes to expect on a particular item.
Related: Did you know that you have a public profile on Amazon.com? Tap or click here to change five Amazon default settings to protect your privacy.
As you might expect, you’ll find a treasure trove of electronics from video games and widescreen TVs to smartwatches and Bluetooth speakers.
You may shake your head at the 20 percent savings that Amazon Warehouse usually offers, but the percentages can add up. For example, a Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 is a great point-and-shoot camera with 4K video capability. You could buy a new camera for about $500. You could buy
the same camera, slightly used, on Warehouse for about $460. Those $40 savings could provide you with a bag, a memory card, or something else entirely.
This marketplace does have its risks. On the one hand, the items aren’t in perfect condition, and most electronics do not come with warranties. Amazon does honor a generous return policy, and you can sometimes procure a warranty or protection plan from SquareTrade, depending on the item.
Amazon Warehouse lets you use Amazon Prime for free deliveries. You can also visit Amazon Outlet, a similar market for clearance and overstock items. Click here to learn more about Amazon Warehouse and Outlet deals and gotchas.
2. Find Amazon coupons
The word “coupon” conjures up images of cutting apart newspapers at the kitchen table. Amazon coupons are much simpler than that. You don’t have to collect and organize little slips of paper the way your grandmother does. Instead, you can visit Amazon’s coupon site, manage the ones you want, and redeem them with a click. Your savings will be applied automatically to the final bill.
You can also use the coupons’ subscription service to keep the discounts flowing. The word “subscription” may sound suspect, but there is no additional fee. Amazon will help you keep track of your coupons on products you regularly buy. This is particularly convenient for cyclical household items like diapers, toothpaste, and tortilla chips.
Just like old-fashioned coupons, Amazon offers a wide range of savings, and Prime members receive especially tempting offers that others do not. Click here to get instant savings by using Amazon’s coupons.
3. Get mail-in and online rebates
Perhaps you remember when we’d send a slip of glossy paper bundled with receipts to some random address and waited for weeks to get a rebate. Those days are long gone.
Amazon makes this process much faster and more predictable, and with so many holiday promotions running, it’s a great time to check for any possible rebates.
When you request a rebate, you enter your order number, and your email address and the system will track the rebate for you. If you’re concerned whether the rebate will work, you can monitor the status instantaneously. It makes it super simple to get a rebate. Click here to learn more about mail-in and online rebates available at Amazon.com.
4. Check for price drops
Many customers don’t realize that many Amazon prices fluctuate, based on supply and demand. Unlike a brick-and-mortar store, there’s no banner over the front door to announce a major sale, so unless you’re paying close attention, a sudden drop in prices can be difficult to spot.
That’s where CamelCamelCamel comes in. The website tracks the ever-changing prices on Amazon. With a free account, you can set up notifications on your favorite items. The moment a coveted pair of shoes or toy dips in value, you’ll know when to place your order. Click here to learn how to use CamelCamelCamel.
5. Browse Third-Party Sellers
A new paperback book might cost you $15 or more. But a lightly used version of the same novel could cost one cent – basically just the price of shipping – if you find the right seller.
Amazon started as a bookstore, and it’s still the reigning champion of book deals, especially if you browse alternative sellers. Underneath the official Amazon price, you’ll see a link that says something like “Used and New from $1.99.” Like Amazon Warehouse, these products cover a wide range of wear and quality, but they are required to report the condition of their wares.
These lists can be very long, depending on the popularity of the book, and vendors include used bookstores, individual collectors, and “friends” organizations, which help fund local libraries.
Some things to keep in mind, in order of importance: (1) What is the seller’s rating? (2) How many reviews have rated it? (3) What is the claimed condition of the book? (4) Where is the seller located? (In other words, how long will it take for the book to reach you by regular post?) These sellers are almost never part of the Amazon Prime program, so you’ll almost certainly have to pay a shipping fee.
Books are your safest bet, but you can often find top-rated sellers of other items as well. Find the right item from the right seller, and you can find the perfect gift for a song.
What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call my national radio show and click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.
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Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.
By Kim Komando