12 Amazon buying tricks every Prime member should know

Amazon app logo pictured in front of $100 dollar bills
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Amazon has become a one-stop shop for many of my shopping needs. Whether I’m looking for a new coffee machine or deals on Apple's latest smartwatch, the mega retailer appears to have it all. However, like any other retailer, Amazon doesn’t always offer the lowest prices. Sure, there are plenty of great Amazon deals out there, but most of the time I shop at Amazon for convenience. This is especially true since I’m an Amazon Prime member. 

Over the past decade or so, I’ve discovered various tricks and hacks to ensure I always get the best price at Amazon. Some of these tricks you might be familiar with, whereas others are a little more obscure. So I’m sharing all of my Amazon tricks to help you shop like a pro and ensure you always get the best Amazon deal possible. (Make sure to check out our list of the best Amazon Prime member benefits an today's best Amazon promo codes for more ways to save).  

Prime members and Prime Big Deal Days

Get ready for Prime Day part two! Amazon has confirmed that it will hold its Prime Big Deal Days event on October 10. The 48-hour event will offer sitewide deals exclusively to Prime members. While it's technically not a Prime Day, it'll be very similar to Amazon Prime Day in that it'll offer a mixed batch of lightning deals, invite-only deals, and more. Make sure to follow our Prime Day deals coverage for the best sales now through Prime Day. 

Trade-in your old devices for Amazon credits 

Amazon Trade In homepage

(Image credit: Amazon)

I currently own a 3rd-gen Amazon Echo and 3rd-gen Echo Dot. When Amazon unveils its 5th-gen devices later this fall, I plan on trading in my old smart speakers for discounts on Amazon’s new devices. Anyone can do this via Amazon’s Trade-In Store. You'll get Amazon credit for the device you're trading in plus an extra 20% to 25% off select Amazon devices. If you really want to save, you can do the trade-in when the Amazon device you want is on sale. (Amazon device sales happen so frequently that you'll probably just have to wait a week or two for the item you want to go on sale). In addition to Amazon devices, you can also trade in Bluetooth speakers, headphones, and gaming hardware. 

Get the most of free Prime membership

There are a ton of benefits to being a Prime member. However, I get that not everyone can afford to pay $139/year for membership. Fortunately, there are a few hacks around that membership price. The easiest is to sign up for Amazon’s free 30-day trial. (This only works for non-members or those who haven’t been a Prime member in the past year). Alternatively, you could share a Prime membership with someone else. It’ll have to be someone you trust as you’ll have to share wallets in order to share Prime perks. (You can manage your household settings via Amazon’s website). Lastly, you can opt to go monthly. You’ll pay $14.99/month, which is pricier than paying for a full year, but you could activate your membership on months you know you’ll do a lot of shopping, such as Black Friday season. On months you don't require Prime membership, you can cancel your subscription.  

Take advantage of Amazon freebies

Amazon loves to offer freebies. From Kindle books to cloud storage, there are plenty of Amazon freebies available for Prime members. Even Prime membership itself can be free (for the first 30 days). Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t offer a guide to all of its freebies. However, some of my personal favorites include: 

  • Free gaming: Each month, Prime members get access to free games via Prime Gaming. For instance, Prime members will get access to seven free titles in November. They include Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, WRC 9, and more. You can check out each month's games via the Amazon Prime Gaming website
  • Free reading: Prime members get access to over a thousand books, magazines, comics, and more via Prime Reading. Best of all, you don’t need a Kindle to get your free books. The Kindle app can turn practically any iOS- or Android-based device into your preferred method of reading. 
  • Free movie streaming: I admit, I’m more team Netflix than I am Prime Video, but as a Prime member I get free access to thousands of movies and shows on Prime Video. Don’t know where to start? Make sure to check out our list of the best movies on Amazon Prime Video
  • Free music streaming: Amazon Music Prime gives Prime members free access to 2 million songs. I’m a huge music fan, so I should warn you that you don’t always get access to the newest songs or biggest artists. Sam Fender's excellent Seventeen Going Under, for instance, requires Music Unlimited; however.  
  • Free photo storage: Prime members can get unlimited cloud storage for their digital photos via Amazon Photos. Yes, you read that right — unlimited, full resolution storage. You also get 5GB of video storage. (Non-members get 5GB of combined photo and video storage). 

Look for Amazon's hidden coupon codes

Amazon Coupon

(Image credit: Amazon)

One of the biggest ways to save money on Amazon is also one of the easiest. The retailer has a tendency to offer Amazon promo codes on thousands of products. At times, the coupon will automatically be applied during checkout. Other times, you have to manually select the coupon box to make sure you get the discount. The trick here is that it's very easy to overlook the digital coupons. When available, you'll see a tiny radio box underneath the Amazon price. Click the box and the coupon will be applied at checkout. It’s such an easy trick, but it’s also very easy to overlook. 

Always shop with Camelizer

A chart showing the price of the iPad Air at Amazon

(Image credit: Camelizer)

Not every deal you come across on Amazon will save you money. To find out if a product is truly on sale I rely on CamelCamelCamel, a website that displays the price history of most items sold on Amazon. Just paste the product's full Amazon URL in CamelCamelCamel and the site will show you a price chart outlining that device's price history on Amazon. Personally, I prefer to use their browser extension, The Camelizer, which lets you glance at price charts directly from your browser. Keep in mind it doesn’t track everything Amazon sells and price history isn’t always 100% accurate, but it’s an excellent tool every Amazon shopper should use. 

iPad 2022 onlilac background

(Image credit: Apple)

Not everyone wants a Rose Gold colored iPad Air. As a result, Amazon tends to offer bigger discounts on less-coveted devices. So while the Space Gray iPad Air may sell for list price, the Rose colored tablet might be $50 off. I see this everyday when searching for deals on Amazon. Likewise, sometimes the higher priced configurations (e.g. the 1TB model) might receive steeper discounts than the base models. This happens not only with tech devices, but with most items that come in various colors, like coffee machines, blankets, mixers, and more. Bottom line — not all Amazon deals are cut from the same cloth, so it’s worth checking all configurations of a device until you find the best price. 

Take advantage of Amazon Prime student

A photo of college students with laptops and tablets

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If you’re a college student, Amazon Prime Student is a must. Not only do you get a free 6-month trial, but you'll also pay half the price of a traditional Prime membership. Students will pay $59/year or $6.49/month for membership. Students also get exclusive offers like discounts on textbooks, etextbook rentals, Music Unlimited for just $0.99/month (instead of $7.99/month for regular Prime members), and a free 2-month Kindle Unlimited trial (instead of just one free month). 

Shop Amazon Warehouse if you’re ok with refurbished

One of the easiest ways to save money on electronics is by purchasing used items. I’m usually very hesitant to recommend used tech, but the Amazon Warehouse does a good job of refurbishing old devices. First, they do a good job of describing the item’s condition. Descriptions range from "used - like new" to "used - acceptable." That said, you should always check the product page to make sure the warranty info is clear and to ensure the item is sold by Amazon Warehouse (or a third party you trust). 

Checkout those hidden coupon deals 

Amazon Coupon page

(Image credit: Amazon)

Whenever I buy household items, one of the first pages I check is Amazon's digital coupon dashboard page. I've found that eight out of 10 times I'll find a coupon for things I frequently buy like Tide Pods, deodorant, household cleaners, and cough/flu medicine. The coupon section also has a page dedicated to food items, with discounts on things like PopCorners (they're my new addiction), Quaker Granola Bars, and protein powders. 

Know when to reach out to customer service

A few weeks ago, I purchased a box of N95 masks from Amazon. When they arrived, the box containing the masks was completely torn and appeared taped up. (The exterior packaging was fine). Each mask was individually wrapped, so I didn't worry too much about the torn box. However, the masks were incredibly tight. What I thought was adult-size, was more like child-size. I read a few reviews of the masks and multiple customers noted that the masks were abnormally tight. 

So I reached out to Amazon customer support to let them know that the masks' packaging was torn and that the masks themselves were not adult size. I was polite throughout the entire exchange and Amazon offered a refund for my purchase. My point — if you ever buy something from Amazon that isn't what was advertised, you can reach out to Amazon for an exchange or refund. Your mileage will vary, but if you're polite and go in with no expectations, you might be surprised at how things play out. 

Gift yourself a Prime membership to avoid price hikes

Amazon Prime end membership

(Image credit: Amazon)

The price of an Amazon Prime membership increased last year. The e-commerce giant raised the price of its Prime membership from $119 per year to $139 per year. Month-to-month subscriptions also jumped from $12.99 to $14.99. The increases are already in effect for new members, but for any future price hikes, you can always dodge the increase by gifting yourself a Prime membership. You'll then need to manually end your Prime membership the day before it expires. (This will prevent auto-renewal). Then redeem your "gifted" membership to enjoy Prime for one more year at the current rate. 

Next: These are the five best credit cards for shopping at Amazon.

Louis Ramirez

As deals editor-in-chief at Tom’s Guide, Louis is constantly looking for ways to avoid paying full price for the latest gadgets, appliances, and apparel. With over 10 years of deals-hunting experience, Louis price checks against multiple retailers and searches high and low for the best deals to bring readers. He's also always on the look out for the best coupon codes to use when shopping. A born-and-bred New Yorker, Louis is also an avid swimmer and marathoner. His work has appeared on Gizmodo, CNET, and Time Out New York.

  • OrionEridanus
    Or, you could save even more money by canceling Prime.

    The price of that is maybe you wait a couple more days for your stuff, as Amazon waits for your whole order to be available and your packages get grouped with other orders for folks nearby, or delivered by a full UPS or USPS truck emitting less CO2 per package from that efficiency.
  • anscarlett
    OrionEridanus said:
    Or, you could save even more money by canceling Prime.

    The price of that is maybe you wait a couple more days for your stuff, as Amazon waits for your whole order to be available and your packages get grouped with other orders for folks nearby, or delivered by a full UPS or USPS truck emitting less CO2 per package from that efficiency.
    Doesn't work like that for me, prime costs less than waived shipping costs for the stuff I buy.

    Unless you're going to force everyone to only have deliveries on one day of the month, my delivery service will be coming past every day regardless of if I ordered anything or not, so co2 emissions are negligible