Are there any among us who don’t love Amazon? Perhaps people who haven’t tried it are indifferent, but after that first purchase, it’s hard not to be hooked. And when you know about certain hacks and secrets, you can make using the site even better by saving money and time on your purchases.
It’s hard to believe shopping for literally anything from the comfort of your home could be improved, but understanding all of Amazon’s inner workings can do just that. The site has numerous functions that aren’t evident at first purchase, and most of them help with discounts, returns, shipping and everything else to do with online shopping.
Whether you’re a Prime member, or just a casual shopper, an Amazon hack exists that can improve your shopping experience. We’ve assembled a list of some of our favorites below. Check them out, first the non-Prime hacks, and then the Prime membership ones, and start saving on your Amazon purchases today.
If you don’t have Amazon Prime…
Take advantage of holiday return policies
When you make a purchase on Amazon that Amazon fulfills—that includes products companies have Amazon store and sell on their behalf, and all Amazon-made products, like the Kindle—you typically have 30 days to return the purchase if you don’t want it. The fate of some of those returned products connects to another tip below, but what we’re taking a look at right now is how that 30-day window extends over the holiday season.
If you make a purchase that ships from Amazon between November 1st and December 31st, you get until January 31st to return it. For purchases made in November, including Black Friday deals, that gives you an entire extra month to decide if something is worth keeping or not, and allows you to do things like travel without worrying about being able to ship things off.
So go ahead and buy both gifts you’re eyeing for Grandma, and let your heart decide which one you’ll go with at the last minute.
You’ll have plenty of time to get your refund on the gift you don’t give!
Shop the Amazon Warehouse
Speaking of returning items to Amazon, if you’ve ever wondered what happens to the things you send back, the answer is if they still work, or are only lightly used, they end up in the Amazon Warehouse. The Amazon Warehouse then sells the products again at up to 50% off.
It’s basically the online used car lot for electronics, furniture, video games, toys and gadgets. The items are given a description of their condition, such as “very good” or “acceptable,” and a listing will say if packaging is included, or if it’s damaged from the return.
You won’t find every item you want in the Warehouse like you’ll find on Amazon proper, but you could find a great deal on an unlocked cellphone, or some power tools that would complete your workshop. Before you commit to buying something new, it’s definitely worth looking at the Warehouse—you could find a great deal, and save yourself some serious cash on a great product. Take a look at what the Amazon Warehouse is offering now by clicking here.
Set alerts for deals
Absolutely in love with an item on Amazon, but it’s a little out of your price range at the moment? Products on Amazon have high and low periods with their pricing, where sales are offered at different periods, or supply on something is down, so price goes up to decrease demand for a little while. Thankfully, you can set alerts on products so you can know when their price is at one of these low points.
To set up an alert, go to Today’s Deals on Amazon (which you can reach by clicking here), and select the “Upcoming” filter. Peruse the products available there, and if you find something you want, click “Watch this deal.” You’ll be alerted the moment that deal goes into effect, saving you time in looking for or waiting for a deal to pop up, and saving you money when you get the item at a great low price. So check Today’s Deals out, and start setting up your watches, especially on Lightning Deals—your wallet and productivity in non-shopping activities will thank you.
If you have Amazon Prime…
Having Prime is great—you get free 2 day shipping, access to streaming in Prime Video and a lot of Amazon Music, plus access to Prime reading, and you get early access to discounts and exclusives. And even better, you can share your Prime membership with people in your household, whether they’re teens, or fellow adults.
Your Amazon Household lets you link several Amazon accounts together to share a single Prime membership. An Amazon Household can have two adults, and multiple teens who have slightly more limited capabilities with the service. When you share your Prime account, you give everyone connected free Prime shipping, as well as access to Prime’s video and music services, Twitch Prime, and other offers. Also an option? Taking advantage of Prime Family and getting 20% discounts on diapers and baby food, as well as 15% discounts on your baby registry, when and if that’s applicable to you.
This means the cost of your Prime membership goes a little further—it covers more people, giving it a greater value. By using Amazon Household, you also help save your household money on shipping, and movie and TV downloads since so many things are accessible through Prime streaming. In other words, adding to your Amazon Household saves you money, time on shipping, and makes your membership go a little farther. It’s a win-win-win!
Select “no rush” shipping as a Prime member
A big reason to get Prime is the free two-day shipping, but there’s a benefit to selecting the “no rush” shipping option at checkout. The “no rush” option is also free, but since Amazon doesn’t have to worry about getting your package to you incredibly quickly, the site will thank you in the form of deals and discounts.
Selecting “no rush” shipping gets you these treats and deals right away, too. You might get a discount on the purchase you’re making, or rewards you can use at a later date, like free eBooks, free groceries from Prime Pantry, or free movie downloads. You’ll know the offer right at checkout, and rewards will be automatically added to your Amazon account so you can use them right away, or easily save them for later.
“No rush” shipping is also still free, so if you don’t need an item right away, it might actually get you a little cash back in the form of other items. So give yourself a few more business days, and enjoy other items at no cost to you, beyond your Prime membership (which also increases in value as it gets you more items at the same cost). You’ll get everything you want, plus some extras!
Bonus: Using Amazon for charity
Amazon hacks can save you money and time as a consumer, but they can help your favorite nonprofits and charities in much the same way. To help charities and nonprofits you like financially, use Amazon Smile, an Amazon service that donates 0.5% of your purchase prices to the charity of your choosing. Just log in to your Amazon account at smile.amazon.com, and input the charity of your choosing to get started. You can change charities whenever you want in your settings, and with over 1 million options, you have some great choices. Check out local charities in particular if you can to impact your own community in a direct and meaningful way.
Another Amazon-related service you can take advantage of to help charities involves another site, GiveBackBox.com. GiveBackBox gives you free, prepaid shipping labels for mailed charitable donations so long as the box you’re using is a recycled Amazon box (or another business with standard shipping box sizes). This gives you a free way to get items to communities in need, and lets you be a little green by reusing a box, too.
Shopping on Amazon has many perks as it is, but with the above hacks, you can save yourself some money, some time, and even help charities, all in ways that are pretty easy and require little effort on your part. So enjoy spending less while you continue to take advantage of Amazon’s many amazing offerings, with or without a Prime membership; it’ll just make using Amazon that much better.