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Amazon is huge. So huge, in fact, that approximately 64% of American households had a Prime membership in 2017.
And yet for how pervasive Amazon is, few of that 64% percent would likely say they actively work to get the most out of their membership — or know how.
We come for the low prices, easy layout, and ultra-convenient deliveries, and we leave money and benefits on the table by being blissfully ignorant of the untapped channels. But whether you’re paying for Prime already or you shop infrequently, there are plenty of hacks that can help you get the most out of something pretty much ubiquitous for most American households — and if you can save yourself more money, why wouldn’t you?
Below are 20 ways to become an Amazon power user:
Shop between November 1 and December 31 to double or triple your return window.
You usually have 30 days to return most Amazon-fulfilled products, but during the holidays, items shipped by Amazon between November 1 and December 31 can be returned until January 31 — so you can shop for holiday gifts as early as you want, or return or exchange those you don’t want to keep.
Sign up for Prime Student if you have access to an “.edu” email.
If you have access to an “.edu” email address you can sign up for Amazon Prime Student. You get a six-month trial of Prime Student and then pay 50% less than other Prime users ($6.49/month) for nearly all of the same perks after the trial ends. It lasts for four years — or until your listed graduation date, whichever comes first.
You’ll also get access to special offers, which are deals and discounts Amazon partners offer student members specifically.
Prime members earn 2% rewards every time they reload their Gift Card Balance.
Prime members earn 2% rewards every time they reload their gift card balance with the debit card they designated as their Prime Reload card (something you’ll be prompted to do when signing up). Just set up 2% rewards and then reload your gift card balance using your rewards payment method. Your 2% rewards will be added to your gift card balance at the same time you reload.
If you have trouble with packages walking off, get your shipment sent to a nearby Amazon Locker.
Instead of sending to your doorstep, you can pick an Amazon Locker in over 50 U.S. cities. Just go to ‘Manage Address Book’ in the settings section of your account, click ‘Enter a new address,’ and search for an Amazon Locker location using the search fields shown. You can search by address, zip code, landmark or Locker name. You can also add an Amazon Locker to your address book by scanning the QR code on the Locker screen itself.
Use Paribus to get Amazon gift cards or refunds if your shipment is late.
Paribus is a free tool that connects to the email account where you send your shopping receipts. From there, it tracks your receipts and stores’ policies to see if you might be owed money (price drops, late deliveries, etc.). If they identify potential savings, Paribus will let you know and streamline the claim process to make it as easy as possible to get your money back.
Amazon doesn’t have a price protection policy for any items (no refunds for price drops) but you could be eligible for money back for things like shipping fees if your delivery is late. During the holidays, you may experience delays due to high volume.
Ship donations to local charities for free when you use an Amazon box.
One of the least-known and best perks of Amazon is that you can use your leftover boxes to ship donations to local charities for free. Just go to GiveBackBox.com, click on the logo of the participating company you have a box sitting around from (like Amazon), type in your zip code and email address, and you’ll get a prepaid shipping label emailed to you. After you’ve filled the leftover box with your donations, attach the label and schedule a UPS pickup. It won’t cost you anything, and it’s an easy and ‘green’ solution.
Plus, GiveBackBox will email you a tax receipt for your records once your box is received.
Use Alexa to add top-selling recommendations to your cart, buy products again, and get automatic discounts.
All you have to do is say “Alexa, what are your deals?” to hear a list of Alexa Deals that include daily deals up to 55% off. Alexa will also restock your home essentials just by asking, provide recommendations based on your previous orders and customer reviews and ratings, and can track your orders and confirm delivery dates. You can also turn on delivery notifications so Alexa tells you when an Amazon delivery is at your door.
Amazon also runs a frequent $10 discount for your first reorder of a product using an Alexa voice command.
During 2018 holiday season, you can also say “Alexa, donate to Toys for Tots” and Alexa will recommend a gift from the Toys for Tots charity list and confirm your purchase.
Free release-date delivery on items when you’re a Prime member.
Amazon / Business Insider
Amazon’s free Release-Date Delivery is one great way to skip the lines and still get whatever you’re waiting for on the very day that it comes out.
Just pre-order the item you want from Amazon’s eligible items (spanning new video games, books, music, movies, and more) and choose ‘Release-Date Delivery’ at checkout and your package will arrive on release day by 7 p.m.
For Amazon Prime members, Release-Date Delivery is free when selecting Two-Day Shipping.
Give 0.5% to local organizations when you shop through Amazon Smile.
Use Amazon Smile to give back to charity when you shop. You can choose an organization dear (or local) to you and shop as normal. However, it’s important to note that only about 0.5% of every purchase makes its way to charity, and you might do more good by giving more tangibly elsewhere. However, if you don’t let shopping through Amazon Smile negate all the good you would have done otherwise, it’s a good way to maximize your shopping.
Shop previously used or returned items at up to 50% off with Amazon Warehouse.
Save up to 50% off previously used or returned items (like an Echo Plus or refurbished Echo) by shopping through Amazon Warehouse. You’ll find everything from Amazon devices to unlocked cell phones and televisions with deep discounts.
Select Free No-Rush Shipping at checkout to get rewards or discounts as a Prime member.
If you have Amazon Prime but select ‘Free No-Rush Shipping’ at checkout, you can get a promotional reward or discount on your order. If you don’t need your item right away, this is one of the easiest ways to get discounts immediately or rewards you can redeem later.
Take advantage of Prime Family and get up to 20% off staples like diapers and baby food.
As a parent, you can sign up for family-related discounts through Amazon’s Prime Family. You can get up to 20% off diapers and baby food among other things and a 15% completion discount on your baby registry (which you can build here). There’s also a free Baby Registry Welcome Box full of full-, travel-, and sample-size products for parents-to-be and baby.
You’ll also get continued access to exclusive deals and offers, and articles and helpful tidbits from experts based on your child’s age.
Take advantage of Audible and Prime Reading/Amazon Reads for free reading.
You can start an Audible trial for 30 days and get two Audible Originals and two audiobooks as a welcome perk. Even if you cancel later, you’ll still keep those titles forever.
If you’re a Prime member, you may want to check out Prime Reading before paying for Audible ($14.95/month after trial). You might still decide you like Audible better, but Prime Reading gives Prime members access to a selection of 1,000+ of the most popular books and magazines at no extra cost to them. Prime members also choose one free Kindle book each month, and can download up to ten titles to borrow at a time. They can also shop hardcovers for $10 or less.
Use a Kindle, Fire tablet, or the Kindle app to access books and download them. Some even come with Audible narration.
Amazon First Reads basically gives members early VIP access to books before they’re officially released. Members can download a Kindle book from Amazon’s editors’ picks each month before their release date. Non-Prime members get access by subscribing to the newsletter and pay $1.99 for the title, and Prime members get it for free.
Save up to 15% plus free shipping with Amazon Subscribe & Save.
Cut down on things you have to remember to buy every month and sign up for Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program to get automatic deliveries of your favorite items. You’ll also save up to 15% on the items you would buy anyway — though sometimes savings can get up to 30% off.
You can cancel or skip anytime, delivery is free, and they’ll send you an email reminder before they ship anything.
Get alerted when special deals go live so you can shop them first.
Use Today’s Deals on Amazon with the availability filter ‘Upcoming’ selected. From there, you can select “Watch this deal” to get updates on when certain deals go live so you can shop them first while supplies last or before time runs out.
Sell things on Amazon and only pay $1 per sale, plus selling fees based on the category.
If you missed the 30-day return window or would rather sell through Amazon because you understand the interface better than places like eBay, you can sell fewer than 40 items every month for only a $1 per sale fee (plus applicable selling fees based on category). There’s also no monthly subscription fee to use it, so it’s not concerning if it takes awhile for your item to sell.