14 Hacks for Shopping on Amazon

amazon-shopping-hacks

Odds are good that you’re already giving Amazon a lot of money. You’re not alone—the appeal of shopping for everything from cat food to cameras without leaving your couch is too strong. You don’t have to stop shopping on Amazon anytime soon, but there are plenty of things you can do to make your money go a little further. These simple shopping hacks can save you money and time.

1. Sign Up for Amazon Prime

If you use Amazon regularly, the cost of your annual membership will be quickly covered by how much you save with free shipping on almost everything you buy.

But a Prime membership doesn’t just save you money on shipping. It comes with all sorts of other benefits—many of the other tips in this post are advantages of having a Prime membership.

Normally, Prime memberships run about $100 a year. But if you’re a student, you can get a membership for half that.

2. Try Amazon’s Subscribe and Save

There are some things you have to buy every few weeks or months. Why spend extra on something as boring as paper towels? Instead, try Amazon’s subscribe and save option. You get automatic deliveries of the things you always need, and you pay less than you would if you made a one-time purchase.

3. Check for Daily Deals

You can save a lot of money on items in the “Today’s Deals” section of Amazon’s site. Check it before you buy something. There’s a chance you’ll find what you want at a steep discount.

4. Look into Prime Pantry

Sometimes shopping is fun, and sometimes you’re just buying stuff you need around the house. Prime Pantry makes shopping for things like beauty products, cleaning supplies, and pet care items a little easier. Goods that would normally be too expensive to ship alone can be grouped together in one shipment. The shipping rate is a flat $5.99 no matter how much you buy (as long as it fits in the box—boxes can hold up to 45 pounds). Plus, there are weekly deals, exclusive coupons, and significant discounts for lots of Prime Pantry products.

5. Choose Free No-Rush Shipping

If you’ve got a Prime membership, you get free two-day shipping on almost everything. But if you aren’t in a hurry, you can actually save money by being a little patient. When you choose free no-rush shipping, you can get account credits for certain kinds of items. Amazon offers credits for things like digital movies, Kindle e-books, music downloads, and Prime Pantry products.

6. Clip Some Amazon Coupons

Clipping coupons doesn’t have to be tedious. In fact, with Amazon, you don’t even have to leave the site. Visit the coupon page, and then click to “clip” the coupons you want and add those items to your cart. The discounts will be automatically applied when you check out.

7. Watch Deal Tracker Websites

Amazon prices change often. Sites like camelcamelcamel.com track the history of prices on Amazon. This makes it easier to see which purchases are bargains and which are not. You might find that the product you want is usually cheaper, or you might realize that the current price is a great deal. Either way, you’re making a more informed decision when you buy.

8. Check Your Prime Perks Before You Buy Content

A Prime membership comes with access to lots of content. For example, you can watch tons of popular movies and TV shows without paying anything extra. Next time you think about buying a new movie, check the Prime catalog first—you might find it there.

9. Look for Certified Refurbished Products

If you don’t have your heart set on getting something brand new, check out Amazon’s certified refurbished section. You can get tablets, cameras, and other cool tech at discounted prices.

10. Take Advantage of Free Content

Amazon might be a shopping site, but there are actually a lot of free products. This is particularly true if you like reading the classics. There are plenty of Kindle e-books that you can add to your library for free. Boost your literary cred while saving money!

11. Check the Amazon Outlet

Amazon Outlet may not have the most in-demand items, but you can get huge discounts on cool stuff that has been marked down or overstocked.

12. Browse the Amazon Warehouse

You can also get great deals through the Amazon Warehouse. If you’re okay with something that has been opened or gently used, you can save money on everything from TVs to vacuum cleaners.

13. Consider the Amazon.com Store Card

The Amazon.com Store Card helps you spread the cost of big-ticket items out over time. You can get 6-, 12-, or 24-month financing offers with a card that doesn’t have an annual fee. If you pay off your item in full within the designated time period, you won’t have to pay interest on your purchase. If you choose this option, be sure to pay the card off in time—if you don’t, you’ll be charged interest from the initial purchase date. Cardholders also get 5% back on Amazon.com purchases. As long as you use your card responsibly, you can ease the burden of large purchases and get money back.

14. Try the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card

If you’re interested in a credit card that you can use for more than Amazon purchases, the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card might be right for you. You get a $50 Amazon gift card upon credit approval; 3% back on Amazon.com purchases; 2% back on restaurant, gas station, and drugstore purchases; and 1% back on every other purchase.

However, be sure to check the credit requirements of the card before you apply. Credit card applications can ding your credit, so you want to be sure you’ll qualify. Take a look at your credit report card for free through Credit.com.

Save a little cash with these Amazon shopping tips so you can get what you want and need without going over your budget. And for general finance advice, check out Credit.com’s Personal Finance Learning Center.

Image: Squaredpixels

The post 14 Hacks for Shopping on Amazon appeared first on Credit.com.

6 Things You Need to Know About Amazon Prime Day

Online shoppers are gearing up for Amazon’s third annual Prime Day — a period of deep discounts on many Amazon items in mid-July. Since the company began Prime Day three years ago, it’s become the summertime answer to Black Friday.

But what’s all the fuss really about? In years past, there have been complaints that the site’s sale items aren’t all that exciting, with the hottest items selling out too quickly for many to take advantage of the deals.

Amazon hasn’t said much about what 2017’s Prime Day will look like, but to help you prepare, here are some things you need to know.

Q: When is Amazon Prime Day?

A: July 10-11

Prime Day kicks off at 9 p.m. EST on July 10, when the best deals will be posted online, and run for the next 30 hours.

New deals will be offered every five minutes, according to Amazon.

Q: Where can I find the best deals on Amazon Prime Day?

Electronics

Benjamin Glaser, features editor at DealNews, says that last year, Amazon Prime shoppers saved about 30% to 40% on electronics. Globally, people bought over 90,000 TVs, and in the U.S., people bought over 200,000 headphones during the 2016 Prime Day, according to an Amazon press release. However, Glaser cautions that TV deals tend to sell out fast.

It’s a safe bet that the best deals will be on Amazon-branded electronics, such as the Echo, Kindle, Fire tablets, and Fire TV products.

Glaser is anticipating seeing $15 off of the Fire TV Stick, which is currently at $39.99. The Echo, priced at $179.99, dropped to $129.99 on Monday June 26 for the day — the best deal on it this year.

It’s also likely that there will be deals on electronics that tie into the Amazon Alexa ecosystem, such as Philips Hue smart lights products — the starter kit is priced at $173.99 — and smart thermostats such as Nest, which is currently $246.85 (at the time of this writing).

Toys and more

Also, considering that 2 million toys and 1 million pairs of shoes were bought globally last Prime Day, it’s also likely there will be deals in those departments.

For example, among the best deals last year was $699 for the Segway miniPRO Smart Self Balancing Personal Transporter, which at the time was the lowest price for it on Amazon by $300, according to DealNews. The game Exploding Kittens: A Card Game was also on sale for $15, the lowest price on Amazon by $9 at the time.

Expect some products to have record low prices for Amazon.

“We have confirmed over the last two years that a lot of the prices rival the best prices we see on the site all year,” Glaser says.

Q: How long will deals last on Amazon Prime Day?

A: Amazon promises new deals every 5 minutes starting at 9 p.m. EST on July 10.

Some deals will expire in mere minutes, while others will last several hours, and some will last for the duration of the sale event. Each deal will have a timer that shows how long it is available.

Q: How do I know when an item goes on sale?

A: The Amazon App specifically includes a feature called “Watch a Deal” that will let you know when a deal you’re interested in is about to go live.

You also can join a waitlist (by selecting that button on the page) for deals that are 100% claimed.

Q: Do I need to be an Amazon Prime member?

A: You must be an Amazon Prime member to access the Prime Day deals. A Prime membership costs $99 a year or $10.99 per month and includes a number of other perks. Recently, Amazon announced a reduced price for Prime membership for low-income households.

“So, if that [$10.99] is less than what you think you’ll save on the stuff you want to buy [on Prime Day], then it’s a worthwhile investment,” Glaser says.

Amazon also offers a 30-day free trial, so if you haven’t had Prime before, you can use that to participate in Prime Day.

“This might be a good month to give Prime a test drive and see if you get good value out of it,” Glaser says.

Q: How will I know when they announce deals?

A: Glaser says Amazon will likely soon start releasing ads for some of the deals, so keep an eye out for them. Look particularly at Amazon products, electronics, small kitchen appliances, and shoes. Plan what you want to buy and set a shopping budget.

Since some deals will only be available for a certain time, you might want to set alerts for items. If you don’t already have an app that you use to track prices on Amazon, Glaser recommends the free apps CamelCamelCamel or If This Then That.

With all of the deals, it will be easy to buy things you weren’t planning on and don’t need. Glaser cautions against getting swept up in these deals and recommends sticking to your budget on Prime Day.

“If you see something that’s 95% off, you might spring to buy it and not really think about how much money you’re still spending, and whether it’s something you actually want,” Glaser says.

The post 6 Things You Need to Know About Amazon Prime Day appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

Could What Your Amazon Alexa Overhears Be Used Against You?

A murder case may offer clues to whether Amazon Alexa protects users' privacy.

Have you seen the Geico ad with the talking parrot? A 19th-century ship is boarded, the captain surrounded by pirates. The leader shouts, “Let’s feed him to the sharks,” (pirate cheers and swords held high) “and take all his gold” (more cheers). The parrot repeats these lines, and adds, “and hide it from the crew. They’re all morons anyway.”

The voiceover at the end of the Geico ad explains, “If you’re a parrot, you repeat things. That’s what you do.” If you’re a voice-activated Internet of Things (IoT) device, you don’t repeat things, but you may transmit them.

Voice-activated IoT devices (which, for this piece, includes smartphones and televisions) are always there, just like that pirate’s parrot. You know the services: Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa. Mostly, these fine-featured friends are waiting for their activation command — listening, not recording. When activated, they gather the particulars of your life and beam them into a cloud server where your day-to-day existence is, at least in some basic ways, made better, the improvement generally taking the form of convenience or efficiency.

But all the value adds of having a digital assistant come at a personal price that many privacy advocates — including me — worry may come at a cost much higher than the price of, say, the device you need to access the service.

The price is your privacy.

Unfortunately, it is a murder case in Bentonville, Arkansas, that most forcefully highlights one of the more complex privacy issues connected to digital assistant IoT technology these days.

In November 2015, a former Georgia police officer named Victor Collins was found floating facedown in a hot tub owned by Bentonville resident James Andrew Bates. There were traces of blood at the scene, and a coroner later determined that Collins had died of strangulation and partial drowning. The smart water meter installed at Bates’ house indicated that 140 gallons of water — much more than usual — had been used on the night of Collins’ death. That pointed to post-murder cleaning. There was physical evidence at the scene, but the prosecutor wanted to know if there was more information hiding on the Amazon Echo that had been streaming music when Collins died. There was the possibility that the device had stored 60 seconds, which is what it is equipped to do, and that it might still be on the physical device. Amazon declined to help with the investigation. (Amazon did not immediately respond to Credit.com’s request for comment.)

Why This Raises Questions

It should be said that the producers of digital assistants aren’t trying to create a better pirate parrot. They aren’t in the business of mindless repetition. They are in the business of learning more about you so they can sell you things, or helping others do that, or selling what they know about you to a third party that can use it to make money.

There is so much information potentially. Consumers use digital assistants to help with travel, email and messages; they listen to music, check out sports scores and the weather. They can keep a calendar in order, post to social media, translate documents and search the internet. (When it comes to criminals, these devices could be seen as the digital equivalent of a stupid accomplice.)

Murder isn’t the best backdrop for discussions about privacy, but unfortunately the protections guaranteed by our courts is nowhere in evidence at the consumer level, so it is often the mise-en-scéne for this kind at article.

If you’re a parrot, you repeat things. If you’re an Amazon Echo at a murder scene, you give rise to serious questions about the expectation of privacy in a consumer landscape that has turned personal preference into a commodity. Increasingly geared toward the conveniences of radical personalization, a digital assistant knows how you like things in your home, but given the inevitability of hacking and data compromises, that means that at least potentially all that information could be used against you — and not just in your personal battle to resist temptation in the marketplace and save money.

Without a doubt, it would be easier to talk about the cost of convenience when it comes to digital assistance were we dealing with a case revolving around hacked information used to burglarize a home, or the purloined daily schedule of a popular celebrity who was (supply your own verb) as a result of leaked data. For that matter, it would be easier to talk about plug-and-play cameras that can’t be made secure no matter what you do. But until there’s a body, it seems, no one pays attention, and so these outlier situations are often how privacy becomes a topic for discussion.

The digital assistant as a privacy issue may not be a problem for you — some people feel they have nothing to hide — but it is for sure something consumers need to think about before transmitting their lives to the cloud where it may be only a matter of time, or bad luck, before a hacker streams it for laughs or loot.

Remember, if you’ve been the victim of identity theft, don’t blow it off. A good way to start taking action is by checking your credit — warning signs can include accounts you never opened and sudden drops in your scores. You can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.

This story is an op-ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its partners.

Image: Amazon

The post Could What Your Amazon Alexa Overhears Be Used Against You? appeared first on Credit.com.