Thanks to its great combination of selection, service and low prices, Amazon has more than 244 million active customers. However, most shoppers don't know all the ways to find even better deals offered by the Web's leading retailer.
Signing up for Amazon Prime isn't a bad way to start. A $99 annual membership gives you free, two-day shipping and access to a library of free streaming movies, TV shows, music and e-books. Prime members also get exclusive coupons. Gamers who join Amazon Prime enjoy a 20 percent discount on all physical copies of preordered and recently released games. That means you'll need to buy the title before it comes out, or within two weeks of the game's release.
There are tons of other ways to save on Amazon, too, if you know where to look. For instance, there are deals based on where you live, short-term coupons, price-tracking alerts and an alternative app store that's cheaper than Google Play. Here are 10 ways to save big on Amazon.
MORE: What is Amazon Prime?
1. Short-term deals
There are a few different ways to get immediate and daily discounts through Amazon. From the home page, clicking Today's Deals on the top of the screen takes you to the freshest offers, which include daily deals and Lightning Deals. The Deal of the Day features sales on electronics, video games, tools, home goods and more. You can also sign up for a Daily Deal email alert.
For instance, not long ago, I could have picked up a 12TB Western Digital NAS drive for 37 percent off. The Lightning Deals section displays bargains for about 4 hours at a time, and includes products ranging from luggage to TVs (and more). By clicking ahead to see sale previews, I discovered a 73-percent-off deal for a genuine leather Kattee Vintage coffee-colored shoulder bag that goes on sale at 9:30 a.m. Amazon will give me a notification when the sale starts, if I click Watch This Deal and download the Amazon app.
2. Price tracking
Amazon prices tend to fluctuate over time. One day that DSLR you've been eyeing might drop by $20, and you'd kick yourself for missing that deal. Luckily, price-drop alerts from CamelCamelCamel ensure you'll get an email when an item goes on sale on Amazon. The service also offers browser extensions for Chrome, Safari and Firefox, which places a product's price history only a single click away.
3. Coupon codes
Coupon clipping is alive and well; we just call them promo or coupon codes these days. Goodshop keeps track of the current discount codes, and their expiration dates, for a variety of goods sold on Amazon, as well as Target, Staples and even Expedia. Recently, I spotted a code for such deals as 70 percent off on an Aukey 20,000-mAh mobile power bank and 36 percent off on an Omaker water-resistant Bluetooth speaker. It's not the only site that collects coupons for Amazon: others include Groupon, The Krazy Coupon Lady and Coupons.com, to name a few.
4. Student discounts
Did you know you could rent your eTextbooks from Amazon? Yup, often at huge discounts. But the deals don't stop there.
College students or others with a functional .edu email address can join Amazon Student. A six-month free trial ($49 annually after that) gives you access to free shipping, unlimited cloud storage for photos, Prime Instant Video and Prime Music.
Amazon Student members also get exclusive deals and promotions. Plus, if you refer a friend, you both get $5. Note: This program is only good for a four-year term, whether you're done with your degree or not.
MORE: Subscribe to Amazon Prime
5. Price drops on returned goods
Amazon Warehouse Deals are open to everyone. These are products that have been returned, so they may be open-box, like new or preowned. Regardless, each item is backed by Amazon's return policy. We found some impressive and tempting deals through this program, including $452 for a 64GB iPad Air 2 (normally $599) and $34.76 for a pair of Panasonic noise-canceling headphones (normally $80).
6. Trade in old goods for credit
Amazon will pay you for your old stuff through its Trade-In service. You can get up to $100 in Amazon Gift Cards for a Moto 360 smartwatch (which Amazon currently sells for $140). Amazon will pay up to $307 for a Microsoft Surface 3 (currently selling for $499), and you can get about $20 for an Xbox One wireless controller (currently $49).
7. Bargains for parents
Those basking in the glow of parenthood, and who also happen to be Amazon Prime members ($99), can get extra discounts through Amazon Family. The program is also open to grandparents and any other caretaker of children. All you need to do to enroll is enter your child's name, birthday and gender (or make one up). You cannot, however, also be enrolled in the Amazon Student Program.
Amazon Family gives you all the Prime benefits you're accustomed to having — including free movies, TV shows, e-books and music — as well as free two-day shipping. But you also get 15 percent off baby-registry items (up to 30 days before your due date), 20 percent off a diaper subscription service and other discounts on baby health and personal care items. For instance, I found a 60-percent-off coupon for Thomas the Tank Engine toys and movies, and a 50-percent-off deal for Seventh Generation baby products and detergents. New members are eligible for a 30-day free trial.
MORE: Subscribe to Amazon Prime
8. Comparison shop and save
If you've recently bought a new television set on Amazon, and you see it for less someplace else, the e-tailer will pay you the difference in an Amazon Gift Card. The list of eligible competitors contains more than 77 retailers, including Adorama, Walmart, Best Buy and Target. All you need to do is contact customer service using the Contact Us link found on any Help page, including Managing Your Orders.
You'll be connected with a customer service representative who will ask you which competitor is offering the TV set at a lower price. You will then either provide a working link to the available product or the agent will call the store to confirm the price. Then the company will issue you the difference in gift card credit, though Amazon will first take "any differences in shipping and promotions into account," so you may not get the exact price difference.
9. Buy apps from the Underground
All Android device owners, not just those who own Amazon tablets, can save a ton of money on apps by going through Amazon's Underground app store. You'll first need to download the app from this page on your device, then open the Settings app, tap Security or Applications (this varies per device), check the box next to Unknown Sources and tap OK. Then, you open My Files or Files (depending on your precise Android device), select Downloads > Amazon_App.apk > Install. Now, you just need to tap Open to launch the Underground app store, sign into your Amazon account, tap on the menu icon in the upper left corner and then tap on Apps & Games.
Here you now have free access to more than $20,000 worth of apps, games and in-app purchases. That includes such titles as Goat Simulator (originally $4.99), DuckTales: Remastered (originally $9.99), OfficeSuite Pro 8 (originally $14.99) and Jetpack Joyride, along with all of its in-app purchases (more than $40).
10. Redeem your book purchases for Kindle editions
If you've ever bought physical copies of a book — either hardcover or paperback — from Amazon, you can easily get free Kindle versions. Just sign into your Amazon account and visit Kindle Matchbook to see which of your previous purchases can get you a free (or up to $2.99) digital copy.