Amazon’s annual shopping holiday is just around the corner. Here’s what you need to know to maximize your savings.


Are you ready for Prime time? Sorry, I meant Prime Day, the annual Amazon shopping event that kicks off Monday, July 16, at noon ET and runs through Tuesday, July 17.

Sure, you can just show up (digitally speaking) like zillions of other shoppers. But if you really want to make the most of these 36 hours, follow my five tips for Prime Day success.

Shop Prime Day even if you’re not a Prime subscriber

Prime Day is a members-only affair: You need to have an active Amazon Primesubscription in order to take advantage of all the discounts, right?

Yes — sort of. If you don’t have a subscription, you may still see sale prices on a wide variety of products — just without the free two-day shipping afforded Prime members. Although there will be undoubtedly be some items that are Prime-exclusive — most notably Amazon-branded stuff like Kindles and Echos — there will be others that are simply discounted.

That said, to fully hedge your bets, consider signing up now for a free one-month Amazon Prime trial (available only if you’ve never tried Prime before). You can cancel the service after 29 days and avoid getting billed, but still reap the full benefits of Prime Day.

This option is even better if you’re a student: Amazon has partnered with Sprint to offer college students a free six-month trial.

Don’t assume Prime Day deals are the best deals

Some absolutely will be. For example, Amazon will be selling the Kindle Paperwhite e-reader for $80, the lowest price to date on that model.

However, it’s important to remember that products go on sale all the time, and any deal that happens during Prime Day is likely to be repeated. Don’t let the event’s inherent sense of urgency overwhelm your common sense.

Indeed, for any given deal you’re eyeballing, check to see if the price has been the same (or lower) in the past. A great tool for this is CamelCamelCamel, which tracks Amazon price histories. Just copy the product’s URL, paste it into CamelCamelCamel’s search field and check the results.

I also like browser plug-in Honey, which can instantly inform you if any third-party sellers have the same product for a lower price (which doesn’t happen often, but it’s worth checking). It also displays price histories, much like CamelCamelCamel.

Check out other stores

Best Buy

Amazon may be the biggest game in town, but it’s not the only game. Stores including Best Buy, eBay, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Newegg and Walmart will be riding Prime Day’s coattails, so to speak, by holding big sales of their own.

Newegg, for example, will be offering “significant” discounts on thousands of tech products. Best Buy hasn’t yet announced its annual “Black Friday in July” deals (which are likely to coincide with Prime Day, as they have in past years), but the store often has unbeatable discounts on Apple and Google products, which aren’t available from Amazon.

Get alerted when a product goes on sale

Part of the challenge of Prime Day is keeping tabs on the deals that interest you, especially those scheduled to begin later in the day. If you forget, you might miss out.

Fortunately, the Amazon App lets you track upcoming deals and receive notifications when they’re about to begin. It’s available for Amazon Fire (natch), Android and iOS in their respective app stores. The app also has useful features such as voice-powered search and shipment tracking.

Speaking of alerts, be sure to follow our post on the best Amazon Prime Day deals so far, which is updated regularly. While you’re at it, follow CNET Deals (@CNETDeals) on Twitter for Prime Day and lots more.

Watch for waitlists

Like Amazon’s daily Lightning deals, many Prime Day deals are available in limited quantities — and once they’re “claimed,” they’re gone. Or maybe not: You may see a Join Waitlist button that’ll put you in the queue to grab an item if it becomes available.

How does that happen? Sometimes other customers will add an item to their cart, then decide not to buy it (or fail to complete the purchase within 15 minutes) — at which point it goes to the next person in line. That could be you, so don’t be shy about joining the waitlist if it’s something you really want.

And there you go! My tips for winning Prime Day. If you have any of your own tips to share, hit the comments section and spill ’em!


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