Whichever cash back or rewards card you use during Amazon Prime Day 2018, you’re earning cash back or miles during this peak 36 hours of online shopping.
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New this year: Prime Day extends beyond a day to 36 hours for specials on the Amazon website – starting at 3 p.m. Eastern on July 16 and running through all of July 17 – and Amazon Prime members can score extra savings at Whole Foods, which Amazon purchased nearly a year ago.
Also new this year: Using some techy shopping tools will cut the cost of your purchases. For example, chop $10 off your first purchase by downloading and using the Amazon app, and shave $5 off your Prime Day order of $25 or more by downloading the Amazon Assistant to notify you of deals you watch. You also can save $5 on select Prime Day deals when you search for items using the Camera Search on the Amazon app.
What hasn’t changed: There is a lot of hype and excitement around Prime Day, but not every deal is extraordinary. And other retailers, such as Best Buy, will be competing to offer rock-bottom prices around Prime Day, too.
“It’s going to be so tempting to charge more than you typically spend,” says Jacob Serfas, lead financial strategist with O’Dell Winkfield Roseman Shipp in Baltimore, “so you need to have a plan to pay it off.”
Consumer and money-saving expert Andrea Woroch suggests creating a Prime Day shopping list to cut your risk of overspending.
“It’s easy to fall into the trap of overbuying and and ending up with items you don’t really need during sales events such as Prime Day,” she says. “The limited time creates a sense of urgency, and the number of deals can overwhelm people and lead them to make bad buying decisions.”
If you planned for Prime Day with an eye for deals on things that you need and purchases that you can pay off when the credit card bill arrives, great. If you can save even more on your purchases by paying with your rewards credit cards, even better.
To that end, here are six ways you can use your cards to stack your rewards and make the most of Prime Day:
1. Use your Amazon Prime Rewards Visa credit card
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa cardholders can earn a $10 Amazon credit by scanning their Prime Code or using your mobile number at checkout in-store on any purchase of more than $10 to spend on Prime Day.
Throughout the year, Amazon Prime Visa cardholders get 5 percent cash back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases (and 10 percent off on specials throughout Whole Foods stores). Amazon Rewards Visa cardholders earn 3 percent cash back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases.
2. Fill a cart with Prime savings at Whole Foods
Prime Day spans three days (July 14-17) at Whole Foods, where Amazon Prime Visa cardholders will score 10 percent cash back on everything in their Whole Foods cart (up to $400 in groceries).
In fact, smart shopping expert Trae Bodge says the Amazon Prime Visa has its appeal for frequent Amazon shoppers beyond any Prime Day bonus savings.
“This card has no annual fee and allows you to earn 5 percent back on your Amazon purchases and between 1-2 percent back on other purchases,” she says. “These earnings can be applied to future Amazon purchases.”
She adds this caution, though. “Like many rewards cards, this card has a fairly high APR, so buy only what you can pay off in full each month. Another bonus of the Prime Visa card is that you get 5 percent cash back at Whole Foods through the year as well.”
3. Get a $75 Discover statement credit
Sign up for a Discover it® Cash Back card at Amazon and you’ll get a $75 statement credit.
Another way Discover cardholders can save on Amazon: Get $10 to spend at Amazon when you change your one-click default payment to your Discover card.
Discover cardholders also can use your cash back bonus to pay for purchases on Amazon.
4. Earn some cash back rewards
Pay with your cash back card and you can get a little extra back on any Prime Day purchases.
Our cash back cards survey found that with flat-rate cash back cards, 1 percent is the norm and 2 percent is the exception. For example, the Citi Double Cash Card and Capital One’s Spark Cash for Business card give 2 percent cash back (with Citi Double Cash, you earn 1 percent when you buy, plus 1 percent as you pay).
A few other credit cards offer a flat 2.5 or 3 percent cash back, but those are available only in certain states or if you’re a member of a particular credit union.
5. Redeem AmEx Membership Rewards
For Prime Day, American Express card members can get 20 percent off eligible purchases on Amazon when they use Membership Rewards points from American Express. The maximum discount is $100. AmEx spokeswoman Felicia Mowll said card members can learn more about Shop With Points program and activate the Prime Day offer.
6. Reward yourself with an online shopping bonus
The Uber Visa credit card, introduced in 2017, gets most of its notoriety for its 4 points per dollar spent on restaurants, but cardholders also earn 2x rewards on online shopping purchases.
9 ways to make the most of Prime Day
1. Take Prime for a test drive
The best Prime Day discounts are on lightning or flash deals, says Serfas, who is an Amazon Prime member, and he suggests signing up now for the free 30-day Amazon Prime trial, then canceling before the $119 fee is due. Make a list of items you need and start looking at Amazon prices so you will know if a Prime Day price cut is really worth it, he adds.
See related: Is Amazon Prime worth it?
2. Check price histories
“Figure out if you are getting a good deal by reviewing product price histories on Amazon via RankTracer.com,” Woroch says. “This free Amazon price tracker service shows price histories and price comparisons together.
“For example, check out this laptop deals page that compares price histories in an interactive price comparison table.”
3. Use Honey to get the lowest price
You likely are familiar with how the Honey browser extension scans and applies coupon codes to cut your price on an item in your online shopping cart at checkout.
“In addition to the savings shoppers will receive on Prime Day, Honey will automatically add coupons and discount codes on top of the Prime Day sales and therefore, increase the amount of money the shopper will save,” says Kelly Parisi, vice president of communications at Honey.
“Honey users can also add items to their Droplist, where they can set a price they are willing to buy the product for,” she says. “When the Amazon price drops to the desired amount, Honey will notify the user, which in return gives the user the satisfaction of purchasing products at a price they are comfortable with.”
4. Double-dip on cash back savings
You can stack your Prime Day savings with your rewards cards to earn cash back or points, and you can add to your cash back by using Ebates, ShopAtHome, Extrabux, TopCashback and Upromise sites.
As my colleague, Robin Ratcliff, notes in her “Guide: How to maximize your cash back on Amazon.com”: “These discounts do stack on top of your credit card rewards, meaning you can boost your rewards rate on your Amazon Prime card as high as 9 percent just by using these sites, with very few strings attached.”
5. Save now on back-to-school items
Though school bells won’t ring for weeks, you can use Prime Day savings to stock up on school clothes, pens, binders, glue sticks and furnishings for your child’s dorm room.
6. Wrap up some holiday gifts in summertime
If you shop through the year for holiday gifts, you may find yourself filling your Amazon shopping cart on Prime Day with presents for friends and family.
7. Don’t do your online shopping on public Wi-Fi
Using free Wi-Fi “makes you vulnerable to identity theft,” Woroch says. “Hackers can access your info and steal any sensitive information you’re sharing over these public hot spots.
“Use personal data or hook up to a secure network at work or home to snag these Prime Day deals,” she says.
8. Prep your shopping cart.
With lightning and flash Prime Day deals, it pays to be ready to grab that special price.
Woroch’s suggestion: “Save your payment info, update shipping addresses and add items to your cart that you want to buy so that if it’s only available for a short time, all you have to do is hit click to buy so you don’t miss out!”
9. Don’t overdo it on Prime Day
“A good deal today could hurt us much more down the road,” Serfas says. Saving 20 percent on a Prime Day special doesn’t do you any good if you can’t pay your credit card bill and end up paying 20 percent interest to your card issuer.
“The last thing you want to do is get in trouble on the back end,” he says. “But if you charge responsibly on Prime Day, it can be a great way to score some great deals.”