Guide: How to maximize your cash back on Amazon.com
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If you are a fan of Amazon.com, you may already find your time spent searching for deals on the world’s largest online retailer rewarding – as in, enjoyable – but we’d like to show you how shopping on Amazon can reward you in another way: With cash back and cost savings.
By using the right credit card, stacking up on coupons and discounts and using some handy tools to find the right price, you can really make your savings on Amazon add up. We’ll show you how in five steps:
Step 1. Get a cash back credit card (Savings = 1 to 10 percent)
Amazon.com accepts just about any credit card you can think of, and there is a fair selection of cards that give you cash back on Amazon purchases. However, a few stand out from the pack.
The obvious choice is one of the two Amazon Rewards cards. Regular Amazon members can earn 3 percent cash back on Amazon purchases with the Amazon Rewards Visa, while Amazon Prime Visa Signature members get 5 percent cash back on Amazon purchases. Amazon makes it easy to redeem those points for future Amazon purchases – simply link your card to your account, and then click the button to use your points at checkout.
Amazon Rewards Visa card
Why get it?
You spend a fair amount on Amazon and don’t want to commit to a $119 Prime membership.Read review
|Estimated yearly rewards value ($15,900 spend)
Amazon Prime Visa Signature card
Why get it?
You are already a Prime member, you are thinking of joining Prime or you spend $6,000+ on Amazon purchases or $119+ on Amazon shipping per year (in which case, Prime membership is definitely worth it).Read review
|Estimated yearly rewards value ($15,900 spend)
$0 (requires $119 Prime membership)
It doesn’t seem like it gets better than the Amazon Prime card’s 5 percent cash back on Amazon purchases. However, you need to keep in mind that the Prime card is only available to Amazon Prime members, and membership costs $119.
Also, there are a few alternative credit cards that offer better than 5 percent cash back. The Discover it Cashback Match card, for example, offers 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 in combined spending on categories that rotate quarterly, upon enrollment. The card then doubles all the cash back you earn in the first year. Because the bonus category for the fourth quarter of 2018 is Amazon, you can essentially earn 10 percent cash back on Amazon purchases from October through December 2018.
For a full list of options, see our article, “Which is the best card to use on Amazon.com purchases.”
*Bonus tip: If you are a Prime member who is averse to using credit cards, Amazon gives you an additional option for earning cash back: If you link your debit card to your Amazon account and then get an Amazon gift card, you can earn 2 percent cash back by reloading your gift card balance (up to $2,000 per day). (See our article on Amazon Reload for more details.)
Step 2. Stack your cash back rewards (Savings = 3 to 6 percent)
Along with the automatic 3 percent to 5 percent discount that you can get by using an Amazon rewards card (or other cash back card), there are several rewards portals that will give you an extra 3 to 6 percent cash back just by clicking through on the Amazon link from their portal and completing a purchase.
Amazon rewards portals
|Site||Average rewards rate||Total rewards earnings (+ 5% from Amazon Prime card)|
|Ebates||3% cash back + discounts and special deals||8% (+ additional discounts)|
|ShopAtHome||3% cash back||8%|
|Extrabux||4.8% cash back||7.8%|
|TopCashback||6% cash back||9%|
|Upromise||3% cash back||8%|
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. Once you’ve satisfied the site’s terms, cash back is usually sent to you as a check, PayPal deposit or a gift certificate.
The Upromise portal has a unique spin on cash back – you can deposit the 3 percent cash back that you earn on Amazon purchases into a Upromise, Upromise GoalStarter or 529 account to save for college.
Step 3: Get free shipping (Savings = $2.99+ per item)
You can save a bundle of cash on Amazon.com by taking advantage of Amazon’s free shipping benefits. Non-Prime members can get free standard shipping simply by loading more than $25 worth of qualified merchandise into their shopping carts.
Prime members are eligible for an array of free shipping benefits, including free two-day shipping on qualified items. Here’s a summary of the benefits for you:
Amazon Prime free shipping (Qualified items only)
|Same-day delivery||Free in certain cities|
|Two-hour delivery||Free in eligible ZIP codes|
|One-day shipping||Free in certain cities|
|Saturday shipping||Price varies by item size and weight – as low as $7.99 per item|
|Standard shipping (4-5 business days)||Free|
|Release-date delivery (on qualifying items)||Free|
Step 4. Look for deals and discounts on Amazon.com (Savings = 5 to 70+ percent)
Some of the best savings on Amazon come from simply knowing how to use the features on the site to your advantage. Here are a few of Amazon’s best cost-saving features:
- Lightning deals – Amazon Lightning deals are limited-time discounts on various merchandise. There are questionable items in the mix, but good deals can be found with discounts of 70 percent or more. Merchandise is limited and can run out if you don’t move quickly. Amazon Prime members get a first stab at the deals.
- Amazon coupons – Though Amazon doesn’t accept outside coupons, it does have its own coupons page. You will find a range of discounts – e.g., 50 cents off, 25 percent off -- on a variety of everyday items, such as skin care and pet supplies, and the coupons do stack on top of other Amazon discounts.
- Amazon Subscribe and Save – Amazon’s subscription service allows you to schedule automatic delivery of items that you frequently purchase (think: paper towels and laundry soap), with no shipping fees. You get a 5 percent discount just for using the service, and you get an even larger 15 percent discount on orders of five items or more, plus you can stack coupons on top of that. Additionally, Prime members are entitled to special deals and discounts, including 20 percent off diapers.
- Amazon warehouse and outlet – Amazon.com has its own outlet store that offers deeply discounted items, as well as a warehouse that offers deals on open-box and used products.
- Matching prices from other vendors – Amazon doesn’t offer price matching outright, but it does include a feedback form on its product detail pages that lets you alert the customer service team when you’ve found a lower price on the same item from another vendor. With some time, patience and a good price tracking tool (see below), you can alert Amazon of the lower price and wait to see if they match it.
- Low price guarantee for TVs – While Amazon doesn’t generally do price matching, it does offer a low-price guarantee on TVs. If you buy a TV and find it for a lower price on a competitor’s site or on Amazon within 30 days of your purchase, you may receive 100 percent of the price difference.
Step 5. Use web tools to get the best price
Amazon prices can fluctuate wildly – sometimes by the day. This creates a massive opportunity to maximize your savings simply by making your purchase at the right time, and there are several tools that can help you compare prices and grab that merchandise at the peak moment:
camelcamelcamel is the ultimate Amazon price tracker. As the name suggests, the site allows you to create price watches on specific Amazon items, and will place an item’s price history into a handy line chart, so you can track the pricing trends on an item you want to buy. You can also create email and Twitter alerts to help you spring into action the moment the price on an item drops.
Honey is a free browser extension that automatically finds and applies coupons codes at checkout. Though it is configured to work with Amazon, there’s a huge catch – Amazon doesn’t currently offer site-wide codes.
Fortunately, Honey has another useful application for Amazon shoppers: It will search for other sellers with the same item for less (taking into account Amazon Prime shipping benefits as well as shipping delays), and let you know if there’s a better deal elsewhere. Honey also has a rewards program that gives you points toward Amazon gift cards.
The Amazon shopping app lets you manage your account from your mobile phone and save money through features such as push notifications to your phone when a deal on an item in your Watchlist is about to start. One handy feature – the “Scan it” feature – lets you snap a photo of an item or scan its barcode to do a quick price comparison. If you decide that Amazon has the best price, you can click on the item and purchase it from the app in minutes.
See related: Amazon offers Prime members 5 percent cash back at Whole Foods, Which is the best card to use on Amazon.com purchases?, Prime members can now earn 2 percent back on Amazon purchases without a credit card
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