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20 Secret Tips Everyone Who Shops On Amazon Needs To Know

There is happiness, and then there is next-day shipping.

Background image: Carl Malamud/Flickr (Creative Commons License)

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1. Get cash back if you see a price drop on Amazon after you buy something.

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How It Works: One of the most irritating things about shopping is buying something right before it goes on sale. Thankfully, you don't have to suffer through that on Amazon: If you end up seeing a price drop after you purchased something, contact Amazon customer service through live chat, phone call, or email and they'll refund you the difference.

Things To Remember: This only applies to items shipped and sold by Amazon. The official policy says it must be done within seven days of your delivery date, but many people have had luck with a refund even after that time.

2. Get a price match refund on televisions and cell phones if you see a better deal somewhere else.

How It Works: Let’s say you finally saved up to buy that big TV or that cell phone from Amazon, only to see it for a lower price at some other store like Best Buy or Costco. Amazon’s price matching policies for TVs and phones allows you to get a refund for the difference between the new price you saw and the price you paid.

Things To Remember: To get your money back for the difference on a TV or phone, Amazon requires you to contact its customer service by phone or chat 14 days after shipping. If you don't have time to talk to someone, you can also email Amazon for a response and refund information within 24 hours.

3. Use Amazon's trade-in program to get the most value for your old stuff.

How It Works: You could use a trade-in program like Gazelle to get some money for your old tablet or phone, but you get a lot more value if you trade it in to Amazon for an Amazon Gift Card. For example, you can trade in your old iPhone 5 for $75 on Gazelle or get yourself $225 in Amazon credit. Amazon even takes other stuff like DVDs, CDs, textbooks, and video games.

Things To Remember: Of course, trading something into Amazon means you're getting an Amazon Gift Card and not actual cash, but it's definitely a no-brainer if you use Amazon to buy a lot. Anything beats leaving your old stuff to collect dust in a closet.

4. Find great deals on new and used items with Amazon Warehouse and Amazon Outlet.

How It Works: Amazon Warehouse, Amazon's store for open-box and returned items, offers a ton of stuff you'd totally want that fall under Amazon's simple, money-back return policy. You can also check Amazon Outlet for deals on new items that are 30% or more off of the original price.

Things To Remember: Items sold on the Amazon Warehouse are sorted by conditions like "Very Good" or "Acceptable," so a "Like New" blender won't arrive looking like it fought a 2-year old. Also, Items bought from the Warehouse do not have the original warranty, but they are still covered by Amazon for up to $2,500 plus shipping.

5. Skip the minimum needed to buy cheap "Add-on" items with a pre-order.

How It Works: Amazon offers thousands of useful "add-on" items like lip balm, toilet paper, and USB drives for prices that often beat your local Walmart. The problem is, you need a total order of $25 to qualify for these deals. You can get around this by adding a pre-order item like an unreleased video game or movie to meet the minimum.

Things To Remember: Amazon does not charge you for pre-ordered items until they ship, so if you change your mind later about that Big Hero 6 Blu-Ray, you can always cancel the pre-order and keep your cheap add-on items. Amazon will also automatically ship your add-on items after you place your order, so you won't be waiting until your pre-order ships for your add-on stuff.

6. Get price drop alerts and see price history with CamelCamelCamel.

How It Works: CamelCamelCamel is a price tracker that will email or tweet you when an item you want on Amazon goes down in price. The website even has price history charts for most items, so you can see whether something has gone lower or higher over time.

Things To Remember: You don't have to register on CamelCamelCamel to track product prices, but signing up does give you email alerts and Amazon Wishlist access. You can also bring up a price drop list on the page of any Amazon item by installing CamelCamelCamel's add-ons for Chrome and Firefox.

7. Get a refund or a replacement for a broken item without having to ship it back.

How It Works: Waiting day and night for something you bought online only to see it arrive broken is up there with papercuts and bad Wi-Fi as far as frustrations are concerned. But if something you bought from Amazon is broken, tell a customer service agent and they'll usually refund you the full price of the order or ship you new items without a return.

Things To Remember: If the broken item was sold by Amazon, you'll usually get a replacement order with upgraded next-day shipping to calm your worries. If the item came from a third-party seller, you'll get your money and your peace of mind back in two to three business days.

8. Take advantage of quick sales with Amazon Gold Box and Amazon Coupons.

How It Works: A lot of us go crazy over Amazon’s Black Friday Lightning Deals, but what most don’t know is that Amazon keeps these popular, limited time sales going all year long on Amazon Gold Box. Amazon also runs a Coupons page, which offers instant discounts on items like food and fitness gear.

Things To Remember: Amazon changes out Gold Box Deals and Coupons frequently, so it's best to check back regularly to see new savings. You can also save Gold Box items and Coupons to your Amazon account for easier access.

9. Share your Amazon Prime two-day shipping with four other people.

How It Works: If you have Amazon Prime, you've most likely fallen in love with its free two-day shipping that makes actual shopping seem like an ancient idea. Better yet, Amazon allows you to invite up to four family members to enjoy the fast shipping by going to the "Prime Central" page and clicking "Invite a household member."

Things To Remember: The family member accepting your Amazon Prime shipping benefits is required to know your birthday, but wouldn't it be embarrassing if your own family member didn't know your birthday? Also, note that you can't share access to Prime Instant Video or Prime Music, so your brother will have to get his Arrow or Daft Punk fix somewhere else.

10. Avoid paying state sales tax by buying from a third-party seller.

How It Works: Third-party Amazon sellers aren't required to charge sales tax, so you can sometimes avoid it. You can often see a ton of sellers that don't charge tax by clicking the highlighted "new" or "used" tabs on an item page.

Things To Remember: Not all third-party sellers will choose to hold the sales tax from you, so it's best to go over your cart before checking out.

11. Find textbooks for way cheaper by looking at Amazon's websites in other countries.

How It Works: Amazon’s main website is a great place to buy your expensive college textbooks, but what you might not know is that Amazon’s websites in other countries like France usually have the books you need for cheaper. You can even use Cheap River to see a book’s prices across the world and find the best deal, making that $225 biochemistry book $98.

Things To Remember: International editions of U.S. textbooks are usually in English, but sometimes things like page numbers and chapter questions can be different.

12. Cancel and get a refund on the $99 Amazon Prime membership you forgot about.

How It Works: A lot of people sign up for the one month free-trial of Amazon Prime and forget to cancel it before it runs out, resulting in an automatic $99 charge on their credit cards. If that happens to you, contact Amazon customer support, be nice, and you'll likely get a refund.

Things To Remember: You can prevent a charge to your credit card in the first place by going to the “Prime Central” page and clicking “Do not continue.” This will automatically cancel your free Prime trial after one month of free shipping.

13. College students get a six-month free trial of Amazon Prime and discounts with Amazon Student.

How It Works: Amazon Prime is expensive at $99 per year, but benefits like free two-day shipping and access to music, movies, TV shows, and books are worth it. College students get access to these benefits with Amazon Student, which is basically Amazon Prime for $49 a year, and it comes with a six-month free trial.

Things To Remember: You need to provide a valid college email to sign up for Amazon Student, so don't try to use a four-year-old one. You also can't share your two-day shipping benefits with family members like you can with an Amazon Prime account, but you can cancel your trial of Amazon Student before six months is over if you don't want to pay $49.

14. Save 20% on diapers and 15% off of your baby registry with Amazon Family.

How It Works: Every new parent gets exhausted thinking about shopping, but Amazon Family makes things easier with a 20% discount off of diaper subscriptions and a 15% discount off items on a baby registry. The program is free for Amazon Prime members, but parents looking to snag some cheap Pampers can sign up for a 30-day free trial that includes the discounts and two-day shipping.

Things To Remember: Amazon Family is limited to one membership per household, so you can’t register twice for double the diaper discounts. After your trial of Amazon Mom runs out, you also get a special $49 price for Amazon Prime.

15. Find anyone's Amazon Wishlist with just their email or name.

How It Works: What’s the fun in asking a friend what they want for their birthday and killing the wonder from the start? Amazon allows you to search and look at anyone’s wish list, wedding, or baby registry, making you the master of gifts when it comes to that special occasion. All you need is an email or full name.

Things To Remember: In some cases, Amazon will even give you the shipping address of someone who has put up their wish list, allowing you to easily gift something to a friend without ruining the surprise.

16. Get a discounted Kindle book and a free Android app every day.

How It Works: For all the book lovers out there, Amazon offers a number of popular Kindle books at a heavy discount every day, including selections in romance, nonfiction, and even kids titles. If you have an Android phone, Amazon also offers a paid app for free each day, including games and productivity tools.

Things To Remember: Amazon’s free apps require you to install the Amazon App Store, which can be done simply by ticking an option in settings and goinghere. You can also gift a daily discounted Kindle book to a friend.

17. Save money and time by subscribing to items you buy regularly.

How It Works: If you constantly have to stock up on essentials like toilet paper, Advil, and beef jerky, you can use Amazon's Subscribe & Save program to get discounted items. You choose how often you want items to be delivered, all with free shipping, and you can cancel at any time. There are thousands of Subscribe & Save items, so anything from baby wipes to protein powder is fair game.

Things To Remember: You can save 15% on your entire order when you receive five or more subscriptions on a delivery day, so it's good to have all of your orders come in at the same time.

18. Get faster shipping or a replacement if your package is stuck.

Mike McCune/Flickr (Creative Commons License)

How It Works: If you feel like an item you ordered is being delayed after three or four days, contact Amazon customer service and they’ll usually upgrade the shipping on your item or create a replacement order with next-day shipping.

Things To Remember: Items sold by Amazon will usually receive faster shipping if they haven't been processed, while Amazon creates replacement orders for ones that are shipped but delayed.

19. Get a refund on shipping or an Amazon Prime extension if a delivery misses its guaranteed date.

How It Works: A ton of items on Amazon have a "Guaranteed Delivery" date. If Amazon doesn't hit this day for any reason, you can contact customer service to get a refund on your shipping costs or a one-month extension to your Amazon Prime membership.

Things To Remember: You only get a refund on shipping costs if you're not an Amazon Prime member, because two-day shipping is free with Amazon Prime. Guaranteed delivery items also need to be shipped to an eligible address, so make sure the package came to your house before filing a claim.

20. Get a replacement order or a refund for a package that has been stolen.

William Warby/Flickr (Creative Commons License)

How It Works: The worst fear for any online shopper is the moment you realize a package has been stolen. However, if that package was from Amazon, chat with customer service and there's a chance they'll create a replacement order for your lost stuff or issue a refund to your credit card.

Things To Remember: This won't work for every stolen package, and Amazon will definitely know if you try this too many times. But, if it does happen to you and you're nice, Amazon will likely replace your things or your money.

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