Amazon is the biggest name in online shopping. Some may gnash their teeth because they think the company's tax structure means it's avoiding paying its fair share of the UK tax bill. Yet for many it's the web's one-stop convenience store and the first place they look.
Our rulebook for the giant e-tailer has 20 tricks to help you slash prices, as well as the Amazon Discount Finder Tool (above), which instantly finds secret 75%+ off bargains on electronics, clothes, beauty and more. You can also track price reductions, grab free vouchers and beat delivery charges.
Take 20 seconds to check that Amazon is REALLY cheapest
The Amazon* business model is that it's a one-stop shop. It's tempting to do all your shopping in one easy sweep, but you can often undercut it.
In the same time it takes to search Amazon, you can use shopbots (shopping robots) that whizz through scores of internet retailers to find the cheapest price. Our MegaShopBot.com tool searches the best of these for each category.
For a full guide to slashing the cost of buying anything and everything online, see the full 40+ Online Shopping Tricks guide.
Check whether you're buying from Amazon or its Marketplace
If goods say "by" someone other than Amazon then they're Marketplace, ie, not Amazon itself, but a trader selling via Amazon.
Delivery can cost more. Items bought from Amazon Marketplace aren't eligible for free Super Saver Delivery (normally you can get this on items worth more than £20). What's more, delivery charges for Marketplace items vary sharply, so always check.
Know your rights. If there's a problem with the item or you want to return it, you need to go to the seller first, not Amazon. Items must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, and as described though. See the Consumer Rights guide for more.
If there are any problems, Marketplace purchases are covered by Amazon's buying guarantee. It reimburses you if goods don't arrive or aren't as described (up to £2,500 in value, including delivery).
But you won't be covered under Section 75, which normally covers items worth between £100 and £30,000 which are paid for with a credit card. The fact Amazon takes the money then passes it onto the retailer means you don't get that protection.
Never assume Marketplace prices are cheapest. A couple of years ago Amazon dropped its 'price parity' clause, which meant sellers couldn't sell items for less elsewhere. They can, so check the retailer's own website and elsewhere before you buy.
Explore Amazon's secret bargain basement
Amazon often offers 75% and better discounts, yet it directs people to other, higher profit margin products instead.
There's a geeky way to manipulate Amazon's web links to display all heavily-reduced bargains. All you need to do is fiddle with Amazon web addresses to bring up lists of knock-down prices.
The problem is these are a faff to make yourself. So we built the Amazon Hidden Discount Finder tool (above). It creates your own bespoke super-specific sub-department pages in seconds, where you choose the discount and if you want free delivery.
Top tips for using the Amazon Discount Tool
When searching for treasure, don't just look at the first page of bargains, try a few. Try higher percentage discounts for cheaper, smaller items and lower percentages for niche, expensive ones.
Just because something is listed with a huge discount,
it doesn't automatically make it a bargain or worth buying.
Before you try the tool, here are some top discount links we made earlier:
Popular hidden Amazon discount pages
All hot Amazon bargains go in our free weekly emailEnsure you don't miss any new top guides, deals & loopholes. It's spam-free
Track past Amazon prices
Our hidden discount finder's proved hugely popular. Yet, as we've warned, just because Amazon lists it as reduced, it doesn't make it cheap. Before you buy, plonk any item's Amazon URL (its web address) into CamelCamelCamel, which charts Amazon price changes, to show if the 'was' price is realistic.
Results can be fascinating. Hit the buttons to remove different seller types or drag the timeline to adjust the date range.
Try the browser plug-in
There are also nifty free Camelizer plug-ins for Firefox and other web browsers that chart price changes while you visit Amazon.
Once you've downloaded a plug-in, go to an item's Amazon page and click on the tiny camel in the right hand side of the web address bar - the price chart should appear.
Monitor the perfect moment to buy
Amazon prices often yo-yo up and down, and when they're cheap, things sell out quickly. CamelCamelCamel lets you enter your desired price and fires off an email when Amazon hits it.
Simply pop an item's URL into it, click the 'start tracking' tab and enter the maximum price you want to cough up. You'll receive an e-mail when the price falls to that amount or lower.
Alternatively, Zeezaw works in a similar way. Just sign up, create a list with the max price you want to pay for Amazon items, and you'll receive emails when the price drops.
Tool scans prices on Amazon's European sites to find goods cheaper
Nifty site Curiua scans prices across Amazon's sites for France, Germany, Italy and Spain, converts them into pounds and compares them to the UK.
MSE Neil used it: "I bought a Sonos Playbar speaker from Amazon Italy, costing me €640 (£460). Saved £139 on the UK Amazon price. Great!"
We’ve seen other great savings too. When we checked, a Tamron 24-70 mm F2.8 VC USD camera lens cost £667 from Amazon UK, but only £552 from Amazon France - a saving of £115 for the same thing.
Here are our the key tips for buying from Europe:
- Translate the page. Most web browsers (incl Chrome, Explorer and Firefox) can translate into English at the click of a button. Voila!
- Shipping costs vary. EU sites have similar delivery costs but they aren't included in the comparison.
- If you change your mind... You've got 14 days after receipt to change your mind, and another 14 days to send the item back. You've got a bit more time with Amazon - its returns policy usually gives 30 days.
- If it's faulty... You should be able to get a refund, replacement, repair or reduction in the cost with similar rules to buying in the UK.
- Beat exchange rates. Pay in euros using a specialist overseas card and you get the same near perfect exchange rate that banks do.
- Use a credit card for £100+ purchases. Then, under Section 75 laws, the credit card is jointly liable if things go wrong. Though not if it's a Marketplace seller, as that's 'buying through an agent', which is excluded.
- You can't buy some things. Amazon blocks you from buying some products, such as Kindles, from abroad and shipping to the UK.
- Don't forget about European plugs. Adapters cost as little as £1.
- Check Amazon Austria and Amazon Netherlands too. They're not included in Curiua's comparison.
While you can also buy from Amazon's sites outside Europe (Priceonline.eu works like Curiua but compares Amazon US too) you may need to pay Customs and Excise Duty, plus consumer rights vary by country.
Tricks to get free delivery
In May, Amazon increased its minimum spend for free delivery from £10 to £20. The exception is when you buy books, which still have a minimum free delivery threshold of £10.
Otherwise the postage charge depends on the category, and is generally between £1.49 and £6. Yet there are tricks to beat it.
Bump up your order's value
If your order costs under £20, check how much the delivery will cost. If the delivery cost takes the total order over £20, instead buy something small that you need anyway to take the order up to the qualifying £20 for free delivery
Don't be afraid to wait
If you don’t need the items desperately, consider waiting. Save the items in your basket and only pay when you have enough in there to meet the minimum spend. Be warned, if you wait too long, the price might change or the items might become unavailable.
Get an Amazon Prime trial
Alternatively, Amazon* is offering Prime newbies a free one-month trial of its service. The service gets you unlimited free one-day delivery. The beauty is you can sign up, order, then just cancel the trial before Amazon charges you.
Only do this if you are super-organised and will remember to cancel though, otherwise £79 will be taken from your account.
Read more on how to grab a free Prime trial.
You can grab a free one-month Amazon Prime Trial* (usually £79/year) if you're a Prime newbie, though a few previous trialists may be offered another trial. To check, log into your account, follow the link and see if it says "try Amazon Prime free".
Prime only works on products sold by Amazon.co.uk itself, not Marketplace sellers. If you're unsure, add the product to your basket and make sure delivery's free before checking out.
How to cancel
To cancel, go to Your Account, then Prime Settings and click "do not upgrade". The trial will run its course, even after you've said you won't pay.
Is it worth paying for Prime?
Unless you're subscribing for the TV and film service or are a mega-shopper, Amazon Prime is not worth your dough. Better to be organised, order early or wait until you need £20 worth of goods.
Important! If you don't cancel before the trial ends, Amazon will take £79 from your account. Check your bank statement once you've cancelled, because mistakes happen. See more below on being charged for unwanted Amazon Prime.
Been charged for unwanted Amazon Prime? How to cancel...
While an Amazon Prime trial is a great way for newbies to avoid paying postage for a month, you could be caught out if you don't have your wits about you.
If you sign up for a free 30-day trial, but don't cancel during the trial period, Amazon automatically signs you up to Prime for a year and takes £79 from your account.
MoneySavers have told us they've been caught out after not realising they've signed up for the trial during the buying process. Amazon says it alerts those who sign up via email.
Yet we've had scores of complaints from people whose accounts have been debited without them knowing why. For full info, see the Been charged for unwanted Amazon Prime? news story, but here's a quick guide to how to cancel in different situations.
If you're within the free trial period
To cancel, go to 'Your Account' > under 'Account Settings' select 'Manage Prime Membership' > Click 'Do not continue' (the second option on the left-hand side of the page).
Your free trial has ended
To cancel, go to 'Your Account' > under 'Account Settings' select 'Manage Prime Membership' > Click 'End membership', which is the second option on the left-hand side of the page.
If you've not used any Prime services since the trial ended, you'll automatically get the £79 fee refunded.
If you've unwittingly used any of the services, the only option is to contact Amazon, explain what's happened and ask for a refund.
You subscribed to Prime without a free trial
To cancel, you have 14 days to go to 'Your Account' > under 'Account Settings' select 'Manage Prime Membership' > and Click 'End membership', which is the second option on the left-hand side of the page.
As long as you haven't used any Prime services you'll automatically get the £79 refunded.
With Prime you can invite up to four family members living at the same address to use the membership at no extra cost.
If you or your invitees have unknowingly used Prime services, your only option is to contact Amazon, explain what's happened and urge it to refund you.
Double-check the delivery option so you don't pay more by default
While Amazon lists free delivery on some products, you have to select the 'free super saver delivery' box at the checkout. If not, the default delivery option is first class.
If you are willing to pay for first class delivery, instead of getting the item delivered to you, you can collect it from one of 10,500 local Post Office branches. See the Amazon to deliver to Post Offices MSE news story for more.
Reclaim 16 YEARS of lost music
Buy CDs/vinyl from Amazon and you now get the MP3s for nowt. Yet did you know this works for anything bought since 1999? Log on to Amazon's Autorip service* to see what tracks are in there – you can then stream or download them.
How do I reclaim my old music?
Check your Amazon Music library to see if you've got any past albums in there. You can either stream the files or download them - in which case you'll be able to add them to any MP3 player, like Windows Music Player or iTunes.
Some, like MoneySaver JHL1959, found thousands of tracks: "Crikey, it's given me back 182 albums, which is 2,367 tracks! Amazingly, I still like a lot of them - really cheered me up!"
Others have sometimes got a bit more than they bargained for. GingerJuice says: "Thought this was brilliant, then realised I'd bought the mother-in-law a Susan Boyle CD last year... ugh."
Get free Amazon vouchers with credit cards or charge cards
A few credit cards reward spending with loyalty points that can be swapped for Amazon vouchers.
£90 free Amazon vouchers
The Amex Gold* charge card gives you 20,000 reward points if you spend £2,000+ on it within three months, enough for a £90 Amazon gift card. There's normally a £140 annual fee, but it's waived in year one, so if you don't want to pay, cancel before year two.
A warning - this is a charge card, so you must repay IN FULL every month, else you'll face a £12 charge and a credit file default. Amex will do a credit check when you apply. See Credit Card Freebies for more.
Earn Amazon vouchers with online surveys and competitions
If you're willing to give your views on things like drinking habits, celebrities, lingerie or the latest moisturiser, you could earn Amazon and other gift vouchers by doing online surveys. All you have to do is put the hours in filling in surveys online.
Dedicated survey do-ers earn £200ish a year from home. Several survey sites pay you in Amazon vouchers.
For a full list of the top paying online survey sites, see the Earn from Survey Sites guide.
If you're feeling lucky, another potentially rewarding hobby is to enter free online competitions to win Amazon vouchers. Read our Comping guide to find out how.
All hot Amazon bargains go in our free weekly emailEnsure you don't miss any new top guides, deals & loopholes. It's spam-free
Students get up to 10% off and 6 months' free one-day delivery
Students are about the only lucky chaps who can get a voucher code for an instant discount. You need a current National Union of Students Extra card to get 5% off most items and 10% off clothing.
Just log onto the NUS website for a personal promotional code to paste into the gift voucher code box on Amazon every time you order. The reusable code should be valid for 12 months. The discount only works on certain departments, including books, music, DVD, beauty and home. See a full list here.
Amazon also recently launched a version of Amazon Prime specifically for students. Amazon Student gives all those aged 18+ who are in higher education access to Amazon's TV and film streaming service, its Kindle lending library AND free one-day delivery. It costs £39 a year for membership (compared with £79 for Amazon Prime).
Students can also get a free six-month trial of of Prime's free one-day delivery (not TV streaming, etc).
Tap into free cash with Amazon Associates
If you've a blog or website, set up a free account with Amazon Associates, a scheme where you earn Amazon vouchers or cash for linking to the site. Just follow the steps to add links and banners to your website.
When someone clicks on Amazon from your site and makes a transaction, it's recorded and you’re paid different rates of commission depending what products you sell and what categories they're in. See a full list of payments.
Get up to 15% off household products
For regular household product purchases, there’s an easy way to get 5% off - and it's possible to boost this to 15%.
From loo roll to vacuum cleaner bags, pet food to bin liners, Amazon's Subscribe and Save service covers a host of items that you might order regularly.
The service is free - simply select the item and how regularly you want it delivered. Amazon will automatically send it out and apply the 5% discount when it charges you. You do need to save your payment details to your account.
If you have five or more subscriptions, Amazon boosts the discount to 15% on all your regular deliveries. There is no minimum subscription length, so you can set up your order, get the discount, then cancel.
As an example of the savings, a 10kg pack of Go-Cat Rabbit, Turkey and Vegetable dry cat food costs £19.90 through Amazon, but just £18.90 with Subscribe and Save. According to MySupermarket*, the cheapest elsewhere is £19.29 from Morrisons.
Use a cashback credit card
You can earn up to 5% every time you spend by using a cashback credit card, although always ensure you pay it off in full to avoid interest charges. For the current top payers, see the full Best Cashback Cards guide.
Get more discounts with Amazon Outlet
Launched to fanfare, the Amazon Outlet Store* collates up to 70% off offers on branded clothes, shoes, jewellery and more. But you can use our Amazon Discount Finder above to find even better deals, with more flexibility.
We've added the Brands Outlet as a category in the tool, so you can pinpoint the best bargains within it. The tool finds most of the discounted items included in the outlet anyway. But the outlet category search is useful if you want to limit your search to branded bargains, rather than all discounted products.
For even more bargains, a host of big-name retailers flog unsold lines up to 80%+ off via online outlets. Our Outlet Store Discount Finder searches 25 outlets for clothes, furniture and toy deals.
Combine Subscribe and Save with Amazon Family for 20% off nappies
You can combine Subscribe and Save above with a free trial of Amazon Family to get 20% off for three months. Brands covered include Pampers, Huggies, Bambo and Beaming Baby. Here's how:
- Step 1: Sign up for 15% off. The Amazon Family* scheme, which offers free one-day delivery, gives 15% off nappies and wipes and discounts on a range of other products, normally costs £79/year - but you can get a free 30-day trial. (Amazon Family also includes access to its TV and movie streaming service and Kindle lending library.)
- Step 2: Get a further 5% off with Subscribe and Save. This'll boost savings to 20%.
Once you've joined Amazon Family, log on to your account, then place a Subscribe and Save order. Don't forget to cancel your Amazon Family trial before the 30 days are up to avoid being charged, and stop your Subscribe and Save subscription once you've got all you want to order.
- How much can I save? Amazon sells a jumbo pack of 174 Pampers Baby Dry Size 4 Maxi Monthly Pack nappies for £22.31 full price. With Subscribe and Save and Amazon Family discounts, it drops to £17.85 which works out at 10p per nappy. We found the next best price at Asda for 13p per nappy.
- What else can I buy? In addition to nappies and baby wipes, Amazon Family members get monthly discounts on baby clothes, books and toys, with savings capped at £50 a month.
Get 20% off clothes and shoes
Get a one-off saving of 20% on clothes and shoes by signing up to Amazon's regular fashion emails. When you join the mailing list you'll get a code that entitles you to 20% off up to five items, valid for 30 days. See Amazon deals for full details.
The discount only applies to clothes sold by Amazon, not to third party retailers selling through it.
Get Amazon to give to charity as you shop
OK so it's not a money saving tip exactly, but it is possible to give charities a boost at no extra cost to you. Simply click through to Amazon from a charity's special link, log in and click on the product you want.
When you grab something, it's recorded and Amazon pays the charity 5% of your purchase in cash - no small beer.
Click through to Amazon from there BEFORE you put anything in your basket, otherwise the charities won't get the money. Charities doing this include the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and Epilepsy Action.
If you work for a registered UK charity, add it to the Amazon Charity Clicks forum thread, so MoneySavers can help their favourite causes.