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The Cheapskate's 5 ways to win Prime Day 2019

Amazon's annual shopping holiday is coming soon. Here's what you need to know to optimize Prime.

prime-day-coming-soon

Get ready for maximum Prime Day savings with these handy tips.

Amazon

Amazon Prime Day 2019 still doesn't have a definitive date, though a leaked PR email points at Monday, July 15. That's OK; it just means you've got time to learn how to maximize your savings.

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

Read more: Amazon Prime Day 2019: Leaked start date, plus tons of items already on sale

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 Prime subscription 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 1- or 2-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 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. Just make sure to wait until maybe the third week of June before signing up, just to make sure your trial overlaps the July event.

This option is even better if you're a student: Amazon is still partnering with Sprint to offer college students a free six-month Amazon Prime trial.

Of course, Prime affords a whole bunch of other benefits, not the least of which are the aforementioned fast shipping on most products and lots of movies and TV shows from Prime Video. So if you don't already have an account, my $.02: totally worth it.

Don't assume Prime Day deals are the best deals

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

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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 usually follow Amazon's lead by holding big sales of their own.

We've yet to receive any official announcements from these stores, but check back soon for updates.

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, 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. (It's still showing 2018 deals at the moment, but will be updated for 2019 when the time comes.) While you're at it, follow @cheapskateblog on Twitter -- not just for Prime Day deals, but also for deals year-round.

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!

Originally published last July.
Update, June 2019: Added new information.

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CNET's Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter!