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9 tips to make the most of Amazon's Black Friday deals

Amazon's Black Friday deals are already under way. Here's what you can do to take advantage of them.

Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Black Friday is continually one of the biggest retail shopping days of the year. And retailers everywhere are playing a game of leapfrog to see who can milk the sales event earlier, longer and better to edge out the competition.

Amazon is easily one of the most committed players. Its deals start sooner and last longer. Best of all, you don't even have to worry about getting off the couch or leaving your Thanksgiving dinner early to get the best deals. No waiting in lines. You just have to be quick, know what you're looking for and know how to score the best deals.

Here are nine ways you can make the most of this year's Amazon Black Friday deals.

Now is the time to sign up for Prime

If you're not already an Amazon Prime member, now is the time to sign up for a membership, even if you don't plan to keep it.

You don't need a Prime account to get free shipping through Amazon -- you just have to meet a certain price threshold, which varies depending on what you buy. Even with free shipping, however, you're looking at a delivery window of five to eight business days, and with the holidays approaching fast, free two-day shipping makes a big difference. Certain locations even have access to free 90-minute, two-hour or same-day delivery.

Even if you don't think you'll need free two-day shipping, many of the best deals are reserved for Prime members.

Users who have never signed up for Prime before can get a free 30-day trial. So if you sign up and get all your online holiday shopping done in the next 30 days, you won't have to spend a penny for free two-day shipping. And even if you need to extend it another month, it will cost just $10.99 for all the Prime benefits through the remainder of the year.

You don't have to wait for some deals

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Taylor Martin/CNET

Forget waiting in lines or even waiting until Thanksgiving day for Black Friday deals. Amazon has what it calls Black Friday Deals Week, which started Nov. 17 and runs through Nov. 24. While some of the best deals will be reserved for Black Friday itself, there are plenty of great deals to be had now.

For instance, the Kindle Fire 7 Kids Edition is $70 today, down from the usual $100 and $5 cheaper than Black Friday last year. You can currently get $30 off both the Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite. Many other Amazon devices are already on sale, too. Don't overlook the Deals of the Day either.

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Don't overpay for Amazon devices

Don't be fooled, however. Not all the early deals are the best deals. Some aren't even deals at all.

Amazon is rightfully pushing its own devices, such as Echo speakers, Fire TV Sticks and Kindles. But some of them aren't on sale yet. For instance, the Fire TV Stick is front and center on Amazon.com today for $39.99 (its standard price) but will drop to $24.99 for Black Friday.

This isn't necessarily misleading, but it's not unreasonable to think people might mistake the pricing for a deal and miss out on better savings once Black Friday does finally roll around.

To make sure you're getting the best deal on Amazon devices this Black Friday, here's what you should be spending on Amazon's devices this week:

Miss a deal on an Amazon device? Try Whole Foods

Earlier this year, Amazon bought Whole Foods and immediately started selling its own devices in the grocery chain. The same Amazon devices that are on sale on the site are also discounted at Whole Foods this week. If you miss a deal online or they sell out too fast, check your local Whole Foods.

Let us find the best deals for you

You can find info about some of Amazon's best deals -- including several non-Amazon devices -- here in CNET's own Amazon Black Friday gallery.

Alexa users get access to early deals

Some Black Friday deals on Amazon will be exclusive to Prime members. What's more -- and it's something we've seen on Prime Day and during last year's Black Friday sales -- there will early access to deals for users of the Alexa voice assistant.

Buyers who have an Alexa speaker will have access to Black Friday deals as early as 5:00 p.m. PT on Nov. 22. After that time, just say, "Alexa, tell me about your deals."

Just remember, this doesn't work with Alexa within the Amazon shopping app. You'll need an Amazon-brand speaker with Alexa to take advantage of the early deals access.

Earn Amazon credit with Alexa

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Taylor Martin/CNET

If Amazon hadn't already made it abundantly clear it wants you to become accustomed to shopping with your voice, it's come up with a few incentives to get you to shop with Alexa this holiday season. There are currently two ways to earn Amazon credit by shopping with Alexa:

Follow upcoming deals

Amazon isn't shy about deals that are just around the corner. In fact, you can view upcoming deals on amazon.com and in the Amazon app on Android and iOS.

While you browse this section, you can click Watch this deal on deals that haven't started yet to get a push notification on your phone just before they go live. This is the best way to ensure you're among the first to take advantage of all the deals you want.

Check price history first

camelcamelcamel amazon price check
Taylor Martin/CNET

Just because an item on Amazon shows a slashed price doesn't mean you're getting the best deal possible. But there is a very easy way to find out: Camelcamelcamel. It's an Amazon price tracker that will show you the price history of any item and send you an alert if an item drops below a certain price threshold.

However, there's an even easier way to double-check price history before you buy. Install a plug-in called The Camelizer on Chrome, Firefox or Safari. Click the plug-in icon right from the product page and you can see how its current price compares with the highest and lowest prices.

Black Friday deals: See every Black Friday 2017 deal we've found so far

Holiday Gift GuideCNET's full gift guide, including dozens of products priced under $25, $50 and $100