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The Cheapskate's 6 ways to win Prime Day 2020

Amazon's annual shopping holiday is happening now. Here's the inside scoop on saving extra cash.

- 04:06
Angela Lang/CNET

Amazon Prime Day 2020 is happening now. Have no fear, you still have time to learn the secrets of a successful outing. Imagine we're a football team gathered around a playbook; I'm the coach. Now let's get out there and save!

Shop Prime Day even if you're not a Prime subscriber

Prime Day is largely 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 lots of products -- just without the free one- or two-day shipping afforded Prime members. Although there are lots of items that are Prime-exclusive -- most notably Amazon-branded stuff like Kindles and Echos -- there are others that are simply discounted.


Sign up now for a free Amazon Prime trial to reap the full benefits of Prime Day.


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 you'll still reap the full benefits of Prime Day. 

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, it's totally worth it in my opinion.

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. (There's a desktop browser plug-in as well, which saves you all that annoying copying and pasting.)

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 (it doesn't happen often, but it's worth checking). It also displays price histories, much like CamelCamelCamel.

Read more: Find the best deals and coupons online with these 4 tools

Check out other stores

Amazon may be the biggest game in town, but it's not the only game. Stores like Best Buy and Walmart are running sales of their own, and they've got some better-than-Amazon deals up their sleeves.

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 @cheapskateblog on Twitter and CheapskateRick on Facebook -- not just for Prime Day deals, but also for deals year-round. And here's something new: You can now sign up for Cheapskate deal alerts via text message! That's arguably the single best way to receive critical Prime Day news. 

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.

Leverage cash-back options


TopCashback will give you an 8% rebate on just about any Amazon device you buy, including those on sale.


Before you buy anything, anywhere, at any time, you should always see what cash-back options are available. I'm a fan of using services like Rakuten and TopCashback, which can easily score you added savings on your purchases -- including those from Amazon.

At this writing, Rakuten isn't offering anything there, but TopCashback is currently giving 8% back on Amazon device purchases, 7% back on Amazon home-security and smart-home devices and a $15 rebate when you sign up for a year of Amazon Prime (at the regular $119 price).

Meanwhile, this is definitely the time to consider an Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card, and not just because signing up nets you a $100 Amazon gift card. Rather, it's because Amazon's no-annual-fee Visa pays you 5% back on just about everything you buy from Amazon (and Whole Foods). There's also a Prime Day-specific incentive: "Up to 25% back on best sellers." (I'm assuming that means books, but the details aren't listed anywhere on the sign-up page.)

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!

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CNET's Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on tech products and much more. For the latest deals and updates, follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and check out our CNET Coupons page for the latest promo codes from Best BuyWalmartAmazon and more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page.