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5 Amazon shipping tricks for people who can't afford Prime

Because not everybody can afford $99/year.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal Freelance Writer
Sarah is a freelance writer and CNET How To blogger. Her main focus is Windows, but she also covers everything from mobile tech to video games to DIY hardware projects. She likes to press buttons and see what happens, so don't let her near any control panels.
Sarah Jacobsson Purewal
3 min read

If you're like me, you love shopping on Amazon but you hate paying for shipping -- even though a $99 Amazon Prime membership is apparently a fabulous deal if you like to make tiny impulse purchases.

So, here are some tricks you can use to get free or discounted shipping from the world's largest online retailer.

Share your Prime membership

You don't have to be a student to get $49/year Prime -- you could just be someone with a super close buddy you happen trust with your credit card information. Amazon lets you share your Prime account with one other adult via Amazon Households. This adult doesn't have to live with you, though both adults need to be present to verify their accounts to create a household, and both adults have to agree to share wallets (credit/debit card information). The idea here, obviously, is that two adults in a household will be spouses or significant others -- but you could also set up a household with someone you trust not to steal your credit card info, like a sibling, parent or BFF.

Find filler items

Look for cheap filler items that will help you hit the $49 limit without spending a cent more than you need to. You can find these items with a service like Filler Item Finder, which lets you plug in the amount you need for free shipping and filter your results by category.

Ship to multiple addresses for free

Here's another way to take advantage of Amazon's $49 free shipping minimum without ordering $49 worth of stuff you don't need: Gifts for your friends and family! If you can't hit the minimum, add in a gift or two for your parents and click Proceed to checkout.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

On the next screen, where you select a shipping address, you should see the option to Ship to multiple addresses in the upper right corner. Click this, and choose the individual address you'd like each item to ship to from the drop-down menus. Hit Continue, go through the payment screen, and make sure you choose free shipping for all of your items. You'll look like a model child and everything will ship for free!

Be a student

You can get Amazon Prime for just $49/year -- if you're a college student. Well, a college student or someone with a working .edu email address. Sign up for Amazon Student here, and you'll get six months of Amazon Prime free. After that you'll, only pay $49/year for up to four years, after which you'll be billed for the full price of Amazon Prime.

Bump up your total with preorders

Amazon offers free shipping on eligible (read: most) items if your purchase totals $49 or more. If you can't seem to find $49 worth of stuff you need right this second, throw in a few preorders, like this "="" blu-ray"="">"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Blu-ray.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

Amazon bills for items as they ship, so your card won't get charged for the Blu-ray but your pens will still ship for free. And if, for some reason, you decide that you don't want another Star Wars Blu-ray to add to your collection after all...you can always cancel your preorder before it ships.

Bonus: You can also use this preorder trick to purchase Amazon add on items (items that can only be shipped with an order of $25 or more).