MarketWatch has highlighted these products and services because we think readers will find them useful. We may earn a commission if you buy products through our links, but our recommendations are independent of any compensation that we may receive.
Before you’ve even had your morning coffee, Kristin McGrath — who’s been a deal hunter for a decade at sites like Offers.com and BlackFriday.com — has probably already scoured dozens of online bargains, tossing the so-so ones and highlighting the great ones for her tens of thousands of readers on deal site Offers.com. She lives and breathes deal-hunting — “it’s all about finding ways to navigate and cull deals,” she notes — so Marketwatch asked her to share the exact steps she takes to save money when shopping on Amazon
1. Check out the deals of the day
Though most of us probably start shopping on Amazon.com, McGrath starts on Amazon.com/Deals (also called Today’s Deals) — which is where Amazon lists its latest sales. You can find lists of product categories that have bargains, from electronics to home goods to kitchen items. But don’t go on the site until you’ve made a list of what you need: “I make my process as deliberate as possible because there are some very tempting things on the site,” she says.
2. Make a deals watchlist
“When I’m on the Today’s Deal section of the site, I switch from live deals (which is the default) to upcoming deals, so I can get a look ahead at what deals are coming. This gives me more time to assess the deal,” she says. For sales that seem interesting, McGrath adds them to her deals watchlist so she doesn’t miss them.
3. Look for coupons
From the Today’s Deals page, navigate to the Coupons section. “I keep a list of things I frequently need in my house like dish soap, trash bags,” she explains — and then look for brands of those types of items that have coupons. Be sure to hit the clip coupon button to activate those savings.
4. Double check your cart for additional discounts
Then, open the item in your cart so you can see the product details. Often you will see the coupon savings you already got, as well as additional savings options. Look, too, for bundled discounts: “Amazon will often give a discount (usually $10 off) if you buy or subscribe to other related staples,” McGrath says. “This step is easy to miss, but it’s a great way to get more stackable promotions.”
5. Use the Amazon Assistant browser extension
Get the Amazon Assistant browser extension to verify prices. “I go there to get the item’s price history before I buy,” she says.
6. Subscribe to save — strategically
Use Amazon Subscribe & Save smartly. It’s no secret this program routinely gives you 15%-20% off on items you order regularly. McGrath says to look for higher discounts — you might see 40% off your first shipment of a certain item, for example. “Then I might cancel that subscription down the line, after I’ve received that initial shipment, or skip the next shipment if I don’t need a refill yet,” she adds.
7. Consider an Amazon Prime membership
And finally, assess your need for Amazon Prime, which is now offering a 30-day free trial. “For people who order a lot of smaller things frequently, it makes sense,” she explains, adding that the extra perks like Prime Video and Amazon Music make it even more worth it. But if you’re not a big Amazon shopper, the $119-a-year price tag may not make sense for you.
While McGrath is very familiar with Amazon’s lightning deals feature—a feature that offers sales for a short time on a limited quantity of an item — she doesn’t use it herself. “I’ve found for me personally, a lot of those deals have tempting super low prices but a lot of them are impulse purchases I don’t need.”