Amazon Prime Day is a trap.
Since 2015, Amazon has lured millions of online shoppers to its site with the promise of hot deals during its self-made shopping holiday.
The problem with Prime Day? Amazon has such a variety of goods that a wide-ranging celebration like Prime Day turns it into a wasteland.
How do I know what’s a good deal? How do I know what I should jump on right now? Did I order a Roomba just for my cat to enjoy?
Our advice? Stay away from Prime Day (unless you have a plan). It’s going to suck your wallet into its black hole of two-day shipping.
But, if you simply can’t resist …
How to Get the Best Amazon Prime Day Deals
Just because this year’s 48-hour Prime Day event takes place on July 12 and 13 doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels until then.
Early deals on tech and select Amazon devices kicked off June 21 and discounts are going on until the official Prime Days begin.
That’s right — Amazon started three weeks before Prime Day because 48 hours of deals apparently isn’t enough.
“Early deals start June 21, including 55% off select Amazon devices, up to 50% off Fire TV, and more deals from top brands like De’Longhi, Dove, and SodaStream,” the Prime Day press release touts.
If you use Alexa, it’s even easier to blow your money on Amazon.
Prime members can add products to their wish list, cart or save for later, and then ask Alexa to notify them about the deal when it’s live. Amazon’s AI assistant will even order products for you if you want.
You can also tell your Alexa device, “Remind me when Prime Day starts,” to be alerted when the deals start.
These big discounts are in limited supply, so you’ll want to act fast to claim a deal that piques your interest. If you miss it, you can join the waitlist to be notified if extras become available.
Here’s how to maximize these days of tempting deals.
1. Get a Trial Amazon Prime Membership
If you don’t already have an Amazon Prime account, don’t shell out $139 just for Prime Day. Instead, sign up for a free 30-day Prime trial and take part in Prime Day before you commit to the service.
College students and some people who receive government assistance can get half off an annual membership.
2. Make a Shopping List
Just because something is half-off with free shipping doesn’t mean you need it.
If you’re planning to purchase specific items or upgrade what you already have, write it down. Check that list during Prime Day to make sure the items in your cart are good spending decisions instead of a bunch of stuff you’ll regret buying in a week.
You can even save Amazon items to a wish list to make it easier to spot if any discounts magically appear on Prime Day.
You can also subscribe to receive deal alerts related to your recent Amazon searches and recently viewed items.
Simply visit the Prime Day event page on the Amazon app between now and July 12 to create deal alerts. When the big day arrives, you’ll get push notifications on available sales.
3. Get a $10 Credit With the Amazon Prime Stampcard
This year, Amazon introduced a way for Prime members to earn a $10 credit. (Hint: You have to spend money to get the discount).
The company’s new Amazon Prime Stampcard requires you to complete four activities to snag the $10 credit.
Users must stream Prime Video, listen to Prime Music, make a Prime-shipping eligible purchase, and borrow a Prime Reading or Kindle Unlimited book or add one to their library.
4. Check Out Prime Coupons
Keep an eye on the Prime Member Coupons page to get the scoop on additional deals on everyday products from clothing and fashion to tools and camping gear in the days leading up to Prime Day.
5. Compare Historical Prices to Get the Best Deal
Sellers have been known to increase prices before a discount event so that you think you’re snagging a great deal — when really you’re paying the standard price.
Be a savvy shopper and use a price tracker like CamelCamelCamel to show you the historical price of an item on Amazon over time.
You can even download the CamelCamelCamel browser extension and check it while you shop Amazon Prime Day to see a chart of past prices.
6. Follow Amazon on Social Media
The company posts frequent Twitter and Facebook updates about Prime Day and related contests, so stay tuned on July 12 and 13 to catch any extra-special or surprise deals.
Rachel Christian is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder. Lisa Rowan, a former Penny Hoarder writer, also contributed.