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Amazon Prime Day: Heed these tips before you click

Amazon Prime members a new U.S. majority
Amazon Prime members a new U.S. majority 01:09
  • This year's Prime Day is actually a two-day event, on July 15 and 16.
  • It's one of Amazon's busiest shopping days, and it gets more people to sign up for a Prime membership.
  • But it also creates challenges for shoppers who don't want to overspend or pay more than they would on other sites or on other days.

Amazon's "Prime Day" is back, and so is the temptation to shop and overspend on stuff you don't need. The made-up holiday, first held in 2015, has become one of Amazon's busiest shopping days, offering discounts on gadgets, TVs and other goods.

But it's also a way for Amazon to get more people to sign up for its $119-a-year Prime membership. And this year, despite its name, Prime Day is happening on two days: July 15 and July 16.

Here are some tips for navigating the sales holiday:

Plan ahead

To cut down on impulse purchases, write down what you want before Prime Day and set a spending limit, said Ross Steinman, a professor of psychology at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania.

Much of what's on sale is kept a secret until the event, but you'll be able to browse deals ahead of time on Amazon's app, the company said. Based on past Prime Days, expect the deepest discounts to be on Amazon devices, like its voice-activated Echo speakers and Kindle e-book readers.

Sara Skirboll, a shopping expert at deals site RetailMeNot, recommends setting up a "Wish List" on the Amazon app and allowing it to send notifications so you can get alerts if those items get a price cut.

Slow down

Use the two days of discounts to your advantage. Before you buy, give yourself some time to think about whether you actually need the items you're eyeing. It can help cut down on overspending, said Steinman.

"You have some time to cool off," he noted.

Prime workaround

The deals are only for Prime members. But if you're not a member, you don't have to pay the fee to take part. Amazon offers a 30-day free trial when you sign up for Prime. Just remember to set a calendar reminder to cancel the subscription before you're charged $12.99 a month or $119 for the year.

Shop around

Other stores are crashing Amazon's party, which means more deals for shoppers. Walmart, Target and eBay plan to offer their own online discounts during Amazon's Prime Day event. So don't forget to search around on other sites to make sure a product isn't cheaper elsewhere.

Price history

Use price-tracking websites, such as CamelCamelCamel or Keepa, to see how the price of an item has changed on Amazon over time. It can help you see if you're really getting the lowest price or if the item tends to be cheaper during other times of the year.

"Just because something is on sale," said Skirboll, "doesn't mean it's a great deal."

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