What to buy and skip during Amazon’s October Prime Day sale

We’re approaching the final hours of Amazon’s October Prime Day event, Prime Big Deal Days. Sales and deals are live through tonight across categories like tech, fitness and home and kitchen, plus you can browse bestsellers to see what Select readers are shopping.

Just like July’s Prime Day, October’s event gives Prime members exclusive access to discounts across all product categories. But this time, expect to see an emphasis on gifts, says Lisa Davis, shopping expert at RetailMeNot, a deal-finding and cashback site. Hosting another Prime Day this fall is Amazon’s way of kicking off the holiday shopping season — 50% of shoppers have already started buying gifts or plan to do so this month, according to a survey from Bankrate. Getting an early start on holiday shopping is a top money-saving strategy for 30% of shoppers, 33% of whom expect inflation to impact their spending habits this season, Bankrate says. In recent years, retailers have begun their early Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in mid-October or early November for the same reason.

So many items are on sale during Prime Day, and it can be challenging to narrow down your wishlist, especially since deals end tonight. One of the best ways to do so, however, is by identifying what’s worth buying now and what you may find better sales on later this year. Below, experts share their Prime Day shopping tips, including how to make a budget and stick to it. 

SKIP AHEAD How to save during Prime Big Deal Days

How to save during Amazon’s October Prime Day

Planning is essential to successfully shopping big sale events like Prime Day. Setting a budget, making wishlists and deciding what payment method to use helps you focus on what you’re looking for and ensures you’re taking advantage of the best deals possible. Below are a few ways experts recommend preparing for the event.

Utilize exclusive promotions during the sale

During Prime Day, Amazon offers members a handful of exclusive promotions, coupons and opportunities to earn credits. They’re usually listed on Amazon’s Prime Day homepage in the app or online.

Right now, for example, Amazon is currently offering Prime members four months of Amazon Music Unlimited for free and a $15 Amazon credit when they download the Amazon Photos app and upload their first photo. During Prime Big Deal Days, Prime members — who get Grubhub+ free for a year — can use code GRUBPRIME to redeem 25% off eight Grubhub delivery orders (up to $15 off each order).

Sign up to receive notifications about sales and deals

If you don’t have time to scroll through Amazon’s website or app during Prime Day, you can sign up to get notified when products you’re interested in go on sale. You can bookmark a product you’ve had your eye on by either adding it to a wishlist or tapping the “heart” icon on the product page in the Amazon app. This is especially helpful if the deal is only offered for a limited time. You can also create deal alerts based on your Amazon searches and recently viewed items.

Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant, can also notify you up to 24 hours in advance of a deal for an item on your wishlist, in your shopping cart or “saved for later.” Additionally, you can ask Alexa to remind you when the deal goes live and give her permission to order the item on your behalf using your account’s default payment and delivery address. Sometimes, shopping through Alexa via an Amazon Echo device gets you exclusive deals and early access to select discounts.

Finally, if you add items you’re interested in buying to your wishlist, you can turn on notifications for your “watched and waitlisted deals” in the Alexa app. This alerts you when Lightning Deals happen for products on your wishlist during Prime Day and otherwise.

Make a shopping list

Prime Day and comparable savings events are geared toward impulse shopping — retailers are betting on shoppers feeling tempted by deals and adding more items to their carts than they originally planned. That’s why it’s important to make a shopping list: Beyond keeping you organized, it helps you focus on products you need to buy or have budgeted for and reduces the temptation to spend on non-essential purchases.

Some people prefer a classic pen-and-paper list, but it may be easier to bookmark links or add items to different wishlists through your Amazon account. For example, you can make “wants” and “needs” wishlists, or create wishlists for specific people you need to buy gifts for. While you’re shopping, you can go through your wishlists, see what’s on sale and decide if you want to add it to your cart.

Consider shopping with a credit card

If you’re interested in using a credit card to shop during Prime Day, you may be able to earn points or take advantage of exclusive rewards. Certain cards allow you to earn cash back on Amazon purchases during Prime Day and Prime Day-esque sales, and some also offer welcome bonuses or points, says Ashley Fricker, senior editor at CardRates.com. She also says one of the best ways to spread out holiday expenses and avoid costly interest rates is to use a credit card with a 0% APR on new purchases.

The best credit cards for Amazon Prime Day shopping include the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card and Amazon Prime Store Card, according to CNBC Select — the cards offer 5% cash back at Amazon.

Compare prices (and rewards) across retailers’ sites

While Prime Day is an Amazon-exclusive event, other retailers usually follow its lead by offering their own sales around the same time. During the week of Prime Big Days, for example, Walmart is hosting a holiday kickoff sale.

As retailers compete for your shopping cart, they tend to “price chase” each other — this means an item sold at multiple retailers will likely have the exact (or almost exact) price tag across the board. In these cases, deciding which retailer to buy from comes down to the shipping price and where you can use or gain the maximum amount of rewards points. Also, weigh different retailers’ cash back offers.

To make comparing prices easy, we recommend using tools like Keepa, CamelCamelCamel and Honey. They help you monitor prices before and during the sale, and you can sign up for price-drop alerts on specific products. On Prime Day, Fricker recommends plugging items you have your eye on into CamelCamelCamel to see if the price was lower during Black Friday or Cyber Monday 2022. That can help you decide whether it’s worth waiting another month to make the purchase, she says.

Keep extended returns and price matching in mind

While Amazon does not offer price matching or extended returns, other retailers hosting sales this October may. If you purchase an item from one of Amazon’s competitors this month, Davis recommends checking its price during Black Friday and Cyber Monday to see if it has dropped even lower. “Chances are, you can return the one you purchased in October or get a price adjustment,” she says.

Meet our experts

At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

  • Lisa Davis is a shopping expert at RetailMeNot, a deal-finding and cashback site.
  • Dr. Ross Steinman is a professor of consumer psychology at Widener University,
  • Vipin Porwal is the CEO and a consumer savings expert at Smarty.
  • Ashley Fricker is the senior editor at CardRates.com.

Why trust Select?

Zoe Malin is an associate updates editor at Select who has reported about Amazon since 2020. She wrote Select’s history of Amazon Prime Day, as well as a variety of Amazon Prime Day sales articles. For this piece, Malin researched Amazon Prime Day and referenced Select’s other Amazon coverage.

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