Money mensch: Deep in Amazon, there's buried gold

By Martin Lewis, December 29, 2009
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There is a bit of high-tech wizardry that lets you uncover links to get 75 per cent off, buried deep within Amazon. In fact, there is a whole hidden rule book for Amazon, letting you slam dunk prices to smithereens and slash postage fees.

Don’t assume Amazon is cheapest
The Amazon business model is that it is a one-stop shop. Yet, while it is often cheap, you can often undercut it. In the same amount of time as it takes to search Amazon, you can use shopbots (shopping robots) that whiz to scores of internet retailers to find the cheapest price. My www.megashopbot.com tool auto-searches what we believe are the best of these for each category.

Amazon’s hidden bargain basement
Amazon has some stock reduced by 90 per cent or more, but it generally doesn’t direct people to these areas. Yet there is a way to manipulate web links to find pages that list all 75-99 per cent off bargains in a given section, for example “Beauty” or “Video Games”.

The trick is legal and easy to do. It is all about fiddling with Amazon web addresses (URLs) to bring up lists of knock-down prices. For tecchies, the key is to find the “section node number”, something like 468292, add that to a search string and put “&pct-off=75-99” at the end.

If that sounds like goobledygook, there is a raft of links to popular sections using this method and a full step-by-step guide to building your own at www.moneysavingexpert.com/amazon. It is a fun way to browse a hidden catalogue. Do check delivery is free, though.

Monitor the perfect moment to buy
Amazon varies goods’ prices, and when they’re cheap, they sell out quickly. A free site lets you enter your desired price, and emails when Amazon hits it. Go to www.Zeezaw.co.uk and tell it the maximum price you want to pay for Amazon items. It emails when the price drops to that amount or lower.

Not all deliver for free
These days Amazon offers free delivery as standard. Some items do have a delivery charge, usually goods sold by Amazon marketplace sellers rather than Amazon itself. Always check that it states “your order qualifies for free delivery” at the top of the page.

Beware you don’t ‘pay more by default’
While Amazon lists free delivery on some products, I would urge you to double check you have selected the “super saver” delivery box at the check out. If not, the default delivery option is the expensive 1-2 days first-class option.

Get next-day delivery free too
Every so often, Amazon offers customers a free 30-day trial of its “Prime” service, in the hope that they will keep paying the £48 for it once the trial’s over. The service gets you free 1-day delivery, rather than its normal 3-5 day delivery. The beauty is you can sign up, order, then just cancel the trial before Amazon charges you.

To grab it, go to Amazon and click the “Amazon Prime” link on the left hand side of the screen. If it says “Sign up today for your free trial of Amazon Prime”, then sign up for it and shop as you usually would. Cancel as soon as you have signed up. Forget to cancel, and it will take the money from your account — so think carefully whether you really want the service before letting that happen.

Get a free Amazon £15 voucher
Accepted new Amazon credit card customers can bag a free £15 gift voucher when spending anything on it within 180 days of opening the account.

Ensure you always repay the card in full every month, or the 16.9 per cent APR interest will dwarf the gain. For more info, go to www.moneysavingexpert.com/ccfreebies

Earn Amazon vouchers with online surveys
All you have to do is put the hours in filling in surveys online. Extremely dedicated survey-doers earn £200ish a year from home. There is a step-by-step guide to the top paying online survey and market research companies at www.moneysavingexpert.com/surveys

Students, save 5 per cent
Students are about the only lucky folk who can get a voucher code for an instant discount. You need a current National Union of Students Extra (NUS Extra) card to get 5 per cent off. Just register at Nus.org.uk for a personal promotional code to paste into the gift voucher code box every time you order on Amazon.

Earn charity funds or Nectar points
When you buy something on Amazon, it is recorded and a charity is paid cash — around 5 per cent of your purchase value.

Simply click through to Amazon from a charity website, log-in and click on the product you want. Charities that do this include Voluntary Service Overseas, the Royal National Institute for the Blind and Epilepsy Action. Alternatively, set up a free Nectar.com account, log-in and click on Amazon. You are paid one Nectar Point for every £1 spent. Considering a £500 purchase would net a charity a £25 donation, that option could be more worthwhile.

Last updated: 3:36pm, January 6 2010