How to score the best Amazon Prime Day deals

Follow these tips and strategies to make the most of your shopping experience

Now in its fifth year, Amazon Prime Day—designed to add a bit of Black Friday-like excitement to the summer shopping doldrums—will be a full two-day affair this year, kicking off at 12 a.m. PDT on July 15—3 a.m. EDT—and ending 48 hours later.

Amazon has already started trickling out some deals in the lead-up to the main event. For example, you can now buy a 43-inch Toshiba Fire TV Edition smart TV for $180, a savings of about $120. No specific model was mentioned, but it looks like it’s the Toshiba 43LF421U19, a 1080p model. We tested this TV and it did fairly well, with a Very Good score for overall picture quality.

The deal will run through June 30, or as long as supplies last. The company says it will introduce more offers and deals every day until Prime Day. 

Other retailers are offering their own deals on Prime Day. Learn about their sales, below. 

In a statement announcing this year’s event, the company said it would feature “more than one million deals” exclusively for Prime members around the world, as well as some select deals at U.S. Whole Foods stores, which it now owns.

It’s not always easy to navigate Amazon Prime Day. Deals can expire quickly and new ones appear regularly, often without much notice. This game plan will help you save time and shop smarter.

Early Deals Have Already Started

Amazon Prime Day is a sales event to give Amazon Prime members special deals on a variety of items. An Amazon Prime membership, which costs $119 per year, gives you free two-day shipping, plus free TV shows and movies, music streaming, some free Kindle books, and more.

Prime Day Shopping Tips

Here are a few things you can do to help improve your chances of scoring a good Amazon Prime Day deal:

  • Download Amazon’s smartphone app. It lets you get “sneak peek” advance notice of deals and sign up for alerts. The app will also let you see many Lightning Deals before they’re posted. You can use the app to create a “Watch a Deal” list, so you can add deals you’re interested in and get notifications when they’re about to go live.
  • Click the “Join Waitlist” button for Lightning Deal items that are sold out before you get a chance to buy them. Items are deleted from a person’s shopping cart after 15 minutes if they haven’t completed the purchase, and you’ll get an alert if you’re next in line.
  • Use the free Amazon Assistant plug-in, which is available for the most common browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Edge, and Safari. It can help you compare products and prices while searching and shopping online or get notifications when deals go live. It also provides Amazon shortcuts right in your browser. (Keep in mind that Amazon Assistant allows the company to do some tracking of your browsing behavior, as described in the plug-in’s privacy policy .)
  • Turn on “1-Click” ordering to help speed up the checkout process.
  • Try using CamelCamelCamel.com , a site that will track and show the price history of just about every product on Amazon, so you can decide whether a price being promoted is really a good deal. The site lets you import all the items from your Amazon Wish List rather than entering them manually.

As the name suggests, you have to be an Amazon Prime member to participate in the sales event. Amazon raised the price of its Prime membership last year, but for those who’d rather not sign up for a whole year, there are two less expensive options for checking out Prime Day sales. One is to pay $13 for a one-month membership; the other is to take advantage of Amazon’s free 30-day Prime trial offer.

Some early deals have already begun. In addition to the Toshiba Fire Edition TV, members can grab a Garage myQ Smart Garage Hub + Amazon Cloud Cam (Key Edition) Kit at its lowest cost ever—$100, a claimed 40 percent savings. You can also get a set of Jabra Elite 85H noise-canceling smart headphones, which work with digital voice assistants including Alexa, for $300, though that’s the current price at Best Buy.

In 2018, the best deals were on Amazon’s own smart devices, such as the Echo family of smart speakers (Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Tap, etc.), its Fire and Kindle tablets, and its Fire TV streaming devices.

In addition to the Echo Show, this year consumers could see special sales on newer smart devices, including the Echo Spot, Amazon Fire TV Cube, and Amazon Cloud Cam.

“We would expect that the prime driver on Prime Day will be Amazon products,” says Stephen Baker, vice president, industry analysis, at market research firm NPD Group. “It has been that way every year, and it is also their focus during the holiday. We really don’t see anything that would change that. Certainly, lots of other products—especially in categories where they have a limited or no presence—will remain important as well.  I would expect to see a big push on Fire TV products as growing that segment is clearly very high priority for Amazon.”

However, Baker says, there may also be deals on products from brands that now have a stronger relationship with Amazon. “I expect to see a lot of promotion on Ring [security devices] and on Eero [wireless routers], as both of those are relatively new to the Amazon platform, and Prime Day is a proven, tremendous opportunity to drive volume and grow awareness,” he explains.

“Otherwise, in terms of electronics, the other big promotion from Amazon might be on some Apple products, since they only reached a broad agreement with Apple around the holiday last year,” he adds. “This might be a time for them to remind customers of their broad selection from Apple.”

Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert at the coupon and shopping site RetailMeNot, agrees. “Prime members can watch for advance alerts of discounts on popular products like all of the Amazon electronics, including the Echo, Alexa, Kindle, and Fire tablet. We also wouldn’t be surprised to see sales on the Fire TV, Cloud Cam, and Blink.” 

We’ll be taking a closer look at specific deals as they’re announced.

How to Shop the Sale

Amazon runs a several types of promotions for Prime Day, and the complexity of the sales can sometimes make shopping a trying exercise. 

For example, Lightning Deals are promotions on specific items. They usually last only for a certain amount of time—sometimes just a few minutes—or until the item sells out. And new ones can pop up as frequently as every 5 minutes.

Amazon’s Prime Day Spotlight Deals typically have the most inventory, so you have a better chance of getting the product you want.

It’s usually a bit easier to take advantage of the Gold Box Deals of the Day, which last 24 hours before being replaced by new ones. However, they can also sell out, so it’s always best to act quickly on those deals.

Analysts expect that Amazon will again push deals on products that use Alexa, its voice-powered digital assistant. By asking, “Alexa, what are your deals?” you can get access to exclusive deals not available elsewhere, or the ability to shop certain deals an hour or so earlier than people just going to the Amazon website.

But NPD’s Baker says that while there will be some Alexa-only deals, “I doubt they will amount to much compared to the overall business, as we still believe voice shopping has a ways to go before it becomes a key pillar in the Amazon shopping cart.” 

Remember to Check Other Retailers

With Amazon’s midsummer sales event generating a lot of attention, it has created an opportunity for other big retailers, such as Best Buy, Target, and Walmart, to plan their own competitive sales in the same time frame.

“The annual Prime shopping event is essentially Cyber Monday meets Black Friday meets Boxing Day in the middle of July, because Amazon is no longer the only retailer offering deals,” says RetailMeNot’s Skirboll. 

In fact, RetailMeNot predicts that more than 250 retailers will participate in Prime Day-related promotions in 2019, a 30 percent jump from last year, as more look at Prime Day as the kickoff of the back-to-school sales season. 

But you shouldn’t expect that other retailers will be matching every Amazon price. “Amazon has a lot more leeway in their margins to be aggressive with their own products than do third-party sellers,” one industry analyst told us last year.

So what does all this mean for you? Whenever you add an Amazon deal to your cart, it may pay to check out some of these other retailers to see whether they have it cheaper. Just remember that you have only 15 minutes to complete an Amazon purchase before the item is removed from your cart and freed up for other customers.