Amazon shopping hacks for students
During uni, you'll probably use Amazon more than you care to admit. We're here to help you swot up on the hacks that could save you big bucks!
Pretty much anything you'll need during your course at uni – textbooks, a fancy new laptop, or even your weekly food shop – will be available to order from Amazon and can be at your student digs in just a click or two.
But if all of your student loan is getting pumped into this one online store, we're guessing it might be worth your while learning the tricks to saving cash on your Amazon shop.
Over the years we've become pros at paying less on Amazon, and there are tonnes of nifty little tricks you can use that will collectively save you hundreds each year. We've got the inside scoop below!
16 Amazon hacks every student needs to know
How to get Amazon Prime for free
Nowadays, you get pretty much all of the Prime perks with Amazon Student (apart from access to the Kindle library - ironically the thing you'd expect to be included in a student membership): unlimited free one-day delivery, access to student deals, unlimited Prime Video streaming, Prime Music and unlimited photo storage.
Best of all, you'll get the first 6 months free, then 50% off a full-price Prime account (costing you £39 a year).
If you're automatically charged the £39 fee after the six month free trial and you didn’t want to pay, you can ask for a refund (provided you haven’t used any of the perks since being charged, of course).
Your Amazon Student account will be active for four years or until you graduate - whichever comes first - but don't stick with it unless you're actually saving money.
I keep a spreadsheet to make sure that Prime is worth it.
For the postage and packaging benefit specifically, I see how much the delivery of an item would usually be, put it in the spreadsheet and then tot up the costs for all my orders across the year to see if I've saved money.
In my opinion, you need to order 20 or more items a year to make it worthwhile - but even then it's not an exact science, as often you could have bought the item for less elsewhere.
Jake Butler, Save the Student's Money Expert
Track the Amazon price history of your item
The price you find on Amazon might seem like a great deal if it’s advertised as 30% off, but is it really as much of a steal as they're making out?
Camelcamelcamel is a site that tracks the price of every item as it's appeared on Amazon over the years. By entering your item's URL into the search bar, you can find out if it’s normally cheaper than what it’s currently priced at.
In fact, Amazon themselves even admitted that their prices on Prime Day (a huge annual sale they hype to the max) aren't necessarily the lowest they'll ever be, despite strongly implying that the deals aren't to be missed.
As a result, you might find it’s worth waiting for the item to drop in price again (you can even set a price drop alert to notify you when this happens), or looking to see if you can find it cheaper elsewhere. Which leads us onto our next point...
How to find a cheaper deal than Amazon
Amazon definitely offer the cheapest prices available online... sometimes. A lot of the time another retailer will manage to undercut them with an even better deal.
Finding these cheaper deals obviously isn't easy, but one website does all the searching on your behalf - just like magic!
Type the product you're looking for in the search bar on Idealo and it will scour the web to find out if it's available at a better price with all major (and some minor) retailers.
Idealo usually takes delivery costs into account before searching, but be sure to always double check on the site of the retailer before hitting the buy button!
Check out Amazon's warehouse deals
Amazon have a section of the site that features heavily discounted items that have been returned, are warehouse-damaged, already used or refurbished.
These items will all still be in good condition, but likely don't meet Amazon UK's tight standards in order to be sold on as 'new'.
Although items bought from the warehouse section of Amazon won't come with a manufacturer's guarantee, it will have Amazon's own guarantee which is normally decent enough.
Use your student discount on Amazon (sometimes)
This goes without saying, right? In your pursuit of the lowest price possible, Amazon's student discount should be one of your first ports of call.
From time to time Amazon offer 15% off clothing to students as well as 5% off books – extremely handy when you'll be stocking up on textbooks all year round!
Make sure you check your emails to see if they've sent you a code.
Check Amazon EU against UK prices
Depending on the strength of the pound (and other factors), you can often find that items are cheaper on Amazon EU than they are on British soil - especially electricals.
Curiua is a great site (with an admittedly basic design) that compares items from Amazon UK with Amazons across Europe, including Italy, Spain and Germany. Curiua converts EU prices into pounds and compares them with UK prices so you can see if it’s available for less across the channel.
Bearing in mind that delivery from the continent is likely to set you back £5 - £10, this trick is best saved for when you can make more than a £10 saving. If the saving is less than a tenner, stick with the UK price, as you'll be eligible for free delivery with your Amazon Student account.
Share your Amazon Prime
Technically, you can use family or friends' Prime accounts for free delivery if they're nice enough to share their deets with you!
This may sound like a bit of a shady tip, but Amazon haven't prohibited this as part of their T&Cs, so until that day comes...
That said, they have started a program called Amazon Household which allows you to invite one other person living in the same household as you into your Prime account. But in reality it's just as easy to share your details, and there's nothing currently in place that would prevent you from doing this.
How to get free delivery on Amazon
Believe it or not, taking your basket total above £20 can actually save you money! Baskets of £20 or more automatically qualify for free shipping (if they're sold or fulfilled by Amazon - unfortunately this doesn't apply to purchases made with third party sellers), whereas delivery costs can be anything between £1.49 - £6.
Therefore, if you’re only a few quid away from reaching the £20 finish line, it might be worth throwing something extra in your basket in order to meet the threshold.
Alternatively, you could be super sneaky and use a little trick we've heard of that can push your basket over £20 without costing you anything - adding an as-yet-unreleased game or DVD to your basket.
Once the item you actually wanted has arrived, cancel the pre-order you have for the other item. In theory, you should be refunded for the pre-order that never arrived, and you'll have got free delivery without actually paying £20 or more.
WARNING: This hack is far from foolproof. We've seen loads of reports that Amazon have now blocked users from using it to get free delivery, and are now refusing to refund customers for the pre-order on the basis that part of the overall order has been despatched.
As such, we'd recommend only pre-ordering something that you'd like to buy anyway - just in case you can't get it refunded and have to end up buying it.
Get a refund from Amazon if the price drops
The opportunity to save doesn't disappear once you've placed your order! Keep an eye on the price of your item for seven days after you complete your transaction.
If the price drops within those seven days, Amazon will often refund the difference if it's an Amazon-own product (and not from a third-party seller).
Just reach out and ask!
Reclaim your old music with Amazon AutoRip
Remember back in the good old days when we used to actually buy music?
If you've bought any CDs or vinyl on Amazon over the years, the good news is that you'll be entitled to a free MP3 rip of everything you've purchased, no matter how long ago you bought it.
Head to Amazon's website to find out more about AutoRip - you might be surprised by how much you get out of this one!
Get a replacement for a damaged product and keep the original
If your item is damaged or faulty, it's likely you'll be able to get a full refund or a replacement item sent out without having to return the faulty item you already have.
Jump on to Amazon's live chat function (or reach out to someone from customer service by email) and they’ll arrange for a new item to be sent out the next day if it’s an Amazon product, or within three working days if it’s an independent retailer.
Get Amazon vouchers for free
Businesses know just how popular Amazon is, and they're smart enough to capitalise on this! You'll notice that loads of companies will offer Amazon vouchers as an incentive to buy or sign up to something.
This is particularly the case with phone, TV and broadband providers – you can count on at least one broadband provider offering Amazon vouchers when you're on the hunt for a deal. But try not to let this sway your decision too much. Check out our guide to the best broadband deals!
If you've already settled your bills, check out our guide to earning free Amazon vouchers from simple tasks like collecting receipts and taking pictures of job adverts!
Subscribe and Save
Amazon have a 'Subscribe & Save' option where you can subscribe to a product that you buy frequently (for example, dishwasher tablets, or your weekly bag of coffee) so that it’s delivered repeatedly at a time that you want (and at a discounted price).
We’d recommend that you agree to the Subscribe and Save option if it's available on your item - even if it isn’t something you want to order more than once. Just bag the discount and unsubscribe as soon as the transaction’s gone through!
Choose No-Rush Delivery for free credits
If you're not in too much of a rush to receive your items bought through Amazon Student, we'd recommend selecting 'No-Rush Delivery' option at checkout.
All this means is that you'll get your items a day or two later than normal, and in exchange you'll get some promotional credit on your account that you can use on future transactions.
The amount you'll receive varies by transaction, and your credit will only be available for a limited time (you’ll be given details at check-out) so remember to use it while it lasts.
Look out for lightning deals
Typically these used to be preserved for special occasions like Christmas and Black Friday, but now it’s Christmas every day on Amazon!
Lightning deals are a small selection of heavily discounted products that are on sale for a limited time only.
Normally the discounts are decent but it’s always worth doing your research first (remember Camelcamelcamel!) to make sure they’re at their lowest price.
Get a refund if Amazon don't deliver in time
Did your item miss its 'guaranteed' delivery date? If so, get in touch with customer service and ask for a refund on shipping costs.
Amazon seriously pride themselves on the speed of their delivery, so if they don't stick to the promise they made to you, they'll be pretty affronted. So take advantage of that! We've even heard of them giving out free months of Prime to keep people happy...
Hopefully this guide will help you save a few bob on all those purchases you'll be making at uni (and believe us, there will be many).
If you have any Amazon shopping hacks of your own, give us a shout in the comments section below and we'll add them to the list!