WIRED covers legitimately good deals all year long, including on Prime Day. Our tips below will help you find those great discounts on your own.
How Do I Know if a Deal Is Good?
ABC: Always be checking (prices, that is). Researching an item’s price is the most important aspect of determining the quality of a discount. Don’t fall prey to deceptive marketing language and inflated MSRP prices—our tips only take a few moments. The easiest step is to take a second to Google the items you’re considering so you can see the price across multiple stores.
One tool we like to use is Camelcamelcamel, which tracks Amazon’s prices over time. Just paste the Amazon link or ASIN (found in the Product Information section on the Amazon product page) into Camelcamelcamel’s search bar and you’ll be able to see an item’s lowest recorded price, its average price, and how frequently the price fluctuates. Some deals, such as Lightning Deals, are excluded from the pricing history, but it’s still useful to see what an item has sold for in the past.
We also really like Keepa, which has an extension (available for multiple browsers) that shows the recent price history for products directly on the Amazon page so you never have to open a new tab. Other great tools are Honey, which can potentially save you money via promo codes but also tracks price history at various retailers across the web, and Octoshop, which can quickly show you the price of a product across multiple retailers.
Keep in mind that these services may not work all the time. But being able to see how much a product cost right before the sale started (and whether the MSRP happened to increase) can be very helpful. Putting these tools together can help you deduce whether a deal is worth your money.
WIRED always fact-checks deals to determine their quality. You can check out our ongoing deals coverage to find roundups of the best discounts available—during Prime Day and year-round.
What’s a Lightning Deal?
Lightning Deals are limited-time deals that Amazon runs for only a few hours each. They’re not restricted to Prime Day, but they’re especially prevalent during big sale events. Once an item sells out, you may be able to join a waiting list, but not always.
Put bluntly, the Lightning Deals selection is often full of impulse buys, like makeup and skincare products or toys. Prime members can browse upcoming deals on Amazon’s website and in the mobile app. The app can also alert you before a Lightning Deal begins.
How Do I Make Sure a Deal Won’t Sell Out?
It’s always disappointing when an item on sale goes out of stock. If you know what time a deal begins, make sure to actively pay attention to the product page around the starting time. You may also be able to add an item to your cart before the sale begins, so you can refresh the page to snag it right away.
It’s smart to create an account at trusted retailers so you can save your credit card information and shipping details ahead of time. This will make the checkout process as fast as possible. It’s also a good idea to clear your web browser cache before you start shopping during sales events like Prime Day. Just be sure to log back in to those retailers afterward.