As the first day of Amazon Prime Day comes to a close (see our Prime Day Deals post for a continuously-appended list of deals) and we prep for day two, I thought it might be useful to share a couple of quick tips for evaluating Prime Day (and other) deals. While there are certainly good deals happening on many Amazon products, it’s also important to make sure you’re not just getting pressured into buying because it’s a “limited time deal”. Here are some tools to find and evaluate the deals.
1) Compare historical Amazon prices using CamelCamelCamel
CamelCamelCamel.com is a tool I’ve been using for years to compare current pricing against historical pricing. I find it particularly useful at times like these when items are discounted across many retailers. In a past blog post about eBags, I highlighted a specific Tumi bag I liked. That bag was on sale at the time for about the same price at both Amazon and eBags. If I didn’t have access to historical information, it would be hard to know whether ” the deal” price is actually special or just a typical discount that repeats regularly. However, thanks to this tool, I can either type the name of the item into the search box at CamelCamelCamel or just copy and paste the URL for the product on Amazon:
After I do that, it’ll give me a historical pricing graph where I can see Amazon’s pricing (I could also check 3rd party new and used prices as well if I were reselling and wanted to get an idea of the trends).
That data (which comes from an old post) is incredibly useful for me. I can see the general trend in graph form as well as the highest / lowest prices and the last 5 price changes. That’s helpful on just about any product as I find the Amazon price to be a decent barometer of the marketplace as a whole.
While there are some situations where camelcamelcamel might not tell the full story (e.g. some sort of stacking coupon or Amex offer or something), it’s a good start in determining if this price is so good that I need to make a move now or if the price regularly fluctuates.
2) Monitor shopping portals
Certainly during the Black Friday period and I believe possibly during the Prime Day shenanigans, CashBackMonitor refereshes their feed more than the usual once-per-day. Keep an eye out for mid-day changes in cash back as portals compete for your business. There are some fantastic payouts available at a few popular stores. This could go either way — like on the deal we posted earlier today, where Rakuten (Ebates) decreased the rate at LifeLock from 120x down to 80x.
Don’t forget to compare portal payouts and leverage opportunities to Extreme Stack by combining current Amex Offers, gift cards, and opportunities to double and triple dip (see our Instant Gift Card Deals resource page for options to buy and receive instantly or near-instantly and save).
3) Slickdeals Live View: Watch the deals as they get posted
If you’re having trouble keeping up with which deals are going on and are looking to hop on the hottest deals before they’re gone, here’s a quick tip if you’ve got a fast eye: Slickdeals Live View.
As you can see in the picture above, there are 3 columns in the Live View — Latest Posts, Latest Threads, and Latest Rating. The Latest Posts column scrolls as people comment on deals. I find this super useful because you’re constantly seeing the latest comments. Sometimes, there is a price mistake or stacking coupon or related deal mentioned within a thread that I might never have seen if not for this column. That said, it moves fast at times. It can be hard to keep up with it. I regrettably missed a couple of stacking discount mistakes early this morning that I likely would have caught had I been using Live View more.
The middle column, Latest Posts, shows each deal that gets posted as it gets posted. This way, you’ll see each deal as it gets posted, increasing your chances of being able to take advantage of it before it’s gone. This is great for catching limited-quantity or hot deals.
The third column, Latest Ratings, shows you which posts recently got a thumbs up or down. Truth be told, I don’t pay much attention to that column.
Keep in mind that it can be a little overwhelming on big shopping days. Sometimes, things fly by and when you blink you’ll literally miss things. However, I find this view great for times like Black Friday and Prime Day. As Prime Day is upon us, I’m looking at Live View and will continue to do so overnight so I can add to our latest Prime Day deals post.
4) Keep Price Protection in mind
While Citi is killing the benefit later this fall, price protection can be a great benefit to leverage at this time of year. If Store A is offering huge portal rewards, but Store B has a better price, you don’t necessarily have to choose one or the other. You could potentially have your cake and eat it too. And in the worst-case scenario, price protection can help fight buyer’s remorse: if that shiny new widget you bought today goes on sale next month for a hundred bucks less, price protection can help you recoup your market loss. See this post for information on the changes happening at Citi, but the short story is that purchases made today will continue to be covered.
5) Buy to rent: Pick up stuff now and sell it later
I wrote a post a couple of years ago titled, “Buy to rent: Enjoying travel gear without buyer’s remorse“. In that post, I shared a story about buying a limited-time deal with the explicit intention of using it for a trip and selling it after. If you can strike while the iron is hot and commit to selling once you’ve had your fun, this technique can sometimes enable you to play with the toys you want without committing your cash long-term. Just keep in mind that technology changes quickly and when the latest model arrives, last year’s will tank in price. See that post for more on the concept.
I’m a deals guy — I love getting a good deal. But it’s easy to get wrapped up in the hype of Prime Day or Black Friday or Christmas in July or whatever you’re being sold for a limited-time-deal. Just be sure to take a look around and make sure it’s actually a deal before you jump on a purchase you may regret later. Using some of the tools above can help.