Buy This, Not That: How Wirecutter’s No. 1 deal pro will navigate Amazon Prime Day to find the sickest deals

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As Wirecutter’s senior deals editor, it’s Nathan Burrow’s full-time job to find the best prices on quality items, from electronics to kitchenware to home goods. Every day, he’s scouring the internet for deals, so we asked Burrow to walk us through exactly how he plans to shop both before and during Amazon Prime Day to ensure he’s getting the best deals. (Note that to get the best deals on Prime Day, and many early Prime Day Deals, you do need to be a Prime member: You can do a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime now and cancel at any time). But first, he notes: “Caution is my first word for Prime Day. Try not to get caught up in the heat of the moment.” Instead, follow his smart plan below.

Ahead of Prime Day

1. Get ‘free money’ to spend on Prime Day
“There are a number of pre-Prime Day promos, and some are worth your time,” says Burrow. So long as you’re not buying something atypical to get them, these promos are “effectively free money,” he notes. One of the big ones going on right now is: Spend $10 or more with a small business on Amazon, get $10 back to spend on Prime Day. There are also often gift card deals where Amazon will give you account credit if you purchase a certain gift card amount, and be on the lookout for a possible deal where Amazon gives you money to spend on Prime Day when you shop at Whole Foods. This happened in 2019, notes Burrow, who expects that to happen again this year. Get your $10 to spend on Prime Day here.

2. Snag quality deals in advance of Prime Day
“You can get Prime Day pricing in advance of Prime Day,” says Burrow.  For example, he predicts that you’ll start seeing deals on Amazon devices like the Echo and Kindle products several days before Prime Day, and there are certain lower priced deals even now. Amazon has a “today’s deals” section where you can see its latest sales; just be sure to vet them using a price checking site like CamelCamelCamel or Keepa. You should also, if you have Alexa, ask “Alexa, what are my deals?”; each year, Amazon releases Alexa-exclusive deals, he adds. Review today’s best deals on Amazon here.

3. Create an Amazon wishlist, and use Amazon’s watch feature
If there are certain items you need, Burrow notes that it can be helpful to create a wishlist ahead of Prime Day to curate the products you’ve been thinking about. Wishlists often indicate the price of the item when you added it, so you can compare that with the sale price you’re seeing now, he explains. Another tip: If you see a product that’s scheduled to go on a lightning deal later in the day, you can “watch” the item and get alerts when it goes on sale via notifications on Amazon’s app, says Burrow. Here’s how to create an Amazon wishlist, and here’s how to watch deals.

Remember that you will need a Prime membership to snag the best deals. You can get a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime now (cancel anytime).

On Prime Day

4. Add the item you want to your cart, then price check it
Some deals sell out fast, so if you see a lightening deal you think you want, put it in your cart. You then have a few minutes before you have to actually buy the item before it might disappear from your cart. That’s when Burrow says you should price check to make sure the item is, in fact, a good deal. 

5. Put yourself on the wait list
If a lightning deal sells out, put yourself on the wait list, and you just might get the item at that sales price. The reason? Many people put sale items in their cart but then don’t order them; the people on the wait list have the chance to get those unbought goodies.

6. Know what to buy
Amazon’s own devices like the the the Echo and Kindle are “pretty much always bargain basement priced on Prime Day and Black Friday,” says Burrow. Other items to consider buying if you need them: Other Amazon Brands like Eero and Ring, small kitchen appliances and vacuums.

7. Don’t just shop on Amazon
Retailers like Walmart, Target and Best Buy often go head-to-head with Amazon on Prime Day, offering their own bargain basement deals, he adds. Even Prime members should check Amazon’s competition for sales, and non-Prime members can often take advantage of Prime Day pricing at these competing sales.