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All Contents © 2019The Kiplinger Washington Editors
By Bob Niedt, Online Editor
| July 8, 2018Updated July 13, 2018
With Amazon Prime Day just around the corner, starting July 16 at 3 p.m. ET and running for 36 hours, questions beg: What do I buy? What do I avoid? Do I even play into the hype of what some consider an overblown garage sale?
As in Prime Days past, Amazon Prime Day 2018 will feature deep discounts on a few cool products -- and deep discounts on lots of mediocre merchandise you probably wouldn’t otherwise consider. Expect a mix of hours-long deals and “lightning” deals. The latter pop up quickly and then disappear, either sold out or taken down for lack of interest.
You must be an Amazon Prime member, of course, to shop on Prime Day. We’ve already told you about the benefits of Amazon Prime throughout the year. But if you’re considering forking over $119 to join just to shop Prime Day, read this first. Here are some of the best deals for Amazon Prime Day 2018.
Amazon’s proprietary gadgets will drive much of Amazon Prime Day because a.) It’s profitable to sell proprietary stuff; and b.) It’s a trap! Amazon would love to get an Alexa-enabled device into your home at a ridiculously low price so you grow accustomed to engaging with the voice-activated assistant and buy more stuff from Amazon – for life.
You’ll see discounts on the original full-size Echo, the smaller Echo Dot, a bestseller during Prime Day 2017, and the new Echo Show that includes a screen. (The Echo Show is already marked down to $130 – regular price is $230 – now through Prime Day.) Amazon will also heavily discount Kindle tablets, Fire TV Cube, a streaming media player with Alexa built in, and much more. Some offers of Amazon products will be bundled with non-Amazon name-brand items (think Dyson). In addition, to keep you wired to those Amazon devices, expect to see sales on gadgets that try to make your dumb home smart: smart thermostats, smart lights, smart switches and the like. We may see these connective gadgets with prices sliced by 40% on Prime Day.
The now you see it, now you don’t Lightning Deals arrive in an instant and are gone just as quickly, which means you won’t get any work done if you’re shopping Lighting Deals on Amazon Prime Day. As we’ve noted during past Amazon Prime Days, the Lightning Deals can feature a lot of items that seem like Amazon is offloading to get rid of it (thus, the Amazon Prime Day “garage sale” label). Because you know it’s going away soon, the temptation is to buy it anyway and load your cart with excess baggage.
There are real deals in the Lightning Deals, however. DealNews says it tracked some top-notch Lightning Deals on Prime Day 2017, especially in electronics and items for the home.
To stay abreast of upcoming Lightning Deals, download the Amazon app. Beginning Monday, July 9, Amazon will start offering sneak peeks of select sale items that you can track via the app. Just click on the "Watch This Deal" button. The button will change to "Watching" to indicate that the alert is set up. You will be notified via the app when an upcoming deal you’re interested in goes live.
Amazon’s bricks-and-mortar Whole Foods supermarket chain is kicking it for Amazon Prime Day 2018, its first under the Amazon umbrella. There will be additional deals, on top of this: Prime Now delivery for first-timers will see a $10 discount on the first order, through July 17, plus an additional $10 discount on the next order, delivered by July 31.
If you’re a Prime member and Whole Foods shopper, you already know you get 10% off select items on any given day at the grocer. Bump that up by another 10% off for Prime Day, and if you’re a Prime Rewards credit card holder, you’ll get 10% back on Whole Foods purchases from July 14 through July 17. (It’s usually 5% back.)
But wait, there's more: Starting the weekend before Prime Day, Amazon is doling out a $10 credit on Amazon.com to Prime members who spend $10 or more at Whole Foods through July 17, the final day of Prime Day-and-a-half.
We say “maybe” because TV prices are slashed wildly for Black Friday holiday sales every November, and certainly will be again later this year. But television prices have been ridiculously low all over the place of late, from electronics retailers to warehouse clubs. We expect to see some bargains on Amazon Prime Day, but shop with caution. Here’s where you really want to compare prices on the same or similar models stocked by Target, Best Buy or Walmart. One likely contender for a deep discount on Prime Day: Amazon’s 43-inch Toshiba Fire TV Edition (also sold at Best Buy), with a pre-order price of $330. To get more people in its house, Amazon may drop that price tag even more on Prime Day.
Last year, Amazon sold 2.5 million toys on Amazon Prime Day, according to the deals site Tom’s Guide. Expect toys to be hot items once again in 2018. Already on sale in the days leading up to the official start of Prime Day are exclusive Fingerlings: Mackenzie the Light-Up Unicorn ($18) and Jess & Eden Baby Monkey and Mini BFFs ($15 for the pair). These are part of what Amazon is calling Prime Day Launches: popular products only for Prime members that you won’t find anywhere else. Amazon also plans discounts on Crayola and LEGO toys, so stock up for the holidays.
If you want access to the exclusive toys but don’t want to pony up the $119 Prime membership fee, sign up for a free 30-day Prime trial. Just remember to cancel your trial after you finish your Prime Day shopping but before the 30 days are up to avoid being charged. If you're already a Prime member, you can share your membership with another teen or adult in your household at no extra charge.
Amazon tends to heat up the discounts for gamers on Amazon Prime Day. DealNews notes Amazon has dropped hints about bargains for Microsoft's Xbox, virtual reality systems from Oculus and – a rarity – Nintendo consoles. Since I’m in the market for a Nintendo Switch, this is welcome news to me. Deals site Tom’s Guide has been tracking discounts so far this year on Sony PlayStation 4 and Xbox bundles, and it projects they’ll be even less expensive on Prime Day. Gamers know: Here’s another sale arena where you want to check your prices, paying particular attention to the actual contents of the bundle. Don’t get saddled with a game you don’t want or a controller you don’t need just because the bundle price is enticing.
Some third-party vendors are getting ahead of the game and leaking their Prime Day deals on their quirky products. Here's a peek.
The maker of the pet-watching device Furbo is knocking 40% off its gadget that allows pet-parents to watch, talk to and even toss treats to their fur-babies. We kid you not. The device will sell for $149 on Prime Day, down from $249. New: The interactive video camera also now allows for pet selfies. Sit, Ubu, sit.
Another one: You want ice in that drink? Step over to my new tabletop Opal Nugget Ice Maker, selling for $399 on Prime Day, a $100 discount for those hot 36 hours. Nugget ice is touted as the designer ice -- easy to chew and flavor-absorbing -- that's sure to impress your hipster friends at your next swanky cocktail party. The Opal Nugget Ice Maker was invented at FirstBuild, an innovation lab backed by GE Appliances.
As we told you, many of the deals on Amazon Prime Day are all about keeping you in the Amazon House well beyond Amazon Prime Day. That includes offering three months' worth of access to books, magazines and more in Kindle Unlimited, for 99 cents. Sign up for the trial by the end of July. That's a lot of unlimited reading. Oh, and by the way, it's good on any device, not just the Kindle, via the Kindle app.
Speaking of the House That Amazon Built, Amazon Prime Day wants to draw you into the world of Amazon Music Unlimited, with access to tens of millions of songs. The Amazon Prime Day deal: Four months of Amazon Music Unlimited for 99 cents. Thereafter, it's $7.99 a month for Primers (non-Primers pay $9.99 a month). Unlimited is a premium music service similar to Pandora and Spotify -- and a significant step up from the limited-selection Amazon Music that's available free to all Prime members. Cancel Unlimited before the trial ends to avoid the monthly charge.