Use Amazon at Your best

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Whether you’re in the market for the latest hit movie, coffee, electronics, or even a drum set, Amazon.com has just about anything you can imagine buying online. In addition to massive selection, Amazon is known for its competitive pricing. Save even more time and money by taking advantage of some of its shopper incentive programs.

While the $79 price tag may seem steep at first glance, Amazon Prime entitles users to more than just free 2-day shipping on eligible items – though that’s a big selling point. One-click shopping stores your billing and shipping information so you don’t have to type it in every time or navigate multiple confirmation screens. Stream a large selection of on-demand movies and TV shows for free over the Internet to any device that supports Amazon Prime Instant Video (including your computer, most gaming consoles, and many TVs and set-top boxes). Kindle owners can take advantage of the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library to borrow one e-book a month to read on your Kindle device with no late fees or due date. There are currently over 145,000 titles available.

Even if shipping is the only Prime benefit you’re likely to use, one holiday’s worth of shipping to family members throughout the U.S. can make it break even: you need only make about 13 purchases a year for it to pay for itself.

If you’re already a Prime member, share your account with up to four other people for added value. In the upper right-hand corner after logging in, click on “Your Account.” Under the Settings section, select “Manage Prime Membership.” Just below your membership information is a section labeled “Invite a Household Member.” Enter their name, relation, email address and birth date. Each person you invite will need to know your birth date to confirm their identity. Once they’re set up, they’ll benefit from unlimited two-day shipping, but not Amazon Prime Instant Video or Kindle Owner’s Lending Library benefits.

The Amazon Mom program (www.amazon.com/gp/mom/signup/info) is free to join and benefits caregivers of small children with three free months of Prime membership, 20% off diapers and wipes subscriptions, and exclusive deals and discounts.

Students currently enrolled in a college or university with a valid .edu e-mail address can sign up for Amazon Student (www.amazon.com/student). Membership includes six months of free Prime membership and the option to continue Prime for up to four years at $39/year. One caveat: you can’t share an Amazon Prime Student account.

You probably wouldn’t consider Amazon a good place to pick up a jar of peanut butter – shipping costs as much as the item, unless you buy in bulk and have more than you need. Amazon’s new Add-on Program now offers thousands of small, low-priced items, available to be “added on” to orders of $25 or more. These items can be combined with free super saver shipping or Amazon Prime accounts for additional savings.
While e-books are great for tomes that would be bulky and unmanageable in hardback, there are some books you want to hang on to. Harry Potter series, anyone? With Amazon Upgrade, you can have the best of both worlds. Purchase a physical book from Amazon that’s part of the program and Upgrade lets you obtain a digital copy for a discounted price. You can even upgrade past purchases, so long as you’ve made them through Amazon and the titles are included in the program.

Lastly, if you find yourself purchasing certain products regularly, consider Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program. Eligible items include everything from toothpaste and deodorant to diapers and cereal, and garner up to a 15% discount in addition to free shipping. Simply choose an eligible product and the quantity you’d like to receive. Customize your delivery schedule, from once-a-month to once-every-six months. Amazon sends an email notification a week prior to shipment, so you can delay or cancel at any time. You’re only charged when the order ships and subscriptions are managed through the Your Account page so you can manage or update them any time you like.

About The Author: Andrea Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at callnerds.com/andrea/.