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Almost everyone knows what Amazon is, even if they don’t shop online. The company has achieved enviable brand recognition and become the go-to site for online shoppers. If you are an Amazon shopper, you may think you know all there is to know about the site, but there are many lesser-known tips, tricks and benefits of which you may not be aware.

Since I mention Amazon Prime several times throughout this piece, I wanted to note that, for the uninitiated, Amazon Prime is an annual membership that, for $99 per year ($49 for students), grants members free unlimited two-day shipping, music and video streaming, among other things. Now, let’s get into what you may not know.

1. Cash in Those Gift Cards

You probably have Visa or MasterCard gift cards laying around with balances too low to shop with. Instead of leaving them in a drawer, transfer the balances (50 cents or above) to Amazon. It’s a wee bit tricky, but here’s how to do it: Proceed as if you were buying an Amazon gift card (or click on “Reload Your Balance”), choose “enter amount” instead of clicking on one of the set quantity boxes, and enter the gift card account number as the payment method. Bingo — you now have Amazon credit to shop with.

2. Choose No-Rush Shipping

If you’re a Prime member who doesn’t need your order lickety-split, forgo the free two-day shipping to score a credit toward a free digital download. You can rack up those credits and get that album you’ve had your eye on — free.

3. Don’t Ignore Warehouse Deals …

If you turn up your nose at the open-box and pre-owned items in Amazon’s Warehouse Deals section, you may be missing out on a great bargain. The discounts can be substantial, and you have 30 days to decide whether what you’ve received is a keeper.

4. … or Amazon’s Outlet

The Outlet is kind of like the clearance rack in your favorite store. It’s hit or miss, but these are items that Amazon is trying to clear out, so the discounts can be great (from 20% to 80%).

5. Enroll in Prime Student

If you’re in school, enjoy free two-day shipping for six months through the Prime Student program. If you want all the other benefits that come with Prime, you can then snag a Prime membership for 50% off after a six-month trial period.

6. Give to Charity

Why not give back while you shop? Courtesy of AmazonSmile, 0.5% of eligible Amazon Prime purchases can be donated to the participating charity or school of your choice.

7. Fill ‘Er Up

If you are not a Prime member, sometimes it’s a challenge to get your order to that $35 free shipping threshold without going way over. The Filler Item finder provides low-cost suggestions to help you get there.

8. Hold Onto Damaged Merchandise

If something you’ve ordered arrives in less-than-perfect condition, Amazon will replace it through their Online Returns Center and may not require you to send it back, especially if it’s inexpensive. And if the item is salvageable, you’ve scored! Let’s say you receive a bottle of household cleaner with a faulty pump. You can just hang on to it and switch the pump once you’ve finished the replacement.

9. Join Amazon Family 

Expecting moms and parents who are also Amazon Prime members can get 20% off Subscribe & Save diapers with the Amazon Family program. There’s also a 15% discount on all baby registry gifts within 60 days of your due date.

10. Take Advantage of Late Deliveries

You usually get your packages on time with your Prime Membership, but if there’s a time that you don’t, let them know. It’s very likely they will offer you something, like a credit to your account or an extension of your Prime membership.

11. Try Subscribe & Save

Subscribe & Save users can receive up to 15% off their items and free shipping. I use Subscribe & Save for my toilet paper, paper towels and a few different vitamins, and the price is definitely right. Before subscribing, do your homework and compare prices with your price club and grocery/drug stores. I like how you can specify when you want items to ship, so your essentials arrive right when you need them. One less thing to think about!

12. Use Promo Codes & Coupons

Amazon does promo codes and coupons too. If you’re shopping for groceries on Amazon, be on the lookout for coupons and codes that can be applied to your purchase. They are typically on the main product page, and once you’ve clicked on them, they will appear in your cart.

13. Save an Extra 5%

You may not feel like you need another credit card — and you may not — but with the Amazon Store Card, Prime Members can get 5% back on all purchases. Like other store cards, the annual percentage rate (APR) is not fabulous, so if you go for this card, plan to pay it off every month. Otherwise, the 5% reward will be meaningless. (Not sure whether you can qualify for the credit card? You can view a free snapshot of your credit report, updated every two weeks, on Credit.com.)

14. Watch for Lower Prices

You may have noticed that Amazon has pretty fluid pricing. If you see that something you purchased sold by Amazon LLC has dropped in price, Amazon will usually honor the lower price by giving you a credit or gift card. Live chat seems to be a reliable way to get this done. A good way to keep track of Amazon pricing in general is with CamelCamelCamel price tracker.

Image: Squaredpixels

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