Money

4 things you should never buy on Amazon

Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos provides the keynote address at the Air Force Association's Annual Air, Space & Cyber Conference in Oxen Hill, MD, on September 19, 2018.
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images
Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos provides the keynote address at the Air Force Association's Annual Air, Space & Cyber Conference in Oxen Hill, MD, on September 19, 2018.

With a single click, you can order almost anything you need or want through Amazon and get it delivered straight to your house. But that doesn't always mean you're getting the best prices.

CNBC Make It spoke with shopping experts about the best and worst things to buy on Amazon, as well as how to make sure you find the lowest prices possible.

Here are four items you're generally better off buying elsewhere.

Smart devices from competitors

Amazon is hands-down the best place to score deals on the site's own hardware, like the Echo Dot for example, but the opposite is true if you're in the market for a Google device or an Apple product.

"Amazon sells a couple of Google devices, but they usually go at list price," Tom's Guide deals editor Louis Ramirez tells CNBC Make It. "If you want the Google Home Mini, or any of the Google smart home devices, your best bet is to go to Walmart."

Makeup and beauty products

While Amazon does sell beauty products, it doesn't offer the variety that other retailers do. Additionally, you can end up with subpar products, Sara Skirboll, shopping expert at RetailMeNot, warns. "I see a lot of secondhand items," she tells CNBC Make It. "It gets a little more complicated when you buy particular beauty items from Amazon."

She recommends sticking to beauty giants, such as Sephora or Ulta, instead.

Pet food

Although Amazon has recently upped its game in the grocery space, you can still find better deals on pet food at specialty retailers. "The best site for pet deals in general is a site called Chewy," Ramirez recommends.

Equipment for a niche hobby

Stores that target a niche hobby or type of product, such as photography, knitting or pets, can often offer better deals on specialty items than a generalist like Amazon.

For example, Ramirez suggests a site called B&H Photo and Video for cameras and photography equipment. Because it only focuses on cameras and photography, it tends to have more competitive prices for those specific types of gear, he explains.

"Amazon's great for deals. Walmart's great for deals. Best Buy's great for deals. But none of them are the best store for deals." -Louis Ramirez, Deals editor, Tom's Guide

However, it's important to remember that when it comes to online shopping, nothing is guaranteed and you should always do your own homework.

"One of major things I always say is don't shop all at one store," Ramirez says. "Amazon's great for deals. Walmart's great for deals. Best Buy's great for deals. But none of them are the best store for deals."

Before buying anything online, Ramirez recommends doing a quick search on Google Shopping. The search engine will bring up prices for the item from a multitude of retailers so you can easily scan for where to find the cheapest deals.

Plus, browse all the major competitors. "If you find something on Amazon and it looks like a good deal, always check to make sure others are not undercutting Amazon," Ramirez says.

Price comparison is the No. 1 thing you can do to ensure you're getting a good deal. "It all comes down to doing your research," Skirboll says. "Always triple check."

If you're shopping specifically at Amazon, Ramirez also recommends keeping CamelCamelCamel handy. When you drop in an Amazon link, the price-tracking website will pull up a chart of the item's historical prices.

Although it doesn't compare how prices vary outside of Amazon, it's a helpful way to know if the price you're looking at is generally high or low. "You can know, 'Oh, this was $10 cheaper last July,' or you'll see that this is absolutely the lowest price you can get right now," Ramirez says.

If you're using a desktop, installing a browser extension, such as Honey or RetailMeNot's Genie can be a win-win too: It takes almost no effort on your part, but can help you instantly save. "It's going to automatically pull in coupons, cashback offers, any way for you to save money on the spot at checkout."

And be on the lookout for other perks, such as cashback, free shipping or a $10 gift card with purchase. "In this day and age, retailers drive business by focusing their efforts on releasing promotions like these, so it's really in the customer's best interest to make sure they have something before they check out," Skirboll says.

Going into the holiday season, almost every major retailer will be offering something, so keep your eyes open. "Don't check out unless you have a deal, especially a free shipping code," Skirboll says. "There are so many opportunities to save money, it doesn't make sense right now to spend money without saving."

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