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There's a good chance you've already come across marketing around Amazon Prime Day. The popular two-day sales event takes place July 12 and 13 this year, and while some consumers may have already planned out exactly what they want to buy, there's a whole other customer base that knows they'll be making impulse purchases the day of.
While making one or two impulse buys where you can score a good deal may certainly feel "worth it," this type of shopping behavior can easily lead to overspending and buying things you don't really need — especially when it's so easy to just click and purchase.
To best prepare you and your wallet for Prime Day madness, Select spoke with financial and behavioral experts to learn a few tips and mental tricks that'll keep you from making too many impulse purchases.
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With Amazon Prime Day lasting for two days, you can put an item in your cart on the first day and wait 24 hours before deciding to go through with purchasing it. This gives you more time to sleep on it and decide if you really need the product instead of just buying it in the moment.
"Prime Day is such a risk because it creates a sense of urgency," Lauren Anastasio, certified financial planner and director of financial advice at Stash, a popular investing app, tells Select. "In reality, you should be taking your time."
Anastasio suggests considering how you would feel about the purchase in a month. If you can look ahead and imagine the expense meaningfully impacting your life, it's probably worth it. However, if you anticipate any buyer's remorse because you wish you had saved the money or spent it more wisely, it's best to refrain. If you were to check your bank statement and see that charge, contemplate how you'd feel about it.
According to Perry, illusions of forced choice and scarcity normalize us feeling as if we're being savvy consumers by taking advantage of Prime Day deals, but the heavily discounted items we see may in fact just be the result of supply forces. For example, a tech gadget we're currently lacking can seem enticing, yet it might only be discounted because of an upcoming hardware update.
The item you're about to purchase on Prime Day might actually be cheaper at another online store, so be sure to compare prices across multiple websites to ensure you're getting the lowest price.
"Amazon notoriously changes their prices on a daily basis," Anastasio adds. This means the list price of an item on Prime Day may be higher than the list price was several days before, making the discount less than you're being led to believe.
Not to mention, other big-name retailers typically have their annual sales during the same Amazon Prime Days, which means the idea of price comparison is even more important.
Target Deal Days, for example, is an online-only sales event that happens to be running July 11–13 this year, and customers can score deep discounts on everything from electronics, toys and beauty to home goods, apparel and groceries.
Dan Egan, managing director of behavioral finance and investing at Betterment, a popular robo-advisor app, recommends setting limits beforehand, including both a dollar amount and a quantifiable item amount, come Prime Day. Even if this limit is self-imposed, it can successfully trick you into staying within your budget.
According to Wright, Amazon Prime Day is best described as a "sushi conveyor belt of items" that is sometimes distracting and difficult to sift through.
Since the abundance of discounted items can be overwhelming to those who visit Amazon.com on Prime Day, make sure you're logging on with a purpose.
Know exactly what you want to type into the search bar rather than browsing through random departments you never intended to shop in — this can look like searching a general category such as "snacks" vs. searching for more specifically, as in "savory snacks in bulk."
To try to stay on track with what you plan to purchase, Egan recommends turning off Amazon notifications from appearing on your phone so you aren't tempted to buy anything else.
Anastasio also warns of purchases that catch your eye just because of creative marketing. "If people avoid the marketing, unsubscribe from the emails and avoid social media, chances are the actual purchase traffic on Prime Day would plummet," Anastasio says.
One trick Egan recommends is to say what your intended purchases are out loud, saying that you're less likely to splurge on an unnecessary item if you say, "I am buying this because..." Doing so forces you to ponder the purchase on another, deeper level.
Even if you explain the potential purchase to a rubber duck, it should help you avoid overspending, Egan suggests. Or you can speak to yourself in the mirror to both see and hear yourself say what you're buying and really have it soak in.
Amazon's "buy it now" feature makes it all too easy to get your shopping done quickly, but can also mask just how much you are spending since you're buying things as one-off purchases instead of adding them to your cart and seeing the grand total.
Come Prime Day, Wright advises against using the "buy it now" button so you don't go overboard. "We tend to lose track of individual purchases in large bundles of purchases," he says.
While the six tips and mental tricks outlined above can help Amazon shoppers avoid making too many impulse purchases on Prime Day, those who want to take advantage of the sales event to finally buy something they've been wanting should definitely do so.
When you're ready to make a Prime Day purchase you've prepared for, consider using a top credit card for all your Amazon Prime Day shopping. Also, remember that you have to be an Amazon Prime member to be eligible for Prime Day sales. If you aren't currently a Prime member, there are ways to get a membership at a discount, or even for free.
For avid Amazon shoppers and Prime members, the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card is currently offering a limited-time welcome bonus now through July 29. New cardholders can earn a $200 Amazon gift card immediately after approval and can earn up to a whopping 10% cash back on specially-marked Amazon products, with rotating items and categories, among other cash-back perks.
For flat-rate cash back rewards on all other spending, the Citi® Double Cash Card makes a good addition to anyone's wallet, with 2% cash back — that's 1% cash back on all eligible purchases plus an additional 1% cash back once your credit card bill is paid.
2% cash back: 1% on all eligible purchases and an additional 1% after you pay your credit card bill
0% for the first 18 months on balance transfers; N/A for purchases
19.24% - 29.24% variable
Balance transfer fee
For balance transfers completed within 4 months of account opening, an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer ($5 minimum) applies; after that, a balance transfer fee of 5% of each transfer ($5 minimum) applies
Foreign transaction fee
See rates and fees. Terms apply.
Read our Citi® Double Cash Card review.
If you want to earn a boatload of bonus points and use your Prime Day shopping as way to help meet the minimum spending requirements, the Citi Premier® Card is currently offering a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening. Plus, for a limited time, earn a total of 10 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent on hotel, car rentals, and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through June 30, 2024.
3X points per $1 spent at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, and on hotels and air travel, 1X points on all other purchases
Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus, for a limited time, earn a total of 10 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent on hotel, car rentals, and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through June 30, 2024.
21.24% - 29.24% variable
Balance transfer fee
5% of each balance transfer, $5 minimum
Foreign transaction fee
See rates and fees. Terms apply.
Read our Citi Premier® Card review.
Information about the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer prior to publication; if you purchase something through Select links, we may earn a commission.