How to Get the Most Out of Amazon Prime Day

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Welcome to Christmas in July. To celebrate its 20th anniversary last year, Amazon created Amazon Prime Day, a sale for Prime members, happening on July 12 this year. The online giant has promised "more deals than Black Friday" in the past, which means now is the time to jump on the gear you've been eyeing. So far, most manufacturers haven't revealed too much about the deals they're going to offer, which can make it tough to know where to start. But with a little bit of planning, you'll be watching your new television or tinkering with your new gadget in no time.

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1. Know what you want.
Flash sales tend to bring out the impulse buyer in all of us. Just because you can buy something doesn't mean you should. Do some prep work and identify the products you already want or need before the sale starts. If they're not a part of the sale, don't settle for something you don't really want just because it's cheap.

2. Get a real deal.
List prices are a real gray area on Amazon and other shopping sites. The sale price will show the discount from the list price, but that doesn't mean it cost that much on July 11. To make sure you're actually getting a big discount, use the Tracktor, an online price-tracking tool. Enter the product name or URL on Amazon, and it shows you the price fluctuations for the past few months. That way, when you see “50% off” on Prime Day, you can call bullshit if it's not that much cheaper.

3. Act quickly.
Expect limited quantities to be available at steep discounts, so put it in your cart as soon as you've decided it's worth it. Nothing's worse than deciding later in the day that you really did want that espresso maker, only to go back and find it costs $100 more.

4. Proceed to checkout.
Because you're a Prime member taking advantage of this sale, there's no reason to wait to close the deal. With two-day shipping included for each purchase, complete each order and then go back for more — that way no one can snatch it away while you browse for more deals.

5. The deals we've found so far.
Check out our cheat sheet.