Experts expect to see an emphasis on giftable products during October’s Prime Day, like kitchen and fitness gadgets, handheld tech and more.

What to buy and skip during Amazon’s Prime Big Deal Days, according to experts

Prime Day is almost here — again. Amazon is hosting its second mega sale of 2023 — Prime Big Deal Days — on Oct. 10 and 11, and early deals have already begun.

Just like July’s Prime Day, October’s event gives Prime members exclusive access to discounts across all product categories. But this time, expect to see an emphasis on gifts, says Lisa Davis, shopping expert at RetailMeNot, a deal-finding and cashback site. Hosting another Prime Day this fall is Amazon’s way of kicking off the holiday shopping season, giving members the chance to start buying gifts now and spread out their spending over a few months, she says. In recent years, retailers have begun their early Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in mid-October or early November for the same reason. 

Since so many items are on sale during Prime Day, it can be challenging to narrow down your wishlist. One of the best ways to do so is by identifying what’s worth buying now and what you may find better sales on later this year. Below, experts share their Prime Day shopping tips, including how to make a budget and stick to it. 

SKIP AHEAD How to save during Prime Big Deal Days

Frequently asked questions

What are the best products to buy on Prime Day?

A little bit of everything is on sale during Prime Day, but the best products to buy are the same year after year: Amazon-owned devices and brands, like those part of the Echo, Fire TV and tablets, Kindle and Ring collections, as well as Alexa-enabled tech.

For October’s Prime Day specifically, think “big,” says Dr. Ross Steinman, a professor of consumer psychology at Widener University, who suspects Amazon decided to call the event “Prime Big Deal Days” due to the types of items it will be centered around. “From a consumer lens, this is the unofficial start to the holiday season, so we’re thinking about giftable products. A lot of shoppers want to give electronics, handheld technology, fitness equipment and kitchen gadgets,” he says. “The “big deals” name is reflective of the larger purchase price of the products.” With that being said, expect to see deals on air fryers, coffee makers, Instant Pots and vacuums, as well as smart home gadgets like security cameras, Bluetooth speakers and headphones, Davis says.

Prime Day — regardless of whether it’s in July or October — is also the best time of year to sign up for a Prime membership or an Amazon credit card . The retailer aims to increase its pool of Prime members during these blowout sales and incentivizes new signups by offering additional benefits, gift cards and more.

What should you not buy on Prime Day?

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are around the corner, and compared to Prime Day, these sales tend to offer a wider selection of discounts on products like TVs, phones, laptops, computer monitors and toys, says Vipin Porwal, CEO and consumer savings expert at Smarty. But if you find a strong Prime Day deal on a TV, laptop or toy, for example, its price may not drop more — if at all — during Black Friday or Cyber Monday, Davis says. This is especially the case for trending products or items from popular brands. So if you’re worried about an in-demand item selling out later this season, Davis recommends buying it as soon as you see its price drop.

Retailers also compete more intensely around Black Friday and Cyber Monday — these sale events are consistently the two biggest shopping days of the year and have the highest participation among retailers, Porwal says. Since they’re trying to draw customers in, retailers usually increase perks during November sales, like more cashback and free shipping. These additional benefits may make it worth waiting to buy certain items you don’t need right now, Porwal says.

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What are the best products to buy at other retailers this October?

Amazon is not the only retailer hosting a mega sale this October, so be sure to keep an eye on deals elsewhere to ensure you’re saving the most money possible. Home improvement stores, for example, heavily discount yard supplies and garden tools around this time of year since they want to make room for holiday-themed products like artificial Christmas trees and decorations. Porwal recommends comparing Prime Day prices on fire pits, outdoor heaters, rakes and leaf blowers to those at big box stores.

October is also an ideal time to save on fall clothing and apparel sales, which usually take place mid-month, just like Prime Day, Porwal says. You might see Cyber Monday-level deals up to 40% off jeans, boots, bags and more from your favorite brands.

What are Prime Day lightning deals?

Some of the best savings opportunities during Prime Day are Lightning Deals, which are limited-time offers that give shoppers a short window to check out and purchase. While you won’t know the Lightning Deals Amazon will offer ahead of time, be aware that you’ll see them popping up during the event. You may want to browse through them in case there’s an item you’re interested in.

What are Prime Day invite-only deals?

Amazon is running Prime Day invite-only deals for the first time this year — they first launched during July’s mega sale. Prime members can request an invitation to select deals that are expected to sell out, like specific beauty products, headphones, TVs and more.

You can start browsing and signing up for invite-only deals now on Amazon’s Prime Big Deal Days homepage. Amazon will notify members via email if they get an invitation to shop the deals during Prime Day, which will include instructions on how to purchase items at the exclusive discounted price. You’ll also get an email if you are not chosen to shop.

Are early Prime Day deals available through Buy with Prime?

Some early Prime Day deals are available through Amazon’s Buy with Prime program. You can find a full list of them here. To make a purchase, you’ll go directly through a participating retailer’s website and log into your Prime account to access your preferred shipping address and payment information. Going through Buy with Prime also gives you access to the same fast, free shipping you get while shopping on Amazon.

How to save during Amazon’s October Prime Day

The key to saving during Prime Day is planning, which can help you focus on what you’re looking for and ensure you’re taking advantage of the best deals possible. Below are a few ways to ensure you’re successful during the event.

Utilize exclusive promotions before and during the sale

Before and during Prime Day, Amazon offers members a handful of exclusive promotions, coupons or opportunities to earn credits. For example, Amazon is currently offering Prime members four months of Amazon Music Unlimited for free and a $15 Amazon credit when they download the Amazon Photos app and upload their first photo. You’ll usually see these types of promotions on Amazon’s Prime Big Deal Days homepage in the app or online.

Sign up to receive notifications about sales and deals

If you don’t have time to scroll through Amazon’s website or app during Prime Day, you can sign up to get notified when products you’re interested in go on sale. You can bookmark a product you’ve had your eye on by either adding it to a wishlist or tapping the “heart” icon on the product page in the Amazon app. This is especially helpful if the deal is only offered for a limited time. You can also create deal alerts based on your Amazon searches and recently viewed items.

Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant, can also notify you up to 24 hours in advance of a deal for an item on your wishlist, in your shopping cart or “saved for later.” Additionally, you can ask Alexa to remind you when the deal goes live and give her permission to order the item on your behalf using your account’s default payment and delivery address. Sometimes, shopping through Alexa via an Amazon Echo device gets you exclusive deals and early access to select discounts.

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Finally, if you add items you’re interested in buying to your wishlist, you can turn on notifications for your “watched and waitlisted deals” in the Alexa app. This alerts you when Lightning Deals happen for products on your wishlist during Prime Day and otherwise.

Make a shopping list

Prime Day and comparable savings events are geared toward impulse shopping — retailers are betting on shoppers feeling tempted by deals and adding more items to their carts than they originally planned. That’s why it’s important to make a shopping list: Beyond keeping you organized, it helps you focus on products you need to buy or have budgeted for and reduces the temptation to spend on non-essential purchases.

Some people prefer a classic pen-and-paper list, but it may be easier to bookmark links or add items to different wishlists through your Amazon account. For example, you can make “wants” and “needs” wishlists, or create wishlists for specific people you need to buy gifts for. While you’re shopping, you can go through your wishlists, see what’s on sale and decide if you want to add it to your cart.

Consider shopping with a credit card

If you’re interested in using a credit card to shop during Prime Day, you may be able to earn points or take advantage of exclusive rewards. Certain cards allow you to earn cash back on Amazon purchases during Prime Day and Prime Day-esque sales, and some also offer welcome bonuses or points, says Ashley Fricker, senior editor at CardRates.com. She also says one of the best ways to spread out holiday expenses and avoid costly interest rates is to use a credit card with a 0% APR on new purchases.

The best credit cards for Amazon Prime Day shopping include the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card and Amazon Prime Store Card, according to CNBC Select — the cards offer 5% cash back at Amazon.

Compare prices (and rewards) across retailers’ sites

While Prime Day is an Amazon-exclusive event, other retailers usually follow its lead by offering their own sales around the same time. During the week of Prime Big Days, for example, Walmart is hosting a holiday kickoff sale and Home Depot is hosting Decor Days. 

As retailers compete for your shopping cart, they tend to “price chase” each other — this means an item sold at multiple retailers will likely have the exact (or almost exact) price tag across the board. In these cases, deciding which retailer to buy from comes down to the shipping price and where you can use or gain the maximum amount of rewards points. Also, weigh different retailers’ cash back offers.

To make comparing prices easy, we recommend using tools like Keepa, CamelCamelCamel and Honey. They help you monitor prices before and during the sale, and you can sign up for price-drop alerts on specific products. On Prime Day, Fricker recommends plugging items you have your eye on into CamelCamelCamel to see if the price was lower during Black Friday or Cyber Monday 2022. That can help you decide whether it’s worth waiting another month to make the purchase, she says.

Keep extended returns and price matching in mind

While Amazon does not offer price matching or extended returns, other retailers hosting sales this October may. If you purchase an item from one of Amazon’s competitors this month, Davis recommends checking its price during Black Friday and Cyber Monday to see if it has dropped even lower. “Chances are, you can return the one you purchased in October or get a price adjustment,” she says.

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Meet our experts

At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

  • Lisa Davis is a shopping expert at RetailMeNot, a deal-finding and cashback site.
  • Dr. Ross Steinman is a professor of consumer psychology at Widener University,
  • Vipin Porwal is the CEO and a consumer savings expert at Smarty.
  • Ashley Fricker is the senior editor at CardRates.com.

Why trust Select?

Zoe Malin is an associate updates editor at Select who has reported about Amazon since 2020. She wrote Select’s history of Amazon Prime Day, as well as a variety of Amazon Prime Day sales articles. For this piece, Malin researched Amazon Prime Day and referenced Select’s other Amazon coverage.

Catch up on Select’s in-depth coverage of personal finance, tech and tools, wellness and more, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

Zoe Malin

Zoe Malin is an associate updates editor for Select on NBC News.