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For anyone who loves a great deal, it’s never too early to start planning for one of the biggest online shopping events of the year: Amazon Prime Day.

Amazon hasn’t officially announced the date of this year’s Prime Day yet, but it usually falls around mid-July and only lasts up to 36 hours. Knowing what you’re looking for in advance and planning your spending carefully can ensure you get the best deals on those items throughout the day without much hassle.

Here’s everything we know about Prime Day 2019 so far and a few tips for making the most of the sale:

What is Prime Day?

For frequent Amazon shoppers, Prime Day may be on par with Black Friday and Cyber Monday in savings potential. It’s Amazon’s biggest, most comprehensive sale of the year and reserved exclusively for Prime members.

Prime Day began in 2015 to celebrate Amazon’s 20th anniversary, but it has continued and expanded each year since; a trend that experts expect will continue this year.

“If the past two years are any indication, shoppers should prepare themselves for a longer Prime Day,” says Kristin McGrath, editor and shopping expert at Offers.com. “It was 36 hours long last year and 30 hours long before that. The days of Prime Day being a literal ‘day’ are long past. So get ready for more of a marathon than a sprint.”

Since Prime Day is exclusive to Prime members, you must have a Prime membership before to take advantage of sale prices. Memberships cost $12.99 monthly or $119 if paid annually. Students can get a six month free trial of Prime, followed by a discounted Prime Student membership for just $6.49 per month. If you don’t yet have a membership, Amazon offers a 30 day free trial period.

Plan your shopping in advance

Prime Day deals move quickly, so it pays to plan your purchases ahead of the sale.

The most time-sensitive discounts are Prime Day Lightning Deals: discounted products that are usually limited to one per customer and only available for a few hours or until inventory is gone.

“Amazon’s app allows you to set up “Watch this Deal” notifications, so you can pounce when an item you want goes on sale,” McGrath says. “Last year, the app also offered sneak peeks at upcoming deals. Plus, Amazon stokes the Prime Day hype by announcing some deals in advance, or at least deal categories so you can prep your shopping list.”

Amazon-branded items like the Echo or Kindle may be those most likely to be discounted ahead of Prime Day itself. Check your Amazon app or the website in the days leading up to the sale to stay on top of early announcements.

What to add to your Prime Day shopping list

Prime Day deals cover a vast, wide-ranging assortment of Amazon’s offerings, but there are a few mainstay categories that experts expect to see this year.

“Historically, we have seen that Amazon offers some of the biggest discounts on their own electronic devices such as Echo, Alexa, Kindle and Fire tablets,” says Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert at RetailMeNot. “This must-shop event is also a great opportunity to purchase other smart-home devices, TVs, appliances and get a head start on any hot toys that you may want to gift this upcoming holiday season.”

McGrath points specifically to Amazon-owned Fire TV, Echo and Ring products; in-house brands like Solimo, which makes everyday goods; Instant Pots and robot vacuums (discounted by $100 or more in years prior) as categories to watch this year.

More Prime Day benefits

Amazon recently announced their push towards one-day shipping on all Prime purchases, and the service could make a big splash on Prime Day. It’s not likely that one-day shipping will be available for every purchase yet, but Skirboll does predict more members can expect the option.

In addition to Amazon sales, look out for in-store discounts at Amazon-owned Whole Foods Market.

“Last year, Prime members who shopped the week of Prime Day at Whole Foods got $10 Amazon credits,” McGrath says. “No details have been announced for this year yet, but we expect Amazon to make Whole Foods part of the Prime Day action again.”

Look for sales from other retailers

As Prime Day has grown over the past few years, other retailers have also begun offering their own Black Friday in July sales. If you’re in the market for anything from appliances to electronics and everyday home goods, this is one of the best times all year to buy.

McGrath expects many major retailers to either have their own sales at the same time or simply price-match products with Amazon. “For customers, that means doing a quick price comparison before buying a big-ticket item, such as a TV or laptop, on Amazon. There might be a better price—or a higher-quality model at a competitive price.

Black Friday in July also works in your favor if you don’t have the flexibility to monitor fleeting Prime Day deals. “Customers can also rest assured that, if Amazon sells out of something popular, they have a second chance when another retailer swoops in and offers a similar deal,” McGrath says.

Use your cards to make the most of Prime Day

If you’re looking to spend big this Prime Day, don’t just prepare for what you’ll buy; be savvy about how you’ll make your purchases, too. Strategically using rewards credit cards can up your savings even more.

Frequent Amazon and Whole Foods shoppers looking to fully reap Prime membership benefits may find the most value in the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. For no annual fee (besides your Prime membership cost), you’ll earn 5 percent cash back on every purchase at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market, including your Prime Day haul. Bankrate estimates that this card is best for shoppers who spend more than $2,000 annually with Amazon, in order to earn back the membership cost.

Cards with rotating rewards categories, like the Discover it® Cash Back, may not align with Amazon purchases this quarter, but frequent Prime buyers can still cash in when the category comes around in Q4 in time for the holiday season.

Otherwise, a flat cash-back card can offer even more flexibility. A few of Bankrate’s top-rated cash-back options include:

  • Citi Double Cash Card: Earn 1 percent cash back as you buy and 1 percent as you make payments for those purchases.
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited: Earn 3 percent on all purchases your first year up to $20,000 and unlimited 1.5 percent cash back thereafter.
  • Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card: Earn unlimited 1.5 percent cash rewards on all purchases and 1.8 percent on qualified mobile wallet purchases during the first 12 months.

If you’re in the market for a new card and plan to spend during Prime Day, you may also want to take the opportunity to cash in on a sign-up bonus. Just don’t use flashy Prime Day sales as an excuse to overspend or buy something simply because it’s discounted.

“Remember that just because it’s Prime Day and Amazon has something on sale, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best deal out there,” Skirboll says. “Do your due diligence and price compare.”

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