Amazon will be throwing a lot of Prime Early Access deals at consumers over the next 48 hours, but it turns out not every “deal” offers as big a discount as it claims. Sure, the sticker might say 50% off, but price history is a volatile thing: If a product is advertised as 50% off the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), but it hasn’t actually been sold at MSRP in ages, then your deal might actually be considerably less.
These sorts of slips are often accidental or due to ignorance, but some less scrupulous companies will momentarily raise prices before big sales events, just to make discounts seem bigger than they actually are. Whether this is legal depends on where you live, but even if it’s not officially kosher, that won’t stop some sellers from taking an “it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission” approach.
Throughout the Prime Early Access Sale, our friends over at The Inventory will do their best to help you sort through which deals are actually worth your time. But there are also tools you can use to see how big of a discount you’re really getting. We’ve focused primarily on browser-based tools, rather than extensions or apps, in order to help keep your personal data secure.
CamelCamelCamel is one of the most popular tools for tracking Amazon price history. Just search for an item or paste an Amazon URL into its search bar, and it’ll take you to a convenient chart showing the highest and lowest an item has ever sold for, as well as price points it’s held on certain days going back several years. You’ll also be able to compare the official Amazon price against prices from 3rd party sellers, including those selling the item new and used. No email is required, and while there is a browser extension, it’s completely optional. Should you choose to give CamelCamelCamel your email, you can have the site email you when the price drops on a specific item.
The only downside is that the UI for the site itself is a little dated, and that the site only tracks prices across 8 countries.
Keepa is similar to CamelCamelCamel, except that it tracks prices across 12 countries, including India, Brazil, and Mexico. On top of having all of CamelCamelCamel’s features, it also boasts a number of features that CamelCamelCamel doesn’t have, including the ability to scrub through its charts to find what a price was on any specific day within a certain range. You can also import your Amazon wishlist to make custom price watch pages, plus there’s a deals landing page that highlights recent price drops, complete with plenty of adjustable filters. CCC technically has a deals landing page as well, although the site’s dated UI makes it a little difficult to navigate.
Unfortunately, some tools, like tracking sales ranking and including shipping in your price calculations, require a subscription.
Google Shopping is another alternative to CamelCamelCamel and Keepa, and it excels in comparing live prices across various sites without having to install an extension. You’ll also be able to leverage the Google search suite here, so you can specifically search for items in physical locations near you. That might not be super useful during the Prime Early Access Sale, but being able to compare prices across other sites can be helpful in spotting if Amazon’s prices are, or have recently been, inflated. It’s also helpful in finding which stores might be carrying low-stock items, and given that Prime Early Access’ deals are starting to flood out into competing storefronts, you can keep up with the competition here.
There’s also a number of filter options you get on a per-item basis that can help you refine your search. For instance, if you search for iPhones on Google Shopping, you can limit your results to certain specs like RAM and storage capacity.
PCPartPicker is one of the most robust, but also most specialized, price trackers on this list. While the website’s primarily known for helping its users pick out PC components that complement each other, every component it lists will also tell you how much it has historically cost across different sites. The sites displayed varies depending on the item, but almost always includes mainstays like Walmart, Best Buy, and Newegg. You can see pricing across individual days going back for up to two years ago, but the catch is that Amazon isn’t included on the list. Still, it’s a useful tool to see how Amazon’s prices compare to what you’ll find on other sites, all in one place. Plus, plenty of non-Amazon sites will host deals of their own during Prime sale events, anyway, so it’s good practice to check them as well.
Update 10/13/22: The original version of this post incorrectly stated that Google Shopping does not track price history. This has been fixed.