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The Ins and Outs of Amazon Subscribe and Save

Is the subscription service worth it? You be the judge.
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We often see Frontpage deals coming in by way of Amazon Subscribe and Save, but couldn't help but notice that the details of the program are a little unclear. How exactly do you save money? And what's the commitment level like? (a.k.a. Is it a major pain to cancel subscriptions?)

We decided to demystify Amazon Subscribe and Save by breaking down all the must-know details. If you're looking for a little clarity, you've come to the right place.

How Does Amazon Subscribe and Save Work?

Subscribe and Save is pretty much what the name implies — an online shopping service that allows users to subscribe to items they frequently buy, then set up auto-delivery so that these items arrive as often as they'd like. Delivery windows are set up in month-by-month increments, with the shortest window being once a month and the longest being once every six months.

But the real savings come in when you hit the five-item mark. Subscribing to five or more items to be delivered together bumps your discount up to 15% off. The key here is that in order to get that 15% discount, all five subscriptions have to come on the same monthly delivery date.

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Want toothpaste delivered every two months? Or paper towels on your doorstep every three? Subscribe and Save lets you set it up in just a few clicks. There are literally thousands of eligible items you can subscribe to, from grocery items to beauty products to pet supplies. Even many of those little Amazon Add-on items, which normally require a $25 minimum purchase, are eligible for Subscribe and Save. In addition to the convenience factor, the free program also doles out some pretty impressive savings; if you know how to snag them.

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How Much Can You Actually Save?

The number of items you choose to subscribe to is entirely up to you, but just know that the more you select, the more you save. If you have up to four subscriptions set for one delivery, you'll automatically get 5% off plus free standard shipping. (Sorry, subscriptions don't qualify for Prime Two-Day Shipping.) But the real savings come in when you hit the five-item mark. Subscribing to five or more items to be delivered together bumps your discount up to 15% off. The key here is that in order to get that 15% discount, all five subscriptions have to come on the same monthly delivery date. On months where, say, only four items come, you'll only get 5% off. Still, for items you were planning on buying anyway (think household staples and toiletries), Subscribe and Save may be worth considering.

Another detail to keep in mind, though, is that if you run out of an item in the middle of your delivery cycle and can't wait until the next cycle begins to adjust your delivery frequency or the quantity of the item being delivered, you'll be on the hook for the refills. This means no free shipping, unless you have Prime and order it that way.

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Can I Dial Up Savings by Stacking Amazon Coupons?

Totally. In fact, it's a great way to really maximize your savings. Amazon offers up a number of coupons for select Subscribe and Save items — all of which can be redeemed on top of the discounts mentioned above. (You can view all the latest Subscribe and Save coupons here.)

See a coupon that catches your eye? Simply click the "Clip Coupon" icon to redeem it. After subscribing to the product, the discount will be applied to the next delivery. When it comes to stacking these savings, the 5% discount (or 15%, if you have at least five items in your shipment) will be applied before any coupons. Also, these coupons are for one-time-use only and will not apply to future deliveries of that item. So if you subscribe to a particular item because there's a great coupon available, be sure to cancel it after you receive that first shipment.

Subscribe & Save coupons

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How Do You Change a Delivery Date?

Once you subscribe to an item, you'll see that monthly delivery is the most common option. But you're in no way locked into this timeframe. Adjusting delivery dates or frequency of deliveries is easy; you can modify different aspects of your subscriptions (or cancel all together with no penalty) via your Amazon account settings. From there, the next steps are self-explanatory.

Subscribe & Save Account Settings

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Are Subscription Prices Locked in When I Order or Can They Change?

Prices are locked in for your first order, but not on subsequent orders after that. When you subscribe to an item, your credit card isn't actually charged until that item is shipped. This is precisely why it's a good idea to take a peek at your upcoming orders just prior to delivery to check on any significant price jumps. If you catch a spike, you can call off the delivery. On the flip side, you may end up cashing in with a lower price than you started with.

Amazon Subscribe & Save order

How to Cancel Amazon Subscribe & Save

This is actually a pretty headache-free process. Simply go to your Subscribe and Save items, hover over the subscription you want to cancel, click edit, then click cancel. There are absolutely no fees or penalties for doing so.

  1. Go to Your Subscribe and Save Items under Your Account
  2. Hover over the subscription you want to modify.
  3. Click "Edit".
  4. Click "Cancel Subscription".

cancel subscription

 

So, does it sound worth it? It depends on what you're ordering. For some items, you may actually be able to save more cash at your local warehouse club, but if you do a little research ahead of time and take advantage of coupons, there are definitely good deals to be had. And even if you can save a few pennies at a brick-and-mortar store, the convenience and decent-enough savings may be enough to sway some potential new customers.

Have you given Subscribe and Save a try? What's your take?

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About the Author
Marianne Hayes Contributor

Marianne Hayes is a freelance writer, wife and mother in Tampa Bay. After earning a degree in journalism and creative writing from the University of Central Florida, she spent nearly a decade getting lost in New York City and Los Angeles before making her way back home again in 2014. Marianne's writing has appeared in a variety of publications including The Huffington Post, Forbes.com, LearnVest, The Daily Beast and more. When she's not writing, Marianne is usually cruising her local bookstore with her two daughters.

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32 Comments

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Joined Apr 2007
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#2
I think this might be a little outdated. Perhaps I am wrong, but you used to be able to change the date of when your subscribe and save could be shipped--or ship it right now if I needed something. Now when I try to do this, it tells me I have to wait until the "allotted" time for things to ship otherwise. I've needed things right away, but if you do the subscribe and save, and need it immediately, it gives you the regular price. It's all done by Amazon now. They have a specific day that they will ship things, not when you want to.

Based upon what I found on their website:

If you add a new subscription less than 9 calendar days from your monthly Subscribe & Save delivery day, it won't be delivered until the following month. Before each shipment, we will send an e-mail notification to let you know your next order is being processed so you can make any necessary updates, if needed.
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Last edited by em072205 April 1, 2016 at 12:27 PM. Reason: Added based upon experience
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Joined Sep 2008
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#3
I would like to see Amazon apply currently active coupons to subscribe and save shipment automatically, otherwise you need to cancel and restart the subscription for that item.

Also, with price fluctuations, why not give subscribe and save repeat items the best price since your previous month subscribe and save date?

Subscribe and save is a good option, but you still need to work on getting the best price available.
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Our community has rated this post as helpful. If you agree, why not rep DeeBeeRN?
#4
I have tried S&S many times for the low price initial deal. Items I would have continued are often no longer available. All items I have recently added to S&S, I have subsequently cancelled before shipment. I usually shop at a military commissary and find that overall S&S does not save me enough to wait for items or get large quantities that I don't need. I don't like second deliveries with high second shipment prices if I forget to check and cancel in time. I find it hard to read what the actual price for the shipment is since the stated price on the item doesn't match the promotional price that was stated at the start of the subscription even before that shipment ships.Too hard to be sure I'm getting the lower price. I have sworn off S&S for now.
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#5
Worth noting, if you're ordering multiple quantities of the same item they will NOT contribute to the 5 separate items you need for the 15% discount. However.. there is a trick to this: you can add 1 of the item, check out, then go back and add 1 Qty as often as you like. Each S&S order done this way contributes to your 5 items needed for the 15% discount.

Another trick to making up the 15% is to add or re-active cancelled out-of-stock items. For the first month, at least, they will count towards your 5 items, even though they won't go ahead to dispatch nor be billed.

This helps reduce the amount of add-ons you find yourself buying to make that 15% target.
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Joined Nov 2009
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#6
Since Amazon continuously changes the price of most items during the month you won't get the best price on your items with "subscribe and save" even with the 5% discount.
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Joined Jun 2016
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#7
Significant price increases from my previous order. Caught it in time. Cancelled all my items.

I had 6 items on SS.

The next week, I noticed the price had dropped again.

I am a long time prime member. No more S@S for me though.

I'll pay the slightly higher price for immediate shipping.
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#8
For the same period, do all S&S items get packed into one box?
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Joined Jan 2013
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#9
This is something I'm researching as part of my productivity and efficiency overhaul. I don't order most items that they Amazon carries at a regular enough frequency for this to make sense. It would be nice if the conversation around S&S could be expanded, as someone may mention a way of making it work that I did not think of.
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#10
Has anyone returned a subscribe and save item that drops them below their threshold for the 15%? Does the 10% difference on the remainder of the items get taken out of the return value?
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#11
What's up with the 0/5% S&S items, can't find anything posted about it. Most are 5/15% but I have two now that are 0/5%
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#12
I just cancelled two of my S&S items because price change is crazy.
Both of these items were first time I had ever ordered from Amazon, let alone via S&S

two pack of sonicare brush heads. I added them to S&S when they were $12, today I checked and they're showing $24 in my S&S list!

Box of Greenie dog treats. Added to S&S at $15, today they're $25 in my S&S list!

This S&S is BS!

From now on I'm going to make a note of price I'm subscribing at, and will check before they ship.

What good is %15 extra off, when price can DOUBLE!
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#13
Quote from kcnwa
:
What's up with the 0/5% S&S items, can't find anything posted about it. Most are 5/15% but I have two now that are 0/5%
+1 I can't find any information for the basis of discount either. Some items are eligible for the full 15% but not all. Such as: Pringles are good for 15% but Kitty Litter is only good for 5%.
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#14
Quote from Souka
:
I just cancelled two of my S&S items because price change is crazy.
Both of these items were first time I had ever ordered from Amazon, let alone via S&S

two pack of sonicare brush heads. I added them to S&S when they were $12, today I checked and they're showing $24 in my S&S list!

Box of Greenie dog treats. Added to S&S at $15, today they're $25 in my S&S list!

This S&S is BS!

From now on I'm going to make a note of price I'm subscribing at, and will check before they ship.

What good is %15 extra off, when price can DOUBLE!
I have 3 separate subscriptions. One for me, one for my Dad, and one for my Mom. The price hike issue is well known but with a little diligence it can be managed. Such as: I buy Tide laundry soap (liquid) for my Dad. This month it jumped $10. I saw the price hike and found a slightly smaller bottle at a good price. I skipped the $10 hike Tide and added the better value for January. Next month I will watch to see which will be the better value and skip the other. There is no limit to how often you can skip an item and it allows me to maintain the 5 item discount for each month.

Think of it as stacking your hand and disgarding the less desireable each month.
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#15
What blows my mind is the actual order for my S&S items will automatically be placed a couple weeks before they ship. Item prices are often much higher for some reason then magically go back down a few days later but before the items ship.

Now I would think Amazon would give you the lowest item price before the item ships but they won't. They just say they only price match TV's...

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