Pro-Tip for Students: Amazon Rules

Are you a college student? Are you an avid shopper? If you didn't already know, Amazon has a Student initiative which offers several nifty services for anyone enrolled in college (you just need a *.edu email address). I've found Amazon to be a great boon to me during these trying collegiate times, and I wanted to share my experiences with their services in the hopes that others might find them of use.

Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime is a paid service offered by Amazon which offers some pretty good benefits: For $79 a year, you get free two-day shipping (and $3.99 one-day shipping) on any item marked with the Prime logo, free instant streaming of a selection of movies and TV shows, and one free Kindle "loaner" book a month.

Anyone can get a free one-month trial of Prime, but the good news is: if you're a student, you can get 6 months FREE! I was lucky enough to get a year for free when I signed up, though it seems they've recently downgraded it to a 6 month trial -- but hey, don't look a gift horse in the mouth, right? Once the six months is up, you can renew for only $39/year for 4 years! If you order from Amazon as often as we do, I'm sure you'll find it's definitely worth that price. The free shipping applies to any address in the lower 48, so if you want to send something to your grandmother in Grand Rapids, or your Aunt in Auburn, that's cool -- Prime has you covered.

The selection of free movies and TV shows to stream is fairly limited, but it's growing; and if you don't mind paying for stuff once in a while, you can buy or rent digital copies of most anything. You can stream to your computer or any internet-connected device that has an Amazon Instant widget (we have a VIZIO XVT373SV with Vizio Internet Apps that has an Amazon streaming app built in). We don't utilize the streaming very often, but it's great to know it's there when we need it.

Amazon Book Trade-In

One other Pro-Tip I wanted to mention is Amazon's book buy-back service. I use the term buy-back loosely here, since you don't get cold, hard cash for your books, but instead, you get Amazon gift card credit -- which is almost as good. Being a part-time, distance-ed student who rarely gets much in the way of financial aid, I've found it's usually cheaper to buy textbooks at Amazon, rather than through the college's bookstore. And, when I have bought through the bookstore, I usually miss the book buyback dates (or never get an email about them in the first place), so I find myself stuck with a very expensive pile of paper that I probably won't need again.

In comes the Amazon buy-back service. I go to their website, enter the ISBNs (or if I've bought the books from Amazon, I can just choose them from a list) and see how much they'll give me for each book. Sometimes it's very surprising how much I'll get back: I've gotten $80 for a pretty old Physics book, and $30-50 for many of my computer science books -- hardly incurring much loss at all on some of them. Some books aren't desirable and you may only get a couple of bucks for them, but I usually sell them anyway -- Amazon pays the shipping, so it's not like it costs me anything, and it's one less piece of clutter to deal with later (and your college bookstore probably won't touch old editions). I recently sent in 10 books and got about $300 in Amazon credit -- not too bad, if you ask me.

Maybe I should take some of that spare coin and get a Kindle and avoid the paper cuts and dead trees altogether. (Especially since they've been hacked to remove the "special offers").

Sign Up

In case you missed it, here's the link to sign up for Amazon Student to get your Free 6-month Prime trial. I've found it be a very convenient and cost-effective tool, and I hope you will, too.

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