The Best Things to Buy On Amazon (and the Worst Too)

Updated March 21, 2024 by Kyle James

The retail giant known as Amazon does a fantastic job of making shoppers think everything on their site is a good deal, or at least competitive in terms of price. But the fact of the matter is Amazon has their good and bad buys just like any other store. By knowing which is which, you can become a smarter shopper and the savings is bound to follow.

To determine the worst and best buys at Amazon, I did a bunch of research and price comparison tests and the results are below. I hope it helps you save some money on future purchases.

The Best & Worst Things to Buy On Amazon

First, the Best Things to Buy:

1. Electronics Add-Ons

I’m talking about add-ons like HDMI cables, HDTV mounts, and various cables for your electronic components. While Amazon use to have the reputation of pricing TV’s cheap and gouging you on accessories, that is simply not the case any more.

These days you can score a quality 6-foot Amazon Basics High-Speed HDMI Cable for only $7.36 compared to a similar cable at Target for $16.99.

And before you ask, more expensive HDMI cables are NOT any better in terms of picture or sound.

2. Snack Foods

Snacky foods at Amazon like peanuts, chips, granola bars, and jerky, are for the most part, 15-20% cheaper than stores like Costco and Walmart.

This is especially true if you use Amazon Subscribe and Save and get the extra 15% off your total if you have at least 5 items in your monthly subscription.

3. Batteries

Batteries are a really good deal at Amazon. From watch batteries, to larger varieties, you can typically find some big time values.

For example, on Amazon you can buy a 48-pack of AmazonBasics AA for $15.49 – said to be made by a major battery manufacturer.

In comparison, even the cheaper option Rayovac AA batteries at Walmart will cost you $30.19 for the same amount.

4. Magazine Subscriptions

When I think magazine subscriptions, I never think about Amazon, until now that is. The deals are pretty darn amazing, especially when renewing your existing subscription. A 1-year renewal for Sports Illustrated will only run you $10 on Amazon, which is practically free at $0.18 per issue.

See Also: 6 Brilliantly Slick Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

5. High Customer (Star) Rated Items

One of Amazon’s pricing strategy tricks is to come under the competition, in terms of price, on items that are highly rated.

I’m talking about products with a star rating of 4 or higher. This is one of the few times when it’s smart to follow the pack and save.

When a customer sees a highly rated product, at a great price, it creates a “I flipping love Amazon” mindset that tends to carry over to every purchase, even stuff that may not be the best deal or not very highly rated.

So when price comparing different models on Amazon, always head toward the product with the highest star rating and you’ll typically get a very good price.

6. Highly Visible Items

Also look for deals on Amazon products that are really popular and trendy.

Think brands like Beats headphones, Keurig, Dyson, and Bose Bluetooth speakers.

Amazon purposely keeps the price low on these items to give shoppers the perception that they’re a low-price leader.

Use this information to your advantage when shopping for highly visible, and “cultural touchstone” type items.

7. Diapers

Buying diapers from Amazon is definitely a good buy. For example, they sell Luvs #4, 160ct, for $31.34 (.19/ea), while Walmart has the same diaper for $0.20/each.

They also sell Huggies #4, 192ct, for $44.83 (.23/ea), while Costco has the same diaper for .22/ea. For an extra penny per diaper it’s worth it to many, especially in terms of the convenience of having them show up on your doorstep with free shipping.

And of Course, the Worst Buys on Amazon:

1. Hardware and Tools

Rather than shopping at Amazon, shop at the Home Depot and Lowe’s for the best deals on hand tools and power tools.

For example, Amazon has a DeWalt 6 Tool Combo Kit for $554, while Lowe’s has the same product for only $499. The Lowe’s kit even comes with 2 batteries.

The same holds true for hand tools and hardware like hammers, saws, nails, screws, and levels.

Amazon has a hard competing on price because the big box home improvement stores have more leverage with suppliers and can get their costs down and pass the savings along to you.

2. Cleaning Supplies

Hard to beat the prices at Walmart on products like Windex, Pledge, Comet, Pine-Sol, Drano, and the like. For example, Amazon sells a 1 gallon container of Windex for $21.07, BJ’s sells the the same size for $11.99 and it comes with a spray bottle.

Also, Amazon sells Comet for $0.31 an ounce while Walmart has it for $0.11 an ounce. For those of you (like me) who suck at math, that’s like 3 times cheaper at Walmart.

See Also: 4 Ways to Get Free Shipping at Amazon (Without Paying for Prime)

3. Brand-Name Apparel

Due to the lack of coupon codes and sales, you’re going to easily spend 20% more buying name brand clothing from Amazon compared to clothing specific websites like Lands’ End, American Eagle, and

By timing your purchase at online clothing websites, and waiting until you have a coupon code in hand, it becomes very easy to undercut the Amazon price on similar items. This is especially true if you can wait and buy clothing on clearance at the end of the season.

4. Home Furnishings

Generally speaking, home furnishings, bookcases, and home decor are not a very good deal at Amazon. For the money, you’re much better served shopping at IKEA, Cost Plus World Market, and Target and can typically save an additional 15-30% by avoiding Amazon.

5. Pet Food and Supplies

You’re much better off buying dog food, cat food, and pet supplies from Costco or Walmart.

As an example, Amazon has Iams Adult dog food, (30 lb for $31.64) and Costco has a 50 lb bag of the same food for $42.99, which comes out to an affordable .86/lb.

Pretty much every brand of dog food Amazon carries can be found cheaper at Walmart or Costco.

Also, Amazon sells Tidy Cat litter for $9.98 for a 14lb bag ($.71/pound) while Walmart sells the same product for $12.98 for a 35lb bag ($.37/pound).

6. Back-To-School Supplies

Finding deals on back-to-school supplies can be a bit tricky if you don’t have a plan. One way to ensure you get a good deal on binders, backpacks, pencils, and the like, is to avoid as much as possible.

At the very least, don’t do ALL of your shopping with them. Buying a couple items that are a decent deal is cool, but you’ll save much more if you can “shop around” and buy screaming deals when you find them.

Also, keep a close eye on sales flyers from office supply stores like Staples, Office Depot, and Office Max. They typically have some amazing deals like penny pencils, 25 cent glue sticks, dime folders, and 25 cent crayon boxes.

Be aware that they sell-out pretty quickly so be sure to always check the sales flyers in your local newspaper and jump on the deals as they come out. If they’re sold out, take the flyer to Walmart or Target and they’ll happily price-match the item if they carry the exact same model.

7. Athletic Shoes

You’ll typically pay 25%-30% more buying name-brand shoes from Amazon when compared to discount websites like DSW, Famous Footwear, and Payless.

The reason is because many online stores have coupon codes in the 20-30% off range that will always bring the price down below anything Amazon can reasonably touch.

For example, a new pair of top of the line women’s New Balance 990V3 running shoes is currently selling for $149.95 at both Amazon and Shoebuy, both with free shipping.

But with a little bit of digging, I found a 20% off coupon code for, bringing my total down to $119.96 — a price Amazon can’t touch.

Ask the Reader: Any good or bad buys at Amazon that I may have missed? Let me know in the comments section below and I’ll get it added to my article.

By Kyle James


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Overall a solid article, but the magazine math is wrong I think. That’s $.83 an issue.
Also, the cat litter is actually way more expensive at Amazon than Walmart according to the size bags you were quoting. Diapers are also twice the price at Amazon as Costco from what I can see.

Carol Y

Sports Illus is 56 issues/year.

Jennifer M

I disagree with several of your bad buy list items.
I always buy my cat litter from Amazon because they have Precious Cat for around 15$ for a 40 pound bag, the best price locally is PetSmart who charges around 16.99 for the same bag. Whats more, with amazon I get it delivered right to my doorstep which saves a lot of lifting on that heavy bag.

Power tools is another I disagree on. For memorial day Home Depot had a deal with a weed eater and blower combo for 100$ of course they were sold out, so I went to HD online and Lowes online found various combos for around 130. Then I went to amazon to check the reviews before choosing. I found the ones I was looking at had little power, and the one that I needed at HD or Lowes would cost at 100-130 for just the weed eater. Amazon however had the Weed eater and blower combo for 130 with a 10$ discount added in cart. So I wound up with a higher quality product for the same or less than I would have paid at Home Depot or Lowes.

A true deal is when you not only get the best price but its a quality item that fits your needs.

Rexie, Blackie, Little Guy, Lunch and Dinner

We always Amazon our kitty litter it is soooooo much easier to have UPS lift those bags right into the storage garage!!!! It is so worth the little extra charge!


I would like to mention that the power tools that I have purchased from Amazon have always been cheaper than at Home Depot or Lowe’s. Granted I only purchase one brand since I am locked into that battery and charger so maybe it varies from brand to brand. Otherwise I think that my experience with prices on Amazon align pretty well with the points that you brought up.


As of lately I have found that buying automobile and motorcycle parts and supplies from Amazon can many times lead to getting very good deals.


I disagree with you on cat food being a bad buy on Amazon. At Petco(the cheapest pet store around where I live) kitten food is round $16-$17 a case of Fancy Feast, now on Amazon one of the flavors of Fancy Feast was the same price but the other flavor was $1 less. Also the Purina Pro Plan dry kitten food is also $1-2 less than Petco depending on the weight of the bag. All of which come with Prime so that also saves me on gas, which could run up to $5 just to make the trip up to town and back. The other reason why I also use amazon to buy kitten food is not about price, but due to selection. The Petco has kitten food in periodically, but they don’t keep a good stock, and the other pet store as well as the supermarkets don’t even carry kitten food, but when they do it is the lowest of the low in quality for how much I pay.

I do agree on cat litter though, because I wait until kmart has a sale and pick up 4-5 25lb bags for less than $10 each.

joh lynch

i find that most tennis shoes are about the same price on amazon as in the stores….amazon makes more per price because of the shipping charges if you dont buy a lot from them…amazon is more of a convience then a bargain site to buy from………

Aimee Siegler

I found a good deal on cricket food vs. the local pet stores, but you have to check the sizes carefully.


I have to TOTALLY DISAGREE with your “power tools” item on the “Worst Buy” list. Here’s a dirty little secret that HD and Lowes won’t tell you: the premium brand tools they sell (Dewalt, Makita, Milwaukee) have been “tweaked” to go on the shelves at their stores, they are made cheaper with lower quality parts inside, where you can’t see them. I buy only Makita cordless tools. because I’m invested into the LXT battery system, and if I took one of my impact guns that I bought on Amazon into HD, you would immediately tell the difference. Lowes doesn’t sell Makita. The big box stores do this to save a nickle here and there so they can undercut others, and still have some profit. Ask any tool repair guy, they will confirm that most of the time, if you bring in a broken tool that was bought at HD, they will tell you to just toss it. BTDT, I wouldn’t buy a power tool from those guys ever.


I agree with your power tools information. Several years ago, a friend of mine who was a building contractor, explained to me something similar to your post, except it was regarding kitchen and bathroom faucets. He said that HD was able to sell a top brand faucet for less than a bath or plumbing specialty store by forcing the manufacturer to agree to a lower wholesale price based on volume orders. The manufacturers comply with these price demands by building faucets with cheaper, lower quality internal parts. I suspect this type of practice is common throughout these chain stores.


While I do tend to agree on tool pricing, you can find an amazing variety on Amazon that you can’t find in your local HD or Lowes. Especially when referring to odd bits, and wrenches that aren’t common.

Linda Cason

Amazon has good prices for otc medicine. Also you can find special medical supplies that arent always easy to find and get them faster than from big suppliers. They dont file insurance etc but if you need an extra tube of ostomy paste or some other small item above what your insurance will allow you can get it from Amazon in a short time.

Rick Hunter

“Diapers are also twice the price at Amazon as Costco from what I can see.”

Completely disagree with the statement. I have twins and using Amazon Mom combined with Prime, I have $45 cases of diapers shipped to me free 2-day shipping for $37 a case. The rest of my baby supplies (night time diapers, wipes, etc) are all equally cheaper than the big box stores


It depends on the type of dog food that you buy, I normally buy Taste of the Wild dog food, which is considered a higher brand than IAMS and other “supermarket” brand dog food. Taste of the Wild – 30lbs is still cheaper on Amazon at just under $50 than in stores which sell it for $60+
Another example is Diamond Naturals, a 40lb for adult chicken costs less than $40 on Amazon, but costs over $50 in stores.