The Expert Guide to Buying Amazon Lightning Deals

Advertising Disclosure: When you buy something by clicking links on our site, we may earn a small commission, but it never affects the products or services we recommend.

Woman shopping on Amazon
DenPhotos /

Editor's Note: This story comes from partner site

Shopping on Amazon can be an overwhelming experience if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. However, one area that’s worth browsing is the Today’s Deals section of the website.

That’s where the Lightning Deals live, and you might be surprised at the kinds of offers you can find on any given day. You don’t have to wait for massive holidays like Prime Day and Black Friday to score incredible savings.

But not every Amazon Lightning Deal will be worth your time and money. With most days featuring dozens of pages of these deals, it can be hard to narrow down the selection to the items that are relevant to you. Fortunately, we’re here to help with tips and tricks on snagging these promotions.

Read our guide to Amazon Lightning Deals, so you know what to expect every day — including Prime Day and Black Friday.

Your Guide to Amazon Lightning Deals

What Are Amazon Lightning Deals?

Amazon Lightning Deals are limited-time promotions that are further limited to one per customer. The items have set quantities, so Lightning Deals end when the promotion period runs out or the item sells out, whichever comes first.

How to Find Lightning Deals on Amazon

Lightning Deals are available throughout the site, but an easy way to check them out is to head to the Today's Deals section. You can also find them on the Prime Day page during that big event.

How Do Amazon Lightning Deals Work?

Lightning Deals have a particular start time and are limited to one per customer, until the promotion period ends or the item is sold out. They often last for about six hours.

When you add one to your cart, you have 15 minutes to complete your order to redeem the discount. If you don’t check out within that time, the discount expires and another shopper gets a chance to claim the deal.

But what if you want to shop multiple Lightning Deals? This is where planning ahead pays off. To ensure you don’t miss an offer you’re interested in, you can begin watching a deal up to 24 hours ahead of time.

How Good Are Amazon Lightning Deals?

Due to their nature, Amazon Lightning Deals can leave you with little to no time to conduct price research. So how can you know you’re not getting a dud or paying more than you should?

We recommend shopping reputable sellers, for one thing. And if the item seems too good to be true at the special price, it probably is.

That being said, you can get excellent deals if you know what to look for. Here we’ve listed some products that have appeared as Lightning Deals — along with their discounts — to help you shop smarter and not miss out:

  • Queen Bedspread: $69.95 regular price vs. $24 Lightning Deal price
  • Amazon Smart Plug: $24.99 regular price vs. $15 Lightning Deal
  • Soup Maker: $129.95 regular price vs. $79.95 Lightning Deal
  • Smart Lock With Hub: $229.99 regular price vs. $115.99 Lightning Deal
  • Non-GMO Health Supplement: $29.95 regular price vs. $15.95 Lightning Deal

What Advantages Do Amazon Prime Members Have?

You might be wondering if you have to join Amazon Prime in order to take advantage of Lightning Deals. The good news is that isn’t the case; just know that shoppers who belong to the club get perks that non-Prime members don’t.

For example, Prime members receive early access to select upcoming Lightning Deals. Usually, it’s around 30 minutes before the offer is open to all users, so the head start increases the chances of being able to snag a deal before it sells out.

Additionally, Prime members are the only folks who can shop Prime Day deals every year.

Watch Out for These Lightning Deal Pitfalls

Lightning Deals let you snag an item with amazing savings, but they do come with downsides that can make them difficult to shop. Beware of these Lightning Deal pitfalls when you’re searching Amazon for the best offers of the day:

  • Lightning Deals are limited-time promotions. They start at a specific time and run until the end of the time frame or until the item sells out, whichever comes first.
  • You have to check out fast. Once you add a Lightning Deal to your cart, you have 15 minutes to complete your purchase. Otherwise, the item will return to the Lightning Deal pool for another shopper to grab. Because of this, you won’t necessarily have time to shop around.
  • Waitlists aren’t guarantees. If an item is sold out, you can join the waitlist for it if one’s available. But there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to snag the deal, as this is dependent on other shoppers not purchasing it.

What to Know About Prime Day Lightning Deals

On Prime Day, all Lightning Deals are exclusive to Prime members. The shopping event also boasts more deals than regular days, and new ones start about every five minutes.

Every year, shoppers around the world complain about the chaos that surrounds Amazon Prime Day. Whether they’re unimpressed with the deals or frustrated over the site crashing, people sometimes have not-so-nice things to say about this event. But the truth is that a careful eye can spot the deals worth grabbing.

What to Know About Black Friday Lightning Deals

Amazon’s Black Friday Lightning Deals function in much the same way as regular ones. However, there tends to be a ton more than on any normal day, much like on Prime Day. Additionally, Prime members can receive early access to select Lightning Deals.

Black Friday definitely offers better Lightning Deals than other times. It’s similar to Prime Day in that there are more deals in general and they typically pop up more frequently. But Black Friday’s deals are open to all Amazon shoppers.

Tips and Tricks for Shopping Amazon Lightning Deals

Watch the Lightning Deals

You have the ability to watch Lightning Deals ahead of time and receive notifications as they go live. If you’re not integrating that into your Amazon shopping strategy, you could be missing out on excellent deals.

You can set up desktop notifications if you prefer to, but an even easier way to browse and set deals to “Watching” is through the Amazon app. Then, you’ll receive notifications on your phone when the offers go live, and you can easily jump on the app and be ready to snap up a deal as soon as the discount begins.

Add Other Items Beforehand

If you’re planning on shopping for multiple items and don’t want to place more than one Amazon order, it’s a good idea to shop around before the Lightning Deal goes live.

Be sure you’re watching the products you’re interested in, and then add other items to your cart ahead of time. That way, when a Lightning Deal you want goes live, you can quickly add it to your cart and immediately check out.

That being said, if you’re a Prime member, you can set up what’s known as your Amazon Day for deliveries.

This perk allows members to choose up to two preferred days a week to receive items. As a result, you’ll get everything you order in fewer packages on those one or two days, rather than having a flood of packages arrive every other day.

If you shop Amazon often — and if you’re a Prime member, there’s a good chance you do — then this could be a good way to avoid having to shop around beforehand, and just take advantage of Lightning Deals as they occur.

Beware of Unclear Discounts

Occasionally looking at Amazon’s upcoming deals means you’re able to see the actual discount to expect. This is especially popular around holidays like Black Friday, and it can help you decide if an Amazon Lightning Deal is worth watching and getting up early for, so you can add it to your cart.

However, the big thing to remember is that the advertised discount might not be what you expect.

For example, you can go to practically any product page on Amazon and see a list price that’s already marked out, along with the actual, discounted price you’ll pay regularly. A hardback book might have a $20 list price, but if you decide to purchase from Amazon, you could pay $12 at any given time because that’s the regular price on the site.

If you see an upcoming Lightning Deal that says the book will be 50% off, you might think that means you’ll be able to snag a brand-new hardback book for $6. Unfortunately, that’s not typically the case.

When you see these discounts on upcoming Lightning Deals, they’re usually referring to the list price, not the regular cost. In the book example, that means you’d be paying $10 for the item. And while that’s a great price for a hardback book, it can result in disappointment if you were expecting to pay less.

While this pricing can be frustrating, it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker. Just because an item doesn’t drop as low as you expected it to doesn’t mean it’s not a good deal. When planning ahead, be sure to take these elements into consideration so that you won’t experience sticker shock when a deal goes live.

More from DealNews:

Get smarter with your money!

Want the best money-news and tips to help you make more and spend less? Then sign up for the free Money Talks Newsletter to receive daily updates of personal finance news and advice, delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our free newsletter today.