On Amazon Prime Day, I got a $249 Apple Watch for free. Here’s how I did it.

A week ago, I heard from analysts that I should tread carefully before buying Apple products on Amazon Prime Day. They cited the two companies’ deep rivalry. However, I wanted an Apple Watch SE, originally priced at $249, and I was determined to get one on the cheap.

On the first day of Amazon’s

Prime Day event, the company’s annual discount lollapalooza, I bought that Apple Watch

and paid practically nothing. But it took some fancy footwork — although not 10,000 daily steps — to achieve. 

‘I wanted an Apple Watch SE, originally priced at $249, and I was determined to get one on the cheap.’

The biggest risk with Amazon Prime Day — which this year takes place July 11-12 — is that you overspend. Shopping experts advise using such big sales events to shop for things you need or have wanted for a long time and to avoid impulse buys. 

Full disclosure: My Apple Watch is a want, not a need. But I’ve dreamed of opening the door to my apartment building, which uses an app-based sensor, without scrabbling in the bottom of my tote bag to find my iPhone. I also wanted to gain new insight into my sleep patterns and use my Apple Watch to forge a digital pathway to better health.

So how did I score my new Apple Watch for virtually nothing? Read on.

Two months before Prime Day: Deep research and a field trip

Well before Prime Day rolled around, I checked the Apple website to compare different models and tested them out at a nearby brick-and-mortar store. I wanted to see how the watch looked and felt so that I could assess whether I would love (or hate) wearing it. But I was still not ready to spend close to $300 on a “want.”

Two days before Prime Day: Tracing the price changes of the Apple Watch

I used camelcamelcamel.com, a price-comparison website, to check the historic prices of the Apple Watch SE with GPS but not with cellular services, which is the cheapest option. The lowest price in the last year was $219.

The discounted Amazon price I saw on the price-tracking site was significantly cheaper that what I would pay with my company’s employee discount. Best Buy also offered the Apple Watch SE for $219.

One day before Prime Day: Prepping the cart and Prime Visa

The day before Prime Day, the Apple Watch SE’s price dropped from $249 to $219 on Amazon, the biggest price drop of the year, according to Camelcamelcamel.com. Another hack: I applied for a Prime Visa card and received a $200 gift card. 

Prime Visa is a credit card offered by Amazon through Chase Bank that gives users up to 6% rewards on Prime Day purchases and — most important — that one-time $200 gift card, once approved. 

I wasn’t worried about taking on another credit card: I already have a Chase account and it will not take extra work to monitor my balance. I don’t have any outstanding debt, and I pay off my full balance every month. 

And knowing that even the most meticulous strategizing can fall apart due to a small oversight, before Prime Day, I set my new Prime Visa and the gift card as my default payment method on Amazon.

Prime Day: Stick to my price target and avoid flashy deals

Amazon offered 20% off the Apple Watch SE as a Prime Day deal at $199. With my $200 gift card, that’s effectively for free — excluding taxes.

The Apple Watch Series 8 was probably the better deal of the day. It was 30% off, $120 cheaper than the original $399 price. But I decided that was not in my budget. 

The average household has spent $109.01 on the first day of this year’s Prime Day event, and the Apple Watch Series 8 was the second-best-selling item after the $17.49 Liquid I.V. hydration packet, according to live data from Numerator

Prime membership costs $14.99 per month, or $139 per year.

Some downsides to my Prime Day purchase

My credit score will take a temporary hit in the month ahead, because when I applied for my new Prime Visa, the card issuer did a hard inquiry on my credit. The average account history of my three credit-card accounts will also be shorter, which affects my credit score. But I’m not planning to take out any major loans in the near future, so I have plenty of time to recover from that. 

My Prime Day Apple Watch will arrive July 19, together with my other Prime Day purchases: a drying rack and picture frame. The no-rush option will give me an additional 1% cash back, and I’ve waited this long, so I can wait another week.

Although Prime Visa also gives a competitive 5% cash back at Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh, those stores still can’t beat my neighborhood grocery store. The staff always greets me with a smile, and I occasionally see their cat roaming around the piles of bananas. 

But I will now be that annoying person ahead of you in line paying for their groceries with their spanking-new Apple Watch.

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