Why did Amazon charge me a dollar?

If you’ve been previewing your credit card statements online, you’ve might have noticed a random $1 charge among your list of purchases by now.

Some fraudsters do a trial run on victim’s credit cards, charging $1 to see whether anyone notices before they run up larger charges. But sometimes, a $1 charge is legit – at least temporarily.

” MORE: How to dispute fraudulent charges on your credit card statement

Where Do Those $1 Charges Come From?

If you look at your list of pending purchases, you’ll probably discover that a random $1 charge bumps right up against a charge from a gas station, hotel or rent-a-car company. That’s because the $1 charge is actually a temporary preauthorization from your credit card company, basically giving the merchant the green light to charge your card for the full amount when your final purchase is made. By preauthorizing your card $1, they don’t have to place a larger hold against your account.

The $1 charge disappears when the final amount you’ve spent at a hotel or gas station is no longer pending – the preauthorization is lifted and the $1 charge doesn’t show up on your final statement.

Why Do I Only See It With Certain Purchases?

Why some retailers require pre-authorization and some don’t: Certain retailers – gas stations, hotels and rent-a-car companies – don’t yet know the final cost of your purchase when they accept your card. For instance, when you initially swipe your card at a gas pump, the station doesn’t know how much it’ll take to actually fill your tank. That’s why the merchant pre-authorizes your card; that way, they’ll be pretty sure that you won’t charge more than your credit limit will allow.

” MORE: Are credit card convenience fees legal?

When Should I Worry About a $1 Charge?

The $1 that’s charged to your card when you rent a car or stay at a hotel should automatically drop off of your account when your final purchase shows up on your statement. In fact, once the final charge is no longer pending, you shouldn’t see the $1 charge anymore. That $1 doesn’t ever come out of your pocket.

But if you notice that the $1 doesn’t automatically disappear or you see $1 charges showing up on your final credit card statement, it’s time to get in touch with your bank and check what’s going on.

The takeaway: Those funny little $1 charges that keep popping up on your credit card account are usually nothing to worry about, and they should disappear before you’re required to make a payment. Just be sure to not to ignore any unauthorized $1 costs that stick around. Respecting your money means not paying for anything you didn’t actually buy, even if it’s just a buck.

” MORE: How to prevent credit card fraud

Examining Bills image via

Woman Loses It After Realizing Amazon Charged Her $1,000 To Ship Paper Plates

Amazon currently has more than 3,000 listings for paper plates, and more than 2,000 of them qualify for free shipping with an Amazon Prime membership or have reduced shipping prices for shoppers who subscribe to receive a new delivery of disposable plates on a regular basis. Unfortunately, Lorie Galloway didn’t buy any of those plates. Instead, she ordered a stack of 100 paper plates that retailed for $24—not counting the $1,080 shipping charge.

Galloway had no idea that she’d been stuck with a four-figure shipping fee until her husband asked her what, exactly, she’d added to her Amazon cart the month before. “He sent me a text,” Galloway told NewsChannel 5. “‘What did you order at Amazon?’ And, I’m like, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Our bill is a thousand and something dollars.'”

The couple tried to contact the seller to explain why it cost A GRAND to mail some paper plates from Atlanta to a town just north of Nashville, Tennessee, but their calls and emails went unanswered. (Our working theory? He or she purchased this 2001 Oldsmobile Alero and used it as a shipping container.) When they called Amazon, the customer representative’s response was, “Wow, that’s ridiculous.”

But when Amazon opened an investigation, the company told Lorie that she was “not overcharged for the transaction.” The seller apparently shrugged and said that she had selected an “expedited shipping service” and confirmed the $1,080 fee at the time she ordered her plates. (OK, as someone who does a bit of frequent—some would say excessive—amount of online shopping, I’d still argue that that’s ridiculous, unless the paper plates arrived sandwiched between two pairs of Yeezy Boosts).

The couple has apparently spent most of this year trying to get their credit card company to refund the shipping charge, and according to the news station, they’ve recently gotten their money back. And, although Amazon pretty much just shrugged in the Galloways’ direction, a customer representative told them that the seller has been removed from the platform for pulling similar shit on other customers.

Earlier this week, an Atlanta woman said that when she ordered three boxes of toilet paper from Amazon, she was charged more than $7,000 in shipping fees. Barbara Carroll—a building manager who deals with the “janitorial needs” of the properties she works with—told WSB-TV that she couldn’t believe what she saw on her credit card statement.

“There was this order for three cases of toilet paper for $88.17 and shipping $7,455 for a total of $7,543.12,” Carroll said. “After I screamed I thought, ‘Oh this is not a problem, this is Amazon and Amazon will take care of it.'”

Except, uhh, Amazon did nothing of the sort, instead reportedly telling her that since she’d purchased the TP from a third-party seller, they couldn’t help her. Much like the Galloways, she’ll probably spend countless hours trying to get SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS back from her credit card company.

If you’re buying paper goods online, pay special attention to those shipping charges. Or just do what I do, and steal all of your toilet paper from the gym.

“I Missed Recurring Fraudulent Charges for 3 Months (But the Bank Came to the Rescue!)”

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Using rewards credit cards for all your purchases is key if you’re in the miles and points hobby. But sometimes things go wrong and you’ll suddenly find a charge on your card you didn’t make or authorize. Yikes! Team member Jasmin recently had an interesting experience disputing fraudulent charges on her Chase Freedom card. I’ll let her tell you about it!

Jasmin: Let me start this story by saying I feel a little silly. I broke one of the cardinal rules of using (and managing) my 20+ credit cards.

Major Fail! I Didn’t Keep a Close Eye on Charges I Assumed Were Legit From Amazon

I spend a fair amount at Amazon because I have a Prime membership. So seeing Amazon charges on my accounts is normal. And even though I usually carefully monitor my account transactions, I didn’t notice a recurring ~$8 Amazon charge on my Chase Freedom for 3 months. I was mortified – how could I have been so careless?

Fortunately, I caught it in time and Chase was quick to reverse the charges. But that’s not where it ended…

Zero Liability Protection Is Great…Grumpy Merchants Are NOT

Link: Are Credit Cards Safer Than Debit Cards?

Link: Evil Santa Charged $700 Worth of Toys on My Card!

One of the great things about using credit cards is that under the Fair Credit Billing Act, you’re (usually) NOT liable for fraudulent charges on your card. Most banks, like Chase, and networks, like Visa, have their own zero liability protection guarantees.

1. Chase Had My Back

When I discovered the ~$8 charge from “Amazon Digital Services” on my Chase Freedom account, I immediately disputed it online, indicating I had not authorized or made the purchase (and didn’t even know what it was for!). A quick check of my Amazon account didn’t show any purchases in that amount, either.

I looked backward to previous statements and discovered Amazon had charged the same amount for 2 billing statements prior (a total of ~$24 in unauthorized charges). Did I mention I felt silly?

The Quickest Way to Dispute a Charge With Chase Is to Log Into Your Account and Send a Secure Message

After filing my dispute online, I got a secure message response saying they’d cancelled my card and would send a new one. And a few days later, Chase called me for more details. I (embarrassingly) admitted I had not noticed the recurring charge until now.

But the Chase representative was kind and helpful. Soon after, my new card was in the mail and the ~$24 worth of charges were reversed on my account.

2. Then the Amazon Emails Started

Shortly after the charges were reversed, I got multiple emails (for each of the ~$8 charges) from Amazon stating my account had been suspended until they received payment for the chargeback they got from Chase:

The first version:

Amazon Missed the Point – I Hadn’t Authorized These Charges for “Amazon Digital Services” and There Was NO Record of It on My Amazon Account

I responded saying I hadn’t ordered anything from Amazon in this amount. I tried to log into my Amazon account and discovered I had indeed been locked out.

Then the next round of emails came:

Not Nice – Amazon Said “Not Our Problem, Talk to the Bank”

Amazon probably knows they’re important to a lot of folks, so can take a hard line on such things. Usually at this point in a dispute it would be up to the seller and bank to duke it out over the fraudulent charge!

If it had been any other merchant, I probably could have dropped it there, written it off, and not shopped there again. But it’s Amazon and I shop there a lot. And I was still locked out of my account (which had a gift card balance in it!).

3. And Then I Made Some Calls

Next, I called Amazon customer service. At first, they didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. After some digging and being bounced around between representatives, they gave me the same line. They wanted a new credit card number to charge the ~$24 I had disputed.

I very firmly (but politely) re-explained my case:

  • I had not authorized or made the charges
  • There was no record of these charges on my Amazon account
  • I would NOT be providing them with a new credit card to bill for the amount
  • I expected immediate access to my Amazon account to continue to make purchases with them

Explaining the Situation to Amazon Customer Service Was Incredibly Frustrating and Time Consuming

Finally a representative “got it.” He asked me to verify my account details (no credit card numbers) and gave me instructions on how to re-access my account. Obviously with a new password!

When I was able to login again, they’d removed all my saved credit card information. Fair enough. And thankfully, the gift card balance on my account had not been touched.

All told, I spent a couple of hours going back and forth via email and phone with Amazon to get this sorted. That’s a lot of time for a ~$24 charge. But it was the principle more than the amount.

It felt like I was being held hostage for ~$24 by Amazon – I could either never shop with them again (painful), or cough up the cash. I was not impressed with Amazon at all.

But I was very happy with Chase’s response and follow-through. That’s why Chase has such a good reputation for customer service!

Bottom Line

You’re usually NOT liable for unauthorized charges to your credit card. When you dispute a transaction, banks like Chase are typically quick to respond, investigate, and reverse the charges if they’re indeed fraudulent.

But dealing with the merchant can be a different story. And in this case, Amazon (where the fraudulent charges occurred) tried to strong-arm a Million Mile Secrets team member into re-paying the fraudulent charges. And suspended her Amazon account in the process!

In situations like this, it’s important to document your situation (via email or secure message) and be persistent in dealing with customer service representatives. Hang up and call again if you have to.

And always, always double check your credit card statements for unusual transactions. Fraudulent charges can be easy to miss if you’re not paying attention!

I’d love to hear about your experiences disputing charges on your credit card account!

From our Obsession

Big Tech

Looking at Big Tech as the next Big Oil.

I never really wanted Amazon Prime.

In the beginning, I signed up for Prime, Amazon’s signature membership program, to get access to the Washington Post. At the time in 2017, a one-year subscription to the Post cost $99. For the same price, I could sign up for Amazon Prime and get six months of the Post for free—Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns the paper—plus subsequent months for $3.99. If I had to pay $99 either way, I figured, I might as well get a Prime account too.

That first year I read the Washington Post a lot and used Prime a little. I lived in New York City, a place where almost anything you can think of—clothes, groceries, toiletries, window box planters, LED decorative lighting, the latest Mohsin Hamid novel—is nearby. From my apartment I could walk to Target, four grocery stores, two hardware stores, three pharmacies, two farmers’ markets, and countless restaurants. I worked five minutes from Home Depot, Best Buy, Harmon Face Values (the best health and beauty store you will ever find in Manhattan), Trader Joe’s, The Container Store, Staples, T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Many people—probably most—don’t have this wealth of shopping options minutes from their home or office. But I did, and having Prime too felt excessive. I rarely bought in bulk, thanks to my apartment’s lack of storage space, so there was no appeal in placing large household orders. Reporting on Amazon had also made me uncomfortable with the company’s labor practices, corporate culture, treatment of third-party merchants, pageant-like hunt for a second North American headquarters, and everything Amazon knew about me. I never got used to the emails Amazon sent a day or two after I viewed but didn’t purchase a product. “Hello Ali,” Amazon would say, like we were friends. “Are you looking for something in our Charger & Adaptors store? If so, you might be interested in these items.”

The second year I got Prime by accident. Amazon automatically renews your Prime account, likely one reason why the service has such high retention rates. There’s no way to turn off this auto-renewal short of cancelling your account, but you can choose to get an email alert a couple days before your subscription is due to re-up. This email sailed through my inbox, in part because it looked like all those other automated emails Amazon sent me, which I reflexively deleted.

I used my accidental Prime to watch some Amazon TV shows (Fleabag, Catastrophe, Mozart in the Jungle) and to make the occasional online order. I decided that wasn’t enough to justify the subscription. Around January, with three months remaining in my subscription, I tried to cancel my Prime account. Amazon sounded the alarm.

“⚠️ Items tied to your Prime membership will be affected if you cancel your membership,” the cancellation page declared, listing benefits I would lose. There was no way to tell whether this would happen immediately, or if my Prime benefits would continue through the end of my current subscription. Googling also failed to clarify that point, so I asked Amazon’s press team.

Screenshot from Amazon

“Prime members who have used their benefits can cancel their membership and will still have access to their Prime benefits until the next renewal period,” replied Lauren Englund, an Amazon spokesperson. “The date at which your membership ends and your benefits will be disabled is shown on the final page of the cancellation process.”

It struck me that this information would have been more useful to me, the consumer, on the first page of the cancellation process, but probably less useful to Amazon, which obviously intended to keep me enrolled. I asked Englund why Amazon didn’t include an option to stop Prime from auto-renewing instead of sending a reminder before that happened. “This option is shown on the final page of the cancellation process, ‘End on ,’” Englund wrote.

Actually cancelling Prime requires you to confirm your intention three times. After its initial warning, Amazon asks you to consider “switching to monthly payments.” (Prime is more expensive on a monthly basis, at $12.99 a month, than with a now $119 annual membership.) On the third and final screen, Amazon finally told me the date my benefits would end. I cancelled.

Screenshot from Amazon

How is life after Prime? Absolutely fine. It turns out you can still use Amazon without a Prime account, a fact that’s easy to forget when so much of the site feels geared toward Prime customers. Sure, stuff takes longer to ship, but there aren’t that many things most people need both urgently and unexpectedly, such that you can’t plan ahead and wait a week for them to arrive. I recently moved to London and used Amazon to buy a Brita filter—the water is extremely hard here—and a USB charger without any issues. Both even came more quickly than Amazon predicted. I know plenty of people with a Prime account who are happy to share the log-in for TV-streaming purposes. I still pay for the Washington Post.

I’m not saying you should cancel your Amazon Prime account. Everyone’s situation is different. Amazon can be essential for a lot of households, especially for people who don’t have access to a car or good transit, or the time to do their shopping themselves. Bezos famously said he wanted Prime to be “such a good value, you’d be irresponsible not to be a member.” The latest estimates on Prime adoption in the US from investment firm Cowen—63 million US households, roughly half of all households in the country—suggest Amazon has made good on Bezos’s words.

My point instead, ahead of Amazon’s fifth annual Prime Day shopping holiday, is to suggest you take a critical look at your Prime account and ask yourself whether you maintain it out of habit, or because you actually want or need it. It strikes me that Prime is hard to escape for three main reasons: It’s a really good service, it auto-renews, and, most importantly, it changes our behavior as consumers.

Prime, like many other digital services—Uber, Postmates, Instacart, to name a few—encourages us to shop impulsively, to expect that we can always hit a button and get something more or less on-demand. Amazon is currently pushing to make one-day shipping the norm on Prime, doubling down on the speed proposition, and it’s not hard to imagine that window shrinking to a few hours once the company gets drone deliveries off the ground. This approach to shopping is seductive, but slowing down your purchases can also feel good. If you change your mind, Amazon won’t hesitate to take you back.

If you recently took advantage of a free Prime member trial, there are a few things you need to know. During your trial period, you can take advantage of all Prime member perks offered by Amazon. (We highly recommend you watch both seasons of Fleabag before you do anything else).

However, after your free trial is up, Amazon will automatically charge your credit card for the full cost of membership, which is $119/year. To prevent any unwanted charges, here’s how you can cancel your membership.

  • MORE: What Is Amazon Prime (and Is It Worth It for You?)

How do I know when my Prime membership ends?

You can see how much longer you have in your Prime trial by going to your Amazon account page. To get there, sign in to your Amazon account; at the top right side of the page, you’ll see a “hi” message with your name. Open the drop-down menu below that message and select Your Account from the available options. From there, select the Prime option.

The resulting page will show how long you’ve been an Amazon Prime member, as well as the date you will be charged for your next year of Prime. If you have a bit of time before your trial ends or your membership renews, you can sign up for an email reminder three days before your renewal date.

If, by some accident of shipping, you receive an Amazon Prime late delivery, you can complain. As one possible form of repayment, the company might extend your membership by a month.

How do I cancel my Amazon Prime membership?

If you’ve decided you want to cancel your Prime membership, you can do so by clicking the End Membership button on the left side of the Manage Prime Membership Page. You’ll find the link right below where your renewal date is listed.

Clicking the link will take you to another page, where you will have to confirm you want to cancel. You’ll also have the opportunity on that page to get a reminder of when your trial or current membership is about to end.

Will I get a refund if I cancel my Amazon Prime membership?

If you haven’t used your Amazon Prime membership since your credit card was charged, then you’re eligible for a full refund, even though your trial period has already ended. That means if you realize a month down the line that you don’t need the subscription, you can still cancel and get your money back. Otherwise, you have three days from when Amazon Prime charges your credit card to decide whether you want to cancel.

If you do cancel, Amazon may charge you the regular prices for any Prime benefits you used during that three-day period. Those benefits include music and book downloads and streaming. This policy depends on exactly what you’ve bought. For instance, if you buy a television on day two, you might get a refund of $99, minus the normal shipping charge for that television. The amount that you used your membership during the trial period has no impact on your ability to obtain a refund. If you sign up, but don’t use the membership, you won’t be charged.

Can I do another free trial of Amazon Prime?

Amazon customers are only eligible for one free trial of Prime every 12 months. That means if you cancel your membership, and decide to give Amazon Prime another try, you’ll have to immediately start with the paid membership rather than kicking things off with another trial period. If it’s more than a year later when you decide you want use Amazon Prime again, you’ll have the option to try the service out again through a 30-day trial before you’ll need to pay for a membership.

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Back To School 2019 AMA

(Image credit: )

We’re answering your Back to School tech questions through August 2 on Twitter in our first-ever Back to School AMA. Use #TechRadarUniversity to participate!

Are you getting ready to go back to school, or maybe finding yourself a little under-prepared and still have a ton of stuff to buy? Then, it’s worth checking out Amazon Prime Student for the 2019 school year and beyond.

For one, if you’re not already a Prime subscriber in the US or UK, you can sign up for an unbelievably long six-month free trial to Amazon Prime Student. That means you won’t be faced with the steep price of a Prime membership while you’re staring down the even steeper prices of college textbooks, especially if you don’t have the budget for it.

Plus, the six-month trial will give you virtually all of the benefits of a fully paid Amazon Prime subscription, and enough time with those benefits to get your school stuff in order. That is, you can order all the school supplies, snack supplies, and party supplies you’ll need to get you ready for a fun and productive school year. Plus, you get free two-day shipping, unlimited streaming of Prime movies and shows, and 20% off pre-order and new video game releases.

But that’s not even the biggest draw. After six months, Amazon Prime Student members are eligible to get 50% off of the cost a full Amazon Prime membership. That means that if you do sign up for a paid membership, you’ll still have all that extra cash for stocking up on dorm room supplies, covering your lab fees, buying that bike you’ve been eyeing or saving up to pay off those inevitable student loans.

Here’s all the details and how to join Amazon Prime Student today, so you can start saving on back to school items like backpacks.

Your free trial will take you into the beginning of the school year, too, and after that you can keep your Prime Student membership active until graduation day.

What is Amazon Prime Student?

Amazon Prime Student is a special Amazon Prime membership for actively enrolled college students. A UK version of Amazon Prime Student is available as well.

It includes a six-month free trial with almost all the benefits of Prime. Some, like unlimited reading and unlimited Prime Music streaming, may be restricted during this trial period.

However, once the six months are over, you’ll get all the benefits of a full Prime membership, with the exception that you won’t be able to share the benefits with another account.

The best part is, you get these the Prime perks at a discount: Amazon Prime Student members receive 50% off the cost of a full Prime membership. Normally $99 / £79 a year, this brings the yearly membership price to $59 / £39.

This half-off price is good for four years or until you graduate, whichever comes first.

At that time, memberships will automatically be renewed at the full Amazon Prime price of $119 / £79 year. Amazon will send an email a few weeks before this goes into effect, so you know when you’ll be charged and have a chance to cancel, if you don’t want to continue.

Amazon Prime Student members can cancel their subscription at any time. And if you cancel but have second thoughts, you can always restart your membership. You’ll no longer get the six-month free trial. However, you can still take advantage of the $59 / £39 per year discount.

Who can join Amazon Prime Student in the US?

To join Amazon Prime Student in the US, you’ll need to meet a few requirements.

First, you must have an Amazon account. If you don’t, you can create one here.

Second, you’ll need to be actively enrolled in at least one class at a college or university. Your school must be in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia or Puerto Rico.

Stream movies and TV shows with your Prime Student membership

You’ll also need a valid .edu email address. This doesn’t have to be the email connected to your Amazon account, but it will be used to verify that you’re a student, so you’ll need access to this account.

Finally, and this is crucial: while you don’t necessarily need to provide documentation showing that you’re enrolled in college when you sign up for Prime Student, you must be able to provide proof you are, if Amazon requests it.

If you can’t provide documentation, Amazon may ask you to reimburse it for the benefits you received while your Prime Student account was in effect. In other words, you’ll need to pay back Amazon for all those benefits, which no one wants to do.

Who can join Amazon Prime Student in the UK?

Amazon UK has similar requirements to signing up for its Amazon Prime Student program, with a few key differences.

As in the US, you’ll need to have an Amazon.co.uk account set up. You’ll also need to be 18 years or older.

Amazon Prime Student is also offered in the UK

Enrollment in a higher education institution geographically located in the UK or Republic of Ireland is a must. And, again, while you don’t need to provide proof that you’re enrolled in school at the time of sign up, you must be able to do so if Amazon asks.

Finally, you must have a valid .ac.uk or .edu.ie email address. However, there are alternative methods of signing up without such an email address.

How do I join Amazon Prime Student or Amazon Prime Student (UK)?

To join Amazon Prime Student in the US, simply head to the sign up page.

Select the ‘Start your 6-month trial’ button. On the next page, enter your school email address and the year you expect to graduate. Amazon uses your this to determine when your Amazon Prime Student membership will end.

An email will be sent to your .edu account for confirmation, and from there you can complete the signup process.

Enter your .edu email and expected graduation year for Amazon Prime Student in the US

In the UK, the Amazon Prime Student sign up page is a bit more involved. You’ll need to provide your school email address and expected graduation month and year, as well as your academic level, subject you’re studying and your payment method information.

Once completed, you’ll then have to verify your academic email address. Your six-month free trial will begin once this is checked off.

Just some of the questions on the Amazon Prime Student form

Current Amazon Prime members can switch over to Amazon Prime Student as well. If you want to join Prime Student, head to the sign up page.

You’ll need to be verified as a student first. Once this happens, you’ll be refunded the difference between the regular $119 / £79 fee and the $59 / £39 Student fee. You don’t need to cancel your current Prime membership to join Prime Student.

What if I don’t have an .edu or .ac.uk email?

If you don’t have a .edu, .ac.uk, or .edu.ie email address, don’t fret. There’s still a way to sign up for Prime Student without one.

In the US, in order to apply for Prime Student without a .edu email, you’ll need to prove you’re enrolled at an eligible university or college located in one of the 50 states or Washington, D.C.

To do so, you must send documentation to [email protected] But before you do so, make sure all your Amazon account payment information is up-to-date.

In the email, include a scan, photo or screenshot of one of the following. It goes without saying these must be yours and not someone else’s (sorry, roommate):

  • Student ID with the current term or an expiration date on it. A student ID number won’t cut it
  • Transcript or class list for the current term showing your name and the name of your school
  • Tuition bill for the current term showing your name and the name of your school
  • Official acceptance letter for the upcoming term, which must include an enrollment date

A similar bypass is available in the UK and Republic of Ireland for those without an .ac.uk or .edu.ie email. You’ll need to show you’re 18 or over and that you’re enrolled in at least one course at a college or university in the UK.

You’ll send one of the following via scan, photo or screenshot to [email protected]:

  • Valid NUS Extra or NUS Apprentice Extra card that shows your name, school and card expiration date
  • Proof of student status letter printed on official school letterhead. Must include your name and address, course details, start date and expected graduation or completion date
  • Tuition bill for the current term that must include your school’s name, course details, start date and your address
  • Tuition invoice for the current term with your name and your school’s name
  • Official acceptance letter for the upcoming term printed on official school letterhead. Must include your name, address, course details, enrollment date and expected graduation or completion date

If and when Amazon determines you meet the necessary requirements to join Prime Student or Amazon Prime Student, you’ll receive an email within 3-5 business days with a link to finish the sign up process.

It’s important that you enroll within 14 days of receiving this follow-up email. If you don’t, you’ll have to start the Prime Student membership application process over again.

Though there’s extra leg work involved, it’s still possible to get the benefits of Amazon Prime Student without a .edu or .ac.uk email address.

What are the benefits of Amazon Prime Student?

Now that you know how to sign up for Amazon Prime Student, the big question is, what can you get out of it?

Amazon Prime Student is basically a full Prime membership, only at half the yearly cost. The only Prime benefit you don’t get once your six-month free trial ends is the ability to share your account with anyone else.

While Prime Student is only valid for a limited time (four years or until you graduate), it does let you take advantage of almost all the perks of Prime for less cash. This is crucial as your wallet is likely stretched thin already.

In the US, Prime Student benefits include free two-day shipping on eligible purchases with no minimum order size, unlimited movie and TV show streaming, unlimited photo storage on Prime Photos and unlimited reading on your devices thanks to Prime Reading.

Amazon Prime Student also includes deals and promotions just for members, which you’ll learn about through email alerts. You’ll also receive early access to Amazon Lightning Deals, getting access to the best deals 30 minutes before non-members.

Depending where you live, you might also be eligible for free same-day delivery and free two-hour delivery. Forget to buy a textbook and need to cram before a big exam? Amazon Prime Student can potentially come to your rescue.

Amazon Prime Student also offers release-date delivery, meaning if you pre-order an eligible book, movie or video game, you’ll receive it on the day it hits store shelves. Did you suddenly become the most popular person on your floor because you got Super Smash Bros. Ultimate before anyone else? We thought so.

Amazon Prime Student offers rewards for referrals

In the UK, Amazon Prime Student members can enjoy free one-day delivery on eligible purchases, unlimited movie and TV show streaming through Prime Video, access to Prime Music, exclusive Amazon Prime Student deals and promotions and unlimited storage in Prime Photos.

Double or pending charges on your bank account or credit card do not necessarily mean that you have been charged twice.

Authorization hold (also called card authorization, preauthorization, or preauth) is the banking industry practice of authorizing electronic transactions made with a debit card or credit card, and holding the balance as unavailable either until the merchant clears the transaction (also called settlement), or the hold “falls off” and makes the balance available again.

For debit cards, authorization holds can fall off the account from one to five days after the transaction date, depending on the bank’s policy.For credit cards, holds can last as long as 30 days, depending on the issuing bank.

When a merchant swipes a customer’s credit card, the credit card terminal connects to the merchant’s acquirer, or credit card processor, who verifies that the customer’s account is valid and that sufficient funds are available to cover the transaction cost. At this point, the funds are “held” and deducted from the customer’s credit limit (or bank balance, for a debit card), but are not yet transferred to the merchant.

At the end of the day, the merchant instructs the credit card machine to submit the finalized transactions to the acquirer in a “batch transfer.” This begins the settlement process in which the funds are transferred from the customer’s accounts to the merchant’s accounts. This process is not instantaneous (although many believe it is). The transaction might not appear on the customer’s statement or online account activity for a day or two, and it can take up to three days for funds to be deposited in the merchant’s account.

For example, if an individual has a credit limit of $100 and uses a credit card to make a purchase at a retail store for $30, his available balance immediately decreases to $70 because the merchant has obtained an authorization for a $30 purchase from the individual’s bank by swiping the card through its credit card terminal. However, the actual balance in the bank is still $100, because the merchant has not actually collected the funds in question. The actual balance is not reduced until the merchant submits their batch of transactions and the banking system transfers the funds .

If you have multiple credit cards saved on your Amazon account, you could get charged for subscriptions on any one of those cards, the Consumerist reports. That means that when one of your digital subscription needs to be renewed, if your preferred card is expired or deemed “invalid,” Amazon will charge another card that is available at the time at random.

This issue came to an Amazon Prime user named Laura’s attention when she received an overdraft charge from her debit card and realized that she had been charged for her Amazon Prime renewal, the Consumerist says. But Laura says she had never used her debit card for Amazon Prime, so she called Amazon to see what was up. An Amazon representative directed her to the “Fees and Renewal” section of the Amazon Prime Terms which states:

UNLESS YOU NOTIFY US BEFORE A CHARGE THAT YOU WANT TO CANCEL OR DO NOT WANT TO AUTO RENEW, YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR PRIME MEMBERSHIP WILL AUTOMATICALLY CONTINUE AND YOU AUTHORIZE US (WITHOUT NOTICE TO YOU, UNLESS REQUIRED BY APPLICABLE LAW) TO COLLECT THE THEN-APPLICABLE MEMBERSHIP FEE AND ANY TAXES, USING ANY ELIGIBLE PAYMENT METHOD WE HAVE ON RECORD FOR YOU.

And for the record, Amazon does alert you if there’s an issue with your current payment, but say you’re sharing your account with multiple card holders, any one of them can be charged. So, if you or they haven’t logged in to see the warning, this might come as a big surprise.

Michelle Manetti

That’s not to say Amazon Prime isn’t great, because it is. But this is a good reminder to always read the fine print when you subscribe for anything that requires payment or auto-renewals, and it might be a good idea to only keep one card on-file at a time.

Should You Get the Amazon Store Card?

If you’re a faithful Amazon.com shopper, you’ve probably at least considered the Amazon Store Card. Created for Amazon Prime shoppers, this card makes it easy to earn 5% back on whatever you buy at the online superstore. On the flip side, you can also choose to forgo the 5% back and stretch out your payments with zero interest over several months instead.

Like most store credit cards, the Amazon store card doesn’t charge an annual fee. However, it’s only good for Amazon.com purchases, and can’t be used just anywhere. Still, with free cash back and no fee, what’s not to like?

Like any other financial product, the devil is in the details when you look at how the Amazon Store Card works. Here’s a basic rundown of the Amazon card’s myriad financing options, along with how they can help you save.

How the Amazon Store Card Works

With the Amazon Store Card, you’ll earn:

  • 5% back on total cart purchases up to $149
  • 5% back or 6-month financing on purchases of $149 or more
  • 5% back or 12-month financing on purchases of $599 or more
  • 5% back or 24-month financing on select Amazon-sold items

In addition to these options, you can also enjoy 0% APR on specific Amazon purchases if you opt to make 12 equal monthly payments. This can come in handy if you plan to make a large Amazon.com purchase (holiday shopping, maybe?), but want to pay it off gradually without paying interest all along.

That all sounds great, but the fine print reveals the real kicker. Sure, you get 0% APR for a limited time, but because of the way interest is compounded and charged, you’ll be in for a rude awakening if you don’t pay your purchase in full by the time your promotional period is over.

If your balance doesn’t hit zero before the promotional period ends, you’ll owe backdated interest on the entire purchase. Worse, the Amazon Store Card comes with an APR of 26.24%!

In other words, failing to pay your balance in full before the 0% financing period ends means you’ll owe interest from the day you made the purchase. If you know anything about credit, you already know what a huge downside this is. And really, this should probably be a deal-breaker unless you’re 100% certain you can pay your purchase in full within the promotional timeline.

Another Option: Consider the Amazon.com Credit Card

If you’re not too keen on the way interest accrues with the Amazon Store Card, you can always consider the Amazon.com credit card instead. This card offers 3% back on Amazon.com purchases, 2% back at gas stations, restaurants, and drug stores, and 1% back on all other purchases.

Another important difference is that you don’t have to be an Amazon Prime member to apply. And like its store card counterpart, the Amazon.com credit card doesn’t charge an annual fee, either. Better yet, you can use the Amazon credit card anywhere Visa is accepted – and not just at Amazon.com.

And since it’s a traditional credit card, interest only accrues on actual balances you owe. Plus, the standard APR falls within a more reasonable range of 14.49% to 22.49%, based on your creditworthiness. That’s not great, but it’s better than the 26.24% APR the Amazon.com Store Card offers.

As a potential downside, you’ll only earn 3% back on Amazon.com purchases instead of the 5% you would earn with the store card. If you spend a lot on Amazon.com, the difference in earnings could be substantial.

A Better Option for Amazon.com Purchases?

Still, Amazon.com doesn’t have the market cornered on credit cards for their website. With Discover it® Cash Back, you get 1% unlimited cash back automatically on every purchase you make. The kicker is, you also get 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.

  • Related: Discover it® Cash Back Review

The Discover it® Cash Back doesn’t charge an annual fee, which means you can keep it in perpetuity without paying for its benefits. Speaking of benefits, this card offers your free FICO score on your monthly statement and no foreign transaction fees. You also get 0% APR on balance transfers for a full 14 months and then the ongoing APR of 13.49% – 24.49% Variable APR. That’s a pretty sweet deal for a no-fee card that offers amazing rewards.

Discover it® Cash Back

Apply Now on Discover’s secure website

Highlights

Card Highlights Provided by Discover:

  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There’s no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.

The Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of signing up for the Amazon.com Store Card, make sure to consider the alternatives that are out there. While it’s true 5 percent back is hard to beat, other rewards credit cards are fairly generous when it comes to Amazon.com purchases, too.

  • Two Rewards Cards Every Amazon Prime Member Needs
  • Six Facts You Should Know About 0% APR Credit Cards
  • The Top 10 Credit Cards Available Today

Do you have the Amazon Store Card or the Amazon.com credit card? Why or why not? What alternatives do you use instead?

Editorial Note: Compensation does not influence our recommendations. However, we may earn a commission on sales from the companies featured in this post. To view a list of partners, click here. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by our advertisers. Reasonable efforts are made to present accurate info, however all information is presented without warranty. Consult our advertiser’s page for terms & conditions.

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A screen shot of an Amazon.com payment page showing expired credit cards.

Amazon.com is a favorite of online shoppers. You can find just about anything and have it delivered to your door.

But the credit or debit cards you have on file with the retailer may bring you an unpleasant surprise — if you don’t read the fine print.

The company can use any of the credit or debit cards you have on file to pay for auto-renewals — without asking your permission first — because you’ve already agreed to it as part of the terms of service.

It’s one of those fine print issues consumers don’t notice — until it impacts their account.

Amazon.com will send a notification to the consumer first, the company said, but we think it’s a practice worth reminding customers about.

This came to light when Consumerist.com, a favorite consumer site of Bamboozled, received an email from a reader named Laura.

According to the report, Laura went shopping locally and her debit card was declined. She was confused because she knew she had at least $100 in the account.

After a little research, she learned Amazon had renewed her $99 Prime subscription with a charge on the debit card.

Her Prime subscription was set to auto-renew, but it was supposed to happen with a different card.

The unexpected charge meant overdraft and low-balance fees from her bank, and she was out the funds she needed for her shopping trip.

She called Amazon’s customer service line.

The rep told her an alternative payment method had been used from her account, Laura told Consumerist.

Because the card that was supposed to be used for the renewal had expired, Amazon simply charged a different card listed with her account.

But Laura said she never gave permission for Amazon to use any other card for her subscription.

She was wrong.

Typically, if you have an auto-renewal and your card has expired, the merchant will contact you to ask for a new card.

Amazon wouldn’t speak to Laura’s case specifically, but it said it always sends a reminder with that information.

And let’s be honest. Consumers don’t always read such notifications.

And in fact, some pesky fine print found in Amazon’s terms and conditions gave Amazon permission to charge the other card.

It says (we removed the ALL CAPS used by Amazon): “Unless you notify us before a charge that you want to cancel or do not want to auto renew, you understand your Prime membership will automatically continue and you authorize us (without notice to you, unless required by applicable law) to collect the then-applicable membership fee and any taxes, using any eligible payment method we have on record for you.”

We’ve never heard anything like that before.

Consumerist asked Amazon if this policy stood for other purchases, but it said Amazon didn’t respond. So instead, Consumerist did some reading and found similar language in the terms of service for Amazon Music, Kindle Unlimited and other services.

Amazon did respond to our inquiry.
Spokeswoman Julie Law said customers have told the company they do not want their Prime service to be interrupted. That includes music, movies. TV shows, books, photo storage, shipping benefits and more.

So when it comes time to renew their membership, she said, if the card they have on file is expired, Amazon sends the customer an email notifying them that “we will use a different card that they attached to their account.”

“Customers are also notified of this when they sign up for membership,” Law said. “Of course, whenever we hear from a customer that there is an issue, we work to address it immediately.”

You know Bamboozled isn’t a fan of auto-renewals in general.

We’ve encouraged New Jersey lawmakers to fight for legislation to protect consumers who have been stuck in auto-renewal hell, unable to get companies to cancel auto-renewals even after the consumer clearly says they’re not interested anymore.

In California and Oregon, for example, companies must clearly disclose auto-renew provisions and then get a consumer’s permission before renewing a service. If the company charges a consumer without getting consent, the service is considered an “unconditional gift” to the consumer.

Assemblyman Daniel Benson has been trying to get auto-renew legislation passed since the 2010-2011 legislative session, and while the Assembly always passed the bill — and it has this year, too — no one had sponsored a Senate version.

This year, though, consumers got a little help from Sens. Bob Smith and Linda Greenstein. In June, their Senate version received a unanimous committee vote in favor, and now we’re waiting for the bill to be scheduled for a vote before the whole Senate.

We’ll keep you posted on that.

In the meantime, you’ll have to keep close tabs on your auto-renewals. For a hand, check out this free tool Bamboozled wrote about earlier this year.

But if you’re an Amazon customer and you don’t want your Prime membership to renew on any old credit card listed with your account, you have to act.

Remove extra cards from your account so that you don’t receive an unexpected charge. If you only have one card on the account and it expires, you’ll receive a notification from Amazon to update the card.

Also, be sure to read every email you receive. That’s your responsibility as a customer.

And a side note: you’re better off using a credit card rather than a debit card so you don’t end up with overdraft charges from your bank because you weren’t prepared for an unexpected charge.

For Laura, Amazon cancelled the renewal and offered to return the $99 to her debit card, but it would take 10 days for her to receive the refund, Consumerist said. Amazon also issued a credit to cover the bank fees.

Amazon tells us that’s what it regularly does for customers in circumstances like this.

That’s great, but we’d rather see you, dear readers, avoid this from happening to you. We don’t like surprises.

Have you been Bamboozled? Reach Karin Price Mueller at [email protected]AdvanceMedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @KPMueller. Find Bamboozled on Facebook. Mueller is also the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com.

Stay informed and sign up for NJMoneyHelp.com’s weekly e-newsletter.

I have always held an excellent credit rating and obtaining 0% interest credit has never been a problem … until recently. About three years ago I signed up for the Amazon credit card. I used it for about a year and then, with the balance clear, I cut up the card, but unfortunately I didn’t close the account.

I then moved house (from Manchester to Cornwall). At my new house I purchased an album from the Amazon MP3 store for £7.99. At the payment screen, I didn’t check the default credit card (which turned out to be the Amazon card) and continued on my way.

Seven months later I asked my mortgage company for further borrowing to do some home improvements. This loan was accepted, but they advised I should check out my credit score as there appeared to be a problem.

I signed up to Experian and found that I had missed six months’ payments on the Amazon credit card. I immediately called the company and cleared the debt along with £25 late charges and thought that was the end of it. The company stated they had been sending reminder letters to my previous address. I explained I had moved and it was a silly mistake.

Since then I have not been able to get credit. I was advised to add a reason to my credit report, explaining the problem, but this appears to have had no effect. I have written to Amazon Credit Card Services twice and they have refused to change the notes on my report and, as a final attempt, I have written to the Financial Ombudsmen, but as yet have not had a reply.

I have never been bankrupted, have no CCJs, have a mortgage for only 50% of my property and earn over £60,000 a year. I recently inquired into a car-leasing company as I am about to transfer from a company car scheme to a cash for car scheme, but this was refused. It’s a dire situation, especially when the root of the problem is a silly mistake worth less than £30. Do you have any advice on how I can get out of this? JP, Falmouth

Your story should serve as a warning to all us, because, as you have found, having an impaired credit rating can really damage your financial life. Changing mortgage provider, taking out a credit card, and even getting a mobile phone contact all become very difficult with a default notice on your file. The problem you have is that, despite the extenuating circumstances, you didn’t pay the bill for six months, triggering the default.

We asked MBNA, which provides the Amazon credit card, and it confirmed as much. It said it made multiple attempts to contact you, writing to your old address and emailing. It said it “has an obligation to report all factual information to the credit reference agencies and to report an account as defaulted. Customers in this situation are able to add a Notice of Correction to the credit file to provide an explanation”.

The credit reference agency, Experian, confirmed the notice will remain for six years from the settlement date, although it suggested car-leasing firms aren’t usually lenders and “wouldn’t therefore have access to credit history information”.

A spokesman says that as time passes, your record should have less impact, because lenders tend to focus on the most recent credit history when assessing new credit applications.

Sadly, all we can advise is that you make sure that you don’t miss any of the payments on the loan you were able to take out. Pay this off on time, and this will help restore your score.

Other readers, make sure that you advise every bank/card provider when you move house, and get post redirected for a good period afterwards. If you cut up a credit card, make sure you close the account formally too.

We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at [email protected]m or write to Bachelor & Brignall, Money, the Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Please include a daytime phone number

You’ve been using your Amazon Visa credit card rewards all wrong

You probably don’t know it, but you may have been using your Chase Amazon Visa credit card rewards all wrong. Luckily, there’s a way to fix all that, and make the most of your Amazon purchases.

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As Lifehacker reminds us, the Chase Amazon Visa card is going to get you 3% cash back on your Amazon purchases, and 1-2% on everything else – but you probably knew that if you already got one.

What you don’t know is that you should always redeem your Amazon Visa rewards for cash. That way you’ll be able to redeem more points with future purchases. And – you’ve guessed it – you’ll have to turn those into cash as well.

Kyle James revealed in Rather Be Shopping that when you use rewards to cover an Amazon purchase, you won’t get any points as a reward.

“For example, if your points bring a $300 item down to $220, you’ll score 660 reward points on the purchase ($220 x 3),” James explains. “But if you cash out your points, or request a statement credit, then use your card to make the same $300 purchase, you’ll end up with 900 points instead of 660. ($300 x 3). Remember, you’ll get the same dollar amount whether you cash out or redeem points directly on an Amazon purchase, making this trick a total no-brainer.”

So while it may seem like a better deal to save money on your next Amazon purchase by using points, you’d be better paying full price for it, and grab a larger chunk of points for the future. The more you shop at Amazon , the more points you’ll make, and the more money you’ll get back if you follow this simple rule.

On the other hand, the more money you don’t spend on Amazon, the more you’ll save – but who does that anyway?

Tags: amazon, credit cardsChris Smith started writing about gadgets as a hobby, and before he knew it he was sharing his views on tech stuff with readers around the world. Whenever he’s not writing about gadgets he miserably fails to stay away from them, although he desperately tries. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.