Amazon price warning: What shoppers need to know this holiday season


When you’re shopping on Amazon this holiday season, you can easily be fooled into thinking that everything you buy on the website is a great deal.

After all, many items have a red line through one price and a lower price with the percentage savings listed below it.

RELATED: Do NOT buy these gift cards this holiday season

Why you should ignore Amazon’s list prices

However, money expert Clark Howard says you shouldn’t believe when Amazon or any other retailer tells you that you’re getting 25%, 50% or 75% off.

Think about it: How often do you really pay the full price for items on Amazon? There’s always a “sale.”

Retailers know that many shoppers just can’t resist buying merchandise that’s marked down, but a sale tag doesn’t necessarily mean the item is a true deal.

“Amazon has a bad habit of putting things on sale Thanksgiving week that are non-sale sales. They’ll advertise items on their website as being massive discounts that really aren’t at all,” Clark said on the radio show. “Even if you’re really addicted to Amazon, I encourage you during Thanksgiving week to comparison shop what Amazon is pitching to see if it’s really a deal or a non-deal deal.”

How Amazon defines ‘List Price’ and ‘Was Price’

According to Amazon’s website, the “List Price” is the suggested retail price of a product provided by a manufacturer, supplier or seller.

“We regularly check List Prices against prices recently found on and other retailers,” Amazon said.

In addition, the e-commerce giant said certain products may have a “Was Price” displayed, which is determined using recent price history of the product on


Amazon’s list price $50 higher than Target’s MSRP 

This is where things get confusing for shoppers. I searched for a TV on Amazon and found one from TCL (model 55S405) on sale for $399.99. It had a list price of $599.99, a savings of $200 or 33%.

Meanwhile, Target had the TV on sale for the same price, but the MSRP was $549.99 — a savings of $150 or 27%.



At the end of the day, you’d be getting the TV for $399.99 either way, but Amazon’s higher list price could motivate some shoppers to buy without searching around because 33% off seems like such a bargain.

The key takeaway from Clark is to only pay attention to the final price because that’s all that matters anyway.

The easiest way to comparison shop 

To make sure that you’re getting a great deal on Amazon, always check prices elsewhere. For the TV, I just plugged the model number into to see prices from other retailers.

By the way, Amazon tied with several other stores for the lowest price on that TV. Here are the results:

Google Shopping

If you’re trying to save money this holiday season, Clark says there will be a spike in deals around Black Friday, but the sales are being spread out and will continue until around December 10.

These are the best days to shop between now and Christmas!

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