Saving Money on Amazon with CamelCamelCamel

Occasionally, I’ll see a price on Amazon and wonder whether it’s really a fair price or not. Did Amazon recently hike it up? What about the 3rd-party vendor prices for new and used versions of that product? It’s hard to tell.

I found a site today called CamelCamelCamel that does exactly that, and it really impresses me. For those of you who are savvy to JavaScript bookmarklets, you’ll know what to do with this little puppy I hacked together tonight: View Amazon Price History. If you’re not familiar with bookmarklets, don’t click that link yet. Just add it to your bookmarks and I’ll show you how to use it in a minute.

The idea behind CamelCamelCamel (whose obvious logo I love like a guilty pleasure) is fairly simple. If you wonder whether the Amazon price or the 3rd-party vendor price of any product on Amazon’s site is a little fishy, you can look at the item’s price over time, in a handy graph, and find out whether now is a good time to make your purchase. You can even subscribe to an RSS feed and watch the price change, or get an email alert when the price drops below a certain level. Useful! They also have lists of popular products and products with the biggest price drops in the last few days.

OK, let’s try it! If you’ve saved the View Amazon Price History link as a bookmark, you’re ready to go.

Let’s say you’re shopping for a good Digital SLR camera and you come across the Canon Digital Rebel XSi. Once you’re on that page (or any product page) you can click the bookmarklet you’ve just saved and you’ll be automatically transported to the corresponding page on CamelCamelCamel. The graphs will tell you that Amazon’s price is just below average right now, but it was a lot lower in early April. (I found it surprising that Amazon changes its price as often and as much as it does, both up and down, on brand-new products.) The 3rd-party new cameras are also below average, and certainly below the recent highest price. The used version, however, is near the peak of the highest price, so if you’re buying used, it’s probably best to wait a week or two and save $30 or more.

It’s a great little web application with a solid business model (kickbacks from purchases you make via their links). I just couldn’t help but share. Enjoy!

(Footnote: I know that CamelCamelCamel is supposed to be spelled with all lowercase letters, but how could I resist using camel case?)

9 Comments

  1. jeff
    Posted May 7, 2009 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Hey, your two Canon products are different. One is the XSi and the other is the XTi. Did you do that on purpose? I’ve found that CCC only has history on more mainstream products. I was looking up garden tillers today and there was no history.

  2. Posted May 7, 2009 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Whoops! Sorry Jeff, I didn’t mean to link to the XTi on CamelCamelCamel. Fixed. I’m glad I was at least looking at the correct graphs when I wrote that description. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Beyond that, I suppose worse things could be said about a service than, “But it only works in most cases.”

  3. John
    Posted May 7, 2009 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    there are a couple sites like this around. I’ve been using ZingSale (http://www.zingsale.com) since christmas after i read about it on lifehacker.

  4. Posted May 7, 2009 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Hey Josh, great article ๐Ÿ™‚

    We have a greasemonkey script that overlays out graphs on every Amazon product page, did you try that? http://camelcamelcamel.com/greasemonkey

  5. Posted May 7, 2009 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Hey Dan! Thanks for the linkback and thanks for making a great web app.

    The reason I didn’t push the greasemonkey script is that most of the world doesn’t use Firefox. A greasemonkey script is perfect for 22% of the Internet-using public, but what about the other 78%? That’s what my bookmarklet is for.

  6. Posted May 7, 2009 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    I had no idea bookmarklets worked outside Firefox, interesting.

  7. Oliver
    Posted August 4, 2009 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    CamelCamelCamel sounds like a great service, but its website has disappeared. Any idea what happened? Since there is no redirect to another website, I assume it ceased operations.

  8. Diana Meller
    Posted September 7, 2009 at 1:05 am | Permalink

    I have been using pricetrace.com instead. It does not only follow price on Amazon.com, but also sites like macys.com, buy.com, bestbuy.com, walmart.com, and so much more.

  9. Posted May 21, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Maybe you can try AmazonPriceTracker.net. It is more user friendly. And it updates the amazon price much more frequently than camel. The average time Camel updates price is a couple days, while AmazonPriceTracker.net update the price everyday.

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