Amazon’s 20% discount on video game pre-orders and Best Buy’s generous Gamers Club Unlocked program are both gone. The competition is cooling down, but you can still find savings on new PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One games.

Amazon Prime: $10 Credits for Select Pre-orders

While Amazon’s 20% discount on physical game pre-orders is going away, Amazon still plans to offer a $10 Amazon credit when pre-ordering “select games.” Only Prime members can receive this credit, and it’s good for “almost anything sold on Amazon.com,” including other video games.  We don’t know how many games will be eligible for this credit

Prime now costs $120 a year, so it’s probably not worth subscribing to Prime just to pick up these credits. However, if you’re already a Prime member anyway, you can still save some money on games.

If you’re a frequent Amazon shopper, you might also want to consider applying for the Amazon Prime Rewards credit card, which gives you 5% cashback on all your Amazon.com purchases, including video games.

Prime members can also get a selection of free PC games every month as part of Twitch Prime, which is nice.

Best Buy: $10 Rewards on Select Pre-orders

Back in May, Best Buy ended the Gamers Club Unlocked program, which offered 20% off on all games sold at Best Buy (including games already on sale) for a fee of $30 every two years.

However, Best Buy still offers $10 “reward certificates” when you pre-order qualifying games. The full list of eligible games is available on Best Buy’s website. At the moment, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, FIFA 19, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Battlefield V, Fallout 76Just Cause 4, Kingdom Hearts III, and Anthem are all included.

Anyone who has a free My Best Buy account, which you can create online, is eligible. There’s no subscription fee, while Amazon’s similar $10 credits require a Prime membership.

And no, you don’t have to go to a Best Buy—you can order your games online. Best Buy offers free shipping on purchases above $35.

The reward certificate is delivered after you get the game and you can use it to buy whatever you like at Best Buy, including more games. Technically, the reward is delivered as 500 My Best Buy points, which are worth $10. You’ll also receive at least 0.5 points for every $1 spent at Best Buy, so that adds up to 30 points or $0.60 in rewards on a $60 game.

If you have Amazon Prime, it might be more convenient to order the games on Amazon. But, if you don’t, you can get a similar discount for free from Best Buy.

Even if you have Amazon Prime, it’s worth checking Best Buy’s website, too. Best Buy might offer a $10 pre-order credit on games Amazon doesn’t. Or Amazon might offer a $10 credit on games Best Buy doesn’t. We don’t know how Amazon plans to run this discount program, so we don’t know how much they’ll overlap.

Target: 5% Off

Here’s a quick little idea for savings on any game. For games where Best Buy or Amazon don’t offer any discount, you could buy them from Target instead.

Target’s REDcard offers 5% off on nearly everything at Target, as well as free shipping. And it isn’t necessarily a credit card—you can apply for a REDcard debit card that you link to your checking account. There’s no fee required for this card, and you can sign up entirely online. You never have to step foot in a Target.

This doesn’t just apply to pre-orders, either—it applies to all video games and practically everything else at Target.

If you really want a $60 game and you can’t find a discount on it, you can at least save $3 and get it for $57 with free shipping from Target. Sure, it’s only $3, but that’s more of a discount than you’ll find at GameStop.

It’s worth noting that Amazon Prime members with the Amazon credit card can get 5% cashback on everything from Amazon, so people who are heavily invested in the Amazon shopping experience have no reason to head to Target. But, if you don’t want to pay for Prime or don’t want the Amazon credit card, you can get the same 5% at Target. It’s even more convenient—you get an upfront discount rather than having to redeem rewards later.

Comparison Shop for Digital PC Games

Physical pre-order deals might be going away, but digital ones are still around—for PC gamers, at least. New PC games sometimes have pre-order sales of 10% off ahead of their release date. Not every game has a pre-order deal—it’s up to the game’s publisher—but it’s worth checking. If you do pre-order directly from Steam, you can refund the game if you don’t like it. You have up to two hours of playtime or two weeks from the game’s release date to decide, whichever comes first.

You can often save money by purchasing Steam games outside of the Steam store. We recommend heading to Is There Any Deal and searching for the game. You’ll see comparisons of the price on a variety of legitimate PC game stores. You can see whether the website includes a Steam key so you can redeem the game on Steam, too.

For example, Hitman 2 costs $60 to pre-order on Steam, but you can pre-order a Steam code for 25% off on a few competing websites and only pay $45. You’ll get the same product either way—the only difference is that you won’t be able to refund the game if you don’t like it.

This trick doesn’t just apply to pre-orders. Steam games are often on sale on other stores when they’re full price on Steam, so it’s worth checking Is There Any Deal before you buy something. But beware: If you buy a game from outside Steam and redeem the key on Steam, you can’t take advantage of Steam’s generous refund policy. You won’t be able to refund the game at all.

Unfortunately, you won’t usually find pre-order discounts for digital console games sold on Sony, Nintendo, or Microsoft’s online stores.

RELATED: How to Get Refunds for Steam Games

What About GameStop?

GameStop is synonymous with buying and pre-ordering games. Maybe that’s why they don’t offer very competitive discounts—lots of people go there anyway.

This store has a “PowerUp Rewards” program, but you have to sign up for it in a store. Even if you pay $30 a year for the Elite Pro tier, all you’re getting on pre-orders is 30 points per dollar (up from 10 points per dollar) and free two-day shipping with purchases over $35. You’re paying the full $60 for any new game, which will get you 1800 points.

What are those points worth? Well, GameStop hides its rewards catalog until you sign up in store, which isn’t a good sign. We’ve seen reports that 10 points are worth about one cent, which means your haul in rewards would be $1.80 per $60 game at a cost of $30 a year.

That’s right—GameStop doesn’t offer any $10 credits or rewards, as Amazon and Best Buy do. And their point system seems to give you less money back than simply buying the game with a REDcard at Target. Don’t expect a compelling offer from GameStop.

Please, if you’re a GameStop fan, let us know why. Perhaps there are some hidden deals buried in the PowerUp Rewards catalog, but we doubt it. And we think GameStop would proudly advertise these rewards if they were compelling.

Try Skipping the Pre-order (or Selling the Game After Playing It)

We’re not encouraging you to pre-order games. In fact, you should be skeptical about opening your wallet before the reviews are in. Gamers have been burned too many times by games that just weren’t as good as they were hyped to be.

The best way to save money on games is to just wait for them to go on sale. Most games go on sale and drop quickly in price, and it won’t be long before you see a $60 game selling for $30 or even less. This doesn’t apply to all games, of course—sales on Nintendo games, in particular, are rare and not too deep. You could even set up a deal alert so you’d get an email when the game goes on sale.

Of course, sometimes you just want to play a game now. If you’re into pre-ordering, it’s worth noting that you can often sell new games for a fairly high price—so, if you finish a single-player game quickly or just don’t like the game, there’s a good chance you can sell it and recoup most of your money. You could trade in the game to a store, but you’ll get more of your money back if you spend the time actually selling it yourself—for example, on eBay, which is another place where you can purchase used games at a discount.

Image Credit: Wachiwit/Shutterstock.com.

Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor in Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for nearly a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than 500 million times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
Read Full Bio »