How Amazon’s Dash Buttons Can Thwart Smart Shopping

Amazon is expanding its lineup of Dash buttons, its "Jetsons"-style devices that let you reorder a particular product with a single touch. The online retailer says the buttons offer "quick and easy" convenience -- but they won't necessarily help you save money.

Amazon first introduced the buttons, which bear product logos and attach to household surfaces, around April Fool's Day in 2015. On Tuesday, it added 50 more brands to Dash, including Campbell's Soup, Nerf and V8 vegetable juice, bringing the total number of Dash buttons to 150.

Dash buttons are undeniably simple to use. You set them up with a smartphone via Wi-Fi, and can configure them to send order alerts to your phone in case you need to cancel. You'll need an Amazon Prime membership ($99 annually) and will get free two-day shipping in the U.S.

But Dash may not always be the greatest way to stretch your shopping dollar. Here's a look at some smart-shopping tactics that can fall by the wayside with Dash.

Stick to a Budget

Dash buttons let you choose what size or type of product to order. For example, you can configure a Tide button for any of 14 different products, including a $13 box of detergent or a $27 container of 77 Tide Pods. But prices can fluctuate.

Mary Hanson-Busch, a medical technologist in New Prague, Minnesota, uses a Dash button for cat litter, and she noticed that the price of a 40 lb. box of Arm & Hammer cat litter changed from $10.49 to about $14 between orders. Still, she says the convenience of not having to lug home a box of cat litter is worth a few dollars. "It's so simple and easy to set up," she said. "I do like the convenience factor."

If you're not quite sure what you're paying, though, it's much harder to...

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