On occasion, you may have noticed your Amazon statement had an extra entry, something that applied automatically–without your knowledge–but, nonetheless, lowered the overall price of your order. Hey, that’s free money, right? What’s to worry about? The statement labels itself “Amazon Courtesy Credit $XX” or you’ll see “Amazon Courtesy Credit applied” with your checkout statement. Think of Amazon Courtesy Credit as Amazon telling you, “We’re sorry” or “Thank you.”

What is Amazon Courtesy Credit?

Amazon Courtesy Credit seems to be nothing more than exactly what it advertises: credit. Like getting a bigger monetary tip for your service or an apology for a situation going sour, but not like a cash back reward. Once you’ve made an order from Amazon, it gets applied, usually saying “credit applied,” after you’ve made your way past checkout.

You see, Amazon Courtesy Credit is used at Amazon’s own discretion, without any clear rules being applied, at least, none that are known by the customer. Amazon might throw you a bone because you order something from Amazon, only to have them ship it to you a day or two after the order was made, making the delivery date much later than they promised. In some cases, new users of Amazon Prime got some Amazon Courtesy Credit kicked their way for signing up to Amazon Prime for the first time. In other rare cases, users were rewarded Amazon Courtesy Credit for simply readying themselves to cancel Prime, only to, at the last moment, decide otherwise.

Amazon Courtesy Credit does a chameleon-like qualities, wrapping itself in whichever color suits the situation at hand. If you can imagine Amazon talking to you in that moment, “Did you have a bad experience with your order? Here’s some Amazon Courtesy Credit. Sorry about that.” Or, “That’s a big order you have there. Here’s some Amazon Courtesy Credit to sweeten the deal. Thanks for shopping with us.”

However, the major difference that separates Amazon Courtesy Credit from, say, an Amazon gift card of an Amazon promo code, is the credit is applied automatically. You don’t decide when to use it, which seems rather silly. It’s like being handed a piece of really tasty gum, only to have it turn sour after a few seconds. And that’s not the only limitations of it.

Where Do You Get Amazon Courtesy Credit?

Well, for the most part, it seems Amazon Courtesy Credit is gained mainly through a bad order, more so than Amazon being nice. After all, Amazon is worth over $950 billion (at the writing of this article) and it’s doubtful Amazon would ever get to that number if they handed out Amazon Courtesy Credit every time you did business with them. That eats into their income.

There isn’t a method to getting Amazon Courtesy Credit; it isn’t something you can rack up by manipulating the system. And it’s highly recommended you don’t try. If there’s a set of guidelines Amazon employees are supposed to follow, it isn’t known, not by the public, at least. The only way you’re going to get Amazon Courtesy Credit is through using Amazon like you normally would, making orders when you need something. If something goes wrong with your order from Amazon, chances are, you’ll get some apology credit.

For example, say you leave a bad review on a product from Amazon, you might end up seeing some Amazon Courtesy Credit on your account. Say you ordered something and the box was delivered to you damaged or worse, the entire order was destroyed. You’ll definitely see some cheddar passed your way, even for orders that took to long.

In some cases, Amazon will even send you an email, notifying you that they’re applying a credit to your account. The amount varies, of course. Since the credit is applied depending on the situation, the amount also varies based on the severity of Amazon’s customer service. You might see a $5 here and there, or maybe, you’ll see $10 applied to your account because of a really bad order.

It’s Only For Amazon Orders

However, and this may have escaped notice and speaks to its other limiting factor, but Amazon Courtesy Credit is only applied to orders directly from Amazon’s marketplace. If you tried buying a product from, say, another marketplace seller, Amazon will smack that courtesy credit out of your hand and tell you, “No.” Well, maybe not so aggressive, but you are barred from using your Amazon Courtesy Credit on orders outside of Amazon’s market.

That may seem confusing at first, after all, all orders are from Amazon, right? Well, no. Amazon is as much a platform as it is a seller of goods. Yes, technically, you’re “buying” from Amazon, but really, when you order something, you’re probably buying from another seller and they’re using Amazon as their platform to sell their goods. This is what it means to buy from another marketplace seller. If you want to use your courtesy credit, you have to use it on items being sold directly from Amazon themselves.

Bottom Line

While there does exist some limitations to Amazon’s Courtesy Credit, it is a nice little bonus after a bad order left a sour taste in your mouth. It softens the blow and, really, you end up winning because a bad order is typically replaced by Amazon free of charge anyways, and then a bit of credit on top for the inconvenience.