Amazon Prime has made it simpler than ever to take advantage of zero delivery costs when making an online purchase. When other major retailers were still finding their footing online, Amazon’s wildly successful loyalty program made two-day free shipping a thing. It’s now useful for a wide variety of services, not just expedited shipping.
There are simply too many perks to list in a brief introduction, but some of my faves include unlimited access to a plethora of free TV and audio entertainment, early access to the yearly shopping extravaganza that is Amazon Prime Day, and significant savings on both medicines and groceries.
And yet, should the typical consumer sign up for Amazon Prime? And how much more money do you have to spend on Amazon before you can consider Prime to be worth it? Check out what Amazon Prime includes to decide if it’s worth it.
How Does Amazon Prime Work?
With its Prime membership program, Amazon, the largest online retailer in the United States, has created a customer devotion unlike any other in the retail industry.
Prime members have access to a wide variety of perks, including free two-day shipping, a 10% discount at Whole Foods Market, free streaming of hundreds of movies and TV series through Prime Video, and early access to the best discounts on Amazon’s famous Prime Day.
A yearly membership to Amazon Prime costs regular users around $140.00. Subscription fees might be reduced for current students and anyone receiving government aid.
About ten years ago, I became a member of Amazon Prime. My household makes frequent purchases from Amazon and makes extensive use of the Prime Video feature, therefore I have kept my subscription active. Although we only buy at Whole Foods infrequently, we find it to be well worth the trip.
Whereas we can easily see the benefits of Amazon Prime, we recognize that not everyone will see the same value as we do.
What Makes Amazon Prime Unique?
Three features of Amazon Prime set it apart from other retail loyalty programs, none of which involve free shipping.
- Extremely Vast Library of Free Shows and Films. As part of the Amazon Prime membership, you have access to Prime Video, a video streaming service with hundreds of titles, similar to Netflix.
- Whole Foods Market is offering a discount of 10% on all purchases. Although Whole Foods is still more expensive than true discount grocery stores, it is far less expensive now that Amazon owns it. Also, the 10% off for all purchases for Prime members makes it a very affordable option.
- Gain Early and Private Access to Prime Day Sales. When it comes to shopping in the United States, nothing beats Prime Day. It’s like Black Friday, just for people who have Amazon Prime.
What Does Amazon Prime Cost?
Amazon Prime members can pay $139 annually or $14.99 monthly (or $179.88 annually) for the more flexible monthly option. This is somewhat more costly than Waltmart+, but you may test it out for free for 30 days to see if it’s worth it.
Most other retail loyalty programs, including those offered by supermarkets and department store chains, are free to join. However, millions of people pay warehouse clubs similar annual fees without complaint.
Amazon Prime is not free, but there are two main methods to receive it at a discounted rate: being a college student or receiving government aid.
Members of Premier Student pay $69 annually if paid annually, or $7.49 monthly (about $89.88 annually) if billed monthly. You need to be enrolled in at least one college course in the United States and in possession of a valid dot-Edu email address to be considered (including Puerto Rico).
Prime for People Receiving Government Assistance
It’s possible to get a Prime subscription for even less than the usual $6.99 per month after the trial if you’re on government assistance. Benefits such as SNAP (Food Stamps), Medicaid, TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), and SSDI are accepted. Your eligibility must be renewed annually.
Does Amazon Prime Reduce Costs?
To an extent, and to another, no. In general, Amazon Prime members do not receive discounts on Amazon.com’s selection of products. However, Amazon Prime members can save money on some items and more easily qualify for free shipping. But that doesn’t negate the fact that you’ll save money with an Amazon Prime membership.
Prime members get access to exclusive discounts, such as:
- When you consider that Amazon offers tens of millions of products, the exclusive discounts on thousands of items seem like a steal.
- Get first dibs on Prime Day, Amazon’s annual two-day sale when members can save more money on more items.
- Whole Foods Market is offering an additional 10% off sale items, in addition to the already substantial savings offered to Prime members.
- Prime Gaming offers subscribers free video games, in-game items, and access to Twitch channels.
- More than 60,000 pharmacies, including Walgreens, CVS, and Amazon Pharmacy, provide discounted prices on prescriptions.
- Using Amazon Photos, you can store as many high-quality images as you like at no additional cost.
- For free with Amazon Fashion, you can try on clothes and accessories before you buy them.
In addition to access to thousands of movies and TV series through Prime Video, your Amazon Prime subscription now includes unlimited, ad-free music streaming.
Considering how much you undoubtedly spend on Netflix, Spotify Premium, and other popular streaming entertainment services, the entertainment perks alone are worth more than your annual Prime subscription.
Important Elements of Amazon Prime
It’s surprising how many people pay more than $100 annually for an Amazon Prime subscription until you factor in how much value you’ll receive out of it. These advantages are included in every Amazon Prime subscription. The greater the quantity and frequency of use, the greater the benefit.
30 Day No Cost Trial
There is a free 30-day trial available to all new Prime members. In the course of the trial period, you can enjoy all of the features and services that are normally reserved for Prime members.
In closing, this is my recommendation; To make the most of your Prime membership, plan out your purchases in advance. Don’t splurge on unnecessary items, but try to knock out as much as you can on your shopping list in the first month.
Make a list of the additional Prime features you’re interested in exploring, such as Prime Video, Prime Music, and Prime Gaming, and aim to devote at least a few days to exploring each.
That enables you to try out all the features and see if Prime is worth it to you. Even if you decide after a month that Prime isn’t for you, you still enjoy the benefit of Prime Delivery for that time period.
That might add up to more than $10 for every order, depending on the total value and shipping speed selected. And remember, if you have a list of services you want to test out, you won’t miss anything or have to sign up for yet another month of service for the sake of experimentation.
To start your risk-free trial, you’ll need to input a valid credit card. Unless you cancel before the conclusion of your free trial, your membership will be upgraded to a paid one.
While some advantages are only available to subscribers in the contiguous United States, Prime Delivery is easily the most valued part of Amazon Prime.
Free 2-Day Shipping
More than 100 million products are included in Amazon Prime’s benefits. There is no minimum order size or delivery frequency restriction. Otherwise, you may expect your order to ship within five to eight business days for no additional cost.
For free Prime shipping, check for the Prime logo at checkout. Only valid within the contiguous United States.
Free Next-Day Shipping
Amazon offers free overnight shipping on over 15 million items with no minimum purchase required. If the product you want has the Prime Free One-Day emblem, you can get it the next day for free if you order by 9 p.m. in your time zone. Only available in the contiguous United States.
Free Same-Day Shipping
If you order eligible goods in the morning or early afternoon, they will arrive at your door by 9 o’clock at night—absolutely free of charge. The next working day is guaranteed for orders placed in the late afternoon or evening. The minimum order value is $25, but you can use it on any of Amazon’s many million products.
Free Super-Speedy Groceries Shipping
Amazon provides free grocery delivery on the same day in select U.S. cities through Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market. A third-party retailer who is a partner in those markets may be required. In the product page’s top right corner, you’ll find a button labeled “Available Today.”
Safe Home Shipping
The Key by Amazon app provides safe, in-home delivery from Amazon in a few places across the United States. Before receiving your first in-home delivery, Amazon requires that you install a special lock, and a camera, and register any frequent guests in order to minimize Amazon’s liability for damage or theft. However, you can track deliveries in real-time with the app.
Day Shipping by Amazon
If you regularly place several orders on Amazon, you can designate a specific day of the week to receive all of your orders from the previous week. Since setting it on a day your home lowers package theft, this is a great incentive for Prime members who are usually absent during the workweek.
Even though I don’t have to worry about this because I work from home, I still look forward to Amazon Day because it means I’ll have fewer distractions while I get my work done.
Release Date Shipping
If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can preorder anything up to two days before they go on sale to the general public and still count on having them delivered to your door by 7 o’clock that same day. That is to say, you get access to rare items before they become widely available.
Other Advantages of Amazon Delivery
Everybody talks about Amazon’s regular shipping perks, but sometimes they forget about Amazon’s free shipping bonuses. But those aren’t the only benefits of Amazon Prime membership that pertain to shipping.
Advantages that aren’t already mentioned:
- If you’re not in a rush, using Amazon’s no-rush shipping option can save you money by earning you points toward future purchases or providing you with quick discounts.
- Free shipping on items that don’t usually qualify for free shipping because of their size, weight, or fragility.
- Prices lowered for expedited shipment of items that don’t qualify for free one- or same-day shipping on Amazon, such as used and refurbished items offered by third-party vendors.
Prime Day Advantages
The annual Amazon Prime Day is a highlight of being a Prime member. It only happens once a year, but it’s definitely worth anticipating and storing up for.
The back-to-school buying season officially began on July 12 and 13, 2022, the weekend of Prime Day. It’s Amazon’s biggest sale of the year, with millions of items available at steep discounts. Some are utter shams, but a lot are worth your money.
Examples from Prime Time 2022:
- 25% off a Hoover carpet cleaner ($89.99 on sale, regular price $119.99)
- 20% off a portable Lasko oscillating tower fan ($59.99 on sale, regular price $74.99)
- 60% off a Melissa & Doug double-sided tabletop easel ($20.99 on sale, regular price $52.99)
I enjoy Prime Day in part because of its unexpectedness of it. What’s more, it’s a great chance to get a (huge) jump on your holiday shopping.
Video on Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime members have access to Amazon Prime Video, where they may watch hundreds of hours of TV series and movies without ever having to pay more. Prime Video members may watch the top episodes and movies made by Amazon Studios (called Amazon Originals) at no additional cost.
Popular media including movies, TV shows, and live sports broadcasts are accessible, many of which can’t be purchased on Amazon. I can attest to the usefulness of Prime Video as a subscriber; my family uses it more than any other streaming service, with the exception of Disney+.
Keep in mind that the free Prime membership only includes some of Amazon’s video offerings. It is not unusual to pay a one-time fee to rent a premium TV show or movie. This shouldn’t put too much of a dent in your wallet; I don’t remember ever paying for premium stuff on Prime Video, and I view a lot of videos every month.
With a smart TV or an external device like an Amazon Fire Stick or Apple TV, you can stream Prime Video to your TV, and the Amazon Prime Video app is available for both Android and iOS devices, so you can watch on the go.
Prime Video Premium Channels (Additional Fee)
Not getting everything you need with free Prime Video?
Enter Prime Video Channels, a premium content lineup that includes:
- Live sports channels and memberships, such as NBA League Pass, and MLB.TV and Prime-exclusive NFL games Streaming movie and TV networks like HBO and Starz
- Yoga and training videos, and other high-quality fitness content
- The Paramount+ and Discovery+ premium streaming services offer original programming not available on any other service.
There aren’t any bloated bundles of channels you’ll never use. With a little forethought, you can cut the cord on your expensive cable service and save money on entertainment overall by paying only for the channels you actually watch.
This is especially true if live sports are your main priority. You may expect to spend anything from $5 per month up to $15 per month, depending on the features you choose.
Through Prime Music, Prime members may listen to over two million songs, including both current hits and classics, completely free of charge. However, that is still a fraction of the music available on popular streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, which each provide libraries with upwards of 40 million tracks.
If you’re serious about music, you might want to go elsewhere. On the other hand, if you need some tunes to listen to as you scrub, Amazon Music will do the trick.
Unlimited Amazon Music Subscription (Additional Fee)
Amazon Music Unlimited’s price may increase depending on how frequently you listen to music. More than 90 million songs are available without advertisements, making it competitive with premium music streaming services.
Priced at $8.99 per month, it’s competitive with services like Spotify Premium and offers great value if you’re unhappy with your existing music streaming provider.
Eligible Prescriptions up to 80% off
In partner pharmacies including Walgreens, CVS, and Amazon Pharmacy, Prime members can save as much as 80% on their prescriptions.
If any of the following are true, then discounts will apply:
- You don’t have insurance
- Your medication isn’t covered by insurance
- Your copay or deductible is higher than your Prime member price
Amazon Prime members can store an unlimited number of digital photos and up to 5GB of digital video. Instead of paying extra to Google or Dropbox, it’s a better value if you have a lot of photographs but not many movies.
Many well-known and soon-to-be-popular games are available to Prime members at no additional cost, and many of them feature special abilities and enhancements that are only available to Prime members.
It’s a perk worth considering whether you’re a serious player or just someone who likes to pass the time with mobile games.
You can get thousands of books, audiobooks, and periodicals sent to your Kindle or another e-reader for free with Prime Reading. In addition, you get unrestricted streaming of Amazon Originals, which are shows and movies that can only be found on Amazon.
Much as with Prime Gaming, Prime Reading can more than pay for itself if you’re a voracious reader and a Prime member.
Prime Try Before You Buy
To better compete with other online fast fashion retailers, Amazon has offered try-before-you-buy options for Prime members to purchase clothing and accessories.
While I don’t shop for clothes for my family there, I can see the appeal for Amazon Prime subscribers. You can obtain up to six goods at a time, take them home to try them out, pay for what you keep, and send back the rest for free.
Discount of 40% on Amazon Kids+
Amazon Kids+ is a subscription service for children under the age of twelve. Non-members pay $7.99 monthly, while Prime members pay only $4.99.
The pluses can be summarized as follows:
- Ad-free, age-appropriate shows like “Sesame Street” and “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood”
- Educational games and apps
- Kid-friendly e-books
- Parental controls to limit screen time and ensure age-appropriateness
If I had to choose between Amazon Kids+ and another product, I would choose another. Toys, crafts, and school supplies are not included, and neither are instructional games or shows, though both can be found elsewhere with relative ease.
The savings will be especially welcome by parents looking for supplemental materials to supplement their children’s education and entertainment needs when they are at home or on the go.
Families with Prime Membership
Amazon Prime subscriptions can be shared among members of the same family, couple, or household, whether they live together, share an apartment, or have lived together for years.
For instance, my wife and I share a Prime membership, and we just have to pay one annual cost. Shared Prime memberships are widespread among married couples and common-law partners, much like joint bank accounts.
Since having children, our family has gotten even more use out of Amazon Prime, both for the free shipping on the seemingly infinite amount of children’s products we buy on Amazon and for the free access to a wealth of child-friendly entertainment on Prime Video.
Visa Signature Card with Amazon Prime Rewards
If you’re a Prime member and you spend a lot of money at Amazon and Whole Foods Market, you may consider applying for the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card, a premium cash-back credit card. It’s like a supercharged version of the standard Amazon Visa card that earns you rewards.
Using a Prime Visa, you can get 5% cash back on purchases made at Amazon and Whole Foods, plus limitless 2% cash back at certain restaurants, petrol stations, and pharmacies. In addition, cardholders are periodically entitled to cash-back benefits of 10% or more on particular purchases.
Even though my family rarely buys anything from Whole Foods, we put enough money through the Amazon system to warrant having a Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. Our cash-back gains in the past few years have more than covered the price of our Prime subscription; now, you need to spend around $2,800 annually at Amazon or Whole Foods to break even with your membership.
ShopRite Prime Card
It’s possible to receive a Prime Store Card even if you don’t meet the criteria for the Amazon Prime Rewards card. The Prime Store Card can only be used on Amazon, but it has more benefits than a standard store credit card.
Significant advantages consist of:
- 5% back on Amazon purchases with an eligible Prime membership
- Up to 15% back on select rotating items throughout the year (a better deal in some cases than the Prime Rewards card)
- 0% annual percentage rate financing on larger purchases — six months without interest for purchases between $150 and $599 and 12 months without interest for purchases above $600
- No annual fee
What do I think? The Prime Store Card is a no-brainer if you’re not credit card averse and a frequent Amazon shopper. In order to avoid interest charges, pay off your debt in full every month if you don’t get the 0% APR option.
The Advantages of Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime is the best all-around retail loyalty program, in my opinion, due to its extensive list of benefits and discounts. Its primary benefits are those mentioned above.
- Amazon Prime Video Is a Deal. Prime Video offers tens of thousands of movies and television shows, many of which can only be found on Amazon. My family has used it more than our Netflix subscription and hasn’t had to pay anymore.
- Amazon Prime Video Channels could be more affordable than cable or other live TV streaming services. Amazon Prime Video Channels is an additional $5 – $15 per month for Prime members, depending on the plan. Even though I’m not a fan of paying for many streaming services that I won’t even watch, the proper Prime Video Channels package might be able to replace your cable or other live TV streaming subscription.
- Plenty of Sites Offer Free Shipping. In some cases, Prime members can even get their packages today, shipping costs included. And two-day shipping is available for tens of millions of items.
- The Entire Family Can Use This Membership for Free. A single Prime membership can be used by many people living in the same house without any additional fees being incurred. This is especially helpful for people living together who are considered to be in different tax households but who share living costs.
- Each New Member can try out the service for free for 30 days. Try out your brand-new Prime subscription risk-free for an entire month. That’s plenty of time to figure out if it’s a worthwhile investment. Students and anyone who gets government aid can save on membership fees. Prime is available to students and others who qualify for government assistance at a discount of roughly 50%.
- Whole Foods Market Price Reductions Across the Board. Whole Foods offers premium foodstuffs at below-market pricing, and as a Prime member, you’ll save 10% on all purchases, including those of prepared foods.
- Earn and save more with an Amazon.com Gift Card. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you may save even more money by using a credit card that comes with deep discounts or cash back on certain Amazon purchases.
The Disadvantages of Amazon Prime
There are disadvantages to Amazon Prime as well. Before shelling out more than $100 annually, think about these disadvantages, even if it looks like a good value.
- This Price Tag Might Not be Justified for Some Consumers. If you make frequent purchases on Amazon and make use of Prime’s entertainment options and discounts, your membership will pay for itself within a year. It’s not worthwhile, though, if you do the majority of your buying and watching elsewhere.
- Annual Subscriptions Cannot be Prorated. If you sign up for Amazon Prime and pay for a full year, there is no purpose in canceling until the renewal date approaches. It’s a dead end and you won’t receive your money back.
- A Limited Number of Songs Are Available for Free. In theory, the two million tracks in Amazon’s free music collection should be more than enough. However, leading competitors like Apple Music and Spotify have many more than that, so if you’re already satisfied with one of those services, you may not want to switch.
- Outside of Prime Day, there aren’t many Amazon discounts that are exclusive to Prime members. On Prime Day, which spans two days, Amazon offers a plethora of deals that are only available to Prime members. Still, that’s only two days out of 365.
How Well Does Amazon Prime Stack up?
The Amazon Prime membership stands apart from other retail loyalty programs due to its extensive set of benefits and features.
Perhaps the closest competition is Walmart+, which advertises yearly savings of $1,300 to its customers. While this statement makes some pretty optimistic assumptions about how much money customers spend at Walmart and its partners, it is true that Walmart+ is real and useful for regular Walmart customers. Whether or if it is comparable to Amazon is a matter of personal preference.
|Membership Cost||$139 (annually) or $14.99 (monthly)||$98 (annually) or $12.95 (monthly)|
|Free Shipping Benefits||Same-day or two-day with no minimum order||Usually two-day with no minimum order|
|Entertainment Benefits||Prime Video and Music||Paramount+ Essentials and Spotify Premium|
|Other Benefits||Discounts on Whole Foods and eligible prescriptions; exclusive Prime Day deals||Member-only deals|
How Good Is Amazon Prime?
Definitely, in my book, Amazon Prime is well worth the money. Since I’ve had a Prime membership for nearly a decade, I’ve shelled out for over a thousand dollars on the service. And then there are the thousands of dollars I’ve saved thanks to Prime’s free shipping, savings on Prime Day, free media, and credit card incentives.
Despite the fact that it’s probably already obvious that my family spends a lot of money on Amazon, I should clarify that the site is far from being the only place we do any kind of shopping. There isn’t much effort required on our part to get the benefits of Amazon Prime.
Options to Take into Account
The key advantages of Amazon Prime membership make it an excellent retail loyalty program. However, there are other well-known stores that provide worthwhile reward programs, and most of them don’t cost a three-figure sum to join.
|Product Service||Best For|
|Target Circle||Exclusive deals and cash back|
|Walmart+||Free shipping, fuel savings, and entertainment benefits|
However, not everyone will find value in Amazon Prime’s many features. We feel like we got our money’s worth, and thus we’re happy with the purchase. Nonetheless, there are many people we know who use Amazon on occasion but simply can’t justify spending $139 a year on Prime.
Not all consumers agree with Amazon’s ascendancy in the retail sector; others prefer to give their business to mom-and-pop shops. Whether or not you should sign up for Amazon Prime is dependent on how much you plan to use the service.
It makes sense to sign up for Amazon Prime if you routinely make purchases on Amazon, frequently make purchases from Whole Foods, and frequently stream videos from Amazon.
Amazon Prime is probably not worth it if you rarely or never shop on Amazon, don’t watch much Prime TV, and don’t have easy access to Whole Foods. Depending on your level of expertise, making a decision may be more difficult, but if you make the most of the trial period, you should be able to decide quite quickly.