Once upon a time, shoppers actually had to venture out of the house to get the stuff they needed. Rain or shine, people had to get off their comfortable couches, get dressed and drive to a store. Then, Amazon changed everything.
Amazon is by no means the only online retailer, but more than any other brand or website, Amazon has set the standard for e-commerce. And part of the allure of the site is Amazon Prime, the subscription service that offers free delivery on millions of items — and so much more.
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What Amazon Prime Offers
The headliner of Amazon Prime is the free one-day and two-day shipping offered with no minimum purchase. Non-Prime members get free shipping with a $25 minimum purchase, but your stuff will take much longer to reach you — five to eight days, Amazon says.
Additionally, Prime offers free same-day delivery to customers living in select areas. To take advantage of this perk, you must buy more than $35 worth of goods and place your order by the cutoff time, which is typically noon.
There are plenty of deals for Prime members that have little or nothing to do with shipping. Here’s a sampling.
With access to thousands of streaming television shows and movies, including Amazon Originals, there’s no reason to keep your cable subscription.
Amazon Music Prime
Amazon Music Prime comes with an impressive library of 2 million songs and countless podcasts for free, plus curated playlists and stations.
Unlimited Photo Storage
Archive unlimited photos for free, and not only is the storage secure, but photos are automatically backed up and users can access their images from anywhere.
You’ll get a free Twitch channel subscription and in-game content for your favorite games.
Help yourself to books, magazines and more through Prime Reading. They can be read on a Fire tablet, a Kindle e-reader or Kindle reading apps. With Prime Reading, you can also download one of several editors’ picks every month for free before it goes on sale.
It’s an annual two-day shopping event that gives Prime members savings and discounts on more than 1 million deals.
Prime Early Access
Ideal for bargain shoppers who like to be first in line, Prime Early Access gives members 30-minute early access to Lightning Deals on Amazon.com.
If you live in an area served by Amazon’s grocery delivery, you’ll get delivery within two hours on groceries, including meat, and other necessities.
Prescription Delivery and Savings
Prime members receive free two-day delivery on prescriptions. If you don’t have insurance, Amazon Pharmacy has some savings plans.
If you like to have movies, books, video games and such in your possession on their release date, Amazon will get them to you by 9 p.m. at the latest that day.
How Much Does Amazon Prime Cost?
Amazon has a few different pricing plans, depending on your situation. Here’s a look at options that are available.
The standard membership, with its full slate of benefits, costs $139 per year, or you can pay monthly at $14.99. If you want only Prime Video access, the fee is $8.99 per month. Sales tax will be added to the charges.
Prime Student Membership
If you’re a student, you’ll pay $69 per year, or $7.49 each month. Prime Student includes some extra benefits, such as up to 10% off airfare and hotels, as well as a free three-month subscription to Calm Premium, designed to help reduce anxiety and lower stress.
Discounted Membership for Eligible Customers
Amazon also offers a discounted Prime membership for people who quality for EBT and government assistance benefits. Once proof of eligibility is established, the monthly fee is $6.99, plus tax. Members will need to requalify every 12 months.
Good To Know
Amazon will let you try out Prime for 30 days at no charge. You’ll need to sign up with a credit card, and it will be automatically billed at the end of your trial period if you don’t cancel it.
Is Prime Worth the Money?
Whether Amazon Prime is worth the membership cost depends on several factors, including your shopping and streaming habits. The best way to figure out whether Prime is right for you is to try it out on the free trial.
A lot of retailers today offer free shipping, as Amazon Prime does, but the real appeal is in the variety of services offered. Grocery delivery from Instacart starts at $3.99 for same-day orders of at least $35. The charge for Netflix ranges from $9.99 to $19.99 a month, depending on the chosen plan, and households might have more than one streaming service. In fact, research firm Parks Associates earlier this year showed that non-cable households spend an average of $85 per month for online pay TV or subscription-based services.
So when you crunch the numbers, for most households, is Prime worth the cost? If you subscribe to at least one entertainment streaming service and get at least one grocery delivery a month, the answer is a resounding yes.
The other Prime benefits? Enjoy them. They’ll make your life easier, fuller or more entertaining.
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