An Amazon Prime membership has become a staple for many households, with an estimated 157.4 million subscribers in the United States. Still, the price of an Amazon Prime membership has risen over the years, costing up to $180 per year ($139 if you pay annually).
Amazon Prime includes access to a vast wealth of features, but whether the service is worth it comes down to whether you use what’s available. We’ll look at the cost of a membership and everything that comes with it to determine whether Amazon Prime is worth it for you and your household.
What Is Amazon Prime?
The world’s largest e-commerce giant, Amazon offers its customers a collection of additional features and deals through a subscription program known as Amazon Prime.
When Amazon Prime launched in 2005, its primary focus was to offer customers free two-day shipping, but today, the program includes many more features.
As we take a closer look at Amazon Prime, we’ll inspect each of the included features and services, so you can decide if a subscription suits you and your household.
What Does Amazon Prime Cost?
Amazon Prime costs $14.99 a month or $139 a year, but new members can test Prime with a 30-day free trial before committing. Those who canceled their Amazon Prime membership and haven’t been members for at least 12 months can also retry Prime with a free one-month trial.
College students and individuals on qualified government assistance can receive 50% discounts on their Prime membership thanks to discount programs from Amazon. College students also receive an extended six-month free trial before payment is required.
For those on qualified government assistance, such as SNAP or Medicaid, you’ll need to upload a photo of your EBT card or eligibility letter to Amazon.
What Are the Benefits of Amazon Prime?
Amazon Prime was once a straightforward subscription service that offered two-day shipping. Now, Amazon offers up a collection of Prime benefits, from fast shipping to a video streaming service and free Kindle books.
Here are all the Amazon Prime benefits you can expect from a subscription.
Amazon continues to tout Prime’s fast, free delivery service as it has since day one; however, the service has evolved to include additional delivery benefits.
Prime now offers free one-day delivery, so you can get over 15 million products the next day without having to wait. If that isn’t fast enough, Amazon Prime also offers free same-day delivery for select items in eligible cities across the United States.
Subscribers also gain access to free two-hour grocery delivery via Amazon Fresh in select U.S. cities. If you aren’t home, Amazon can leave products in your garage via the Amazon Key program or in a local pickup locker for more secure delivery.
Prime Video and Music
Amazon Prime Video is available on your computer and your favorite streaming devices, giving Prime members access to over 26,000 movies and 2,700 television series. Top Prime Video picks include “The Peripheral,” “The Lord of The Kings: The Rings of Power,” “The Boys” and “Thursday Night Football.”
If you’d prefer to kick back and listen to music, Amazon Prime Music hosts over 2 million ad-free songs. The service even allows members to listen offline — perfect for that next flight or road trip.
If you love jumping into a good video game, Amazon Prime Gaming offers benefits each month, including free in-game content and free PC games.
In recent months, Prime Gaming has offered free in-game content for Lineage II, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, Apex Legends, League of Legends and Pokémon GO.
When it comes to free games, Amazon hasn’t been holding back, giving subscribers free downloads for Fallout 76: The Pitt, Hero’s Hour, Horace, Total War: Warhammer II and Middle-earth: Shadow of War.
If you prefer to watch others play video games, Amazon also provides subscribers a free subscription to a Twitch channel of your choice each month. It’s an excellent way to support your favorite creators and receive exclusive benefits.
Those who prefer to cuddle up with a good Kindle book will love the benefits Prime subscribers receive with Prime Reading. You can access a rotating catalog of ebooks and audiobooks for no additional cost — what’s better than free books?
At the beginning of each month, Prime members can choose one free pre-release ebook from a selection of editors’ picks. It’s a great way to read new stories from various genres before they are available to the general public.
Magazine and comic books are also included with Prime Reading.
You probably have hundreds or thousands of photos on your smartphone, but are they backed up? If they aren’t, you may want to take advantage of Amazon Photos, which offers free unlimited photo storage and 5GB of video storage for Prime members.
You can automatically back up your full-resolution photos and videos using the Amazon Photos app on your iOS or Android device. Once backed up, you can sleep more peacefully at night knowing they are safe if your device is damaged.
Amazon Photos can also sync your content across multiple smart devices, including the Amazon Echo Show and Fire TV, where they can be used as personal screensavers. You’ll even receive free shipping on every order if you want to print your photos.
Prime Try Before You Buy
One of Prime’s most exciting new offerings is Try Before You Buy. Aimed at those who love to shop online for clothing, the service lets you try outfits before paying for them. You can then return anything you don’t like to Amazon at no charge.
Prime members begin by selecting up to six items from Amazon’s Try Before You Buy program. The items will then be shipped to you. Customers have seven days to try out the items before being charged for what they keep.
If you order something you don’t like, Amazon will provide you with multiple return options.
Prime Discounts and Deals
A Prime membership wouldn’t be complete without exclusive deals for members. Amazon has ongoing sales throughout the year available to members only, so check out the savings page if you jump on board the Prime train.
Notable is Amazon’s Prime Day, a “once-a-year savings event,” which is akin to a Black Friday sales event and has traditionally dropped at the end of spring or the beginning of summer.
We typically see significant discounts across various products, including Amazon’s brands, Fire TV, Echo devices, Kindles, Fire tablets and Blink home security hardware.
Is Amazon Prime Worth the Price?
As with many questions in life, there is no straightforward answer as to whether Amazon Prime is worth it for you and your household. But you can start by determining how many of Amazon’s Prime benefits you use.
Paying for high-speed shipping can quickly add up; if you find yourself ordering from Amazon half a dozen times a month, the monthly price tag of Prime to obtain same-day and next-day shipping could be worth it from the start.
Most video and music streaming services will run you about $10 a month (not including Netflix, which charges up to $20 a month), so the monthly Prime price tag could be worth it just for accessing Prime Video and Prime Music.
If you are already an Amazon Prime member, be sure to explore the benefits offered by the program and take advantage of everything you are provided.
Some members may not even know about features such as mobile device photo backups via Amazon Photos and the ability to try on clothes via the Try Before You Buy program.
Of course, you can always cancel your Amazon Prime membership and see how much you miss the service; your needs decide the actual value.
Is the Amazon Prime Card Worth It?
Amazon also offers its own Prime Rewards Visa Signature card to qualifying members. Benefits of the card include 5% back when you shop at Amazon.com and physical Amazon stores (Prime membership required), as well as rewards at other qualifying locations.
When shopping at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores, you’ll receive 2% back when using your Prime card. Other purchases can net you a 1% savings. Prime members can also earn 10% back or more on a rotating selection of items and categories on Amazon.com.
If you’re a frequent shopper with Amazon, the Prime card could certainly be worth it based on its rewards program. Before diving in, read our article on understanding credit card rewards, so you can get the most out of a Prime card.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What Is the Point of Getting Amazon Prime?
An Amazon Prime membership unlocks various discounts and features, including free same-day, one-day and two-day shipping on millions of items. Prime also gives subscribers access to programs such as Prime Video, Prime Music and Amazon Photos.
Is Amazon Prime Better Than Netflix?
An Amazon Prime membership does include its own video streaming service, Prime Video. Which service is better depends on what content you enjoy watching.
Netflix offers exclusive series such as “Stranger Things,” “13 Reasons Why,” “Peaky Blinders,” “Ozark” and “The Umbrella Academy.”
Meanwhile, Amazon Prime offers “Good Omens,” “Bosch,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.”
Why Is Amazon Prime So Expensive?
An Amazon Prime membership has become more expensive over the years, but the number of benefits has also expanded.
No longer is Amazon Prime limited to two-day shipping; it now includes access to thousands of free movies, TV shows, novels, magazines, comics and more.
Michael Archambault is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder specializing in technology.