Amazon is one of the most well-known companies in the world, and its Amazon Prime paid subscription service is also one of the most popular subscriptions worldwide. In a recent shareholder letter, Amazon founder and executive chairperson Jeff Bezos told shareholders that there were more than 200 million Amazon Prime members around the globe.
However, with a number of price hikes over the years, many longtime Prime members are wondering whether an Amazon Prime membership is still worth it. If you’re working on how to manage your money better, you might want to look at the many benefits available with a Prime membership before you decide. You might be surprised by what you get.
What is Amazon Prime?
Amazon Prime is a paid subscription service offered by Amazon that provides loads of benefits to its members, including access to Prime Delivery and the Prime Video streaming library. The Prime service was launched in 2005 for an annual fee of just $79 and offered unlimited two-day shipping on more than 1 million items.
Since the launch of the service, Amazon and Amazon Prime have grown tremendously. Amazon now has over 1.3 million employees and Prime has hundreds of millions of worldwide subscribers. What was once a niche subscription for online shoppers has become a daily part of many people’s lives.
What are the benefits of Amazon Prime?
Amazon Photos provides unlimited full-resolution photo storage for all your photos plus 5GB of free video storage. You can use Amazon Photos to print and order photos and to customize the backgrounds of two popular Amazon devices, Echo Show and FireTV. In the age of smartphones and high-end cameras, unlimited photo storage is becoming more valuable if not essential.
Prime members receive a 40% discount on an Amazon Kids+ subscription, which offers access to thousands of kid-friendly entertainment options, including books, movies, apps, and games.
Here’s a breakdown of different delivery and shipping benefits Prime members receive:
- Free delivery: Depending on where you live, you might have options for free two-day shipping, one-day shipping, or same-day shipping on millions of items.
- Grocery delivery: Order directly from Whole Foods Market for fast delivery or pickup or use Amazon Fresh for two-hour grocery delivery of brand-name products in select cities and areas.
- Prescription delivery: Receive free two-day delivery on prescriptions from Amazon Pharmacy. You might also qualify for savings if you’re paying without insurance.
- Release-date delivery: Receive release-date delivery on select items, including new video games, books, and more on the day they’re released.
- No-rush shipping: Earn rewards for selecting this option if you don’t need to get your orders quickly.
- Amazon Day: Receive all your Amazon orders on a specific day each week to get your orders shipped in fewer boxes.
- Amazon Key: Eligible areas can receive Amazon packages delivered right inside their garage.
All Prime members receive free video games and in-game content through Prime Gaming. Amazon typically offers new free games for PCs each month, which you get to keep forever. You also receive a free Twitch channel subscription of your choice each month. Free in-game content has been offered for League of Legends, New World, Apex Legends, Rainbow Six Siege, and other popular titles.
Prime members have access to two million ad-free songs and millions of podcast episodes. You can listen to available selections through the Amazon Music app and by using an Echo device.
You can also sign up for Amazon Music Unlimited and stream over 75 million ad-free songs and millions of podcast episodes. This subscription service is available to Prime and non-Prime members, but you receive a 20% discount with your Prime membership. This typically makes the monthly price $7.99 for Prime members rather than $9.99 for non-Prime members.
Receive access to thousands of reading options through the Prime Reading library. This includes a rotating selection of ebooks, digital magazines and comics, and audiobooks. You can also download and keep one free Kindle book per month from the editors’ picks of Amazon First Reads.
Prime shopping benefits
Prime memberships offer a variety of shopping benefits, including:
- Amazon credit cards: Some of the best credit cards for Amazon offer bonus rewards for shopping in the marketplace. If you do a lot of online shopping, these savings could quickly add up.
- Prescription savings: Save up to 80% on prescriptions at over 60,000 pharmacies. You can fill your prescriptions and get free two-day delivery with Amazon Pharmacy or receive discounts at a preferred pharmacy.
- Prime Day: Amazon Prime Day is similar to Black Friday in that you can find loads of discounts and shopping deals on a variety of products. However, it’s specifically for Prime members shopping on Amazon. You can typically find big discounts on eligible items from every Amazon shopping category.
- Prime Early Access: Access Amazon.com Lightning Deals 30 minutes early. These are promotional deals that are offered for a short period and provide a limited number of discounts.
- Prime offers: Access exclusive shopping deals only available to Prime members.
- Prime Try Before You Buy (formerly Prime Wardrobe): Order eligible clothes from Amazon and try them on in your home. Only pay for what you keep and return the rest for free.
- Whole Foods: Access exclusive discounts in-store and online with Whole Foods Market.
- Woot! benefits: Receive free standard shipping on all Woot! Orders. Woot! is a company that typically provides deals and limited-time offers on different products and was acquired by Amazon in 2010.
Receive free access to thousands of movies and TV shows with Prime Video, including Amazon Originals like “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” and “The Boys.” You can access streaming content through the Prime Video app, available on the Apple App Store, Google Play, and more.
If you want to add more content to your library, select different channels to add with Prime Video Channels. It typically costs between $4.99 to $14.99 to add channels such as discovery+, EPIX, STARZ, SHOWTIME, and more. HBO isn’t available as a Prime Video Channel, but you can still purchase some HBO content through Prime.
How much does Amazon Prime cost?
Amazon Prime’s membership cost has changed over time, and price increases have become a semi-common occurrence for subscribers. Here’s a history of the price changes:
- 2005: $79 per year (Amazon Prime launches)
- 2014: $99 per year
- 2018: $119 per year
- 2022: $139 per year (as of February)
In fewer than 20 years, the cost of an Amazon Prime membership has increased three times, which is about once every 5 1/2 years. That’s not a huge amount over such a long span of time, though the increases have become more frequent since the first.
With each price hike, however, Amazon has included additional benefits in its Prime membership. What we see today with Prime Video, Prime Music, and even free two-day deliveries is a far cry from what the original Prime service offered.
One of the mistakes Amazon shoppers make is not taking advantage of all the available Prime benefits. If you have a Prime membership, you get loads of perks that could help you avoid paying for other services. For example, Prime Video can replace Netflix, and Prime Music could be a good substitute for Spotify. The same goes for Prime Reading, Amazon Photos, and similar services.
Keep in mind that you might have some additional costs on top of paying for the Prime membership fee. Here are some extra costs to be aware of:
- Amazon Kids+: Prime members receive a 40% discount on an Amazon Kids+ subscription, which offers unlimited access to the Kids+ library for up to four children (depending on your plan). The cost for the monthly single child plan is $2.99 per month for Prime members and $4.99 per month for non-Prime members.
- Amazon Music Unlimited: Prime members receive a 20% discount on an Amazon Music Unlimited subscription, which offers access to millions of ad-free songs and podcast episodes. The monthly cost is $7.99 for Prime members and $9.99 for non-Prime members.
- Audible: Your source for audiobooks, podcasts, meditation programs, and more. The monthly cost typically starts from $7.95 per month for both Prime and non-Prime members. If you’re a Prime member and sign up for an Audible Premium Plus membership ($14.95 per month), you’ll receive two free credits to use on any title from the Audible premium selection. Non-Prime members who sign up only get one free credit.
- Kindle Unlimited: Kindle Unlimited offers unlimited access to millions of digital titles, including books, magazines, and audiobooks. Kindle Unlimited typically costs $9.99 per month, whether you have Prime or not.
- Prime Video Channels: Prime Video allows you to add certain channels to your streaming library, but you’ll have to pay an extra monthly fee for each one. The cost of each channel ranges from $4.99 to $14.99 per month. Only Prime members can add Prime Video Channels.
- Subscribe & Save: Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program offers discounts when you sign up for recurring orders on certain products. You can get a discount for your first order and then cancel the subscription. However, if you forget to cancel, you might end up spending extra money on more products than you want or need. You don’t need a Prime membership to use the Subscribe & Save feature.
What are the disadvantages of Amazon Prime?
High membership fee
The upfront cost of an annual membership ($139) can be daunting. And if past experience is anything to rely on, that fee is likely to increase in the future. At what point does the fee become too much? Having too many subscriptions may not be wise if you’re learning how to save money.
Amazon has connections and partnerships with many other companies, which is helpful if you want a one-stop shop for all your needs. Can’t find a show you want to watch on Prime Video? Use Prime Video Channels to find it. But beware: these types of add-ons come at a price and increase your overall cost.
Prime has loads of benefits, but are they the best services being offered in their particular categories? For example, how does Amazon Music Unlimited compare to a Spotify subscription? Is Prime Video as good as Netflix? Most of the benefits available from Prime face fierce competition.
In some situations, you might prefer another service to what Prime is offering. If that’s the case, the overall value you receive from your Prime membership will decrease.
Few perks for in-store shoppers
Amazon is all about online shopping and Prime caters to its online shopper members. If you prefer doing your shopping in person, having a Prime membership might not make the most sense.
FAQs about Amazon Prime
Is Amazon Prime worth it?
An Amazon Prime membership could be worth it if you get enough value from its benefits. $139 per year for a standard membership comes to nearly $12 per month. This could be offset if you take advantage of one or any combination of Prime benefits, such as Prime Delivery, Prime Music, and Prime Video.
If you rarely use these services, Amazon Prime might not be worth it for you. But the fact that all these common services are included in one membership could offer you more than enough value to offset the subscription cost. Non-Prime members don’t have to pay a membership fee, but they also miss out on all the Prime benefits.
Is Amazon Prime better than Netflix?
Amazon Prime could be better than Netflix and other streaming services in some ways, but in other ways, Netflix might be better.
Here’s a breakdown of Amazon Prime Video vs. Netflix:
- Number of subscribers: Amazon Prime has more than 200 million subscribers and Netflix has over 221 million subscribers.
- Price: Amazon Prime costs $14.99 per month or $139 per year, whereas Netflix costs between $9.99 to $19.99 per month. Certain Prime Video titles also cost extra to rent or buy.
- Selection and content: Both services offer access to thousands of movies and TV shows, including original content.
Netflix offers access to some of the most popular streaming content available and its original content has won dozens of awards. However, the Prime Video streaming library is much larger than Netflix’s library. If you compare the most expensive Netflix plan to Amazon Prime’s annual price, the cost of Netflix can be higher.
Do you save money with Amazon Prime?
Learning how to save money on Amazon depends on your situation. You might save money on shipping costs if you’re a frequent online shopper or you could save money on streaming costs if you use Prime Video over other services. In most cases, you would likely save money with Prime by using a variety of its available benefits, including Prime Delivery, Prime Video, Prime Music, Amazon Photos, Prime Gaming, and more.
How to sign up for Amazon Prime
Follow these steps to sign up for Amazon Prime:
1. Head to Amazon.com/AmazonPrime and select the type of Prime membership you want to sign up for, including options for students (Prime Student) and individuals receiving government assistance
2. Sign in to an existing Amazon account or create a new account
3. Add a payment method such as a credit card, debit card, or gift card and click on “Continue”
4. If you’re eligible for a free trial, including a 30-day trial, select “Activate your free trial”
5. Start exploring your Amazon Prime benefits
Although Amazon Prime may be worth the price if you do a lot of online shopping, it’s not just designed for online shoppers. There are loads of other benefits and services to consider, including Amazon Prime Photos, Video, Reading, Music, Gaming, and more. As a result, there are many ways to get more than your money’s worth with a Prime membership.
There’s no doubt that many people are still on the fence about renewing their Prime subscription. But as you become more familiar with the platform and everything it offers, you may find ways to save money on other subscriptions you’re already paying for. For help putting cash back into your wallet with Amazon, check out these Amazon hacks.
More from FinanceBuzz:
Earn Cash Taking Surveys
Save on Your Auto Insurance