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Whether you have an Amazon Prime membership or you're contemplating getting one ahead of Black Friday, there's one question that probably pops in your head: Is Amazon Prime actually worth it? It may seem pricey (it's nearly $10 a month), but when you consider what you’d spend on delivery for even a couple of items per year, you may quickly recoup that investment.
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An Amazon Prime membership has loads of benefits, most notably free, fast shipping on thousands of items across all categories—but while the shipping is the main attraction, it's definitely not the only benefit. We break it down below.
What is Amazon Prime?
Amazon Prime is a membership with Amazon that you can pay monthly or annually comes with lots of perks. You can sign up and cancel any time within the given window to avoid being billed (the window runs before the following month for a monthly subscription and before the term year ends for an annual one). That means there's no commitment, especially if you opt for paying month-to-month.
How much does Amazon Prime cost?
Amazon Prime costs $12.99 a month or $119 a year (the equivalent of $9.92 a month), plus taxes. The monthly plan is ideal for those who don't want to make a long-term commitment, or just want to use Amazon Prime at certain times of the year, like through the summer or during the holiday season. If you lock in for the year, you end up saving $36.88 overall, a better option if you want to be able to order on a whim and take advantage of lightning and special deals and discounts that pop up day to day. With this link, you can enjoy the first month free to get familiar with the benefits before making a decision.
Is Amazon Prime worth it?
While the shipping is what gets most shoppers to look at Prime, it's just one of the benefits you unlock with a membership, which include:
Free, often 2-day shipping (and next-day delivery on certain items)
Recurring deliveries for household items, like toilet paper or laundry detergent
Daily deals (we love to help you with those!)
If you do take advantage of the entertainment benefits that come with Prime, you're coming out even further ahead. These include movies and TV with Prime Video, eBooks with Kindle, music with Amazon Music and gaming with Twitch. An Amazon Prime Video subscription on its own will run you a monthly fee of $8.99, which is three-quarters of the price of an Amazon Prime subscription. Prime members get this service by default, which means there's no more feeling guilty for paying every month if you only watch the odd movie or show.
How do I sign up for Amazon Prime?
Go to the main Amazon Prime page and click on "Start Your 30-Day Free Trial," then follow the instructions. Note that you need an Amazon account before you can sign up for Prime, but if you don't yet have one, it's easy to set up. Go to Amazon and enter your details to create an account, then add Prime to get the 30-day trial and begin shopping.
What are the benefits of an Amazon Prime membership?
1. Amazon Prime Video
Access to Amazon Prime Video comes free with a Prime membership. Subscribers get access to Amazon's wide selection of television and movies, with thousands of options, including both originals and network series. In some cases, you might require a separate third-party subscription to a network like Showtime, Cinemax or PBS to watch some content. You can watch Amazon Prime Video from a computer, mobile device or big-screen smart TV with the Amazon Prime app or any TV with an HDMI port and a streaming stick like the Amazon Fire TV Stick ($39.99) or the Roku Streaming Stick ($34.99). If you want to subscribe to Amazon Prime Video alone, it's $8.99 a month.
2. Amazon Music
Also included with a Prime subscription is access to Amazon Music, which includes ad-free streaming of more than two million songs that you can listen to at home or on the go. You can play the songs through a smart speaker at home, like an Amazon Echo Dot ($49.99), or from a mobile device on the go with a wireless connection. The upgraded version, Amazon Music Unlimited, with access to more than 75 million songs, is $7.99 a month for Prime members and $9.99 a month for non-members.
3. Amazon Kindle
Amazon Prime membership also includes special access for more than a thousand Amazon Kindle ebooks, magazines, comics and even books with Audible narration. There's also a rotating selection of free eBooks that Prime members can choose from each month. You can read on a computer or mobile device, or download the eBook to an e-reader, like an Amazon Kindle ($89.99).
4. Twitch access
When you sign into Twitch and you're an Amazon Prime member, you get access to a free selection of games, a free Twitch channel subscription each month and plenty of other benefits with Prime Gaming.
5. Two-day shipping
With Amazon Prime, you get fast and free shipping on thousands of items, including toys, electronics, clothing, groceries and more. As long as the item has the "Prime" icon beside the listing, it's eligible. You can also filter searches to only see Prime items that can be delivered quickly, often the next day, depending on the time of day you place the order, and sometimes even on the same day depending on the item, seller and where you live. Amazon Prime also includes the ability to—where available—schedule in-home or even in-car delivery with the Amazon Key app and a compatible vehicle.
6. Amazon Wardrobe
Part of Amazon Prime is something called Amazon Wardrobe, which gives you the opportunity to try clothes on before you buy them. You can select up to eight eligible items, try them all on once the package arrives and pay only for what you keep. Everything else can be sent back using Amazon's free return policy.
7. Alexa Voice Shopping
Another perk with Amazon Prime is Alexa Shopping, which lets you add items to your virtual cart by simply dictating the instruction to a compatible Alexa-enabled smart speaker. For example, say, "Alexa, add milk to my shopping list" and it will be added to the checkout in the account connected to the device. You can also give commands like, "Alexa, re-order laundry detergent," so you can shop as soon as you notice that you're running low to make sure essential items are delivered before you forget to add them to a written list.
8. Special offers
Amazon Prime affords a variety of discounts and special offers that happen all throughout the year. The most notable—and that makes headlines—is Amazon Prime Day. It's a day (or, like this June, two days) of deep discounts on items, including lightning deals that see some products drop to their lowest prices ever, as well as deals that last for several days, while quantities last. This huge savings event is only open to Amazon Prime members. Amazon Prime members also get special savings at Whole Foods Market.
9. Consistent discounts
In addition to special deal days, Amazon Prime also offers 20% off to members on products like diapers and baby food. Search for items and, with a Prime membership, you will see the regular price as well as any discounts and potential coupons or additional savings you can get with Prime.
Are there discounted membership options?
There are various ways you might qualify for a discount on an Amazon Prime subscription. Students get an extended six-month free trial period, then pay half pric, just $6.49 a month. They also get exclusive offers, including just $0.99 a month to add Showtime or Amazon Music Unlimited for the first year (which provides access to more than 75 million songs), a two-month free trial to Amazon Kindle Unlimited for accessing a variety of books and texts, and free food delivery from Grubhub for orders $12 or higher.
If you have an EBT card or other qualifying government assistance documentation, you may also be eligible for a discounted rate of $5.99 a month and the 30-day trial.
How do I filter a search to see only Prime-eligible items?
From the Amazon homepage, type in a search term, like "headphones" or "water bottle." When the results pop up, check the box at the top left of the page that reads "Amazon Prime" and shows an orange checkmark with the word "Prime" in light blue. Doing this will automatically filter the results so you only see Prime-eligible items. You will also see the estimated delivery date below the "Prime FREE One-Day" tag that appears with the item listing.
How do I cancel my Amazon Prime membership?
You can cancel an Amazon Prime membership at any time and avoid an extra bill if you do so before the next billing cycle. Once logged into your Amazon account, select Account from the drop-down menu on the top-right. Select Memberships & Subscriptions, Prime Membership settings and Manage membership (update, cancel and more). From there, click "end membership." You can also sign back up at any time, although you should note that you can only use a free trial period once.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
This article originally appeared on Reviewed: Amazon Prime: Is it worth it? Here's what you need to know