Amazon Prime Benefits and How to Avoid the Price Hike
Amazon Prime is set to raise its annual fee from $79 to $99. To be fair, this is the first rate hike since it launched nine years ago. Still, customers and fans are letting their feelings about this be heard loud and clear on Amazon Prime forums and the feedback isn't pretty. Rather than grumbling about this change, let's examine the benefits that come with Amazon Prime and the discounts available. (See also: Amazon Deal Hacks You Don't Know About)
Benefits of Amazon Prime
There are quite a few benefits included in Prime Membership — not just the 2-day shipping which is its most popular perk.
1. Two-Day Shipping
This is the central benefit of Amazon Prime that is well-known by everyone who uses it. For the entire year, members receive free and unlimited two-day shipping on almost everything sold by Amazon with no minimum purchase required. (There are exclusions to this.) Given the ugly prices of shipping on many sites, this is a significant savings for frequent shoppers, even with the annual fee hike. If Amazon delivers after the two day mark, Amazon Prime Members may be eligible for a free one month extension.
2. Streaming Television and Movies
Amazon Prime members have free access to unlimited streaming of over 40,000 movies and television episodes through Amazon Instant Video. Granted, the selection doesn't include the newest properties, but it provides plenty of options.
3. Kindle Owners' Lending Library and Kindle First
The Kindle Store boasts 500,000 Kindle titles. Amazon Prime members can borrow one book a month for free to read on a Kindle or Kindle mobile app. Think of it as a personal mini-library with all of the latest and greatest titles at your fingertips. Additionally, Amazon Prime members receive a free Kindle First book every month. Each month, Amazon Publishing editors select four new books each month that will be released the following month. Kindle First subscribers can choose one of these four titles for $1.99 to read a month before it's released to the general public. Amazon Prime members get their Kindle First choice book for free.
4. Share the Shipping
Amazon Prime Members can share their shipping benefits with up to four additional household members. Small business owners who subscribe to Amazon Prime can invite up to four co-workers to shop with the corporate account. (See also: Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses)
5. Amazon Prime Music Streaming
Amazon is considering the possibility of getting in on the streaming music act. The company is rumored to be in negotiations with a number of record labels though the details are fuzzy at best, and the agreement, if there is one, may take quite a while to unfold. (See also: Free or Cheap Ways to Listen to Music)
Discounts on Amazon Prime
Here are a few ways to get Amazon Prime free or at a discount.
1. Amazon Student
It pays to be a student. With a .edu email address or proof of student status, you can sign up for Amazon Student, which offers Prime Membership at a reduced price of $49. Amazon Student provides all of the benefits of Amazon Prime plus special deals and promotions and a $10 refer a friend credit. (See also: Student Discounts)
2. Amazon Mom
Moms, Amazon Prime has you covered with Amazon Mom. For three months, moms have a free trial of that includes 20% off diapers, wipes, and family essentials that are ordered through the Subscribe & Save Program, free two-day shipping, and 30 days of instant-streaming video. After the trial, Amazon Mom costs $99 and includes the discounts listed above, all Amazon Prime benefits, and a 15% baby registry completion discount.
3. Credit Card Benefit of Amazon Prime
American Express has a deep and ever-evolving relationship with Amazon. Amex's Blue Cash Preferred and Blue Cash Everyday cards offer one year of free Amazon Prime if you use the card to buy a new membership and fulfill the minimum spending requirements. (Click here for more details and Wise Bread's review of these American Express cards.)
4. Try It for Free
Everyone loves a free sample. Amazon Prime provides a free 30-day trial. Amazon automatically registers people who take advantage of a free trial after the 30-day mark. To cancel, you must take action and contact Amazon prior to the trial's end.
Other Ways to Save on Amazon Shipping
Amazon Prime isn't the only way to save on Amazon shipping costs. Shipping is free for all orders that total $35 or more. (Some restrictions apply.) Amazon also has a Subscribe & Save Program: pick eligible items that are subscription eligible and then choose the quantity and delivery frequency of each item. The Subscribe & Save Program doesn't require any upfront fee and can be cancelled at any time without penalty. If you choose to have 5 or more Subscribe & Ship items delivered on the same day, there is a 15% discount on the entire order.
All these benefits and discounts make Amazon Prime a great value for those who are frequent shoppers. Also remember that many items on Amazon cost less than those found in brick-and-mortar stores and they're delivered right to the door, no lugging required. If Amazon Prime still feels like less than a bargain, some viable competitors such as ShopRunner are on the rise and eager for disgruntled Amazon Prime members. (And if you're a current Prime member who hasn't renewed at the higher rate yet, get one year FREE membership!) After all, where there's a will to save, there's always a way!
Are you an Amazon Prime subscriber? Will you maintain your subscription even after the price hike? Tell us about it in comments!