If you aren't already one of the roughly 65 million people with an Amazon Prime membership, you might want to join the club. Making the leap unlocks massive benefits that go way beyond free two-day shipping.
From total costs to hidden programs to perks you didn't know existed, here's a comprehensive breakdown of what it means to be an Amazon Prime member.
What is Amazon Prime?
Amazon Prime is a $119 annual membership service that gives customers free two-day shipping on millions of items, free streaming music and video-on-demand, unlimited photo storage and numerous other perks. Depending on where you live, you can take advantage of free same-day delivery and grocery deliveries via AmazonFresh or Prime Now.
Anyone can sign up for a free 30-day trial before committing to the annual fee. Students qualify for a six-month trial, as well as 50% off the annual membership fee after the trial is over.
How Much is Amazon Prime?
A yearly plan will cost you $119, or you can opt to pay $12.99 on a month-to-month basis. The math is on your side if you go with an annual plan, saving you almost $37 for a year of service. Amazon Student only cost $59 annually and gives Prime benefits to anyone who is actively enrolled in at least one U.S.-based college course and has a valid .edu email address. You can also pay month-to-month for Prime Student, which comes out to $6.49 a month.
People on government assistance who have an EBT or Medicaid card may qualify for an even lower monthly rate of $5.99, which comes out to $71.88 over 12 months. You can check if you're eligible here.
Those looking for discounts on Amazon Prime memberships might get lucky during certain promotional periods when Amazon has historically offered membership deals to new customers. The fee went down to $79 when it launched its original series "The Grand Tour." Shortly after, Amazon celebrated its double win at the 73rd Annual Golden Globes by slashing Amazon Prime fees to just $73.
How to Share Amazon Prime
You're allowed to share all your Amazon Prime benefits with another adult and up to four kids, free of charge, as long as they live with you. Both adults just have to link up their accounts via Amazon Household. This lets each person keep their personal account private without having to pay for two Prime memberships. The only downside is that you also have to sync up your payment information.
Amazon Delivery Options & Savings Opportunities
Free Two-Day Shipping
This is probably the most famous Prime perk. Prime members can take advantage of free two-day shipping on eligible items with no minimum order requirement. Eligible items are marked with a little Prime logo next to the price tag and don't include third-party sellers.
For non-Prime members, standard shipping is free on orders over $25. If it's less than $25, shipping rates will vary based on the weight and size of your items. For example, a pack of 36 rolls of toilet paper cost $11.97 in shipping and handling while a hammer was "only" $5.96.
Free same-day shipping and free one-day shipping is also available to Prime members in select metro areas across the country, as long as the order value is $35 or more. For same-day shipping, orders usually have to be placed by noon, but there will be a countdown clock shown on all eligible items to let you know how much time you have to place your order. Same goes for one-day shipping, although you'll have more time to place your order to ensure delivery by 9 p.m. local time the following day.
More than 8,000 cities and towns across the US are eligible for same-day and one-day shipping, which covers 1 million+ items. Check if your area is included by adding your zip code here.
Amazon Prime Now
This Prime benefit provides free two-hour delivery of select Amazon items, and one-hour delivery in select cities for a $7.99 fee. This extends beyond Amazon and into local restaurants and stores, such as Whole Foods. It's a free and convenient way to order groceries, household items and even beer and wine. Amazon Prime Now isn't available everywhere, but is active in a growing number of cities. Since it's a free service for Prime members, Prime Now will become a better alternative to AmazonFresh ($14.99/month) once it's more readily available. Especially for Amazon credit card holders, who will get 5% cashback on Whole Foods purchases.
Enter your zip code here to see if you qualify.
Amazon Prime Pantry
Prime Pantry can best be described as Amazon's online grocery store for Prime members. It offers up a huge variety of items with free shipping if you order five qualifying items or more. Otherwise, Amazon charges a flat $5.99-per-box delivery fee.
No-Rush Shipping = Free Promotional Credits
Amazon Prime members have the option of selecting no-rush shipping at checkout, which gives you a promotional reward you can use on a future purchase. Examples include $1 digital credit that can be used to rent a movie, $20 discounts on Amazon Home Services or $5 off your next Prime Pantry order. It's a great way to save if you don't need your item(s) right away.
Here's a quick guide explaining how to get the most out of no-rush shipping credits.
Amazon Add-On Items
There are thousands of lower-priced products on Amazon that are classified as add-on items because they're cost prohibitive to ship on their own. You're not supposed to be able to order them by themselves because of that reason, but there are two loopholes. The best way is to use Alexa voice ordering. If you have an Alexa device, like the Amazon Echo or Echo Dot, simply order the add-on item via Alexa and it will ship for free by itself. To make sure Alexa orders the correct item, it's best to add the item to your Amazon cart first. If you don't have an Echo, you can still use Alexa via the Fire TV Stick, Amazon Dash Wand or the Amazon app.
The second option is to add pre-order items to your order and then cancel them (if you so choose) before they ship, but after your add-on item has arrived. You will not be charged for your pre-order item until it ships, so you will only pay for your add-on item but still qualify for free shipping.
Subscribe & Save
Amazon Subscribe & Save is an easy way to save up to 15% off your order on things you buy regularly. Common eligible items include trash bags, soap, detergent, toothbrushes and even some food and beverages. You can set the delivery items to be shipped in one through six-month intervals, and you're not locked into those dates forever. You can change the delivery intervals up until your order is ready to ship. If you don't have five items being delivered monthly you will only get 5% off.
Recent changes to Subscribe & Save has caused some confusion for customers. Now, some S&S items will have an add-directly-to-cart button instead of the traditional Subscribe Now one. This means the item will ship directly instead of at the end of the month, so you will not get the full 15% off on that order, and if you're not a Prime member you'll pay for shipping if the order is for less than $25. You can avoid this by simply clicking the link that says "skip immediate delivery and just add subscription."
Read more about how to save money using Subscribe & Save in this article.
What Is Amazon's Return Policy?
Amazon makes returns relatively easy. You can send back the majority of new, unopened items within 30 days of delivery for a full refund, as long as they're sold and fulfilled by Amazon. (Third-party sellers may be a different story.) Amazon also offers extended return times for holiday shopping; deliveries made between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 can be returned through the end of January. You can coordinate returns and exchanges on Amazon's return page.
If you live in Los Angeles or Chicago you can also return your Amazon orders at your local Kohl's store. The service is free, just make sure your item is eligible (check online) before heading to the store. You must also initiate the return online in your Amazon account. You can't just show up at Kohl's with your order. There are supposedly designated parking spots for Amazon returns at Kohl's stores close to the entrance, but availability might vary by location.
Free Movies, Shows, Books and Music
Amazon Prime Music
Prime membership comes with access to a huge (and free) music library that you can stream on multiple devices. Amazon Prime Music features more than 2 million ad-free songs. Additionally, you can upgrade to Amazon Music Unlimited for $7.99 per month (or $3.99 a month if you have an Echo device), which unlocks tens of millions of songs. One thing to note is that students who are on their six-month trial will not be able to use Amazon Prime Music until they start paying for their membership.
Amazon Music, or at least the Unlimited version, aims to compete with Spotify, Pandora, Tidal and Apple Music, but despite being slightly cheaper it hasn't gotten as popular as its competitors. The free version has a much smaller music library, but it's worth checking out if you're already paying for Prime.
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon produces original series and movies, including "Man In the High Castle," "Transparent," "Bosch" and more. Prime membership comes with access to all of them, plus thousands of other movies and TV episodes. The video streaming service now provides premium subscription add-ons, so Prime members can choose from 30 different add-on channels including HBO, Showtime and Starz. These all cost extra and are not part of the standard Prime membership.
You can also get access to Amazon Video without a Prime membership. It'll cost $8.99 a month, which is more expensive than the annual Prime membership if you subscribe for a full year. If you only watch certain shows and like to just binge them when all episodes are available, it might make sense for you to go with the month-to-month option, though.
So how do you watch Amazon TV shows and other video content? You can easily stream it using a smart TV, computer, Fire tablet, Roku, Apple TV PlayStation 4 or Pro, Xbox One S or X and smartphones (you'll need to download the Amazon Video app).
Prime Photos & Amazon Prints
Free up space on your devices by uploading files to Amazon Drive. The mobile app makes it especially easy to backup photos, videos and more, instantly decluttering your phone. Amazon Prime comes with unlimited photo storage and 5GB of free, accessible storage for videos, documents etc. What's more, you can share your photos and videos with up to five people using Prime Photos Family Vault. You can also configure the app to automatically add all your photos and videos to the cloud. That way, in case you lose your phone or accidentally delete a picture, you have it backed up.
Amazon Drive's platform also doubles as a photo printing service. Amazon Prints, similar to Shutterfly or Snapfish, can print single photos, photo books, calendars and the like.
Amazon Prime Reading
Bookworms will be right at home with Amazon Prime Reading. Membership includes unlimited access to more than a thousand books, audiobooks, magazines, comics and more, which you can access on multiple devices. You can also borrow titles via your Fire tablet, Kindle or Kindle reading app.
Kindle First (Amazon First Reads)
US Prime members can get one free editor's pick download each month in a kindle format. The added bonus is you get to download these books before their publication date. To locate Amazon First Reads on your kindle e-reader, select Shop in the Kindle Store, and then select Amazon First Reads. On Fire tablets, tap Books, then Store, then More to Explore, and lastly tap Amazon First Reads.
Kindle Owners' Lending Library
If you own a Kindle e-reader, Fire tablet, or Fire phone, you can loan books through the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. There are hundreds of thousands of titles available, and even though you're technically "loaning" them, there's no due date for returning them. As long as you're a Prime member you can keep a borrowed book on your e-reader indefinitely, but you can only borrow one book at a time. To borrow a book, simply go to the Kindle Store on your Kindle and look up the book you want, then click "borrow for free." To return a book, follow these steps:
- Navigate to Manage Your Content and Devices, and select the Your Content tab.
- Tap the Actions button next to the borrowed book.
- Tap Return this book, and select Yes in the pop-up window.
Access to Audible Originals
This perk, which is $60 a year for non-Prime members, comes free and earns you unlimited access to Audible Channels for Prime.This includes original audio series, popular audiobooks and more. Simply download the free app and you're good to go.
Other Prime Perks
Discounts on New Video Games
Video game lovers who sign up for Amazon Prime get 20% off new titles with launch-day delivery. The discount only applies to pre-orders for physical games shipped and sold by Amazon. Special editions, bundles, re-releases, and re-masters are excluded from this perk. Have a Twitch.tv account? Sync it up with Amazon Prime and cash in on free in-game content, exclusive discounts and other gaming perks with Twitch Prime.
Amazon Prime Early Access
Prime members have a leg up when it comes to Amazon's Lightning Deals. Thanks to Prime Early Access, you can shop these top deals half an hour before they're open to non-Prime members.
Free Washington Post Digital Subscription
As a Prime member, you get 12 months of free digital access to the Washington Post. Be aware that the annual subscription will auto-renew at $100 per year after the first year. You can also opt for a monthly subscription that starts off with the first six months free. After that you will be billed $3.99 per month.
Sign up for a free trial here.
Cash Back With an Amazon Credit Card
Checking out with the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card will get you 3% cash back across various categories as well as all Whole Foods purchases. The savings are even better if you opt for the Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card (Prime membership required), which comes with a free $70 gift card if you're approved, along with 5% cashback at Whole Foods and Amazon.
Access to Amazon Prime Day
Amazon heavily touts Prime Day, which takes place every July, as its biggest shopping event of the year. It's exclusive to Prime members and offers up a variety of deals. In some cases, you can snag discounts that surpass Black Friday and Cyber Monday -- if you know where to look.
Amazon Family (Formerly Amazon Mom)
This program, free with Prime, doles out 20% savings on all diaper subscriptions. You can also expect regular coupons and discounts on baby food, clothing, toys and games, groceries and more, all tailored to your family profile. Amazon Family will also get you up to 15% off eligible baby registry items.
Tacking on an additional $14.99 per month to your Prime membership will grant you access to AmazonFresh, Amazon's grocery delivery and pickup service. The program, which you can try free for 30 days, is currently available in Northern and Southern California, New York, Seattle and Philadelphia.
Amazon FreeTime Unlimited
This Prime program offers unlimited access to tens of thousands of popular kid-friendly shows, movies, games, apps and books via Kindle eReaders, Fire TV and Fire Tablets. Amazon FreeTime Unlimited starts at just $2.99 per month, which might be a good deal for cord-cutters with kids.
How to Cancel Amazon Prime
You can cancel your Amazon Prime membership at any time.
- Head to "Your Account."
- Go to "Manage Your Prime Membership."
- Click "End Membership." (FYI, If you haven't used any benefits, you can get a full refund.)
You will be eligible for another 30-day free trial 12 months after your cancellation date.