There are two big reasons right now why you may want to consider an Amazon Prime membership: Amazon is about to unveil a two-day sale that’s like a second Amazon Prime Day for 2022. And the holiday shopping season, friends, is almost upon us. Really.
And we could give you myriad other reasons why this is a great time to buy an Amazon Prime membership. Among them: ongoing supply chain issues that continue to leave empty spots in store shelves and of course, inflation, food costs in particular. (Shopping online with Amazon can’t help you with the price of gas, at least for now, but it can get you Thursday Night Football.)
But Amazon had cost pressures of its own in 2022. For the first time since 2018, when Amazon Prime rose from $99 a year to $119, the cost of an Amazon Prime membership was bumped up to $139 annually (the monthly rate rose as well).
How Much Did Amazon Prime Cost?
- Cost of Amazon Prime February 2005 - March 2014 : $79 per year
- Cost of Amazon Prime March 2014 - May 2018: $99 per year
- Cost of Amazon Prime May 2018 - April 2022: $119 per year
For many, that price increase didn’t matter, especially for shoppers who are too busy to visit multiple brick-and-mortar stores to pick up everything on their shopping lists, from groceries and gadgets to books and apparel. The Amazon Prime subscription-based service has made buying these items online a whole lot easier – now offering overstock items from Amazon Outlet and second-hand items from Amazon Warehouse.
The core benefit of Amazon Prime is free two-day shipping – that was there at the launch – but over the years, Amazon has added many other perks that have lured more than 200 million shoppers worldwide into ponying up for an annual or monthly Prime membership. Roughly 56% of Amazon Prime shoppers spend between $612 and $2,400 a year on Amazon, according to market data portal Statista. Expedited shipping alone can quickly make the membership fee worthwhile, depending on how often you order.
If you haven't joined Amazon Prime yet, but are considering it, read on to learn more about the various plans offered, the costs and key perks.
How Much Is Amazon Prime Monthly?
The annual Amazon Prime plan membership fee is $139. You're charged upfront, and the annual membership auto-renews every 12 months. Perks include free two-day shipping, access to same-day, one-day or even two-hour delivery on some orders, unlimited music streaming and photo storage, as well as access to Prime Reading (book and magazine downloads) and Whole Foods discounts and delivery.
You can try before you buy. The first 30 days of Prime membership is free. So if you’re not ready to commit to an annual membership you can test the waters with the monthly Amazon Prime plan. The monthly Prime membership fee is $14.99, for a total of about $180 a year (as opposed to the $139 year-long deal). You're privy to the same perks as annual members. It's a good option for shoppers who fear they might get cold feet and want to cancel their Prime membership midway through the annual subscription.
How Much Is Amazon Prime If You Are a Student?
College students can register for a free six-month Prime Student plan trial membership. Initially, you're supposed to register using a ".edu" email address so Amazon can confirm your student status (the email can be changed later). Once verified, students can enjoy the same Prime perks as annual members, as well as get access to Prime Gaming (which includes free gaming content and ad-free viewing on Twitch.tv). Student members also get first dibs on daily deals on everything from skincare products to school supplies. Once the free trial is over, you can sign up for a discounted annual Prime membership ($70) that's good for four years or until you graduate, whichever comes first. Or, you could continue to buy in monthly to the Prime student membership for $7.49.
Attention film buffs: Even if you're not a big online shopper, there still might be an Amazon membership for you. The Prime Video plan allows you to stream movies and television shows on a variety of platforms for $8.99 a month (Prime Video is included for free in your $139 annual membership).
All the Benefits of Amazon Prime
If you regularly order from Amazon, then Prime's free two-day (often one-day, sometimes same-day) shipping is probably enticing enough. However, that's not the only noteworthy perk members with annual, monthly or student plans can take advantage of free of charge:
Free same-day or one-day delivery is available in select metro areas. You must spend at least $35 on eligible products to qualify for expedited delivery. For same-day shipping, orders must be placed before noon to receive them by 9 p.m. the same day. For one-day shipping, orders placed in the afternoon will arrive by 9 p.m. the next day. You can enter your shipping zip code on Amazon.com to find out if either shipping option is available near you. There's also the Prime Now option, which provides a two-hour delivery window on select items in certain areas.
Amazon Prime members can also register for Amazon's Key by Amazon in-home delivery service (check your ZIP code to see if it's available in your town). It provides keyless, in-home delivery of your orders when you're away. Key by Amazon gives the delivery person access to your home to drop off packages just inside your front door or in your garage instead of leaving them outside. You'll need a smart lock on your front door, and your garage door opener has to have the ability to interact with the MyQ app (Amazon will walk you through this). You'll need to download the Amazon Key app so you can lock and unlock your front door remotely, as well as watch your package being delivered (an option if you have a compatible camera installed).
You also get free release date shipping on eligible pre-order items. You'll need to order the item in advance and it will be delivered to you on the release date. For example, "The Last Chairlift," the latest novel from John Irving (and his first in eight years), which is currently available for pre-order but not available in stores until Oct. 18, is eligible for this shipping option. Prime members who don't need their order in a hurry can choose the no-rush shipping option to receive a discount on their active order or a promotional reward that's good toward a future purchase.
Unlimited Streaming on Amazon.com
Prime Video offers unlimited streaming of a wide variety of movies and television shows. And don't worry, it's stuff you might actually want to watch, including the gazillion-dollar Amazon Original The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. You can also subscribe to Amazon channels to watch shows from cable networks including Showtime and Starz for an additional monthly fee of up to $15 (don’t look for HBO; Amazon dropped that pay service).
Prime Music may be worthwhile for those who regularly use music streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify. Prime members get ad-free access to curated playlists, personalized radio stations, and more than a million songs and albums. It's available on a variety of platforms including PC and Mac computers, Android smartphones and tablets, and iOS and Sonos devices. Note that Amazon Music Unlimited is a separate subscription service offering access to tens of millions of songs for $8.99 a month.
How to Get Groceries Through Amazon.com
For would-be Prime members with families or busy lifestyles, grocery shopping on Amazon Prime is a no-brainer. Members get to shop for individual-sized grocery and household items, such as a box of cereal or a pack of diapers. These same items are oftentimes only available in bulk (and at a higher cost) to regular Amazon users. Prime members also get to shop the site's AmazonFresh section, which offers free grocery delivery and pick-up services in select large cities. There may be a minimum order to trigger free delivery, depending on the city you live in.
And then of course there’s Whole Foods, which Amazon bought in its entirety in 2017. Since then, shoppers have been able to order on Amazon.com the upscale grocer's private-label products, including those from 365 Everyday Value, Whole Paws and Whole Catch, and other items. Amazon also rolled with free two-hour delivery of groceries from Whole Foods to Prime members in select cities. Until recently, delivery had been free. Now, Amazon/Whole Foods is charging $9.95 per delivery. And that's on top of your annual Prime membership. Amazon also gives Prime members an extra 10% off on sale items at Whole Foods stores (look for the yellow signs) plus other seasonal deals.
Alternatives to Amazon Prime
If the $139 rate yearly subscription fee has you thinking about canceling Amazon Prime altogether, there are a range of alternatives, who are likely to turn up the heat on Amazon with some competitive offers. These include:
- Best Buy Totaltech
- Scribd (audiobooks and e-Books)
- Barnes & Noble annual membership
- Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy & Athleta rewards program
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.