What is Amazon Prime?
What started as a humble online bookstore in 1994 has grown into the world’s largest online retailer and fundamentally changed the way Americans shop. Before, shopping online was an afterthought for most retailers and spending money online was kind of a chore. Today, you can buy almost anything on Amazon and do it with just a click.
But more than anything, Amazon has changed the way we think about delivery. Before the e-commerce revolution, delivery times of two to four weeks were the norm. Amazon could reliably deliver your books in less than a week to almost anywhere in the country. Then, in 2005, they outdid themselves with the introduction of Amazon Prime, a membership program that offered “all you can eat” express shipping for a $79 annual fee. Today, Amazon Prime is all of that and more.
Benefits of delivery
Prime’s best-known perks tie directly to its fast delivery roots. Free two-day shipping is still part of the package, but as a Prime member you get access to free one-day and same-day shipping on millions of items. Of course, same-day delivery is limited to orders over $25, but given that next-day delivery costs at least $10 with most carriers, it’s still an amazing perk.
If you don’t care whether your package is delivered that quickly, you can opt for No-Rush Delivery which comes with a reward, usually a voucher for a Kindle book or other Amazon digital product. If you’re the type of person who needs the latest release on release day, Amazon has Prime members covered with their release-date delivery service, too.
A lesser known Prime perk is Amazon’s prescription drug service. Amazon can’t process insurance payments, but if you pay for your prescription out of pocket, Prime members can find the best prices and get free two-day delivery on their medications.
As a Prime member, you can even consolidate your packages to arrive on the same day of the week. And if you really trust your delivery person and have installed a myQ smart garage door opener, you can ask Amazon to leave your packages safe in your garage with Amazon keyaway from the eyes of roving parcel thieves.
Probably the most touted purchase benefit for Prime members is First day, a two-day event where Amazon offers exclusive deals to Prime members, especially on their own hardware like Fire tablets, Kindle e-readers and Echo devices. This usually happens in mid-July and this year is no exception. We are just waiting to hear from Amazon for the official dates.
How’s your credit? Amazon has two credit cards available depending on your needs. If you just want to vary your credit on Amazon, you can request the Prime Store card which earns 5% Amazon Rewards on all items and up to 15% on select purchases. He also has a Visa card with no annual fee which earns 5% on Amazon purchases and at least 1% on all other purchases.
Do you have a Whole Foods near you? Amazon bought them back in 2017 and offers a number of discounts and services to Prime members. If you have the Prime Visa card we just talked about, you’ll get 5% Amazon Rewards when you use it at Whole Foods. Prime members even get free two-hour delivery in some markets.
What may surprise you (it surprised me) is that Amazon has special services for Prime fashionistas. His Try before you buy offers a selection of clothing for men, women and children that you can have sent to you (up to six items) in a resealable box. Try on clothes for a week, return what you don’t want and pay for what you keep. If you need advice on your drip, Amazon has a personalized styling service for Prime members which costs $4.99 per use. First, take an online fashion quiz and a stylist will select up to 16 items for you. Then choose up to eight of these options to send to you. Finally, keep what you love and return the rest.
One of the best perks of a Prime membership is access to First video, Amazon’s answer to Netflix and Hulu. Amazon is no slouch in the streaming world either, it has some of the most popular shows streaming right now. Members also get free access to a library of two million songs or, for $8.99/month, they get access to Amazon Music Unlimited which has a library of over 90 million songs (compare that to the roughly 82 million available on Spotify).
Another surprise in Amazon’s stable of services for Prime members is First game. More than an answer to the Epic Games Store, Amazon is giving members free gaming content, a free subscription to a Twitch channel of their choice, and at least five free games every month (I totally get Escape from Monkey Island).
Amazon also has a cloud storage solution for your photos and videos. Normals get 5GB of photo storage (pay monthly for more), but Prime members get unlimited photo storage and 5GB for video just for being a member.
For the literate among us, Prime has you covered. Amazon has a library of ebooks that are free reading for Prime members. And once a month, members can select a book for free from a curated list of early access titles.
Finally, if you have children, Amazon has the Amazon Kids+ service that bundles kid-friendly content from all of their services (books, shows, apps, music) into one package. Normally it costs $7.99/month or $79.99/year, but Prime members pay $4.99/month or $48/year. Moreover, the content is available on all Android and iOS devices.
Is an Amazon Prime subscription worth the money?
To get access to everything Amazon Prime has to offer, you’ll need to pay $14.99/month or $139/year. Alternatively, if you are enrolled in college or have an .edu email address, you may be eligible for a First student subscription for $7.49/month or $69/year. Finally, if you just want access to Prime Video, it’s $8.99/month.
Considering all the services available with a Prime subscription, it is certain could worth it. If all you do is order products from Amazon and don’t worry about how quickly they’ll get to you, it’s not worth the extra money. But once you start taking advantage of some of the other services, it starts to get more appealing.
If you’re a gamer who loves subversive superhero shows and orders a few things online, free games and streaming make Prime a pretty good deal. Likewise, if you’re a parent struggling to keep your kids entertained, need a backup solution for your family photos, and enjoy a book to unwind, again, Prime is probably worth it.
Amazon Prime comes with a ton of perks which, if used, makes it one of the best subscriptions online. For comparison, Netflix’s basic plan is $9.99, only offers standard-definition video streaming, and doesn’t allow simultaneous streams. For $5 more, Amazon offers three simultaneous streams in 1080p and 4K more everything else.
But if you don’t buy much online and don’t care what Amazon offers, it’s probably not worth it.