What is Amazon Prime?

Amazon Prime is a paid subscription service that offers additional services and perks not available to Amazon's regular customers.

The online juggernaut launched Prime in 2005 by offering free two-day shipping. The service surpassed 100 million subscribers in 2018 and has only continued to grow. Global subscriptions now top 200 million.

As Amazon has expanded its offerings beyond shipping benefits, Amazon Prime members have gained access to video and music streaming services.

One- and two-day shipping fees are now waived for Amazon Prime members, plus they enjoy an ad-free experience on movies, TV shows and video games.

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How much is Amazon Prime?

In February 2022, the cost for a standard annual membership costs jumped from $119 a year to $139 a year. If you don't want to commit to an annual membership, you can pay $14.99 a month.

If all you want is access to Prime Video, that will cost $8.99 a month.

Amazon Prime benefits

In addition to free two-day shipping for eligible items and free same-day delivery in elgible ZIP codes, Amazon Prime members receive access to Prime Video for unlimited streaming of movies and TV episodes. For the music lovers, get unlimited, ad-free access to the streaming service Amazon Music Prime and all their curated playlists.

Other Prime membership perks include:

  • Prime Gaming. Get access to free games, in-game content and a free channel subscription on Twitch.tv every month.
  • Prime Try Before You Buy. Members have a seven-day window to try-on select clothing items at home - for free. You only pay for the items you keep.
  • Prime Early Access. Get 30-minute early access to Lightning Deals you see on Amazon.com.
  • Amazon Photos. How many photos are on your phone or laptop? Too many? With Amazon Photos you get unlimited photo storage in Amazon Drive.
  • Credit cards. For holders of the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature credit card, earn 5% back on all Amazon.com purchases.

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Save big on shipping with Prime

Depending on how much you order from Amazon, you might make back the membership fee in shipping savings alone.

For Prime members, the free two-day shipping is available across the U.S. on over 100 million items.

Amazon tops that by offering one-day delivery for more than 10 million products, and even same-day shipping of over 3 million items in certain cities.

More: Do you save more at a big box chain store?

Other Prime benefits worth mentioning

With an Amazon Prime membership, you also can borrow e-books, magazines and more from the Prime Reading catalog. You also get early access to download a new book for free every month, plus pbuy hardcover titles at special prices.

Members also receive discounts on select Amazon Family products, which includes diapers and baby food.

Prime members also get special deals at Whole Foods Market, which is owned by Amazon. Just scan the Whole Foods app at the register and enjoy an extra 10% off that week's sale items.

Another perk worth noting is that you can share your Prime membership with one other family member. The catch: that person must live in the same household.

Is Prime worth the cost?

As the cost of a subscription has increased for many services, paying for an Amazon Prime membership may seem relatively reasonable given all the added benefits.

Netflix, for example, charges $9.99 a month for a Basic plan and $19.99 a month for the Premium plan. That's roughly $120 up to $240 a year - just to watch movies and TV. Throw in a music streaming service like Spotify, and that will cost you $9.99 a month for an individual plan.

Put those services together, and now you're spending at least $240 a year.

So for some, Amazon Prime may still be a good deal given the variety of services that come with your subscription.

How to pay less for a Prime membership

Still not sure you want to cough up $14.99 a month for Amazon Prime? If you're not currently a subscriber, you might consider signing up for a 30-day free trial.

You can experience all the Prime perks: the free shipping, video, music and the rest. Not to mention Prime Day. After 30 days, you'll automatically be charged your membership fee, so you must cancel by then if that's what you decide to do.

You also should keep your eyes open for occasional promos on Prime.

For those still in school, the cost of an Amazon Prime Student membership is just $69 a year, or $7.49 a month. Qualifying EBT and government assistance recipients can also get a Prime membership at the discounted price of just $6.99 a month.

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About the Author

Doug Whiteman

Doug Whiteman

Former Editor-in-Chief

Doug Whiteman was formerly the editor-in-chief of MoneyWise. He has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and CNBC.com and has been interviewed on Fox Business, CBS Radio and the syndicated TV show "First Business."

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