Editor’s note: This post was originally published in January 2013. Since then, the price of Amazon Prime has risen to $99 a year.
Is Amazon Prime worth it?
At $79 a year, Amazon Prime is kind of a big expense for cheapskates like me. But I decided to give Amazon’s premium service a try late last year when I got an offer for a $20 credit on my Amazon credit card for signing up.
Here’s how Amazon Prime works: You pay the annual fee, and during that time you get the following:
- Free two-day shipping with no minimum order (and discounts on one-day shipping). Or choose not to get the free two-day shipping and get standard shipping free and a bonus credit (usually MP3 credits) instead. You can share this feature with other members of your household, which is a plus for spouses shopping for each other.
- Free unlimited, instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows.
- Free access to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library which allows you to borrow one book a month (Choose from thousands of titles and more than 100 current and former New York Times Bestsellers).
What’s good about Amazon Prime
Delivery by UPS.
I live in a rural area. So rural, that my postal carrier doesn’t always deliver my packages to my home. When that happens, I have to make a 14-mile trip (28 miles total) to town to pick up my package. Amazon Prime orders are usually shipped by UPS, which means they always get delivered to my doorstep within 2 days of ordering. And it’s free! This means a big savings on gas and it’s a big time saver, too. I’m able to use UPS MyChoice to track when my packages will arrive, too.
Free access to movies and TV shows.
I must admit, I haven’t taken advantage of this feature because I just don’t have the data capacity out here in the country. (If I downloaded a couple of movies, I wouldn’t have enough bandwidth to blog). But if I had a great internet connection, you can bet I would use this service all the time. While the selection isn’t quite as good as Netflix, it is a little bit cheaper. This would be a nice perk for someone who’s trying to cut their cable costs.
Free Kindle books.
If you figure that most Kindle books cost between $3.99 and $12.99, and you’re able to borrow a book for free, every month, then membership in Amazon Prime is a good deal. You could save $150 a year or more, depending on what titles you borrow. Of course, if you only ever read books from the library, it’s not much of a deal to pay for the subscription. But if you often buy books to read, Amazon Prime will definitely pay for itself.
What’s not good about Amazon Prime
You’re likely to spend more money than you want to.
When you can get what you want delivered for free in just two days, it’s pretty easy to impulse buy. Regular Amazon customers need to meet a threshold of $35 to qualify for free shipping. Waiting to have enough items in your order to meet that minimum purchase requirement can help you hold back from making snap decisions. When you’re an Amazon Prime member, it’s pretty easy to see a deal and grab it… and you don’t have the time to process whether it is a smart purchase or not.
Not all items qualify for Amazon Prime two-day shipping.
Some items sold by third-party vendors through Amazon are not eligible for Amazon prime. The same thing goes for most “Subscribe & Save” items. This means you may end up paying shipping despite having the Amazon Prime membership.
You need good internet to take advantage of the free video streaming.
You need to have a great data plan and a fast connection to take advantage of the free movies and TV shows. You’ll also need a computer or device to watch them on. If you get hooked on watching movies this way, chances are you’ll want to invest in various cables to connect your computer to your TV or a Roku HD Streaming Player to stream movies more easily. Getting your system up to speed can be a little bit of an investment.
The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library is limited.
The Kindle Lending Library has thousands of titles you can read for free. But the quality of some of the titles is limited and the most popular titles are often not available. The Kindle Lending Library is also not the easiest resource to source, which makes it a bit of a time-suck when it comes to finding a free book to read. I’ve read a few good books and a few not-so good books from the Kindle Lending Library. Your mileage may vary.
So is Amazon Prime worth it?
An Amazon Prime subscription is worth it if you are a Kindle owner who places a lot of orders through Amazon. It’s worth it if you are homebound or live in a rural area where transportation options may hamper your ability to shop in brick and mortar stores. It would be great for seniors who want to shop from home or for busy moms who don’t want to take the kids with them to the store.
It’s also a great service for those who love books, television shows, and movies.
But if your goal is to save money, then skip it. You’ll face constant temptation with Amazon Prime, and you’ll feel a subtle pressure to make sure you’re using the premium service you’ve paid for.
Sign up for Amazon Prime only if you will actually use at least two of the major benefits of the service regularly. Otherwise, save your money. Amazon offers free standard shipping on orders of $25 or more and it only takes a few extra days for your order to arrive. And if you watch Twitter and Facebook, you’ll probably be able to periodically snag free or cheap instant movie downloads. And of course, there are always free Amazon books to be found throughout the year.
What do you think? Is Amazon Prime worth it?
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