Is Amazon Prime really worth it?

by: John DyeJuly 11, 2016

amazon prime

Amazon Prime is Amazon’s deluxe subscription model that initially only offered free two-day shipping on select items when it started. However, it has since expanded quite a bit into a slew of varied services that run the gamut from books to movies to, yes, additional shipping perks.

Sign up for Amazon Prime (free 30-day trial)

This gradually increasing range of services was precipitated by a price hike in 2014 from $79 per year to $99 per year. In response to this adjustment, many Prime users really started to wonder if it was worth keeping their membership.

Now that question is even more difficult to answer, because Amazon Prime’s value hinges not only on how many items you order, but also how much use you get out of its other services. Here we’ll take a look at everything that Amazon Prime encompasses in 2016 and try to figure out if it’s really worth it.

Shipping perks

This has been a major selling point for Amazon prime since its inception. The big highlight is, of course, the free two-day shipping. That sure is mighty convenient, especially if you, like me, are really bad at planning a week in advance.

When this was still the spotlight feature of Amazon Prime, figuring up if the subscription was worth it to you boiled down to some fairly simple math. The cost of paying for two-day delivery outright was $3.99. So that meant that if you made fewer than 25 Amazon Prime-eligible orders over the course of a year, then you might as well have cancelled your service and just forked over the $3.99 for each order.

Amazon Prime mailbox shutterstock ShutterStock

But now things have gotten more complicated even in the narrow topic of shipping. For starters, Amazon has started adding ways to get that free shipping without having a Prime subscription. Their program Fulfillment by Amazon Small and Light lets US residents skip paying for shipping on specific items costing less than $10 and weighing 8oz or less. On the other end of the spectrum, Amazon now lets you take advantage of free shipping if your cart contains all Prime-eligible items and has a total exceeding $49. If these items are all books, then the total only has to be $25 to qualify. Come on, guys. It’s like you don’t even want me to pay you for Prime!

However, while it’s possible to get free shipping without Prime, Amazon has been sweetening their Prime shipping perks for subscribers. For instance, many Prime members in certain cities can get same day delivery on qualifying orders exceeding $35. Hell, with Prime Now, some zip codes get free two-hour shipping for select groceries and electronics and one hour delivery of takeout restaurant food (not available in my area, but I hear it’s freaking sweet). Two day delivery is still free for all eligible items regardless of your cart’s total, and one day shipping is notably cheaper for Prime users: just $2.99 per item. Prime Pantry is also a pretty cool service that lets you get many of your groceries and home goods delivered to your doorstep (if you live in the continental US) for a flat delivery fee of $5.99. In the same vein, you also get exclusive discounts on family products like diapers.

amazon prime now (3)

From my perspective, though, this really just isn’t enough to make it worth it. I simply don’t order enough Prime eligible items in the $10-$35 range to justify it, and a lot of subscribers are in the same camp. This is where the other benefits of Prime membership come into play, and it’s where the math starts to get messy.

Video streaming services

For a while there, all eyes were on Netflix and HBO as each tried to become the other faster than its opponent. Amazon launched their streaming video service with relatively little fanfare, and if memory serves, them was slim pickin’s in the beginning.

I remember when I first realized I had access to Amazon’s video streaming library. After accidentally stumbling into Amazon Video, I checked it out for about twenty minutes before realizing Netflix already had most of these selections and a lot more to boot. I basically forgot about Amazon’s video services until “The Man in the High Castle” and “Mozart in the Jungle” started making waves. I pulled the library back up, and was surprised at how expansive it had become.

Amazon Prime Instant Video best video streaming apps

Now that Amazon has entered the exclusive content production game alongside HBO and Netflix, they’ve become a much more competitive force in this category. Whatever the next Amazon-produced “PERSON in the PLACE” television series is, you can pretty much bank on it being a hit you’re going to want to check out.

However, their library isn’t quite as good as Netflix and, in my experience, Amazon Instant Video isn’t anywhere as smart as Netflix. Netflix starts to get really good at recommending movies for you if stay in the habit of doling out star ratings with machiavellian brutality. Amazon Video does nothing comparable. Those stars represent user reviews, like those on IMDb, not an estimation of how much you’re going to like a show or movie. Clumsy navigation still afflicts the service as well, but in general, everything about Amazon Video has improved drastically over the last couple of years.


Even more recently, Amazon created their Streaming Partners Program, which bundles together streaming services to let you watch and manage subscriptions all within Amazon Video. Amazon’s “X-Ray” feature is functional on all media content streamed this way, letting you check out IMDb information about what you’re watching without opening another window.

SPP-tv-image_450wideSee also: Amazon now letting Prime users attach other video streaming services1

It doesn’t take a PhD in Extrapolation to predict that Amazon will continue improving their user experience, expanding their library, and producing more exclusive content in the future, so your Amazon Prime membership will probably only get more valuable going forward in this regard.

Music streaming services

In the grand battle of music streaming services, there are a lot of subscriptions to choose from. Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, (RIP Rdio), etc. I think we can all agree that Google Play Music All Access is the all around best one and anyone who uses anything else is delusional. If you don’t agree, come at me in the comments, bro.

Amazon Prime Music

Prime Music looks like it’s trying to get into this action, but the streaming service is still a serious underdog. Sure there’s over a million songs available for instant streaming, but Spotify is sitting pretty with a solid 20 million in their library.  Google Play Music All Access has over 35 million, and Apple Music is supposed to have something like 43 million. This isn’t bringing a knife to a gunfight; this is bringing a toothpick to global thermonuclear war.

Amazon’s music library is also cycling, so it doesn’t seem to be the best option at all for someone who has a meticulously curated library with hundreds of hand-crafted playlists. However, for the casual music fan who would just as soon listen to their radio as anything else, Prime Music has something for just about any taste. The service would have to expand and change quite a bit before it starts attracting serious music buffs, but as an added service that you’re already paying for, it’s not bad at all.

Kindle Perks

For bookworms, Amazon Prime comes with some serious pluses. Even if you don’t own a Kindle, you can still take advantage of these using the free Amazon Kindle app on your smartphone.

As a Prime user, you get access to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, which is like the world’s largest ongoing book-swap meet. For those looking to save a buck or two, this is a great way to find new authors, as you basically get a free book each month. You have to give it back when you’re through, so fans of re-reading will probably want to purchase their own digital copy.


Prime users also get access to Kindle First, which is another way to snag free books. Every month, Amazon posts some select Kindle First picks, and from this list, Prime members can download a digital copy on the house.

To be transparent, I haven’t been taking advantage of either of these benefits at all because I’m still buying physical books like some sort of Amish luddite. As is the case with all of these services, how much value it adds to Prime is entirely contingent on how much you use it.

Odds and Ends

There are a handful of other perks that Prime Members get that don’t fit well into any other category, but they contribute to the service’s value for some. For instance, Prime Photos is an unlimited cloud storage service that comes part-and-parcel with your Prime membership, but nobody should really be using it because Google Photos does the same thing better for free. You also get access to Amazon Elements, which is Amazon’s initiative to create their own line of everyday products. Prime Early Access lets you see Lightning Deals thirty minutes earlier than non-Prime users. Two adults living at the same address can create an “Amazon Household” to share select benefits. Prime users also get a substantial 20% price cut on new video games if they pre-order or buy within two weeks of release, but there are some convincing arguments that pre-ordering is bad for the gaming community across the board.

amazon cloud drive photos

Breaking down the numbers

I pay for my own Netflix, but I’m an HBO GO parasite – and you can put down your gavel there, judge, because I know you’re just riding off your coworker’s Hulu account. So even though I get to enjoy the spiraling depression of The Leftovers, I’m going to leave HBO GO out of my math here.

Netflix Shutterstock

For Netflix, I spend $8 a month. I’m also an evangelistic Google Music All Access subscriber, and for that I gladly pay $10 per month. That means for those two services alone, I pay $216 every year.

Now, Amazon’s libraries and features for their analogous services clearly just aren’t as good as my two favorites, but are they more than half as good? Amazon Prime is just $99, so I’m currently paying more than twice for these services than I would by just subscribing to Amazon’s B-squad content and interface. However, I clearly prefer the streaming services I’m already using, and I do feel like I get $216 worth of value out of them annually. This means that, of the $99 I’m paying toward Prime every year, very little of this goes toward me using their streaming services.

Apple Music vs Spotify vs Google Play Music

I two-day ship practically everything I order from Amazon, but these days the vast majority of my orders would qualify for the Small and Light program or the $49+ free shipping. Since I’m still stuck on physical books, all the Kindle perks go to waste, and by ordering two or three books at a time, I could easily cash in on that non-Prime free shipping for book orders valued $25 and up.

Effectively, I’m paying $99 per year to get maybe three or four packages sent to me for free and to watch “Mozart in the Jungle.” I must be out of my mind.

Final verdict

So is Amazon Prime really worth it? In short, no. It’s not.

Well, to be more specific, it’s not worth it to me in the way that I’m currently using it. I’m not taking advantage of the vast majority of services that come with a Prime membership, and since I use subscription services like Netflix and Google Play Music, I’m effectively double-paying for similar services. I enjoy the benefits of free two-day shipping frequently, but most of my purchases are now covered by shipping perks that extend beyond Prime members. It’s possible that many, many Prime members are in same situation as me.

amazon prime now

For Prime to really be worth its price tag, you have to actively engage all of the benefits it brings to the table. For a family of avid video gamers who see nothing wrong with pre-ordering, who are living in a city where Prime Now is available, who have a baby in the house that needs cheap diapers, and who aren’t super concerned about curated music libraries or robust streaming services… Prime is hella worth it. Everything it offers fits neatly into the needs of their lifestyles. For me personally, and for many others, it would be fiscally responsible to ditch Amazon Prime, take advantage of the non-Prime shipping perks, and stick with dedicated streaming services.

Am I going to do that, though? Will I extricate myself from the cycle of unthinkingly auto-renewing Prime year after year? Well, I’m not super fiscally responsible, so probably not. Also I have to finish “Mozart in the Jungle.” For me, Prime remains a splurge that I know I’m over-paying for, and no reasoned arguments – apparently not even ones made by me – will coerce me away from it. This is madness, but it’s my madness and I’m comfortable in it.

Sign up for Amazon Prime (free 30-day trial)

So what are your thoughts regarding Amazon Prime? Are you using enough of these services to justify the $99-per-year price? Did you discover any benefits in this list that you didn’t know you were missing out on? Let us know in the comments below!

  • Daggett Beaver

    Yes. I order a lot of stuff from Amazon (much more than 25), and I like getting free 2 day shipping. I’ve saved enough money with that alone to justify the membership. But I use other services, like Amazon Prime movies, etc., too, and that’s icing on the cake.

    Just one bit of advice: Some items at Amazon may seem reasonably priced with free shipping, but many items are also WAY overpriced on Amazon. Shop around. I’ve found items elsewhere that are dramatically cheaper than on Amazon, even when I pay for the shipping.

    • Murphy

      This. I always compare prices, with eBay actually, because most of the items on their ship free anyway without having to hit the $35 minimum, thus is why I haven’t renewed my Prime.

  • patstar5

    I order so much stuff with free 2 day shipping that I normally would have to pay because it’s under the free shipping mark for non prime members that I probably save. Though I signed up when it was $70 something.
    I think I can get it for $50. Is amazon student the same thing as amazon prime?

  • Jonathan Kramer

    The other thing Amazon does is the addition of “Prime member only pricing” though I’m not sure how many items are set up this way. As a long time Netflix subscriber who still pays $8/mo and also gets HBO Go I find the Amazon video catalog lame in comparison. I’m also not a frequent purchase customer at Amazon and prefer books to eBooks, so I agree with your conclusion.

  • For me, it depends on how much I order from there.

    I have/use their Amazon Store card, and if you’re a prime member then you can get 5% off your monthly statement. So if I spend X amount of money throughout the year then I make back the price of the Prime subscription. So it can be free if you end up ordering a lot from Amazon

    • Daggett Beaver

      Yeah, I get points for spending on my Amazon credit card, and I’m frequently able to buy things “free” because the points cover my purchase.

  • Colin Barraclough

    It’s £80 pounds in the UK. This includes NEXT day delivery, music and prime video and I think it is an absolute bargain. I dont subscribe to netflix, google music etc

    • Chris

      Because you have a tiny country who drinks tea all day

      • Colin Barraclough

        Nice stereotype

  • Me

    And out of all that, you know what we have in Canada for the 100$ a year? 2 day shipping… THAT’S IT… So the Canadian version of this article would be “Is it worth it to take Amazon Prime at Amazon Canada? NO. – The End”

    • Paco Inurreta

      Im not really sure how it works in Amazon Mexico but I feel you!

  • Oobiewan

    Every second week I get really angry with spotify, but I considered changing to Play music, and didn’t. When reading the related section in this article, I just couldn’t remember why I didn’t. Then I remembered Play music doesn’t have a desktop client. That’s a dealbreaker for me. Even the crappy desktop client of Spotify is better than no desktop client.

    • InfDaMarvel

      Desktop Client is useful for playing offline music. But I’m connected to the Internet all the time so using the chrome browser with the pop out player is good enough.

      And at the same time windows media player and the like exist.

      • EeZeEpEe

        Ditto. I use Google Play Music On my desktop via Chrome just fine. It’s not that bad really.

    • Chris

      Play music sucks

      • steadymobb

        In your opinion. I don’t mind it – there are definitely some small things I don’t like about it but it does the job and connects to my iTunes library which I love and comes with Youtube Red – no commercials AND you can listen to videos outside of the app! That alone is almost worth the 9$ to me.

      • moew

        Go play on redtube then. See what I did there?

    • steadymobb

      Play Music doesn’t have a desktop client but they have a webapp you can use easily and works fine.

      • Oobiewan

        so since my comment, I’ve been using Play music, and both the Android app and the browser have some serious drawbacks. I.e., I exit the browser with songs in the queue and the music stopped in the middle of the song, and the next time I open the page, it forgot everything. doesn’t even know which song I was listening to.

  • raffr

    I find prime worth it as I do use a kindle to read, we do stream movies, I will buy 1 item (USB cable was my last item) and enjoy the free shipping. I also listen to amazon music since it is included and find it ok for my needs. As for the picture backup, why not use it? I also use google photos. If you read, shop and stream movies/TV shows it is a good value. If however like the author, you pay for netflix and another music streaming service and buy physical books, then no, it’s not worth it.

  • Jeremiah R.

    Their shipping has gotten much worse lately, often taking 3-5 business days instead of 2. The items are literally sitting in the warehouse for 2-3 days before being shipped, for no good reason that I can see. I won’t be renewing if they don’t get this situation fixed.

    • Eric

      If i order by 2pm I usually get my item the next day. If not, my item comes on the 2nd day every time. No idea what your situation could be but I do know they are fed up with UPS not being able to keep up in some areas which is why they are investing in their own shipping system.

      • Jeremiah R.

        Really? Because lately this has been far too common for me:

        • Chris

          Don’t order late in the day

          • Jeremiah R.

            10am isn’t “late in the day”.

        • Marcellus1

          You know how some items have the checkmark with Prime by them indicating it’s free Prime 2-day shipping? That watch you ordered is not one of those items–it’s free shipping but not Prime shipping. 3 of the 5 colors of that watch have Prime shipping and two do not.

          • Jeremiah R.

            Completely incorrect. It absolutely did, it came from Amazon Warehouse Deals (it clearly says it in the previous pic), directly from Amazon themselves, and it was supposed to have 2 day delivery, just like this one (see the Prime symbol?):

          • Marcellus1

            It’s clear that it’s from Amazon Warehouse deals and shipping from Amazon, but that doesn’t mean it gets Prime shipping. I’m looking at your pic but I don’t see a Prime symbol. Here’s a pic showing the prime symbol it has to have if it is going to qualify for prime shipping.

          • Jeremiah R.

            You don’t see the Prime symbol in this pic? I even put a red box around it.

          • Marcellus1

            My apologies sir–when I responded to you first that pic that you reposted was not showing with your comment and I assumed you were referring to the initial pic. However, I am not yet convinced that the watch you ordered shipped with Prime. The current listing of the watch on Amazon shows prime shipping for the black watch, similarly as in your pic, but not prime shipping for the stainless steel that you ordered. As I mentioned previously, not all of the colors of this watch have the prime shipping.

          • Jeremiah R.

            Yes, Amazon does sell that model of the watch, it just isn’t the lowest price (3rd one down), and as you can see, it has the Prime symbol next to the price. I ordered via Prime and it’s late, which has happened frequently, I’m not sure why people are in such denial.

          • Marcellus1

            What does your invoice show as the shipping speed?

          • Jeremiah R.

            2-day shipping

        • Paco Inurreta

          Well I dont see the Prime symbol here but let me ask you something. Who is delivering your items? UPS, DHL, USPS? Because I do really get fast shipping from the warehouses in the US or Canada to Mexico and Im really impressed with the shipping time. I heard that in some places USPS is delivering and it really takes some time for them to process.

          • Jeremiah R.

            UPS and FedEx are my carriers. As you can see in the first pic I posted, it hasn’t even left the warehouse yet, and that’s the problem.

          • moew

            That IS a problem. My last 2 orders took like 3 days before they shipped.

        • Harrold Pok

          Well if it’s after the guaranteed delivery date you can start a chat with Amazon customer service and get an extra month of prime for free.

          • Jeremiah R.

            With all due respect, if the service has become so crappy, and for me and many others it has, what is the value in a free month? Frankly, I don’t want free months, I just want my stuff to arrive on time.

          • Harrold Pok

            Yeah, that’s true

          • Jeremiah R.

            and now they’ve simply CANCELED MY ORDER. No notice, no word, it’s just disappeared. Fuck you Amazon, you suck.

          • Harrold Pok

            Haha, wow Amazon…

          • Jeremiah R.

            This isn’t like a $20 set of earbuds, either. It’s a $300 watch, for god’s sake.

    • Sherpa

      I have never had issues with their shipping. In fact, I have gotten many items the next day even when I chose the default 2-day shipping.

      • Jeremiah R.

        Good for you, unfortunately I can’t say the same and it’s been really annoying. I don’t do much streaming, and the other services are neat but not very valuable, IMO. Pretty much the only reason I pay for Prime is to get fast 2-day shipping, because I order a lot from them, and without that benefit I don’t see a reason to pay for it anymore. Frankly, I’m starting to feel like they’re purposely trying to make me stop ordering from them anymore.

        • John Quincy Adams

          Yes, a gigantic company is picking on you…. GET OUT OF HERE!!!!!!!!

    • Joseph Gottlich

      Did you bother to complain? When they had trouble with getting my packages to me multiple times, I complained and got extra months added to my membership; effectively moving my renew date three months. And now they even make sure stuff gets delivered to me on a Sunday by the postal service no less

    • Anustart

      I’m with you. In the past 6 months alone I had 5 orders take 3 or more days on their 2 day shipping. It’s getting progressively worse. They only offer more months on the Amazon membership. Not wanting that I just want my items when they were “guaranteed ” at check out.

    • Jeremiah R.

      UPDATE: I chatted with 2 reps, both essentially telling me, “Tough luck, we never had it in the first place, and your order was cancelled because we can’t fill it. Lulz, have a good day.” It was shameful.

      Not sure if it would matter, last night I filled out a scathing, on the verge of losing my composure, Customer Feedback form. I unloaded with both barrels (no profanity)… Then, a half hour later, my phone rang (at 1:30am), it was a CS manager. He apologized profusely, practically groveling, then offered me a new watch (same model) for the same price as the one from AWD, with free FedEx priority overnight shipping (it should arrive Monday morning), 6 months of free Prime, and a bunch of free movie rental certificates.

      In the end, I’m satisfied, but all of that could have been avoided if they hadn’t been treating me like crap to begin with. So I guess complaining does work, you just have to do it in the correct way and to the right people. If you aren’t happy and aren’t being treated fairly, use the CS Feedback form, apparently someone DOES read them.

    • Sharon Wertz

      If you don’t get it in 2-3 days, if you contact them they will give you an extra free month of prime

    • Understanding 18

      I totally agree. The shipping has been horrendous lately as a Prime subscriber every since Amazon has been using USPS instead of shipping via UPS and FEDex like they used to packages have been arriving late. Amazon needs to seriously stop using USPS because it is definitely screwing with the shipping. If you go onto the Amazon discussion online forums about USPS shipping you will see loads of complaints from customers.

  • WhateverYouWantItToBe

    Wow. 2 day delivery? I thought the UK usually had most things bad but Prime for UK guarantees next day delivery if you order before 8pm. I guess the logistics are a bit easier, but still surprising considering US usually gets everything bigger and better.

    • WhateverYouWantItToBe

      I can also get it for £39 instead of £79 (student discount) but I’m still unsure whether to go for it. Spotify also offers half price for students and I’m tempted by it as well.

    • Chris

      Well amazon was founded and based in the US after all.

      • WhateverYouWantItToBe

        Yeah, but what I’m saying is that the UK is actually getting it better with one day delivery compared to 2 in the US.

  • Eric

    Love prime. If I order early enough my item comes the next day. We have allot of family members that use the same prime account so it is easily a good deal for us. Even if it was only me and my wife I think we would still get our moneys worth based on how much we order. Also, ‘Man in the High Castle.’

  • Jason DonkeyKong Budzi

    Personally, I think it’s worth it.
    1. I get a student discount
    2. I buy so much from Amazon every week.
    3. It provides discounts on some items.

  • Rick_Deckard

    Yes it works for me…. I just need to pay $49 per year (student account)

  • James Diman

    Great article breaking it down.
    I signed up for the free 30 days and then accidentally forgot to cancel, so I ended up auto-paying for the year membership. Ouch. Amazon is not for me, for any of their services. Like you pointed out, there is not a large music library, and Play Music and Milk Music are free anyways. I don’t have Netflix, and if Amazon Movies has a smaller collection, then I am not going to use it. I have a few books on Amazon, but mostly were free from Samsung when I bought the Note 4, I get a free book a month. I managed a large grocery store chain, and know the quality that they provide, and I will never use Amazon’s delivery grocery service. I still prefer to touch and feel items in a store, rather than order from Amazon. Most of the time, things in Amazon are not really cheaper than in a store. The only time I have really ordered anything, is something that is unique and I cant find in any store, like parts from my drone. I think I have only ordered maybe five things from Amazon delivery in all the years they have been around. I may be in a minority in not jumping on the Amazon bandwagon, and probably never will. My year ends in a couple of months and I have already turned off the auto-renew so I don’t have to pay for this again.

  • jstew182

    They also started offering 20% off video game pre-orders for Prime members. I am not a huge gamer myself but I did just preorder a game that ended up saving me $16. If people preorder videos frequently (once a month), it more than pays for itself just in that regard.

    I would love to use Prime Video but without it being available via Chromecast or Android TV, I dont use it which is frustrating. I dont want to sit there and watch it on my phone when I have a much larger tv I could be watching it on.

  • Tony T.

    I order a ton of crap with Prime and occasionally watch movies. To me, I think it’s worth it, but I haven’t actually brokden down the math.

  • Sherpa

    Shipping alone makes it worth it to me since I order so many things from Amazon. Even if 2-day shipping were a low $5, ordering 20 items from them would break it even. I order way more than that. Plus, the movies and music are added bonus even if they don’t offer that much.

  • TR

    amazon has been selling new console games for $48 instead of $60 for prime members. not all of them but a lot of the big releases. Already saved a lot as a prime member from that. Also prime gives you money back for slow shipping an item for free if you don’t need two day shipping. Also gives free credit for certain purchases. also pretty effective using prime with the autorip feature for music where you can get a physical copy of an album and a digital copy. I have friends that use that to either give away the physical copies and others that sell the albums and pays for most of the music for free.

  • Chris

    So because it’s not worth it to YOU if we John, you have to be prancing around telling people to not use it?

    I’m fine with it. Just don’t be going around telling people how to use their own money

  • John Quincy Adams

    We are happy with Prime and enjoy using it. Shipping has never been an issue. I wish Amazon would play nice with Chromecast. That is my only complaint.

  • LastKings31

    I’m a college student so Prime is $50 a year for me so it is much definitely worth it

  • EngineerGunter

    At school right now and I’m able to make and update an “.edu” email address meaning I’ve had Amazon Prime for free for as long as I’ve been in school… So worth it. Then there’s when I’m done: just paying for half of my mother in law’s Prime account… Still worth it.

  • Howie Eastin

    i honestly feel that i get the most from my prime membership…the biggest thing that I use outside of shipping would be the prime movie service. Because of prime I get my packages on time, especially during the holidays, and the movie service to me is better than Netflix when it comes to movies. I still however prefer netflix in regards to watching old tv shows and catching up to the new ones I watch. So yes for me, Prime is worth it

  • Schroeder

    Totes disagree. It’s worth it to everyone that orders things online. You get free two day shipping on a majority of items plus tons of extras. I’ve ordered at least 20 items in the past 4 months from Amazon, and I’d be spending $99 on shipping or waiting three times as long on average to get those things. I just cancelled my Netflix, don’t use Hulu and am stoked for the Top Gear successor show to kick off this year. I have thousands of friends with Netflix, so I’ll catch up on House of Cards with them.

  • Samuel G Alterio

    It wasn’t worth it to me. My items Sat in the warehouse for days before shipping, it was explained to me items “in stock” when ordered didn’t ship on time because they were not in stock near me. Yeah, OK…
    Last 5 orders, all from Amazon, not 3rd party sellers, got double or triple billed.
    While I liked Amazon music, I was extremely dissapointed with Amazon video and since I cannot run either on my Shield TV, that’s another strike where I’ve got no problem running Google Music, Netflix, HBO Go and my Play Store movies on any of my Android devices, Shield TV included.
    The “best advice” I received from Amazon was to NOT dispute the multiple charges on my account so I could prove to them it was occurring on a printed statement. Sorry, not happening.
    But I’ve got crappy luck.
    I’ve got several family and friends and out of about 30 people I know that regularly use Amazon, only one other experiences the billing issues as well.
    I guess if I need something I can’t find anywhere bit Amazon, I’ll have to buy Amazon gift cards from the grocery store, but at least it’ll give me fuel and grocery discount perks in the process.

  • TRON

    I just let my Prime run out in February. I don’t have any regrets. I only really used the free shipping since I subscribe to Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Spotify. It also prevents me from impulse purchases since it makes me pay $3.99 for crappy free shipping.

    I never found the Amazon Prime video lineup to be that great. It seems like Hulu is getting all the best content these days and Netflix is focusing more on original content.

    • Dominick White

      I did the Same thing

  • Amy

    I’m simply trying to decide if the streaming would be worth it for me. I have Netflix, but am considering switching.

    • EdFromOhio

      I realize this is 6 months old, but I thought I’d answer anyway. We have both and Netflix is a lot better than Amazon’s free selection. Each carries their own stuff, so you’ll find minimal commonality between the two. That’s why we have both instead of a “one or the other” scenario.

  • smokebomb

    I already spent more than $99 this year so my prime membership is justified.

  • Nomar

    I live in Puerto Rico and with Prime I get free shipping on almost everything and free 2 day shipping on some, without Prime I would have to pay for shipping. For me the free shipping alone is really worth it.

  • Mark Washington

    Buy an Echo! You won’t regret it!

  • DirkBelig

    >“The cost of paying for two-day delivery outright was $3.99.”

    Nope. If you made your calculations on that, your math is completely wrong. First, the MINIMUM shipping cost is $3.99 – larger/heavier items cost more and two-day delivery is piled on top of that. You can’t really find a rate chart on Amazon anymore, so for grins, I logged out of my account and tossed a boom mic stand I’d recently purchased for $24.86 including tax (my state just started collecting, DAMMIT!!!) with free Prime shipping. It’s currently selling for 76 cents more, so keep that in mind. Here’s the breakdown without Prime shipping:

    Items $24.21
    Estimated shipping & handling $6.72
    Total before tax $30.93
    Estimated tax to be collected $1.85
    Estimated order total $32.78

    Let’s say the price difference and taxes add a buck to the bill, rounding things off it’s still $32 vs. $25 due to the shipping and that’s the cheapest shipping they have. I had 30 orders last year, only 7 of which were over the $50 free shipping threshold. Most were light things like computer RAM or Blu-rays, but there was a 7.1 lb power supply and that boom stand is 2.3 lbs and I ordered three. (Right now if I ordered two the shipping would leap to $13.43 because I’d be 58 cents under the free shipping point.) Let’s say 20 of those only cost the minimum, that’s $80 right there and that wouldn’t have been 2-day delivery.

    There’s some stuff on Amazon Prime Video worth watching especially since Netflix keeps shedding movies in favor on their own TV series. I never use the Music services because I only pay $8 for Google Play Music and that now includes YouTube Red meaning I’m never seeing that d-bag in the garage with his Ferrari when watching on a non-adblocked device. I get a free Kindle book each month, not that I have time to read.

    Even with some of the price advantage lost due to paying sales tax, I find Prime to be worth it for my usage case.

  • Budsgrowers

    Good, I love to see

  • Android123

    Long, but good article John. AGREED on all points, especially that Google Music/YouTube Red is the best. In addition, I hate that Amazon Crime streaming service still does not play with Chromecast. I was getting ready to cancel my Prime membership even before reading your article. Cheers

  • Np

    I use Amazon prime NOW which is amazing for 2 hour deliveries! They cover a lot of things. My laptop HD died and I was in urgent need. Ordered SSD from Amazon NOW with 1 hour delivery. Same price and got my laptop running.
    Also, for the guys complaining about the delivery time. Item page says if its available for 2-day shipping and still if you don’t get it, you can call them for replacement and they would make 1 day shipping for you. I have been through that when I ordered moto 360. I didn’t received in 4 days, they sent me another one. 2 weeks later I got another one which was originally shipped! :D Prime membership paid off :-)

  • Juschan

    i guess it depends on regional preferences but for me and all friends so would be around 400 people its clearly spotify … besides i have prime + spotify and i pay a small 70€ per year for both and i use prime not for music or the mse kindle stuff but it is still clearly worth it

  • Robert Mann

    I can’t get out much, so online buying is not a luxury for me, it’s a necessity. For free two day alone, Prime is worth it to me. I also really like the video service, and I’ve found their library to be fully adequate.

    I don’t use the music service at all, be cause I believe my Rhapsody subscription fulfills all my needs. I’ve had an account with them for as long as there have been streaming music services. While they lag behind iTunes sometimes, I refuse to deal with Apple, and would never switch. I think Rhapsody is the best service, hands down.

  • John, that was an amazingly well written and researched article. Thank you for running the numbers.

    Prime will also let (or at least let you get away with) giving a sort of membership to a friend. I’m getting it from a friend of mine. All you get is the free shipping, but it’s another thing to consider.

    I get the feeling Amazon is going to keep increasing the perks that come with Prime membership.

    • John Dye

      Thanks Christopher!

  • muddog15

    Most of the movies that Amazon Prime offers are low budget, nobody ever heard of garbage movies. I keep mine because I order a lot of stuff. It’s the only part of the membership I use. I couldnt care less about the music service or any of the other stuff besides the TV shows and movies. But everything I want to watch I have to pay more for, that is why I joined Prime. In the beginning the had a lot of vids and movies included. Then they changed all of that when they came out with the music service. Now pretty much all of the membership sucks and is not worth the money.

  • Khian Lim Foo

    I personally don’t use all amazon prime benefits like music, movie and etc but I do think that Amazon Prime is worth it if you are a student. You just have to pay $50 a year and have 2-days shipping. Not just that Amazon Prime allows you to have more free return compare to regular customer. Another thing that I heard was Amazon Prime Movie is pretty good (maybe not as good as Netflix).

  • Richard Molby

    The author didn’t take the Subscribe & Save grocery store into consideration. I use this extensively for those high-use items, like Kleenex, certain spices, vitamins, and if you get 5 items or more per monthly order, you get 15% off the entire monthly order. This is a major Prime benefit to me. And I do use Amazon Video quite a bit, just because most of what is on Netflix doesn’t interest me.

    So like the author, said in a different way, the usefulness of Prime DEPENDS, in my case I am benefiting from the various services offered.

  • EdFromOhio

    It may not be worth it for this author, but it’s absolutely worth it to me in shipping alone. More than a couple of times, I’ve ordered something on a Friday and it was delivered to my smallish town on Sunday. Sunday! And any returns are free shipping. Now if I order something on a Saturday, that rule doesn’t seem to apply as I’ll usually get my stuff in 3 calendar days instead of 2 and sometimes longer for some reason.

    I don’t use the free books because it requires a Kindle device and not just using a Kindle app on an Android device. Kindle devices just don’t appeal to me. I hardly use the streaming music because it’s a bit difficult to navigate and there’s no way to block “explicit” songs from being played. So it boils down to the shipping, and in less than 3 months, there’s no doubt that I’ve used the $79 cost of Prime.

    So is Prime worth it? ABSOLUTELY (for me.)

    • Franklewank65

      Those days are over my friend.

      • EdFromOhio

        For the music, yeah. They just stuck a knife in the back of many Prime members who used their music service. Now they get to cough up an extra $95/year if they want the same level of usability.

  • It is very worth it for me, i’ve started with the student discount for colleg. For the past three years I’ve only been paying 49 yearly

  • Regdawg

    Stores like Target, Walmart, BestBuy pricematch to Amazon so although Amazon might be cheaper, you can pay the Amazon price in-store. I price-match all the time and 95% of the time it is cheaper on Amazon. When I had PRIME back in the day I found myself impulse buying thats why I never renewed. Because I knew it could get here in 2 days or even next day. NOW they have same day delivery (in some areas) as long as you order by noon, the items was at my door by 7pm that night even on Sundays. Even though I like the new same-day service, I just don’t know if its worth the $100 a year. Oh and I just found out that I can sign up for PRIME with Sprint and I would just pay a monthly fee through my sprint bill. They are just trying to make things sooo convenient aren’t they to try and get people to sign up.

  • Petër Thórn

    You missed unlimited cloud storage for photos. That’s unlimited. In the cloud. Now shut up and let them take my money.

  • smokebomb

    You forgot prime now.

  • Brandon Wagner

    Prime now lets you pay monthly, rather than all at once, which was the game-changer for me. I was already a Prime guy, but was considering letting it go. With monthly payments, I’ll keep it, and they’ll really have to piss me off for me to cancel… Oh, did I mention the geek factor deal you also get on Amazon-owned Comixology Unlimited?? I’m definitely a devoted fan and Prime perma-member!!

  • Franklewank65

    I have had Prime from the beginning and they keep pushing out the 2nd day free shipping to 4 business days and im not counting the weekend. WTF? It says free 2nd day shipping on Wed at 3 pm and I will get it Tuesday???? I do use prime movies at times but I don’t know if I can justify being a Prime member much longer with the slow shipping.