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Is Amazon Prime worth it at $139 a year?
Amazon Prime is Amazon’s deluxe subscription model. When it started many years ago, it only offered free two-day shipping on select items. It has since expanded quite a bit, offering a slew of services on books, movies, additional shipping perks, and more. A price hike precipitated this gradually widening range of services in 2014 from $79 per year to $99 per year. In May 2018, the annual price went up by $20 to $119. Then, in February 2022, the price was raised again from $119 to $139. Many people have now started to ask: “Is Amazon Prime worth it?”
It’s a difficult question. Amazon Prime’s value hinges on how many items you order and how much you use its other services. In this post, we’ll take a look at everything Amazon Prime encompasses in 2022 and try to figure out if it’s really worth it.
1. Yearly vs. monthly prices
Amazon allows customers to sign up for Prime monthly. Currently, the monthly subscription option costs $14.99 a month, which works out to $179.88 for a year. Clearly, if you believe Amazon Prime is worth it, your best bet is to pay the $139 annual fee upfront.
Qualified student subscribers get a hefty discount. These plans offer Amazon Prime for just $7.49 per month or $69 per year. Additionally, EBT/Medicaid and select government assistance recipients pay only $6.99 a month.
Aside from all the perks the Amazon Prime membership offers, you can extend your experience with other extra subscriptions. We’ll discuss these optional added costs in the sections where they apply.
2. Shipping perks
Of course, the big highlight of Amazon Prime is the free, fast shipping. This perk is convenient, especially if you are terrible at planning a week in advance. Amazon Prime subscribers get access to free two-day, one-day, and same-day shipping. Of course, there are limitations to these benefits. These are only available for select items. Your location, the items’ location, and other factors will make a difference. These are usually only available when you buy items sold and/or shipped by Amazon.
Some cities get free same-day shipping on three million items if your order is over $35. You can get free two-hour delivery on groceries in certain cities. Finally, if you have a Whole Foods grocery nearby, you can order from them online and pick up your order in just one hour as a Prime member.
When free shipping was still the spotlight feature of Amazon Prime, figuring out if the subscription was worth it boiled down to some relatively simple math. The cost of paying for two-day delivery outright was $3.99, so if you had fewer than 30 Amazon Prime-eligible orders a year, you might as well cancel your service.
Read more: How to cancel Amazon Prime
Since Prime started, Amazon has added ways to get free shipping without having a Prime subscription. You can take advantage of free shipping if your cart contains all eligible items and has a total exceeding $25. However, the items might not be shipped to you in two days. In fact, they rarely are.
Additionally, you’ll enjoy “Prime Try Before You Buy.” This service allows you to get clothes shipped to you for trying out. You can then return what you don’t want, and Amazon will only charge you for what you keep.
Prime subscribers’ other great shopping features include Amazon Key, Prescription Delivery, free Release-Date Delivery, and more.
Whether Amazon Prime is worth it just for the shipping advantages depends on how often you shop. If you shop online infrequently, it may not be worth it. Amazon’s free shipping for non-Prime members during the holidays makes this even clearer. However, the benefits of Amazon Prime membership, besides its shipping deals, make things more complicated.
3. Video streaming services
All eyes were on Netflix and Hulu as they tried to become a better option for a while. Amazon launched its streaming video service to relatively little fanfare. At first, it didn’t have much original or exclusive content. Since then, Amazon Prime Video has expanded its reach considerably.
Amazon Prime Video has launched acclaimed original series like The Boys, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and more. It also offers first access to Amazon Studios’ growing library of original films, which arrive a few weeks after they complete their theatrical runs. However, the overall video content library isn’t as good as Netflix’s. Clumsy navigation still afflicts the service, though in general, everything about Amazon Prime Video has improved drastically in the last couple of years.
Amazon Prime Video also has special “Channels.” They bundle together many other third-party streaming services that 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.
The future of Amazon Prime Video is also looking bright, with several major original series in the works. The biggest is a future TV show based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings fantasy universe.
While Amazon’s original content on Prime Video cannot match what’s available on Netflix or Hulu, it’s clear that the company is sparing no expense in adding more shows that could become the next Game of Thrones or Walking Dead in terms of popularity.
Additionally, you can always pay for Channels like HBO, Showtime, and others. These range between $4.99 and $14.99 a month.
4. Unlimited Amazon Photos
Google Photos is very well integrated with Android, but it no longer offers a free, unlimited option. You might have to pay for a Google One subscription if you plan to store a significant amount of photos and videos in the cloud. Thankfully, you might not need Google’s photo upload service.
Amazon Prime users get unlimited uploads to Amazon Photos, and at full resolution. You don’t get the same privilege for video uploads, though, which are limited to 5GB.
5. Music streaming services
There are many subscriptions to choose from in the grand battle of music streaming services—Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music.
Prime Music looks like it’s trying to get into this action, but it’s still a serious underdog. Sure there are two million songs available for instant streaming, but Spotify sits pretty with a solid 60 million in its library. YouTube Music has over 35 million, and Apple Music boasts more than 50 million. This isn’t bringing a knife to a gunfight — it’s bringing a toothpick to global thermonuclear war.
The Amazon Prime Music library is also cycling, so it doesn’t seem to be the best option at all for someone who wants a meticulously curated library with hundreds of hand-crafted playlists. The service would have to expand and change quite a bit to attract serious music buffs, but as a service included with a membership you’re already paying for, it’s not bad at all. It actually might work well for the casual music fan who would just as soon listen to their radio as anything else.
There’s also Amazon Music Unlimited, which offers tens of millions of songs, no ads, support for downloading songs for offline listening, and a way to listen via voice controls if you own one of the company’s Echo smart speakers. Anyone can sign up for Amazon Music Unlimited for $9.99 a month (with a 30-day free trial). Still, if you are already signed up for Amazon Prime, you can get Amazon Music Unlimited for $7.99 a month, shaving $24 off the price if you stick with it for a year.
6. Kindle and Audible 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 your smartphone’s free Amazon Kindle app.
As a Prime user, you get access to Prime Reading. It offers free access to over a thousand eBooks, popular magazines, comics, books with Audible narration, and more. Prime users also get access to Amazon First Reads, another way to snag free books. Every month, Amazon posts some select eBooks. From this list, Prime members can download a digital copy on the house.
Additionally, Prime members get an invitation to start an Audible Premium Plus trial with two credits to use on any titles.
7. Prime Gaming benefits
Are you a gaming enthusiast? You will be happy to learn Amazon offers very nice Prime Gaming benefits to its subscribers. These include free games and in-game content.
With the March 1st Amazon Luna launch in mainland USA, Prime members get added benefits with their subscription. Prime subscribers will get access to a rotating selection of games for free. The first month will include Devil May Cry 5, Observer: System Redux, PHOGS!, Flashback, and Immortals Fenyx Rising (3/8 — 3/14). There are also over 100 paid titles to choose from, and the list of free Prime Gaming Channel titles will change in April.
You may not know this, but Amazon also owns Twitch, the streaming video service that caters to content creators. While it started as a gaming-oriented service, with creators streaming “Let’s Play” content live, Twitch has since expanded to include all sorts of content from creators. If you sign up for Amazon Prime, you get a free Twitch channel subscription of your choice.
8. Amazon Prime Day
Every year, Amazon holds a special shopping event for Prime members. Amazon Prime Day allows paid subscribers and even those on the 30-day free trial to save lots of money on millions of retail products and services. Amazon Prime members also get some exclusive deals throughout the year, so you might save a good amount of cash even when it’s not Amazon Prime Day.
9. Breaking down the numbers
For Netflix, you can spend as little as $9.99 a month. YouTube Music Premium costs $9.99 per month, and if you upgrade to YouTube Premium for $11.99 a month, it eliminates ads and offers downloadable music and video.
Recently, rival Walmart launched Walmart Plus for $98 a year, or $12.95 a month. Its main benefit is free grocery delivery from 2,700 Walmart locations if you buy $35 or more. You can also get free next-day or two-day shipping via Walmart.com with no minimal order. In addition, you can save up to 5 cents a gallon at over 2,000 Walmart, Murphy USA, and Murphy Express gas stations. Finally, there’s Scan & Go, which lets you enter any Walmart store and, while using the Walmart app, scan items you want to buy. You can then pay for them instantly and walk out with them without going through the checkout counter.
Amazon Prime’s video and music services cost just $139 a year. Amazon’s video content is worse than what’s offered on Netflix, but it is improving and will continue to get better. However, if you had to pick between the two, Netflix and YouTube Premium seem to offer $240 worth of value annually. Paying $139 for Amazon Prime every year doesn’t provide quite as much value.
If you shop a lot on Amazon, you can usually cover the cost of the service with the savings you get on two-day shipping. If you only shop on Amazon occasionally, the $139 yearly membership may not be worth it.
10. So, is Amazon Prime worth it?
Is Amazon Prime worth it? It depends on what kind of user you are.
If you take full advantage of the many services that come with a Prime membership, signing up is very much worth it. If you are not a heavy Amazon buyer of goods, your best bet is to ditch the $139 yearly fee and stick with Netflix and YouTube Music. They may cost more, but they also offer a lot of content in return. Ultimately, that’s where you want to spend your hard-earned money.