Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime is a paid subscription that provides exclusive services and products to Amazon customers. For $12.99 per month or $119 per year, members receive access to Amazon Prime-only deals as well as expedited delivery at no additional charge including two-day shipping options and even same-day delivery in eligible areas.

While fast, free shipping is a primary attractor for Amazon Prime subscribers, a Prime membership also includes a number of extra benefits:

  • Access to select movies and TV shows through Amazon Prime Video
  • Ad-free music streaming through Amazon Prime Music
  • Grocery delivery with Amazon Fresh
  • One free newly released Kindle ebook per month with Amazon First Reads
  • In-home clothing try-on with Prime Wardrobe
  • Unlimited photo storage with Amazon Photos
  • Up to 10 simultaneous ebook, magazine, and comic downloads with Prime Reading

For avid online shoppers, an Amazon Prime membership also offers 30-minute early access to exclusive “Lightning Deals” and exclusive access to members-only deals on Amazon Prime Day, a Black Friday-eque shopping day that typically occurs each year in July.

Limitations of an Amazon Prime membership

There are some important limitations to take into consideration when evaluating an Amazon Prime membership. For starters, the Amazon Prime Music service that is included with a Prime membership provides access to only 2 million songs and a thousand playlists and stations. Access to Amazon s full library of 60 million songs and “expert-programmed” playlists and stations with Amazon Music Unlimited will cost an additional $7.99/month. There is a more affordable Echo plan that allows users to access Amazon Music Unlimited for $3.99 per month, but this subscription is limited to a single Amazon Echo device.

Similarly, the video and TV show library offered through Amazon Prime Video and book titles through Amazon Prime Reading are limited to lesser-known videos, shows, and books in most cases. Newer releases, more popular titles, and access to content from premium networks like HBO will require separate purchases or additional membership plans.

Prime Free Trial and other Amazon Prime discounts

Those looking to take Amazon Prime for a test drive can sign up for a free 30-day trial of the service. A credit card is required to sign up for the trial, and the membership fee is automatically charged at the end of the 30 days unless the membership is cancelled in advance.

In addition to the standard Prime account, there are versions available for college students, EBT and Medicaid recipients, and families. College students can get a six-month free trial and 50% Prime membership discount through Amazon Prime Student with a valid .edu email address for up to four years. Similarly, EBT and Medicaid cardholders are eligible to receive a discounted membership rate of $5.99/month for up to four years.

Finally, a family can share Amazon Prime benefits through the Amazon Households program, which provides account access for up to two adults, four teens, and four children for the price of a single membership. This type of account allows parents to supervise younger children s screen time with Kindle FreeTime and approve older children s purchasing decisions with a simple text message.

Prime Pantry vs. Amazon Fresh vs. Prime Now

Amazon offers three grocery delivery services (Prime Pantry, Amazon Fresh, and Prime Now) for Prime members, which can lead to some confusion. Reports surfaced in 2018 that Amazon would be merging their Fresh and Prime Now services; while the Prime Now mobile app is still available and supports transactions as of September 2020, it appears that Prime Now has been effectively integrated with Amazon Fresh. By contrast, Amazon Pantry offers distinct benefits for shoppers looking to order non-perishable items that might be expensive to ship, hard to buy in bulk, or simply more convenient to order online.

Amazon Pantry

Amazon Fresh/Prime Now

Exclusive to Prime members?

No, but free shipping is available to Prime members only

Yes

Minimum order total for free shipping

$35

$35

Shipping cost if minimum total isn t met

$5.99

$4.99 for 2 hour delivery

Delivery speed

1-4 business days

2 hours (1 hour delivery available)

Delivery type

Ground shipping (Amazon couriers, USPS, FedEx, UPS, etc.)

Amazon Fresh trucks and contracted drivers, pickup also available

Inventory type

Non-perishable food and household cleaning items (can be purchased in bulk)

Groceries and convenience items from Amazon warehouses, Whole Foods locations, and local grocery stores

Availability

Contiguous US only

2,000+ US cities and 6+ global locations

Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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