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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Is an Amazon Prime Subscription Worth the Cost?

Amazon Prime membership just keeps going up, along with the price. But is it worth the cost?  

Amazon Prime seems to many like an affordable luxury. For $139 annually, you get free two-day shipping, music streaming, video and more. But just a couple of months ago, Amazon slipped ads into Prime Video and wanted a $2.99 monthly payment to take them back out. 

Adjusting for inflation, Amazon Prime’s $79 cost in 2005 ought to be $127 now – but we just keep paying more. Of course, the bundle is different now. When it was launched, Prime amounted to a free shipping service. Nowadays you get access to 100 million songs in the Prime Music catalog, although you can only shuffle them. If you want on-demand, that’ll be another $9.99 a month. 

Another benefit shoppers love is access to Prime Day deals before everyone else. You can score major deals on high-ticket items without worrying that they’ll all be sold before you can log in. The only downside here is for people with limited self control. After all, a deal is only a deal if it’s something you really want or need. 

Apps that review and eliminate subscriptions

You sign up for an app, then gradually forget to use it. We’ve all done it multiple times. The problem is that those little monthly costs add up, and pretty soon you’re paying $200 a month for … nothing. Why not get rid of those excess subscriptions using an app that will find them all for you? Here are three that will search for your subscriptions and bring them to your attention so you can decide what action you’d like to take, if any:
Want even more deals? You can request an invite to special Prime members-only deals.  You’ll then get notified about special sales that most Amazon shoppers know nothing about! 

Benefits Come with Cost

Another Prime benefit is unlimited photo storage. Awesome! But it doesn’t include unlimited video storage. If you accumulate more than 5 gigabytes of video files, you’ll need a storage plan ($23.88 a year for 100GB). 

Amazon began charging $9.95 for Whole Foods delivery to Prime customers in 2021, and in 2023 raised the minimum spend for free Amazon Fresh delivery to $150 from $35. When customers balked, they lowered the minimum to $100. Prime subscribers still get 10% off on certain deals at Whole Foods, but no one would call it a discount grocery store to begin with. 

“Prime has always delivered disproportionate value to its members and will always do so. We improve the membership each year with more selection, value and convenience,” said an Amazon spokesman. “Members recognize the appeal of Prime’s shopping, savings and entertainment benefits, and we continue to see strong benefit engagement and high renewal rates.”

How to Make Prime Worth More

You might qualify for a discount on your membership and not even know it. Eligible recipients of government assistance including Medicaid and SNAP can get Prime for only $6.99 monthly. Your grandchildren aged 18 to 24 may qualify for a student discount. It comes with a 6-month free trial and $7.49 per month fee after that.

Single seniors can essentially get Prime for half price by adding another adult to Amazon Household.  The person needn’t be related or live with you, as long as you’re okay sharing payment methods. Your logins and purchase histories will remain private while you both can access all the benefits of Prime. This deal is great for roommates or friends and cuts your expense to under $70 per year. 

Prime Visa

Another trick is to get a Prime Visa card along with your Prime membership. It entitles you to 5% off purchases (only 3% if you don’t have Prime), 5% back on Chase travel, and at Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh, both in store and online. The card comes with no annual membership fee. 

How much do you have to spend to make Prime work for you? If the only benefit you’re getting from Prime comes from discounts via the associated Visa, you would need to spend $7,000 annually at on the Prime Visa (receiving an extra 2% per purchase over what non-Prime members get) to pay for your $139 membership. 

Overall: Keep or Kick?

The amount of value your Prime membership gives you is unique to your own situation. How much do you save on music streaming? Do you watch Prime Video? What’s it worth to be able to beat the crowds on Prime Day sales? Can you split your membership with someone else? Does your Prime Visa make up the difference? 

If history serves, Prime membership cost will rise to $159 next year. Knowing that, it’s a great time now to list all the Prime services you use and how much value they bring to your life.

This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional financial advice from a qualified financial advisor.