Amazon has come a long way since its early days as just an online bookstore. Since launching in 1995, the store has grown into a staple that sells everything.
Over 100 million people have taken their love of the brand to the next level by signing up for a little something called Amazon Prime. For $119 per year (or $13 per month), the subscription service gives members access to thousands of movies and songs to stream, groceries delivered to your door, free two-day shipping, and so much more.
But is it really worth it to add another subscription to your plate? Our experts say it depends. Let's break down what the service is all about.
How much does an Amazon Prime membership cost?
A basic Amazon Prime membership costs $119 per year. If you want to break the payments up, you can also choose an option that costs $13 per month. Before paying anything, know that you can get a free 30-day trial. Just make sure you cancel before the month is up or you'll be charged for the membership amount.
If you're a student with a .edu email address, you'll get a pretty steep discount on your Prime membership. Amazon Student is free for the first six months and costs $60 per year after that. During your trial, you'll only have access to free shipping on Prime eligible items, but you'll be able to access full Prime benefits - like video and music streaming - after that.
What's included in my membership?
You know about two-day shipping and music streaming, but a Prime account comes with so many more bonuses to make your life easier. You can find a complete list of perks here, but in the meantime, here are some of the highlights:
Prime members also get exclusive access to Amazon's massive Prime Day sale, which is basically Black Friday in July.
Does Amazon Prime Day live up to the hype?
Yes, Amazon Prime Day is a BIG DEAL. The online sale exclusive to Prime members offers over a million rapid-fire deals on TVs, smart home gadgets, kitchen items, groceries, toys, fashion, furniture, appliances, back-to-school supplies, and everyday essentials. This year it starts on July 16 at 3 p.m. EST and will run over the course of 36 hours.
Just tell me, is it worth it to sign up?
Before taking the plunge and committing to a yearly or even monthly membership, Rachel Rothman, the chief technologist in the Good Housekeeping Institute recommends asking yourself these four questions:
- Does it make sense for where you live? Many perks like Prime Now are only available in certain cities. If you live in a more rural area, you'll want to check Amazon's policy to see if the perks you're most excited about will be available to you.
- Will your savings outweigh the cost of your membership? Shipping costs can really add up if you're ordering everything from Amazon. Generally, if you plan to order 25 or more packages in a year, you'll save enough on shipping costs to pay for your membership. You may also be able to cancel your music, television, or movie streaming service all together if you're satisfied with Amazon's offerings.
- Do you have kids? Enrolling in Amazon Family - a service only offered to Prime Members - gives you access to family-oriented offers and coupons. You can also get up to 20% off subscriptions to diapers, baby food, and more, and a 15% Baby Registry completion discount.
- Do you need super-fast delivery? If you have a busy schedule, having your groceries or other household items delivered right to your door could save you wasted time stopping at the store.
One guaranteed way to find out if a membership is worth it: test it out! "Try the free trial and see if you use the membership to its full potential," says Rothman. If you find that you're relying more on Netflix and Spotify for streaming and still hitting up your local convenience store for household items, Amazon Prime may not be worth it. Just remember to cancel before your 30 days are up if you decide the membership isn't for you.
You also might want to consider these other options:
The bottom line: It's worth it if you use Amazon a lot.
Amazon Prime offers some pretty sweet perks to its members like free two-day shipping, music and movie streaming, discounts and more, but the $119 price tag is really only worth it if you plan to milk your subscription. If you're also using another streaming service for your entertainment and prefer to do most of your shopping in stores, signing up may not be for you. On the flip side, if you do plan to order most things from the online super store, your savings on shipping alone could cover your membership fee.
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