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Kip Tips

5 Surprising Perks of Amazon Prime

There’s more to the $99 membership than free shipping and streaming videos.

If you’re like me, one of the untold millions who signed up for Amazon Prime years ago strictly for the free two-day shipping, you might not realize some of the other benefits of being a Primer.

SEE ALSO: 9 Amazon Hacks That Will Save You Money

Oh, I haven’t been clueless. I knew Prime members had access to free streaming videos and music, as well as Kindle reader freebies and whatnot. As an all-things-Apple person since the late 1980s, I really had no use for any of those bennies. iTunes and a Netflix subscription have met my needs.

So when the yearly fee for Amazon Prime shot up to $99 and my billing cycle hit in May, I started having second thoughts about Prime’s ROI. I’m no longer ordering enough products through Amazon to cover $99 worth of shipping costs. And the one time I needed Amazon video the service failed me.

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So I dug in. Here are some things I found:

Dash Buttons

You can replenish scores of everyday products from Amazon at the touch of a button – no computer required. The secret is the Dash Button, a freestanding plastic device about the size of a thumb drive that’s tied to a specific product. Let’s say you’re running out of toilet paper. Simply push the Charmin Dash Button mounted in your bathroom, and in two days you’ll get more rolls in the mail.

Prime members can order Dash Buttons from Amazon.com, which in late June announced the addition of more than 50 new brands ranging from Campbell's Soup to PLAY-DOH. I tested two: one for Tide detergent and another for Slim Jims (don't judge). Once the buttons arrived by mail, it was a snap to connect them to my home Wi-Fi network using the Amazon Shopping app on my smartphone. Each button costs $4.99, but the money is credited toward the first order. I placed the Tide button in the laundry room, of course, and the Slim Jim button near the beverage fridge.

Free Same-Day Delivery

This perk doesn’t apply everywhere, mind you, but 27 markets and counting is a fairly wide swath. If your ZIP code, which you can check out right here, offers same-day service, when you order before noon and choose the same-day shipping option at checkout, Amazon says the package will be delivered by 9 p.m. that night. If you order past noon, an option is next-day delivery. Two caveats: The order must total $35 or more, and not every product Amazon stocks is eligible (though the company claims over a million products are).

Free Two-Hour Delivery

Talk about impulse shopping. Amazon’s Prime Now service delivers the goods for free within two hours, in 27 select markets (located near Amazon warehouses, naturally), including Atlanta, Los Angeles, Orlando, San Antonio and Virginia Beach. Can’t wait that long? You can get the goods in an hour in some areas, but you have to pay a $7.99 upcharge. Prime Now specializes in delivering a mix of more than 25,000 items ranging from food and pet supplies to electronics and beauty products. And, of course, Amazon-only products, including Kindles. The service will also deliver food from select restaurants to your door in an hour at no extra charge.

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Access to Exclusive Brands

Amazon is expanding its private-label offerings – an area that holds huge business potential, as we pointed out in our story on grocery chain Wegmans. Amazon Elements products are already available only to Prime members, and the company is rolling out other exclusive private-label brands. Also unique about Elements: Scan a special code on the product – using your Amazon Shopping app – and you will see where every ingredient in the product was sourced, down to the water in the baby wipes.

Membership Sharing

This is another new one to me, but you can share your Amazon Prime membership. Here’s the catch: Your Prime benefits can be shared with one other adult in a household – as long as you both agree to share your payment methods. That’s fine for a spouse, but giving your roommate access to your credit or debit card might be a deal-breaker. Your partner in Prime has to have a separate Amazon account to be able to be added to your Prime membership. You’ll then be able to share the Prime free two-day shipping, streaming video, Kindle libraries and more.

SEE ALSO: 9 Things You Should Never Buy Online