Amazon Prime

How Much Does Amazon Prime Cost for a Membership?

The annual cost of an Amazon Prime membership has remained steady for both new and renewing members, even with new competition and the surge in business during COVID . The cost varies for monthly, student and other Prime memberships.

During the darker days of the COVID-fueled lockdown, many of us realized just how much we depended on Amazon Prime in so many ways. For shoppers who are too busy to visit multiple brick-and-mortar stores to pick up everything on their shopping lists, from groceries and gadgets to books and apparel, the Amazon Prime subscription-based service has made buying these items online a whole lot easier.

Free two-day shipping is one of the most popular benefits of Amazon Prime, along with unlimited music and video streaming. That got disrupted in the spring and summer of 2020 as Amazon prioritized delivering lockdown-related necessities to customers. It's since pretty much returned, and that and other perks have combined to lure more than 100 million shoppers worldwide into shelling out extra cash for an annual or monthly Prime membership. With the average Prime member spending $1,400 annually, according to a market data portal Statista, expedited shipping alone can quickly make the membership fee worthwhile depending on how often you order.

If you haven't joined Amazon Prime yet, but are considering it, read on to learn more about the various plans offered, the costs and key perks.

How Much Is Amazon Prime? Choosing the Right Membership Plan

The annual Amazon Prime plan membership fee jumped to $119 from $99 in mid-2018 for new and returning members. You're charged upfront, and the annual membership auto-renews every 12 months. Perks include free two-day shipping, access to same-day, one-day or even two-hour delivery on some orders, unlimited music streaming and photo storage, as well as access to Prime Reading (book and magazine downloads) and Whole Foods discounts and delivery.

If you aren't ready to commit to an annual membership, test out the monthly Prime plan. The monthly Prime membership fee remains the same at $12.99, for a total of about $156 a year (as opposed to the $119 year-long deal), if you don't upgrade to the annual plan. You're privy to the same perks as annual members, but you'll have to pay more every month to enjoy them. It's a good option for shoppers who fear they might get cold feet and want to cancel their Prime membership midway through the annual subscription.

College students can register for a free six-month Prime Student plan trial membership. Initially, you're supposed to register using a ".edu" e-mail address so Amazon can confirm your student status (the email can be changed later). Once verified, students can enjoy the same Prime perks as annual members, as well as get access to Prime Gaming (which includes free gaming content and ad-free viewing on Twitch.tv). Student members also get first dibs on daily deals on everything from skincare products to school supplies. Once the free trial is over, you can sign up for a discounted annual Prime membership ($59) that's good for four years or until you graduate, whichever comes first. The monthly Prime student membership fee is $6.49.

Attention film buffs: Even if you're not a big online shopper, and you prefer your music on CDs and your books on paper, there still might be an Amazon membership for you. The Prime Video plan allows you to stream movies and television shows on a variety of platforms for $12.99 a month.

The Benefits of Amazon Prime

If you order from Amazon on a weekly basis, then Prime's free two-day shipping is probably enticing enough. However, that's not the only noteworthy perk members with annual, monthly or student plans can take advantage of free of charge:

Free same-day or one-day delivery is available in select metro areas (check your ZIP code here). You must spend at least $35 on eligible products to qualify for expedited delivery. For same-day shipping, orders must be placed before noon to receive them by 9 p.m. the same day. For one-day shipping, orders placed in the afternoon will arrive by 9 p.m. the next day. You can enter your shipping zip code on Amazon.com to find out if either shipping option is available near you. There's also the Prime Now option, which provides a two-hour delivery window on select items in certain areas.

Prime members can also register for Amazon's Key by Amazon in-home delivery service (check your ZIP code to see if it's available in your town). It provides keyless, in-home delivery of your orders when you're away. Key by Amazon gives the delivery person access to your home to drop off packages near your front door instead of leaving them outside. You'll need to download the Amazon Key app so you can lock and unlock your front door remotely, as well as watch your package being delivered (an option if you have a compatible camera installed).

You also get free release date shipping on eligible pre-order items. You'll need to order the item in advance and it will be delivered on the release date. For example, "The Wish," the latest novel from Nicholas Sparks which is currently available for pre-order but not available in-stores until September 28, is eligible for this shipping option. Prime members who don't need their order in a hurry can choose the no-rush shipping option to receive a discount on their active order or a promotional reward that's good toward a future purchase.

Prime Video offers unlimited streaming of a wide variety of movies and television shows. And don't worry, it's stuff you might actually want to watch such as the Oscar-winning film "One Night in Miami" or the Emmy Award-winning TV series "Downton Abbey." You can also subscribe to Amazon channels to watch shows from cable networks including HBO and Showtime for an additional monthly fee of up to $15.

Prime Music may be worthwhile for those who regularly use music streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify. Prime members get unlimited, ad-free access to curated playlists, personalized radio stations, and more than a million songs and albums. It's available on a variety of platforms including PC and Mac computers, Android smartphones and tablets, and iOS and Sonos devices. Note that Amazon Music Unlimited is a separate subscription service offering access to tens of millions of songs for $9.99 a month for non-Prime members and $7.99 a month for Prime members.

For would-be Prime members with families or busy lifestyles, grocery shopping on Amazon Prime is a no-brainer. Members get to shop for individual-sized grocery and household items, such as a box of cereal or a pack of diapers. These same items are oftentimes only available in bulk (and at a higher cost) to regular Amazon users. You can buy as little or as much as you want, and there's a flat $5.99 shipping fee. Prime members also get to shop the site's AmazonFresh section, which offers free grocery delivery and pick-up services in select large cities. Shipping is free on orders over $35 ($50 in some locales).

Alternatives to Amazon Prime

Existing Amazon Prime members who plan to renew their annual accounts have a few more weeks before the fee increase to $119 from $99 kicks in starting on June 16. However, if the $119 rate has you thinking about canceling Amazon Prime altogether, you have these options.

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