17 Best Amazon Prime Perks for the Holidays
Having an Amazon Prime membership isn't just about Amazon Prime Day. From Amazon for Students to Amazon Music, the benefits of Amazon Prime are far reaching. We found some Prime perks perfect for the holidays.
At this time of year, free one-day-ish shipping is gold -- a bargain compared to many retailers' rush-shipping fees and a huge relief for procrastinating gift-givers. And there's no retailer more efficient at delivering goods, fast and free, than the world's biggest online retailer, Amazon. Free shipping is the most popular and valuable perk of Amazon Prime membership ($119/year). But it's not the only Prime benefit you should be taking advantage of throughout the holidays. Consider these 17 ways to get the most out of your Prime Membership this holiday season.
Free Amazon Prime Same-Day Delivery
Free two-day shipping is so 2005, the year Amazon launched Prime. And Santa's had the whole "one-day shipping" thing tucked into one night since days of Christmas yore. But you're no Santa, so you might have to turn to your Amazon Claus, er, Amazon.com and Prime perks to get that gift, stat.
Today's Amazon Prime is all about getting more stuff to members at an ever-faster pace (above its recent efforts to speed up free two-day delivery to free one-day delivery; Before recently moving, I was getting several Amazon-shipped items in one day, free; the order defaults to one-day at checkout).
Now this: Free same-day delivery doesn't apply everywhere, mind you -- I'm no longer eligible -- but more than 10,000 eligible cities and towns 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 (Sundays included, and don't be surprised to see the U.S. Postal Service delivering, though I'm seeing more and more Amazon-branded delivery vans). If you order past noon, an option is next-day delivery. Two caveats: The same-day order must total $35 or more, and not every product Amazon stocks is eligible (but more than 3 million are marked with the Free Same-Day logo, so there). If your same-day-delivery swag is under $35, Amazon will dock you a surcharge of three bucks, so you might want to slow your roll. Oh, and if you don't have a Prime membership and want that certain something-something delivered the same day, you can do so, but you'll be clipped $12.99, a COVID-era increase from $9.98.
Also this: You can have gifts you buy on Amazon shipped directly to your giftee. Simply change the shipping address at checkout to their address (and remember to change it back to your address the next time you're shopping for yourself).
Free Amazon Prime One-Day Delivery
If you're practicing patience this holiday season, you could shrug off that same-day delivery antsy-pants bother and wait a day to get your package. And why not? As we mentioned, it's quickly becoming the Amazon shipping standard (though Amazon's signature two-day delivery is still around). Free one-day is available coast-to-coast and the good part? There's no minimum purchase and there are more than 10 million eligible items (you can filter by the term "get it tomorrow" to see if the gift is available for one-day delivery). The promise is you'll get it by 9 p.m. the next day, but cutoff dates for that vary by ZIP code. You and Amazon will seal the deal at checkout.
Free Ultra-Fast Amazon Prime Grocery Delivery
Your COVID-cleared holiday guests are hungry! How fast can you serve them? Ultrafast! You can tap into free two-hour delivery of a vast array of groceries (meaning seafood, meat, produce, snicky snacks, and household goods).
Trained Amazon shoppers do the picking for you after you build your cart online. You schedule a two-hour delivery window or if you want to pick up your goods yourself at Whole Foods, you can schedule a one-hour pickup window.
You can also have your groceries delivered inside your garage if you use Key by Amazon.
All these services are free, but you must check availability in your area.
Gift Yourself with Free Amazon Prime No-Rush Shipping
Good things come to those who wait, and in this instance, not being in an all-fire hurry means you get a little somethin'-somethin' for yourself (that's part of the joy of holiday gift-giving, no?). In this case, if you check no-rush shipping at checkout, Amazon will immediately reward you with free promotional swag, such as rewards toward buying eBooks, movies on Amazon Video, or Prime Pantry items (groceries and daily essentials). Typical givebacks include a $5 credit toward purchases on Prime Now or Prime Pantry each time you choose no-rush shipping. Amazon promises your delivery will arrive within 6 business days but in my experience, it's far less than that. Oh, and in Amazon-speak, Amazon "will surface only one type of offer per order at checkout, either a reward or an instant discount." Here's more about free no-rush shipping.
Keep the Porch Grinches Out of Whoville With This Amazon Prime Perk
Whoville being your front porch, where packages are often left. That's the same locale they're sometimes stolen from by porch pirates. There's a response to that hidden in your Prime perks: Using Amazon Key or Amazon Hub Locker, have your holiday packages delivered to the inside of your garage or a Amazon Hub storage locker at a participating Whole Foods (owned by Amazon) or other retailer. Amazon emphasizes Hub Locker is COVID-safe in that when you take the printout of your code to pick up your package, you scan the code in and the appropriate locker pops open for you to retrieve your goods.
Now, the other two of these methods of (non-porch) delivery, of course, demand a little more trust on your part and smart-entry systems for your home.
Amazon In-Garage delivery (utilizing Amazon Key) plays nice with certain garage door openers, and with an optional Amazon Key cloud cam you can monitor the delivery. You'll be notified when the driver is ready to enter with your package and when the door is re-closed. With the camera, of course, you can watch in real time or later, in a clip. See if this will work with your system.
You can also have those holiday packages delivered inside your gate. In-home delivery and in-car delivery, also options developed by Amazon using Amazon Key, are currently on hold because of COVID-19.
Look Your Best for the Holiday Zoom Party with Amazon Prime Wardrobe
Holiday season is party season, and while many are likely virtual this year, you still want to look your very best for everything from office parties to parties with friends and family. But who wants to go to the mall in these uncertain times? Enter Prime Wardrobe, which offers Prime members a chance to try before they buy. Because, well, when you go to a brick-and-mortar clothing store, you don't buy the clothes then try them on in the dressing room, do you? Because that's just weird. Amazon has you covered -- in clothes -- plus shoes, jewelry and accessories.
Prime Wardrobe is Prime's answer to the dressing room. Pick out clothing, shoes and accessories online at Amazon Wardrobe. Pick up to eight items (making sure they have the Prime Wardrobe logo) and they'll be shipped for free and at no charge to you. You have seven days to try them on and check out what you want to buy. It's free to return anything you don't want to purchase. Your Prime Wardrobe order comes in a resealable box with a prepaid return label. You just have to haul it over to a UPS outlet (or other Amazon pickup point, including Kohl's). They'll take care of the rest. But remember to practice proper decorum at your holiday office party on Zoom; to that end, Amazon Wardrobe doesn't sell lampshades.
Give to Your Favorite Charity While Holiday Shopping on Amazon Prime
It's a giving time of year, and did you know you could shop, buy and give to your favorite registered charitable organization through Amazon Prime? Neither did I, until recently. It's called AmazonSmile. Simply pick a charity and do all of your shopping on the AmazonSmile website. AmazonSmile has the exact same products and prices as Amazon.com. There are more than a million nonprofits to choose from, and the one you pick will receive 0.5% of the value of your eligible purchases. I'm helping support Friends of Frying Pan Park Farm, a county park in Virginia that is a working farm interpreting farm life of the 1920s to the 1950s.
Share Your Amazon Prime Membership for Holiday Shopping
You can share your Amazon Prime membership with your household via Amazon Household, designed for Saint Nick, Mrs. Claus and all your household elves to utilize. 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 (you link your accounts via Amazon Household). That’s fine for, say, a spouse or significant other, 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 certain Prime perks including free two-day shipping. Teens and younger children can also be added (up to four) but they have parental-restricted access, praise be (younger children cannot buy anything on Amazon).
Shop Amazon Prime's Pantry for the Holidays
COVID times call for COVID measures. Many of you have been faithfully and fearlessly doing your grocery shopping online. You may want to step it up for the holidays, whether you're hosting socially distanced small holiday gatherings or cooking up holiday treats or meals for friends and family stuck indoors, alone, for the holidays.
You can do your weekly grocery shopping, or a good chunk of it, on Amazon Pantry, an Amazon Prime perk where members shop for non-bulk groceries and household products. Members get free delivery on orders of $35 or more. A flat $5.99 shipping fee is charged on orders under $35 or to non-Primers. The advantage of Prime Pantry: It stocks items that aren't otherwise available on Amazon.com including everyday sizes on groceries and household goods, so shoppers aren't forced to buy in bulk. And unlike in past years, you no longer have to fill a box to capacity, which was a pain.
Whole Foods Discounts and Delivery is an Amazon Prime Benefit
With the small crew coming over for various holiday bashes at Casa de You, you need to pair that Amazon Prime account up with your local Whole Foods Market. Amazon purchased Whole Foods in the summer of 2017. Since then, shoppers have been able to order the upscale grocer's private-label products, including those from 365 Everyday Value, Whole Foods Market, Whole Paws and Whole Catch, on Amazon.com. Amazon is growing two-hour delivery of groceries from Whole Foods to Prime members in select cities, a bonus when you get that party started and don't want to leave to replenish the appetizers. See if it's available in your 'hood.
Amazon Prime members will get alerts to discounts via the Whole Foods Market app. There are also signs throughout the store directing Prime members to special discounts. You'll want to have that app with the bar code handy for the cashier to scan at the checkout. Don't be that guy (me) fumbling for his phone while trying to check out in front of a long line.
Recent Whole Foods Prime deals included beef loin top sirloin steak for $6.99 a pound (discounted from $9.99 a pound); a hydro flask water bottle for 30% off, at $23.07; and if you haven't found that holiday gift for that special someone, you could grab a Yeti Rambler MagSlider lid for $6.99, down 77% from the regular price of $30.99.
Free Holiday Music from Amazon Prime
It's the most wonderful time of the year -- to stream music. You just have to get your Trans-Siberian Orchestra on. So why pay for ad-free Pandora, Spotify or Apple Music when you're already making beautiful music with your Amazon Prime account? Included in a Prime membership is Amazon Prime Music, which offers free access to more than two million songs ad-free and thousands of music stations. The drawback? Music fans argue that Amazon's free playlists and stations aren't as deep as those of competing streaming services. Could be. And it could be incentive to dig deeper in your pocket for an upgrade, to Amazon Music Unlimited, which features tens of millions of songs, including new releases, and runs $7.99 a month for Prime members (a $2 discount over non-Primers). Not ready to commit? Amazon will let you try out Amazon Music Unlimited for three months for free.
Unlimited Photo Storage with Amazon Prime
Oh, snap: Holiday photos. Lots and lots of them. Screen grabs from holiday gathers on Zoom or from a safe distance. That's OK: Amazon Prime members get unlimited full-resolution photo storage in Amazon Photos. Yes, unlimited. Plus, you can add up to five others, as in family and friends. Photos are accessible from any device anywhere you can tap into your Amazon Prime account. If you're like me, doubling down by having an Amazon Prime account and paying Apple every month for cloud storage for those precious pix, it may be time to trim some costs for the holidays.
You also get 5 GB of storage for videos, documents, and other files just for you, not the crew from the Vault. Want more storage? You can buy it. New since July 2020, Amazon is offering Amazon Photos customers the ability to buy storage plans billed monthly instead of the old way, yearly. 100GB plans go for $1.99 a month and 1TB plans sell for $6.99 a month.
Oh, and no worries about tagging photos. Amazon's scary servers will automatically sort your photos. Want to free up storage on your phone? Use the Amazon app, upload them to Prime Photos and delete them from your phone. What could possibly go wrong?
Watch Movies, TV Series and More Video with Amazon Prime
From Amazon-produced original movies series, such as "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm" or "The Secret: Dare to Dream," to holiday classics including "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Holiday Inn," you'll have plenty to binge on besides the holiday cookies. And if we've learned anything in 2020, it's how to binge -- everything.
Yes, I am increasingly taking advantage of watching free movies and TV series via Amazon's streaming service, Prime Video. If you have a newer TV, like me, the Prime Video app comes built in, so click on it and boom! Hooray for Hollywood! Oh, and don't you worry. While you're watching Prime Video, Amazon is watching you. The "personal recommendations based on your viewing history" can be both creepy and convenient.
You can even download movies and TV shows to mobile devices for later viewing (and what you buy, you keep in Your Video Library at Amazon). Cable TV and satellite cord-cutters may be pleased to know they can binge on HBO, Showtime, Starz and many more streaming services via the Amazon Prime app. Additional fees for those channels run $4.99 to $14.99 a month for Prime members.
Got the Wrong Gift? Take Your Amazon Prime Returns to Kohl's
It's a holiday gift-shopping hazard: The product looks good online. But when the person you shipped the gift to opened the package, it's a big no. Now, they don't have to box it up yourself and go to a UPS store. Amazon.com is partnering with Kohl's department stores to provide Amazon shoppers (and their giftees, with a receipt) with another place to return their Amazon products -- and stir up some foot traffic for Kohl's.
That makes it a win-win for both retailers. Amazon shoppers have another place to drop off returns besides UPS stores, and Kohl's will gain some potential shoppers, who must drop off their Amazon returns at customer service. Why is it a win for Kohl's? In my experience, the customer service desks at Kohl's are deep inside the store (or at some Kohl's, it's in the back of the second level of the store). That's a whole lot of potential holiday gift merch to pass by as you drop off the Amazon package and leave the store.
Early Access to Amazon Prime Lightning Deals
You like your deals fast and hot. And you want to be at the front of the pack getting them, because it's the holiday shopping season and you want to buy unique gifts. Amazon Prime members enjoy access to those one-off, deeply discounted (and in short supply) Lightning Deals 30 minutes before everyone else. Lightning Deals are only good for a few hours (or as long as supplies last) so if you really want what's on sale the early access is an advantage. But even then, Amazon warns that some deals could sell out during the early access period, before opening up to the general public. Recent lightning deals included hotel luxury bed sheets sets for $25.19 (15% off) and a Grecerelle women's solid color chunky button pullover sweater for $30.59 (49% off).
Let Amazon Prime's Alexa Do the Holiday Shopping
Alexa is being a good little A.I. for the holidays, quietly listening to everything you do or say. I mean everything. She knows when you've been naughty or nice. So give that droid some honest work. If you own an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot or any of Amazon's voice-activated Alexa devices, your Prime membership allows you to place orders through Alexa, the voice-activated digital assistant. For example, if you just forgot to buy batteries for one of those "batteries not included" holiday gifts, say "Alexa, order AA batteries" and a 20-pack of AmazonBasics will arrive on your doorstep two days later. Shipping is free for Prime members, naturally, and Alexa is already aware of your Prime status. Say "Alexa, what are your deals?" to learn about special Alexa-only discounts.
Or you can ask her to sing you a Christmas carol. She will.
Amazon Prime for Students
Should normal return and your kids are back at college for reals, here comes Amazon Prime Student, just right for sitting around the dorm room and streaming the next installment of "The Mandalorian" or enjoying the free gaming during study breaks. It's free for the first six months with a legit ".edu" school email address (along with proof you’re actually taking at least one class; maybe not going to class, but taking it). The one-time-only free trial includes free two-day Prime shipping (ramen noodles and Doritos don't buy themselves), free same-day pickup, unlimited movie streaming, access to Amazon Music Unlimited for the bargain price of 99 cents per month, and more. After six months it costs $6.49 a month or the less-expensive $59 a year for Prime Student (that's where your holiday gifting skills come in, parents). Oh, and you can buy textbooks for cheap. If textbooks are your jam.