10 Good Reasons to Cancel Amazon Prime
You probably aren't using most of the perks tucked into that $119 annual fee -- which you don't need to pay to get the free Amazon shipping you crave.
In a normal year, right about now in the heart of July, we would be approaching Amazon Prime Day, that annual summer blockbuster sale the retail giant first rolled out in 2015 that has since morphed into a 48-hour marathon of deals, deals, deals -- many exclusively for Amazon Prime members. It’s one of many reasons you’re an Amazon Prime member.
But the pandemic is changing everything: Amazon has postponed Prime Day 2020, and the retailer has struggled to make good on the two-day, one-day and same-day delivery guarantees that are the heart of persuading shoppers to spend $119 for a yearly Prime membership. Some of us are considering pulling the plug on our Amazon Prime membership.
Longtime Prime members often forget: You can buy from Amazon without being a Prime member. You’re just not going to get the perks. We’ve considered 10 good reasons you might want to cancel your Amazon Prime membership. See if you agree.
Amazon Prime Is Expensive
If you pay your membership in full (the least expensive route), it’s an annual $119 hit. That’s $10 a month, about the cost of a streaming video service such as Hulu or Netflix. So just how much are you really using Amazon Prime -- and how much value are you gleaning from it? Do the math.
“Because the membership has so many perks, one might assume that it’s worth it,” says Trae Bodge, smart shopping expert at True Trae. “For me, because I take advantage of many of the benefits, including free two-day shipping for my frequent purchases, and enjoy the video, music and book content, I have no question that it’s worth it for me. But if you do not shop frequently online, or use any of the many perks, it may not be.”
It’s easy to track how much you’ve spent and what you’ve bought (a gimmick that also works to Amazon’s advantage when you want to reorder an item). Click on “Returns & Orders” at the top of the Amazon.com home page after you sign in. It defaults to your orders for the last six months. On that drop-down list, you can choose other timeframes.
When I renewed my Amazon membership in May, I reviewed all my purchases from the prior 12 months -- a total of $918.71 spent on Amazon. I have a Chase Amazon Prime credit card that I charge my Amazon purchases to, garnering roughly $91 in rewards points I credited toward Amazon purchases through the course of the year. Between the rewards and the free shipping, I was feeling good about my $119 annual investment. But, yes, I was reminded that Amazon sucked me in for Prime Day 2019, where I spent -- impulsively -- $78.14 on a heavily discounted Ancestry DNA test kit and $206.59 for Amazon’s proprietary Kindle Paperwhite reader, also deeply discounted (Amazon products are the most prevalent and price-slashed items on Prime Day), which I didn’t need since I already owned an Apple iPad, which can do much more than grant me book reading rights.
It’s the frivolous impulse buys -- made easy for Prime members -- that can really add up. Are you spending too much at Amazon throughout the year? Your call.
Amazon Prime Isn’t Your Only Retail Membership
Your Prime membership gets you access to electronics, groceries, clothing, household products and much, much more. But check your wallet, and evaluate your shopping habits and locations.
I just re-upped my Amazon Prime membership, but we’re also members at Costco, and, frankly, these days we utilize our Costco membership far more than Amazon Prime.
At one point I was stacking memberships to BJ’s Wholesale Club and Sam’s Club on top of Amazon Prime (when I had a much larger household), and that's a costly line item in the household budget for membership fees alone. If you find yourself using one of the warehouse clubs more than your Amazon Prime membership, it may be time to set it free.
You Can Join Amazon Prime Only for a Month or Two at a Time
In the past, we’ve suggested taking advantage of Amazon Prime’s 30-day free trial, then quitting before the monthly fees kick in. That tip remains solid (the monthly rate is $12.99).
You can rejoin Prime on the free trial just to take advantage of Prime Day deals. Or you can join for a month or two (one free, one paid) during the holiday shopping season to take advantage of deals.
Amazon Prime’s Free Shipping Isn’t So Rare Anymore
Early into the life of Prime, the big get with the yearly membership dues was the free two-day (then one-day, and now in some regions, same-day) shipping. In the retail world, that was a rare perk. Now? Not so much.
Other retailers, including Walmart and Target, are offering free-shipping plans, as well as same-day, in-store pickup, without a $119 yearly membership fee.
“Walmart and Target’s drive-up, pick-up options provide same-day purchase convenience without having to go in the store,” says consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch. “If you need to buy something urgently like diapers or milk, choose drive-up, pick-up options when ordering from big box retailers like Walmart and Target. This doesn’t cost extra!”
Woroch makes another important point: “Not everything you need or want to buy is sold and shipped by Amazon, so it may not be available for Prime two-day shipping anyway. That means it will likely take longer to arrive in the mail. Plus, returns are often much more of a pain to deal with when it comes from a third-party retailer.”
You Don’t Need a Prime Membership to Get Free Shipping from Amazon
We’ve justified doling out the $119 each year by shrugging it off to “I get free shipping.” But everybody can get free shipping on Amazon -- without paying the $119 a year.
“Amazon has a $25 free shipping threshold for non-Prime members,” says Bodge. “If you tend to buy items over $25 or you are patient enough to combine several items into one order, do you need to pay $119 per year [for Prime membership]?”
Amazon Prime Increases Your Carbon Footprint
So I’m on an Amazon subscription plan for an Ecogard XC35519 premium cabin air filter for my car (trust me, changing your own car cabin air filter is waaaaay cheaper than having a mechanic do it). The subscription plan gets me a 5% discount on the product. But even though I’m keeping the air clean in my car, I’m not helping the environment by having the filter shipped to me every three months -- along with everything else that tends to show up on our doorstep.
“If you are in the habit of placing small orders and selecting the free two-day shipping that comes with your membership, you’re not doing your part to be kind to the environment,” says Bodge. “Try combining orders and ordering less frequently. After all, Amazon does offer free shipping on orders over $25 with no Prime membership required.”
There Are Better Sources of E-Books and Streaming Video
If you’re in the Amazon hardware ecosystem, how much of the software are you actually using? I’m on my second Kindle reader, and I’ve yet to download to my e-reader any free publications from Amazon’s Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, Prime Reading or Amazon First Reads.
The same can be said in our household for Amazon Prime Video, Amazon’s attempted Netflix slayer streaming service. I’ve watched a few shows: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” and “The Man in the High Tower.” But I headed there only because I was already a Prime member -- not the other way around. There are alternate, less expensive ways to get your reading and viewing fix.
“You can stream TV shows, movies and get audio/ebooks for free from your local library’s digital platform,” said Woroch. “Just apply for a library card online and forget Prime Video.”
You’re Probably Not Using Amazon Photo Storage (Like They’re Bugging You to)
Amazon Photos offers unlimited photo storage in the cloud. That’s a Prime perk Amazon will pursue you to no end to utilize. “Unlimited” is certainly a sweet appeal -- Amazon users who aren’t Prime members get only 5GB of free storage -- but if you’re like me and already utilizing the cloud for photo storage, Prime’s offer would be redundant (I’ve been in the macOS world since the late 1980s and using its Photos for macOS ever since it was called iPhoto. I have no plans to switch).
Here’s a big drawback to Amazon Photos: If you’ve taken advantage of that service and decide to cancel your Amazon Prime membership, you could, according to Amazon’s service agreement, start losing some of those stored photos. “If you exceed your Service Plan’s storage limit, including by downgrading or not renewing your Service Plan or no longer qualifying for an Additional Benefit,” the policy states, “we may delete or restrict access to Your Files. We may impose other restrictions on use of the Service.”
Grocery Delivery Is a Limited Amazon Prime Benefit
Until the pandemic, Amazon tacked on a monthly $14.99 charge for its AmazonFresh grocery delivery service. Even Prime members had to pay it. That's been lifted, for now, but there are still restrictions.
To be eligible for free grocery delivery, orders must be a minimum of $35, a slight annoyance, perhaps, if you are a paying Prime member and your order doesn't reach that minimum.
Also, per Amazon, free grocery delivery "is available to Prime members in select regions on AmazonFresh orders that meet the local free delivery threshold."
Amazon members must sign into their account or punch in their zip code to see if they're eligible.
Amazon Prime Makes You a Lazy Shopper
It’s easy to become a complacent shopper when your go-to retailer is Amazon. You search for your product, add to your cart, check out and, boom!, you’re done. But did you get the best price?
“People often assume that shopping on Amazon means that you’re getting the best price, but that is not always the case,” says Bodge. “If having a Prime membership means that Amazon is your go-to place to shop and you’re not comparing prices elsewhere, your membership might be working against you, rather than for you.”
Bodge and fellow savvy shopper Woroch say you better shop around.
“You can often find better prices at competitors, and most big box retailers will even price-match Amazon if they do have a lower price -- including Walmart, Target and Best Buy,” says Woroch. “So why pay for Prime when you can get Amazon’s low prices at a regular retailer anyway?”
Prime Day Is Mostly a Huge Garage Sale
If you’re holding onto your Prime membership to get a better angle on deals for Prime Day, really, was it worth it in past years? Most of the “deals” are on Amazon’s proprietary products and third-party items that likely didn’t sell well. Just like a garage sale, there may be a hidden treasure among the tchotchkes. You will find some flash and dazzle -- good deals on televisions and computers, for instance. But buyer’s remorse can quickly set in, as it did with my Ancestry DNA kit and Kindle impulse purchases.