Should I Cancel Amazon Prime? Here Are 12 Good Reasons
The giant retailer had a year of ups and downs, leaving many wondering: Do I need Amazon Prime?
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This was a tumultuous year for Amazon.com, and, for better and for worse, its millions of Amazon Prime subscribers got to come along for the bumpy ride. 2022 saw major acquisitions for Amazon, corporate layoffs, cut in member perks, and perhaps most significantly, a price increase.
Is it time to re-evaluate? After all, you’re likely up to your neck in other subscription services, too: cable TV, streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Spotify, maybe meal-prep services, gift boxes… gift boxes for your dog. It all adds up. And then Amazon went and raised its yearly subscription fee by 17% earlier in 2022, from $119 to $139. If you pay monthly, that clip went from $12.99 to $14.99 a month, or $180 a year.
That’s your first reason to reconsider, even if Amazon Prime Day, that annual summer blockbuster sale with its 48-hour marathon of deals, deals, deals, remains a temptation. And this year, there were two big Prime “days,” with Amazon doing a bonus discount Prime Early Access Sale in October, two days that ended up kicking off the 2022 holiday shopping season. Amazon having judged this a second event a success, look for a repeat in 2023.
But as Amazon made deep cuts to its leadership team with a layoff of around 10,000 positions late this year, experts are predicting that could be a major disruption for Amazon, possibly leading to customer service issues. To make matters worse, part of those layoffs are affecting Amazon’s Alexa division, a tool many Amazon Prime members use to place orders.
So do you still need Amazon Prime? After years of membership, people often forget: You can buy from Amazon without being a Prime member. You’re just not going to get the other perks – not all of which you might need, use or want. To that end, we’ve listed a range of 12 good reasons you might want to cancel your Amazon Prime membership.
Amazon Prime Is Expensive
If you pay your Amazon Prime membership in full (the least expensive route), it’s an annual $139 hit. If you pay annually, that boils down to $12 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 three months. On that drop-down list, you can choose yearly timeframes.
Since my Amazon membership renewal is due soon, I reviewed all my purchases so far in 2022 and they’re at the edge of $3,000 – which reveals inflation’s toll, as in 2021, I purchased 51 items or $2,268. I have a Chase Amazon Prime credit card that I charge my Amazon purchases to, garnering more than $200 in rewards points I credited toward Amazon purchases through the course of 2021. You can see that I’ve aligned things for maximum rewards and to take maximum advantage of free shipping. But at the same time, I was reminded that many of these items were whirligigs and junk-drawer fodder I probably wouldn’t have ponied up for in a physical store – or if they hadn’t come with free shipping.
It’s those frivolous items — made one-click easy for Prime members — that can really add up. Are you spending too much at Amazon throughout the year? That’s one key reason to ask yourself: “Do I need Amazon Prime?”
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 it isn’t the only place selling those!
As I consider renewing my Amazon Prime membership for 2023, I’m keeping an eye on our Costco membership. Both retailers require membership fees for the biggest discounts, but there’s considerable overlap in the offerings. (And bear in mind Costco is itself ripe for a membership fee increase).
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 sums up to a lot of spending on access to discounts and benefits If you find yourself using one of the warehouse clubs more than Prime, it may be time to to cancel your Amazon Prime membership.
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 rose to $14.99 this year).
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.
Take note, though: You’re only eligible for one free trial of Amazon Prime every 12 months. You can also cancel Amazon Prime during the free trial or cancel Amazon Prime after the free trial (but be sure to do it before your credit card is hit for the annual fee).
Take note, though: You’re only eligible for one free trial of Amazon Prime every 12 months.
Amazon Prime’s Free Shipping Is Far from Unique
Early in 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 $139 yearly membership fee. And both retailers are putting considerable effort and money into making drive-up pick-up easier and easier.
“Walmart’s 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 $139 each year by shrugging it off to “I get free shipping.” But everybody can get free shipping on Amazon — without paying the $139 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 $139 per year [for Prime membership]?”
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 device 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 movies and shows, including the Academy Award-nominated CODA and Where the Crawdads Sing and the series The Peripheral and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. But I headed there only because I was already a Prime member — not the other way around (not must-watch TV, if you remember that phrase). 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.”
I use our local library system to get book loans into my Amazon account and onto my Kindle or iPad.
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
Amazon used to tack on a monthly $14.99 charge for its Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service. Even Prime members had to pay it. That's been lifted — it's free — but there are still restrictions.
To be eligible for free grocery delivery, orders must be a minimum of $35 or $50 depending on where you live, 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. I did it. The response: “Amazon Fresh is not available for this location.” So this perk is no longer in my Prime wheelhouse now that I live in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
Alexa Could Be Quiet Quitting
Alexa, Amazon’s cloud-based voice service, is already embedded on 100 million Echo and other smart-speaker devices from Amazon as well as third-party device manufacturers.
You’ve come to rely on her for giving you t,he weather forecast, telling you a joke, singing “Happy Birthday,” for companionship, or, heck, to order or re-order products from Amazon.
But behind the scenes, Alexa’s a loser – and Amazon knows it. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article , Amazon could be considering changes to Alexa and other divisions that are bleeding money (to the tune of $5 billion a year, the WSJ reports).
That could mean no more fine-tuning of Alexa or added functions to the voice assistant, because added functions cost money, and pumping more money into a losing proposition, well…
So consider the possibility of Amazon cutting back on still another Amazon Prime perk.
Prime Day Is Mostly a Huge Garage Sale
If you’re clinging your precious Prime membership just to hook a better angle on deals for Prime Day, really, was it worth it in past years? We know we get pretty excited about it, but a lot 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 tablets, for instance. But buyer’s remorse can quickly set in, as it did with my Ancestry DNA kit and Kindle impulse purchases.
Maybe Those Amazon Prime Deals Aren’t So Hot
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?
Slow your roll, savvy shopping experts say.
“While Amazon has a vast selection and often very good prices, those prices aren’t always the lowest,” said Bodge. “If you have a renewal coming up, try installing a browser extension that compares prices on Amazon versus other sites, like Cently from CouponFollow.”
Bodge suggests this shopping strategy to measure if what you're buying on Amazon is a great deal:
“For your next several orders, pay attention to the Cently alert as you browse,” said Bodge. “If you’re consistently getting the best price on your chosen items on Amazon, you might want to hang onto your Prime membership, but if you find that other sites have better prices on what you’re shopping for, think about canceling.”
“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?”
Or simply do your own price comparisons, especially, in my experience, when you get an email pitch directly from Amazon for product “suggestions.” Mine was for Totino’s frozen pizza rolls, sold from third-party vendors on Amazon. One of them wanted to sell me a box of 160 pizza rolls for $38.98, or 24 cents per appetizer. I checked with Walmart.com. A package of 130 Totino’s pizza rolls was selling for $10.98, or 8 cents per pizza roll, two-thirds cheaper than the Amazon offer.
Maybe you aren’t a fan of Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, who grew his upstart online-bookstore into one of the world's largest online marketplaces of nearly ... everything.
Amazon has made Bezos into one of the world's richest individuals and enabled Amazon to gobble up other, smaller players in the retail and tech worlds. That wealth enabled Bezos to buy the Washington Post, Whole Foods Markets, and MGM movies studios (for $8.5 billion), among others. Bezos also started his own commercial aerospace company, Blue Origin, which sent him and others into space.
As Big Tech increasingly undergoes scrutiny from the federal government, some consumers join the fight by not buying into the services of those major players.
Or, maybe you don’t want to support a company that has fought hard against efforts by its employees to unionize.
Bob is a Senior Online Editor at Kiplinger.com. He has more than 40 years of experience in online, print and visual journalism. Bob has worked as an award-winning writer and editor in the Washington, D.C., market as well as at news organizations in New York, Michigan and California. Bob joined Kiplinger in 2016, bringing a wealth of expertise covering retail, entertainment, and money-saving trends and topics. He was one of the first journalists at a daily news organization to aggressively cover retail as a specialty, and has been lauded in the retail industry for his expertise. Bob has also been an adjunct and associate professor of print, online and visual journalism at Syracuse University and Ithaca College. He has a master’s degree from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a bachelor’s degree in communications and theater from Hope College.
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