Alternatives to Amazon Prime for Free Shipping and More
You don’t need to pay Amazon Prime’s juiced $139 annual fee to find a wide swath of products online at different retailers.
Amazon raising its annual membership fee to $139 earlier this year (from $119) was almost the last straw. But when the giant online retailer started ending certain perks from its wide collection of the best of Amazon Prime, well, that was it. You’re not waiting for a possible second Amazon Prime Day in 2022. You’re ready to become an ex-member of Amazon Prime.
So what next? Here’s where we step in. We’ve evaluated 15 alternatives to Amazon Prime for your consideration. Warning: There will be some compromises. You'll find supply may not be as wide and deep as Amazon; it may even just focus on one category, such as clothing or electronics. You may have to shop strategically or sign up for credit cards or loyalty programs to avoid shipping fees. Take a look.
Walmart+ is Less Expensive Than Amazon Prime
Strongly consider this one, Amazon Prime refugees. Walmart+ is the brick-and-mortar megaretailer’s online answer to Amazon Prime. And with the announcement that Walmart+ will be adding the Paramount+ streaming service this fall, it now means Walmart+ has added the missing link it needs to compete with Prime Video. This is a prime opportunity for Walmart+ to gain subscribers from Prime’s frustrated masses.
- What they sell: Automotive goods, baby supplies, books, children's toys and games, clothing, electronics, furniture, general household items, groceries, luggage, music/movies, office supplies, personal care products, pet supplies, sporting goods.
- Annual membership fee: $98 (or $12.95 a month) after a 30-day free trial.
- Shipping options: Free no-minimum shipping on thousands of eligible items. Free same-day delivery of grocery items (with a $35 minimum to qualify).
- Return policy: Free for most items returned within 90 days of delivery. Select items are non-returnable.
Additional perks: Members receive 10 cents off each gallon of gas – recently raised from 5 cents per gallon – at Walmart gas stations as well as Exxon and Mobil stations, Murphy gas stations and Sam’s Club fueling centers. Walmart+ members also have the option of shopping in-store with the Walmart app and using the scan & go feature for contactless shopping. The app will let you scan grocery items with your phone and pay at the self-checkout. Walmart+ members also get early access to select deals and promotions, including for Black Friday.
Not looking for more annual membership fees to score decent retail discounts with perks? We get it. You don’t have to go full membership to get a number of Walmart’s benefits.
- What they sell: Appliances, automotive goods, baby supplies, books, clothing, electronics, furniture, general household items, groceries, movies/music, office supplies, personal care products, pet supplies.
- Annual membership fee: N/A.
- Shipping options: Free two-day shipping on eligible items with minimum purchase of $35. Up to five days on all other items, shipped free. Freight shipping is available for heavy or oversized orders, and cost is based on order size.
- Return policy: Varies by department. Most unopened items can be returned up to 90 days after purchase.
Additional perks: Online order/in-store pick-up available for most items. Walmart grocery app subscribers can place orders and schedule a pick-up time. A Walmart team member will load your groceries in your car's trunk for you. Walmart credit card holders can earn up to 3% back on online and grocery purchases.
Best Buy Totaltech
When you think of Best Buy, you might think of The Geek Squad. That’s fine. But it’s time to also associate Best Buy with BestBuy Totaltech, an alternative to all the electronics Amazon.com offers. Membership’s a little stiffer than Amazon Prime – it’s $199.99 for TotalTech – but Totaltech in a lot of ways steps above and beyond Amazon Prime, especially in tech support.
Think of it as Geek Squad: The Next Generation, as Totaltech membership gives you free two-day shipping on all orders from Best Buy’s amazing lineup of TVs, tech, appliances and more. You’ll also get round-the-clock access to Geek Squad-certified tech support. Free delivery and standard installation, extended times for returns or exchanges, extended warranties, and savings on repairs and installations are also part of the deal, as is special Best Buy Totaltech pricing on Best Buy items.
- What they sell: Computers and tablets, TVs and home theater setups, audio, musical instruments, car electronics and GPS, cameras, camcorders, drones, movies and music, video games and more.
- Annual membership fee:$199.99.
- Shipping options: Free two-day shipping on all orders.
- Return policy: Free returns with an extended return or exchange period.
Newegg. If you know the name, it seems almost pre-internet. Or early internet. To anyone who shopped online for computers and computer peripherals in the 2000s, yes, Newegg is still around, widening its retail horizon significantly. But it still has that nerd-techie buzz, with dongles, PCs built specifically for gamers, and computer memory chips front and center on the home page.
- What they sell: Apparel, appliances, automotive goods, electronics, general household items, flowers and gifts, office supplies and furniture, toys and drones.
- Annual membership fee: N/A.
- Shipping options: Free shipping on orders over $25.
- Return policy: Free returns on defective items only (30-day window). Some items will be marked with a 45-day return policy.
Additional perks: Look for promo discount codes adjacent to items you wish to buy. Another way to save is to shop the Newegg Certified Refurbish Outlet.
Scribd for Audiobooks and e-Books
Readers dig Amazon Prime for its sometimes seemingly endless lineup of free e-books and audiobooks, plus discounts on buying them. “Seemingly endless,” that is, until you can’t find what you’re looking for in reading and listening. Sure, there are alternatives; your city’s library system for one, which costs nothing.
Join for $11.99 monthly, and you can borrow an unlimited amount of reading material from Scribd’s pool that fans say runs way deeper than Amazon’s (even though Amazon.com began life as a bookstore).
Besides e-books (some from top authors exclusive to Scribd), the service Scribd also carries audiobooks, podcasts, sheet music and magazines.
- What they sell: The subscriber-based digital library has e-books, audiobooks, podcasts and more
- Annual membership fee: $11.99.
- Shipping options: N/A
Barnes & Noble Annual Membership
One can never say enough good things about bookstores, from your town’s independently owned shop to the few chain giants left standing, including Barnes & Noble. Should you be fortunate enough to live near a bricks and mortar B&N, good on you. If not, fear not. A Barnes & Noble annual membership (just $25 for a full year) remains a good deal.
Sure, Amazon Prime offers physical books at great prices and with free shipping. But since you’re leaving Amazon Prime (remember?), an annual membership to Barnes & Noble will get you many of the same pluses when shopping for books, magazines, even toys, games, and – why not – knick knacks for the home.
Among the bennies: 40% off hardcover bestselling books in store; exclusive in-store and online offers; 10% off everything in the store, including items from the cafe; free shipping on all items, in-store and online, with no minimum; and early access to sales and events.
- What they sell: Books, gifts, magazines, home goods, music, and more
- Annual membership fee: $25 for an annual subscription
- Shipping options: Free; no minimum purchase required
- Return policy: From Barnes & Noble: “We will issue a refund for the purchase price of the item plus any applicable taxes to your original form of payment for items returned within 30 days after the delivery date. All returned items must be in their original condition; shrink-wrapped products must be unopened.”
Looking for free two-day shipping and free returns? ShopRunner’s here. The members-only special deals site represents hundreds of retailers, many of them high-end names. Here’s the lowdown:
- What they sell: A variety of goods ranging from apparel to fine jewelry to prescription glasses from more than 100 retailers including Saks Fifth Avenue, Cole Haan and Under Armour.
- Annual membership fee: Complimentary membership for existing PayPal members, Mastercard World and World Elite cardholders, American Express U.S. Consumer and Small Business cardholders and Chase. For others, there’s a free three-month membership to get free shipping and returns. After that, it’s a $79 yearly membership.
- Shipping options: Free two-day shipping with no minimum purchase at most participating stores.
- Return policy: Free. Each retailer under the Shoprunner banner has different return windows, from one week to one year.
Like Walmart, Target has both a bricks & mortar and a significant online presence.
- What they sell: Appliances (small), baby supplies, books, clothing, electronics, furniture, general household items, groceries, movies/music, office supplies, personal care products, pet supplies.
- Annual membership fee: N/A.
- Shipping options: Free two-day shipping with minimum purchase of $35 or when you use your Target REDcard credit card (no annual fee). One day and same-day delivery is available through the Shipt app; Instacart has one-hour delivery (fees apply).
- Return policy: Most unopened items can be returned within 90 days of purchase (if purchased with a Target REDcard, you getadd 30 more days). Electronics and entertainment items must be returned within 30 days of purchase. Mobile phones must be returned within 14 days of purchase. Apple products must be returned within 15 days of purchase.
Additional perks: Online order/in-store pick-up on most items. Pharmacy services, such as online prescription renewal, are available. Target app subscribers can place orders and select the drive-up pick-up option. Upon arrival, a Target team member will load your car's trunk for you. Target REDcard holders receive 5% off on purchases and early access to new product releases.
Fall into the Gap and its “Sister Sites”
Many brands share corporate ownership. Generally, this is more of interest to investors than shoppers, but there’s a way that it matters: shipping deals. If free shipping is your thing, shopping with “sister sites'' can help reach the minimum free shipping threshold, says smart shopping expert Trae Bodge of TrueTrae. “A good example of this is the Gap family of brands, including Gap, Athleta, Old Navy, and Banana Republic,” said Bodge. “These sites offer free shipping on orders of $50 or more, so if you need something from Gap and something from one of the other sister sites, you can score free shipping for yourself.”
Here's how it works: You can shop for something in the Gap site and add it to your shopping bag. Then you can switch over to, say, Banana Republic -- there's a link at the top of the page -- Athleta or Old Navy, add items to the shopping bag, then head to the checkout. All the items from the different Gap sites land in one shared shopping bag.
Be a Loyal Customer and Get Free Shipping at These Retailers
Being loyal has its perks. Staying loyal could mean the same free shipping you’ve tapped Amazon Prime for and possibly other rewards.
“Another hack is joining loyalty programs where your membership qualifies you for free shipping,” says Bodge. “Bloomingdale’s, Converse, and Nike are examples of this. By belonging to the loyalty program, you can get free shipping on your orders.”