Amazon Prime customers will soon have to pay more to save money. Launched in 2005, Amazon Prime offers customers lower prices and 2-day free shipping. When it first launched, many people thought it was a great deal at just $79 a year. Since then though, the membership price has increased. Starting February 18th, the cost of an annual Prime membership goes up to $139 a year.
So is it still a great deal? That depends.
With a few exceptions, other retailers will match Amazon prices. Show a cashier or another associate at Target, Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowes, and Walmart and you’ll likely get them to match the Amazon price as long as it’s the same exact item. That’s in-store, it gets a little more complicated when shopping online. Actually, you may find that those other retailers have a better price than Amazon. Simply put, lower prices will hardly ever justify the extra $140 a month out of pocket for a Prime membership.
Most power online shoppers purchased a Prime membership for the 2-day free shipping. That too faces stiff competition from other retailers. Target, Best Buy, and Walmart offer free 2-day shipping now for purchases $35 and over. Amazon offers free shipping for anyone, even without a Prime membership as long as the order is over $25.
Now, let’s look at how much shipping is for orders less than $25. An Apple iPhone charging cable is $19 at Amazon. To make that purchase I’ll need to pay an additional $6 for shipping. Doing the quick math, I’d need to place 23 orders a year, under $25 for the total shipping charges to equal the new Prime cost of $140.
If you’re only using Prime for low prices and free shipping for under $25, you probably won’t save more than Prime costs. So how can someone justify the higher price of a Prime Membership? The extras.
If you use Amazon’s other Prime benefits it can easily make financial sense. That includes Amazon Prime Video which is similar to Netflix. There’s also Prime Music which is similar to Spotify (though you won’t have access to as many songs in the free version). Don’t miss free books and magazine checkouts, even if you don’t have a Kindle, free photo storage, and special deals only for Prime members.
Only if you use those extras is a Prime membership worth the $140 a year cost. If you use Prime only for low prices and free shipping, check out Walmart’s version called “Walmart+” that offers free 1 day or same-day shipping for $98 a year.
If you’re simply looking to save money, Prime may not be the best choice.