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Amazon Prime Price Hike: Worth it?

Amazon Prime Price Hike: Worth it?

Amazon upped the price of Prime membership to $99 - an additional twenty bucks a year. So is it worth it? First, let’s talk about what’s included with Amazon Prime: unlimited two-day shipping, the ability to stream movies and TV shows, and access to their Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

Without Prime membership, it’ll cost you anywhere between $5.99 and $12.49 to have something shipped in two days – the average being about $9 for one item. Add to that order, and you up the fees.

So let’s say you place an order on Amazon with these three items: paper towels, a book and a pair of shoes. That’s already $15 in shipping alone. Over the course of one year, if you place seven orders like this, a $99 membership will have paid for itself.

But, you don’t need Prime if you don’t mind waiting five to eight business days for shipping. Standard shipping on that same order is around $7 and Amazon will throw it in for free as long as you spend more than $35.

Prime also grants access to stream instant video, but for this to be an added value, check to see if your favorite programs are included. Other streaming subscriptions like Netflix and Hulu Plus charge $7.99 a month, and while there is some overlap in programming, each service secures their own exclusive rights to certain shows and movies. 

One thing to note with Prime is that for the latest releases, there is an additional fee to rent or buy. With Netflix and Hulu Plus, everything you see available is included in the flat price.

The last feature on Prime is their lending library. But you can only access it with a Kindle device that can cost anywhere between $69 to $379. The free Kindle apps on other devices won’t give you access to the lending library. You can borrow one book once a month, but without a Kindle, you’re out of luck – even if you have Prime. Think of it as an electronic public library with no late fees. With prime, you can borrow one book as often as once a month from a library with over 500,000 titles. How do authors make money this way? They get a small fee each time their book is borrowed.

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not $99 is worth the membership, look back at your purchases in the last year to see if it makes sense. New customers that start a free trial between now and March 20th will still be able to lock in the $79 rate for the first year.

If you’re anything like other Prime customers, the average spent was $1,340 last year - almost twice as much as non-Prime members.

We wanted to know if Amazon will be adding new features to Prime to keep their members from dropping it. An Amazon spokesperson told us:

“We plan to continue to add more and more value to an Amazon Prime membership over time. First and foremost, we are working to expand selection even further, as we develop additional fulfillment and transportation capacity to make the Prime program even more valuable to our members.”

Considering the price of membership has remained the same for the last 9 years, Amazon argues it’s about time: “We just spent the last nine years adding more than 19M products to the selection eligible for unlimited free two-day shipping, adding unlimited streaming with Prime Instant Video and half a million free books to borrow through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.”

Finally, remember you can share Prime benefits with up to four other members of your household – or in a small business, you can add up to four coworkers. Sharing the benefits can also mean splitting the cost.

What do you think? Is Amazon Prime worth it for you?