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What is Amazon Prime? Membership costs and benefits explained

Amazon Prime membership costs and benefits
Amazon Prime (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you shop with Amazon, chances are you’re wondering if the membership costs and benefits of having a Prime membership are worth it. Whether you’re a bargain hunter or frugal shopper, Amazon's subscription service might save you tons of money and time.

With enticing perks like free shipping, same-day delivery, Prime Day exclusive deals, it’s no wonder Amazon Prime has amassed more than 150 million members worldwide. And with Prime Day 2021 just months from now, that number is expected to increase.

If getting the most value for everyday essentials is important to you, you might be wondering if Amazon Prime is worth it? We’ll go over what benefits having a Prime membership affords you, subscription fees, and other Prime member-only perks.

How much is Amazon Prime? 

Amazon Prime costs $119 for a one-year membership and $12.99 for monthly subscribers. As a courtesy, Amazon offers a 30-day free trial so you can test the waters before you decide to fully commit. 

Amazon Prime shopping benefits  

Prime member exclusive shopping benefits are a huge draw for bargain hunters especially. Each year, shoppers score deep discounts during Amazon Prime Day. This annual 48-hour shopping event offers millions of exclusive deals for Prime members. We've seen some of the best laptop deals of the summer during past Prime Day events, so expect to see price cuts on traditional and 2-in-1 laptops, MacBooks, Chromebooks, and premium gaming laptops. That said, Prime Day is a great time for parents and students to nab early back-to-school laptop deals

Prime Day generally offers the lowest prices on Amazon-branded hardware like its Fire tablets. Beyond Prime Day, Amazon offers Prime member-only daily deals on thousands of products from household essentials to big-ticket items. Prime membership holders also get in-store and online discounts at Whole Foods. 

Does Amazon Prime always have free shipping? 

One of the best perks of Amazon Prime is fast and free delivery. Amazon Prime members get unlimited free two-day shipping on millions of eligible items (not all items are eligible). Free one-day delivery on over 10 million items is also available with no minimum purchase. 

And if you’re pressed for time, Amazon offers Prime members same-day delivery on over 3 million items for orders over $35. This is useful if you need to buy a last-minute gift or simply want to get as close as possible to the instant gratification of in-store shopping. For groceries and household essentials, Prime members enjoy fast, free two-hour delivery. 

Free release date delivery 

Want to be the first to get your hands on new release video games, movies, music, books and more? Choosing Amazon Prime’s free release date delivery option lets you get your order by 7 p.m. on release day.  

Prime membership account holders who can afford to wait earn exclusive rewards with free No-Rush shipping. These rewards may be used to buy select digital products like video downloads, Kindle, eBooks, Digital Music, and Amazon Appstore apps. The rewards show up at checkout as an instant discount or once your order ships.

Amazon Prime Video 

Amazon Prime Video

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you’re a dedicated movie buff or TV series binge-watcher, you might benefit from Amazon Prime Video. Free for Prime members, this exclusive video streaming service gives subscribers access to thousands of video titles. Prime Video’s massive library includes movies and TV shows from every genre. From romantic comedies to timeless classics to Amazon’s own award-winning Prime Originals like the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Grand Tour and Transparent. 

As a Prime membership holder, you can also rent or buy movies and TV episodes outside of the Prime Video library starting at $2.99. You can also add over 100 premium channels to your membership with Prime Video Channels for an additional monthly fee. Channels like Paramount+ HBO, Showtime, and Starz cost from $6 to $15 per month for Prime members. If you’ve been considering cutting the cord, it’s a great alternative to cable TV. 

Amazon Prime Music 

One of the best benefits of Amazon Prime tugs at the heartstrings of music lovers. Free with your Prime subscription, Amazon Prime Music lets you stream your favorite songs ad-free, anytime, anywhere. Listen to music on all your devices with the Amazon Music app or on your laptop via music.amazon.com. 

Amazon Prime Music has over two million curated songs which you can listen to offline with unlimited skips. For an extra $7.99 a month or $79 per year,  you can upgrade to Amazon Music Unlimited which has over 70 million songs.  

Prime Gaming

Amazon wants to be your one-stop-shop for all your entertainment needs — gaming included. As part of your Prime membership, each month you'll get a host of free PC games and in-game loot. 

Popular games like Do Not Feed the Monkeys, Before I Forget, and Move or Die - Couch Party Edition are among Prime Gaming's current free offerings this month. As for loot, this month you can get the Kosatka Submarine Sonar Station and up to $1,000,000 in GTA Online, the Spicy Ramen Exotic Bundle for Destiny 2, and a 7-Day Renown Booster for Rainbow Six Siege.  

Free unlimited photo storage 

Amazon Prime members get free unlimited full-resolution photo storage with Amazon Photos. This makes it easy to free up storage on your laptop, tablet or phone. Plus, it eliminates the need to pay for monthly cloud storage from Apple or Google.

You can access your snapshots from any device by simply logging into your Amazon Prime account. And up to five members of your friends and family may be added to your photo vault. Amazon also gives you 5GB of storage for your personal videos, important documents, and other files. 

How do I get my Amazon Prime membership?

New members can sign up for a 30-day free trial Amazon Prime subscription right here. You can cancel anytime. When the trial period is over, if you decide to continue the membership, the cost is $12.99 per month. Alternatively, you can pay $119 per year and save $36.88 on your Prime membership. 

Amazon Prime for students costs $6.49 a month, and includes a free 6-month trial for new members. Prime students get exclusive discounts on textbooks and a month's access to tutors and study guides for $4.95 ($25 off). Showtime and Amazon Music Unlimited are just $.99 a month for Prime students. 

In a nutshell, Amazon Prime has tons of membership perks that could save you time and money. Take advantage of Amazon's risk-free trial to find out if Prime is right for you. 

Hilda Scott

Hilda Scott uses her combined passion for gadgets and bargain shopping to bring you the best prices on all things tech. She has a bachelor’s degree in film and media studies from Hunter College and 11 years of tech and entertainment journalism. Her work has been featured on Tom’s Guide, iTechPost, Examiner.com, Parlemag, Enstars, and Latin Times. When she's not scouting for the best deals, Hilda’s catching up on her favorite TV shows and pro-wrestling matches.