Amazon Prime was first launched over 10 years ago and boasted two-day shipping on numerous products for a flat fee of $79 a year. A lot has changed in those 10 plus years; now a yearly membership is $99 (or you can pay $10.99 a month). Read on for a break-down of all the goodies tucked in to see if Amazon Prime is a good fit for you.
Free two-day shipping on any amount spent, for eligible items remains the highlight of an Amazon Prime membership. Those without such a membership can still receive free shipping, but they must spend at least $35 (and let me tell you, that “standard shipping” can be SO SLOW — how did I ever order items and wait that long before?)!! Currently Amazon Prime also supplies free same-day and two-hour delivery in select areas, as well as free release-date delivery on eligible pre-order items. Unfortunately I do not live in one of these “select areas” and I rarely purchase non-released items, so these two perks seem a little lame in my opinion.
Prime Video Streaming
Amazon Prime does offer free streaming for many movies and TV series. For science’s sake, let’s say I have “standard taste” in movies/TV choices; approximately half of the movies and TV shows I’ve desired to watch are available on Amazon Prime, and approximately half of those I desire to watch are unavailable on Amazon Prime, but are available on Netflix (if that makes sense). I’m stuck purchasing some format, which is about a fourth of the movie/TV content I would like to watch. It should also be noted that about three-quarters of the movies and TV shows I want to watch are on both Netlfix AND Amazon Prime. (Does this paragraph confuse you? Check the graphic for clarification.) My final conclusion is that Amazon’s video steaming service is “acceptable” but not a good replacement for my trusty Netflix and definitely not a solid reason to purchase a Prime membership.
It should probably be noted that Amazon will sell you unlimited video streaming (not connected to Amazon Prime) for $8.99 a month. However, as noted above, in my personal experience I find Netflix more worth the money for a comparable price.
Prime music gets an A+ in my book. It features a growing selection of 2 million+ songs, both ad-free and on demand. I found a baby-calming playlist that I grew to absolutely cherish — so much so that even after I let my Amazon Prime membership expire, I hunted up the songs on that list and purchased them individually. Every type of music, even down to an audio recording of the Rosary (a traditional Catholic prayer), I was able to find to my satisfaction with Amazon Prime music. Would I spend $99 a year for just this feature? Nope (especially not with free options like Pandora or Youtube). But it definitely sweetens the deal for an Amazon Prime membership.
Twitch, for all you non-gaming individuals, is a free game streaming service. Basically you can watch other people play games (which may sound spectacularly boring, but is actually quite entertaining). The graphics in these games are usually pretty sweet. Plus, if you actually know what is going on, it can rival watching a movie or even playing a game yourself. So where does Amazon come into this? They offer free game content, discounts on pre-released games and “loads more.” Although I have dabbled in some gaming here and there, I really am not in-the-know enough for most of this. I am guessing this is again, a nice perk, but not in and of itself worthy of purchasing a Prime membership.
An Amazon Prime membership now includes unlimited listening of Audible Channels and access to a small, rotating selection of streaming-only audio books. This is a fairly new perk that I have not been able to fully explore, but it sounds promising and like somewhat of a good value (as regular Audible-only memberships run about $5 a month). If you regularly listen to audio books, this could be a motivating factor in coughing up the cash for an Amazon Prime membership.
Prime boasts free, unlimited photo storage and state-of-the-art search tools to help navigate your graphic goods. This could be handy if you are in the habit of backing up your photos (I personally just backup my files and photos on external hard drives). While this does not really apply in my unique situation, it could definitely come in handy to others.
Prime Early Access
In case you missed it, Amazon has quick sales going on now, in a rotating fashion, basically every day. They call these “Lightening Deals.” I have glanced over them now and again, but never really found anything worth purchasing. (For comparison, it makes me think of the clearance section at Wal-mart or the local drugstore.) Prime early access allows you to get into these deals 30 minutes early. This is nice as often the good deals run out of product before the sale is over. So if you are one of those deal-savvy individuals this is definitely for you.
Included with an Amazon Prime membership is the ability to borrow one Kindle book per month for free, which is nice, but not nearly enough for my growing family of eager readers. Instead we opt to spend $9.99 to purchase Kindle Unlimited, which allows free access to over 1 million titles and thousands of audiobooks. Being avid readers that zoom through books, this has been a good fit for us, especially with my picky husband who often desires new books that are not found in our local library.
This category confuses me. Amazon defines it as unlimited reading of over a thousand books, comics, magazines, and articles. When I search it on amazon.com, it shows a selection of books, but also a link to “explore a larger selection with Kindle Unlimited,” leading me to believe that it is a smaller library of literature. However, Harry Potter topped the category for children’s books, so it looks like quality books, despite there not being as large a quantity. This could be a weighty factor to consider in deciding on your own Amazon Prime membership.
The final perk is 20% off diapers through Subscribe and Save, and a 15% Baby Registry completion discount. Subscribe and Save is purchasing items through a subscription-type service, so said items would continually being shipped to you at a schedule you choose. When I used to purchase my diapers through subscribe and save, my Amazon Prime membership allowed me to save $8 per box. I would purchase a couple boxes every two or three months, effectively paying for a monthly subscription $10.99 with just my savings. (And side note, this is what I consider the “smart way” to use Subscribe and Save. Purchasing 5 or more items in a given month unlocks an additional 15% off on every item in the order.)
I have no direct experience with the Baby Registry completion discount. It sounds like a nice perk, but not a weighty part of consideration (especially since one usually only has a baby shower for the first kid so you would probably only need it once).
The Bottom Line
The thought of two-day shipping makes me drool, but I cannot justify the cost for a hodgepodge of options, many of which I do not need or care for. Thus, my current Amazon Prime relationship is to sign up for approximately three months a year: November, December, and June. In November and December I revel in the quick shipping for Christmas gifts, and in June I do a giant stock-up month where I buy however many boxes of diapers I think I’ll need for the next six months or so until I renew my membership for quick Christmas shipping. The savings pay for the cost these few months. I balance this with my Netflix account for movies and Kindle Unlimited for our reading desires to create just the right combination of services to keep my family and my wallet happy.