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Amazon Prime: Is it Worth it?

Amazon Prime: Is it Worth it?
Susan Smith

There is a lot of talk about Amazon Prime. Is it worth the membership costs? What are the perks? At our house, I do a fair amount of online shopping and sometimes wish I was getting the free two-day shipping option. I also have Netflix and love to binge-watch shows in order to catch up. I decided it was time to embark on my free trial to find out if it was actually worth it for my family. Here are my findings. (Please note that your findings may be different than mine, but you can always start your own free trial to find out for yourself!)

Two-Day Shipping      6439091165_565e33833c_z

Let’s start with the most obvious perk; the two-day shipping. If you shop on Amazon, you know that there is a minimum order of $35 needed in order to qualify for free shipping. With Amazon Prime, there is no minimum purchase required, and it comes in two days. This means that instead of buying the one thing I need and two other things just to make my order equal $35, I can just buy the one thing I really need and save myself some money. However, when I find the one thing I really need (like a birthday present that can’t be found in my local stores), I usually try to add things to my cart that I was going to purchase anyways. I have quite a few items just waiting in my wish list for a time when I need to equal $35. Small advanced holiday presents, cleaning supplies, diapers, pet food, beauty products and more can help your order equal $35 and still save you a trip to the store. With a little advanced planning, I can actually get the things I need delivered right to my door before I desperately need them. I may have to wait a few extra days, but I find that most shipments usually come here within four or five days. If you do plan to use this perk, check with your family members first to see if any of them are subscribers. You can share your two-day shipping perk with up to 4 of your family members.

One-Day Shipping Upgrade

If you are a last minute shopper, you can upgrade your free two-day shipping to one-day shipping for just $3.99. This is probably the same that it would cost you in gas (or maybe less) to drive to the store and get whatever it is you need. Without Amazon Prime, this feature depends on what you are purchasing, but can cost somewhere around $20! There are times when I forget that we have a birthday party to get to, or times when I know I am almost out of diapers that this could come in handy. But then again, I could just run down to the store...

Subscribe and Save

I’m guessing you probably won’t do all your grocery shopping on Amazon. Staples in our house like ice cream don’t ship very well. But if you use the subscription service on Amazon for things like dog food, diapers, cleaning supplies, beauty products, and other items that you know you will need on a regular basis, you can save an extra 15%. Sign up for the service, and then you can schedule your deliveries. Know that they will automatically charge your credit card or PayPal account for this, but you can go in and change the scheduled deliveries at any time. Do a little research and compare prices to see if you can really save yourself some money. I found some things made it worth signing up, while others were a better deal at my local store with a coupon.

Instant Streaming       6841492969_001197d6fd_z

The debate between Netflix and Amazon Streaming mostly depends on what kind of shows you are looking to watch. One of the main differences is that you can find pretty much anything you want to watch on Amazon Prime Streaming, but not all of it is included in your membership costs. Some older episodes may be free, but the newer seasons cost up to $1.99 per episode. For example, I recently took up binge watching Once Upon a Time on Netflix. My daughters are, of course, obsessed with Frozen and I wanted to see the grown up version of Anna and Elsa. I can watch all the episodes on Netflix to catch up to where the show is currently. On Amazon Streaming, each episode will cost me $1.99! Or you can purchase the whole last season for $24.99 (older seasons cost less). If you want to catch up on three seasons, you are talking at least an extra $50. The good news is, you can purchase episodes almost immediately upon their release to the network, unlike Netflix where you have to wait for months for them to release the whole next season. I should also mention that you don’t have to have an Amazon Prime membership to purchase these episodes. Anyone can purchase videos and movies to stream through Amazon. Amazon Prime does offer plenty of free shows, including all the HBO shows, and some series like Downton Abbey that you can’t stream anywhere else. And the movie selection on Amazon is much better than on Netflix. Use your free trials of both services to find out which one has the shows you actually want to watch.

Books      8235631394_628e5b55d4_z

Do you own a Kindle? Amazon Prime offers you access to hundreds of books that are free to read. You can download the books right to your Kindle, and read to your heart’s content. There is a free lending library where digital copies of books are available to borrow from other owners. Just be sure to note that most of these features only work if you own an actual Kindle device. This is another hidden cost built in to having Amazon Prime, but if you already own a Kindle or are planning to get one, this might be another perk. Then again, most public libraries already offer free ebooks to patrons. Be sure to check the selection of books during the free trial and compare it with what your library has to offer.

Music 14513882851_f74ecab6e9_z

Very recently, Amazon started a music streaming service for Prime subscribers. They offer over one million tracks free, plus suggested playlists. Just type in the song you want to hear, and there it is. You can carry an entire music library in your pocket. This perk does interest me, particularly because if I have to listen to the Frozen soundtrack one more time, I may actually become Elsa. But I use Spotify, which also offers free music streaming through my laptop.

Amazon Mom or Student

If you are a parent or a student, signing up for Amazon Prime may offer extra benefits. You don’t have to be a mom, you can also be a dad, grandma, grandpa, or pretty much anyone who buys baby supplies. Amazon Mom members save an extra 20% off of diapers. If you subscribe to a diaper delivery, plus join Amazon Mom, you may be able to save a lot on the cost of diapers. Plus you’ll never have to worry about running out, which is also valuable. Students can receive a free 6-month trial of Amazon Prime, however this does not include the streaming service. Once the 6-month trial is up, students have the chance to purchase the rest of the year for the discounted price of $39.

The moral of the story is, Amazon Prime depends on your habits. If you are someone who shops online a lot, the shipping options may be worth it all by themselves. Especially if you can get 4 family members to split the cost of a membership with you. Use the free trial period to determine how much you could actually save during the year. Or if someone is looking to get you a present this year, you could always add a gift membership to your list. Check out all the books and shows that Prime has to offer and determine what you are looking for from a streaming service. I determined that it was not worth the $99 per year for our family. We don’t own a Kindle, and most shows that I want to watch currently are on Netflix. Plus we have a DVR (my husband NEEDS it for his sports games), so I can catch up on the most recent episodes in real time. I go to our local library with my daughters at least once per week, and if I don’t make it there, they have an ebook lending service where I can borrow free titles right from my house to my Nook, my smartphone apps, or my laptop. My youngest daughter is two and wearing cloth training pants, so while we keep a supply of diapers handy, I am no longer purchasing a case per week. I am going to save our $99 this year and stick with Netflix and five-day shipping.

Image Credits: Featured Image, Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4

 

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