If you do a fair amount of online shopping, there’s a strong chance you’ve heard about Amazon Prime. Perhaps you’ve even been offered a free 30 day trial of the service. If you’re unaware, for $99 a year (or $10.99 a month if you choose that plan instead), Amazon Prime offers a number of practical perks — namely free shipping — along with a bevy of entertainment. But the real question is, is it worth it?
On the eve of the much-hyped Prime Day, let’s take a look at some of the benefits Amazon Prime membership includes and if it’s a good deal overall:
Free Two-Day Shipping
This is obviously the biggest draw Prime has for the majority of shoppers as it allows them to order nearly whatever they want without worrying about meeting certain spending limits to obtain free shipping. Additionally, if you have more patience/time to wait, you can select a slower shipping option in exchange for digital credits to use on the site. For those in select metro areas, your Prime membership means you’ll get your stuff at lightning speed with same-day or even two-hour shipping available on certain items (subject to spending requirements).
While the selection of Prime-eligible items is absolutely massive (over 50 million strong according to the site), it must be noted that not everything on the site will qualify. For example a number of third parties sell on Amazon but, unless the item is fulfilled by Amazon themselves, it may not allow for Prime shipping. Another thing to look out for are items that say they’re Prime eligible but won’t ship for three to five days or more. These rare instances can be frustrating but, for the most members, the free two-day shipping will work just fine.
Movies, TV, Music, Books, and More
Over the past decade or so, Amazon has evolved from a one-stop shop for goods to a major content provider across multiple mediums. This initiative started with the introduction of Kindle, which was once just a device and is now practically synonymous with the digital book format. Additionally, Amazon rivals Netflix and Hulu with its streaming video options and takes on Apple and Spotify with its streaming audio. As a result, Prime members have access to a ton of entertainment, some of which is exclusive to Amazon.
The downside to all of this is that Prime might not exactly replace other options like Netflix for certain users. In fact, a growing trend finds television lovers maintaining multiple memberships to ensure they get to watch all the shows people are buzzing about. So while there’s potential that these options could save you money, it’s also likely that most will see this as an add-on.
Unlimited Photo Storage
Did I mention that Amazon has their hands in a lot of different fields? One lesser-known side of Amazon is their cloud backup solution, which has an emphasis on saving photos. Currently anyone can score themselves 5 GB of free photo storage on Prime Photos, but members actually get unlimited storage. You can share also this perk with up to five people, although this will create a “Family Vault” where all the photos will be stored.
Overall this is kind of a nice benefit but, quite honestly, there are better and more comprehensive unlimited cloud backup options available for only a few dollars a month, making this offer negligible to some.
Early Access to Lightning Deals
First, if you’ve never checked out Amazon’s Lightning Deals, you definitely should. Each day a number of items have special flash sales that may enable you to snap up a pretty good deal. Of course these offers are limited and, if it’s a popular sale, it could go quickly. Thankfully Amazon Prime members get a first crack at select Lightning Deals and can reserve theirs up to 30 minutes before the general public.
In truth, this is another minor perk. However, if you’re a Lightning Deals enthusiast, you’ll surely want that head start when possible.
For those who do a lot of shopping online and enjoy perks like digital video and music streaming, ebook borrowing, and cloud storage for photos, Amazon Prime can be well worth the $99 investment. That said, prospective members should be aware that the beloved two-day shipping does not apply to every item on the site and that Prime’s entertainment offerings might not be enough to satisfy everyone’s TV craving. However, with a free 30 day trial and a monthly payment option after that, there’s really no harm in taking Amazon Prime on a test run — especially on Prime Day — to see how it works for you.
Also published on Medium.