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Amazon: Now you’ll only have to spend $35 to get free shipping

Why it matters to you

With Amazon cutting its free-delivery threshold to better compete with Walmart, be sure to shop around when ordering for home delivery.

Amazon has just cut the minimum order for free shipping to $35, down from $49.

Spotted by The Verge, the reduction comes 12 months after the company raised the minimum order fee from $35 to $49 for eligible items. For book deliveries, the minimum order for free delivery remains the same, at $25.

So what’s going on?

It seems the move could be in response to Walmart’s recent decision to offer free two-day shipping on eligible orders worth $35 or more. But there’s a difference: Amazon’s deliveries will take between five and eight business days to arrive, considerably longer than Walmart’s promise of just a couple of days.

For free two-day shipping, Amazon customers need to sign up to Prime, which in the U.S. costs $99 and includes other benefits such as unlimited streaming of online movies and TV shows, and access to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

Amazon hasn’t made any official announcement about its new, lower free-shipping threshold, and, considering how much it likes to push its Prime membership, is unlikely to do so.

More: Amazon aims to take more control of its shipping process with new air hub in Kentucky

In January, Walmart announced it was doing away with its subscription-based ShippingPass and replacing it with free two-day shipping on eligible orders of $35 or more for all customers.

In contrast, another competitor in this space, Best Buy, says it “sometimes offers free shipping for specific shipping methods in select categories, or free shipping sitewide.”

Sign up to its free “My Best Buy” scheme and you’ll find that some orders qualify for free two-day shipping, with a minimum purchase of $35. Additionally, qualify for its “Elite” or “Elite Plus” scheme (by buying a lot of stuff each calendar year) and you can get free two-day deliveries on many items, with no minimum purchase required.

So if you have no intention of signing up to Amazon Prime, but you do like to order stuff online, it’s best you wait until you want to order at least $35 worth of stuff, and then check all of the competing sites to find the best deal — with free shipping included.