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What is Amazon Prime?

If you find yourself shopping more often on Amazon or even just noticing that your friends and family are doing so, you might ask yourself: What is Amazon Prime,and is it truly worth it? Billed annually, the company’s subscription service costs $119 per year. Billed monthly, customers can expect to spend $13 per month. But despite the heftiness of its price tag, Amazon Prime does offer a multitude of benefits that may offset the price of admission.

Whether you use other Amazon products like Prime Video or just like to shop there, here is everything you need to know about Amazon Prime so that you can make an informed decision about whether to subscribe or continue with more traditional buying and streaming habits.

Access to free shipping and lightning deals

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For frequent Amazon shoppers, the immediate benefit may be the money you save on shipping. Prime members get free two-day shippingon many of the products Amazon sells, as long as you live within the continental United States. Some users also get access to free one-day shipping, while others have same-day delivery. Prime members also get free two-hour delivery with Prime Now and Amazon Fresh, which delivers daily essentials and groceries.

Alternatively, if you do not need an item right away, you can score some rewards by not going with the fastest shipping option. With free “No-Rush” Shipping, you either earn rewards on your purchases once they ship or receive discounts immediately, simply for agreeing to a longer wait time for shipping.

Shipping is not the only way Prime can save its users money, either. Prime members can also get early access to Amazon’s “lightning deals,” wherein the company offers massive discounts on specific items for a limited time. More specifically, Prime members get 30-minute early access to select lightning deals.

Cash in (or out) on Prime Day

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For those who think Black Friday and Cyber Monday are simply not enough, there is Prime Day, Amazon’s yearly festival of sales. On this day, Prime members get access to exclusive deals. Not everyone has a rosy view of Prime Day, but there’s always a chance you’ll find something great at a low cost.

Check out all of our live Prime Day coverage, including our hand-picked deals.

Catch the latest flicks on Prime Video

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One of the more valuable parts of a Prime membership is access to Amazon’s library of streaming video content. Like Netflix, Prime Video offers an expansive number of shows and Prime movies. In addition to a rotating selection of popular shows and films from third parties, Amazon also has its own studio, which produces award-winning original content such as Transparent and Catastrophe, as well as co-productions like Good Omens. You can rent or buy Prime Video titles individually, but get free access to a number of them with a Prime subscription. You can stream them on a variety of devices, including smart TVs, set-top boxes, and consoles, as well as to your mobile device, with some even having the ability to download for offline viewing.

Upload photos and stream your favorite tracks with Prime Music and Amazon Photos

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Prime also allows users to stream music, much like Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Music. Amazon’s library is robust, and users can stream music from their computers, smartphones, tablets, and even the Amazon Echo family. Amazon’s library of music has more than 2 million songs, and the content is ad-free.

Prime also includes a cloud-based service for storing photos, naturally dubbed Amazon Photos. In addition to unlimited storage space for photos, Prime users may also store up to 5GB of videos. New search technology also makes it easy to find specific photos using a keyword, allowing you to pinpoint an image based on location, among other factors.

Land in-game perks with Prime Gaming

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In recent years, game streaming services like Twitch have become one of the hottest trends on the internet. These services allow people to broadcast themselves playing games while others watch and chat, and Twitch has developed a particularly lively community. Now, Amazon Prime members will automatically get access to Prime Gaming, which includes a free Twitch channel subscription. Among the benefits of this service are free games and in-game items for games like Grand Theft Auto Online, League of Legends, and Madden NFL 21. If you already have a Twitch account, you just need to link it to your Amazon Prime account to reap the benefits.

Borrow books and nab advance copies

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If you own a Kindle or have downloaded the Kindle mobile app and subscribe to Prime, you can download free e-books from the Prime Reading collection. The process is like checking out a book from a traditional library, except there’s no due date. Simply return your e-book when you feel like it. You can also download up to 10 titles at once. If you want to download other titles after that, you’ll need to return one of the titles you downloaded previously.

Amazon also has the Amazon First Reads program for Prime members. With Amazon First Reads, Prime Members can read one of six unreleased books every month for free (it is $1.99 for non-Prime members). Amazon editors will select the six books each month, and Prime members can read one for free in advance of the official release date.

Skip a trip to the grocery store with Amazon Fresh and Prime Now

For select locations, Amazon Fresh is a grocery delivery service in which Prime members can get groceries with the options for one or two-hour delivery windows.

Prime Nowallows Prime members to order grocery and non-grocery items and have them delivered free within a two-hour window in select cities.

Lastly, Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods means members can get access to exclusive deals on select products from that store.

Painlessly and easily build your wardrobe


Taking a page from Trunk Club and Stitch Fix, Amazon also offers Prime members access to Prime Wardrobe, a clothing subscription that allows customers to try on clothes, shoes, or accessories and only pay for what they keep. Customers have up to seven days to decide what they’d like to keep, and can ship unwanted items back to Amazon free of charge. Shoppers can select up to eight items for each Prime Wardrobe box.

Save even more as a parent or student

what is amazon prime family
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If you have kids — and all the extra expenses they bring — Amazon Family can help you with savings on baby-related items. One of the most notable benefits? You can subscribe to have diapers and baby food delivered to you regularly for 20% off the list price. You can also get 15% off certain products from your baby registry.

If you’re a college student, you can also get a Prime membership for a fraction of the cost ($59 per year). You’ll need to register with a valid university email address (.edu), and you’ll get a six-month free trial of Prime before you need to start paying for it. You’ll also gain access to a bevy of student-specific deals.

Just how much is a Prime membership worth?

You might be wondering if the features of a Prime membership warrant the price. Looking at the numbers, it would seem to be the case. Free shipping is a perk because shipping costs can be more expensive if you have a heavy package. Free two-day shipping is even better because you don’t have to pay express shipping fees. If you order a lot from Amazon, having a Prime membership could save you a lot of money in shipping alone.

Prime Video is also almost worth the price of admission by itself. Compare the service to basic Netflix access, which costs $9 a month or $108 a year. Potential members should also factor in Prime’s music streaming service. If you look at the more popular music streaming company Spotify, their paid ad-free subscription costs a monthly fee of $10. That said, you should note that Amazon’s Prime Music library is not as robust as Spotify’s, and many songs, albums, and artists are locked behind the Amazon Music Unlimited service, which costs an additional $8 per month for Prime members.

But that doesn’t even touch on all of the other benefits of a Prime membership. You probably won’t even need most of them, but the perks you do use will pay off your membership fee whether you pay by the month or choose the additional price markdown by paying for the entire year upfront.  

Amazon Prime pays itself off after a mere order or two a month, making it a worthy membership to have for anyone who uses Amazon. The additional services only add to the overall value.

Try out Prime for free now.

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