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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 may make an informed decision about whether to subscribe or continue with more traditional buying and streaming habits.

Access to free shipping and lightning deals

what is amazon prime free shipping
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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 in certain eligible zip codes, while others have same-day shipping. Prime members also get free two-hour delivery with Prime Now, which delivers daily essentials and groceries and free release-date delivery on eligible pre-order items (more on this below).

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 future purchases or receive discounts immediately, simply for agreeing to receive your order within six business days.

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

what is amazon prime prime day browsing

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

what is amazon prime tv

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

what is amazon prime music

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 items and content for games like Grand Theft Auto Online, League of Legends, and Madden 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

what is amazon prime Kindle Unlimited

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 in advance of the official release date.

Skip a trip to the grocery store with Prime Now and Prime Pantry

what is amazon prime pantry

Prime Nowallows users to order items and have them delivered free within a two-hour window in select cities. On a similar note, Prime Pantry allows members to purchase groceries and household items and have them shipped together in a pantry box. The pantry box usually comes with a $6 shipping fee, though Prime members can get free shipping by placing an order that is $35 or more.

Prime members can also take advantage of Amazon Elements, a curated line of premium and ethically-sourced products that includes everything from supplements to baby wipes. Before purchasing an item from Amazon Elements, Prime members can learn where each ingredient is sourced, why those ingredients were used, and the manufacturer’s location. This type of transparency is the hallmark of Amazon Elements, as the program was created for more ethically-focused shoppers.

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

Amazon

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 purchase 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

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?

So do the features of a Prime membership warrant the price? Looking at the numbers, it would seem to be the case. The free two-day shipping alone is a nice benefit; shipping costs vary depending on the weight of the package, and if you frequently order items from Amazon, you can easily rack up $100 in shipping fees over the course of a year.

Prime Video is also almost worth the price of admission by itself. The service’s biggest competitor, Netflix, charges $9 a month ($108 a year) for its basic package. Potential members should also factor in Prime’s music streaming service. Spotify, one of the world’s most popular streaming services, charges $10 a month for its ad-free subscription. That said, it should be noted that Amazon’s Prime Music library is not as robust as Spotify’s and a number of 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. Even if you don’t get close to using them all, a handful now and again are more than enough to cover the monthly cost. Especially if you pay for it annually.

Overall, if you are a frequent or even semi-frequent Amazon shopper, you will probably get your money’s worth with a Prime membership, particularly if you find enjoyment in the service’s other benefits.

Start your free Prime trial today

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