Amazon just announced a 20% price increase for the Prime membership feature, sending Prime members into a tailspin. The last price increase was in 2014, when the membership increased from $79 to $99. Effective May 11, 2018, new memberships and renewals will be $119 annually. Members who pay monthly saw a price increase from $10.99 to $12.99 per month earlier this year.
While it’s easy to cry that a $20 price increase is huge, the reality is that a lot of people do not take full advantage of the perks a Prime membership includes. There are currently more than 100 million Prime subscribers globally, with an expanding network of over 100 million products eligible for free shipping under the service. The number of available products continues to climb and Amazon will also continue to open new facilities while expanding shipping and delivery methods.
So what do you actually get with an Amazon Prime membership?
- Free 2-day shipping in the contiguous US. In reality, the delivery is usually 48 hours or less, depending on how close you are to the shipping facility. Some people even see same-day shipping.
- Release-date perks mean you will have an item in your hands on the release date rather than having to go out and buy it or wait for it to ship after the release date. This only applies to certain books and tech items.
- Amazon’s unlimited video streaming service is very similar to that offered by Netflix. You’ll find movies and TV shows as well as content created for Prime only.
- Amazon Prime music gives you access to over 2 million free music tracks. This is separate from Prime Music, which gives you access to a larger library at a small cost.
- Kindle First books gives Prime members access to one free early released e-book per month. There are usually four to choose from and you are gaining access before the official release date.
- Kindle users also have access to the Lending Library, which allows you to “borrow” one book per month. Your book has to be “returned” before you can take the next one. Choices are limited.
- The Prime reading feature gives Prime members access to a selection of free ebooks, magazines, comics and travel guides. This is not the same as the Kindle Unlimited program.
- Prime members also have access to a limited number of free audio books via Audible Channels for Prime.
- Free Games with Prime is a newer addition to the Prime library.
While these are some of the more notable benefits, there are others. Free flat-rate shipping on certain household items, Alexa deals, restaurant delivery, Whole Foods benefits, photo storage, Amazon Elements for baby products, Amazon Dash re-order buttons, early access to lightning deals, and other exclusive discounts are also worth considering. Amazon regularly adds new Prime perks.
If you make use of your Prime membership, that $119/year is certainly more than worth the cost. Investors agree, too. As of Thursday, April 26th, company shares had increased over 7%.