“10 to 14 days?!? I don’t have 10 to 14 days!!!”
Yes, it’s that time of year again, when an item you buy online with free shipping probably won’t get delivered before Christmas. So do you pay extra for the expedited shipping, or do you hope Uncle Larry is okay with getting his Indianapolis Colts Santa light-up hat a few days after Christmas?
If you do any of your shopping on Amazon (and who doesn’t?), you’ve surely seen the option in the checkout window for “FREE Two-Day Shipping with Amazon Prime.” As you finish your Christmas shopping, it looks very tempting. (And you can actually try it free for 30 days, which might help you get those last gifts delivered on time.)
But Amazon Prime is actually a lot more than just free two-day shipping. What does it include? And most importantly, is it for you?
The first and most well-known benefit to Amazon Prime is free two-day shipping on countless items on the Amazon website. Not every item is eligible, but most are, and they’re clearly indicated with the Prime checkmark icon you can see here. If you’re used to waiting over a week to get a package, you’ll be amazed how quickly your packages from Amazon arrive (and frankly two-day shipping across the country is a logistical marvel).
If you own a Kindle, you’ll also have access to borrow from Amazon’s collection of over 500,000 Kindle ebooks. You can borrow a book per month, with no due date. Once you return it, you can check out another next month. (There are ways to borrow Kindle books and other ebooks through your local library, as well.)
Amazon Prime also gets you access to stream unlimited movies and TV shows through Prime Instant Video. This is similar to Netflix, so there are some well-known titles and plenty of titles you’ve never heard of. Also, there’s some content overlap with Netflix, so be aware of that if you subscribe to Netflix.
In addition to on-demand video, a Prime subscription also gets you access to Prime Music, a service that gives you access to unlimited music without ads. This is very similar to Spotify, although with a much smaller selection of music (for now) and you do get the ability to download music for offline listening.
Need more? How about unlimited cloud storage for all your photos? Prime Photos is yet another service Amazon includes for all Prime members. It allows you to upload unlimited photos to an Amazon cloud storage account. Photos add up to a lot of storage space, especially if you take them with a smartphone. Storing them in the cloud allows you to access them from anywhere you have Internet access.
These many perks aren’t exactly free: Amazon Prime costs $99 per year (a recent price increase from $79). So as you consider the many benefits mentioned above, weigh them against the up-front cost to decide if Prime is worth purchasing for your family. This works out to $8.25 per month. In comparison, a standard subscription to Netflix costs $8.99 a month.
If you’re a student, you can get some of the great benefits of Amazon Prime free for six months, namely the free two-day shipping and unlimited photo storage. After that (or instead), you can get all the benefits of Amazon Prime for half-price ($49).
Ease of use
Free two-day shipping is easy to take advantage of with Amazon Prime. Once you’ve signed up for Amazon Prime, just buy stuff like normal and choose free two-day shipping at checkout.
Kindle books, video, music, and photo storage will depend on your familiarity with similar services. Amazon has a very helpful support section of their website, and this can ease your transition as you learn the ropes of downloading ebooks, watching movies, etc.
Is it for me?
Amazon Prime might be great for you, if:
- You frequently purchase from amazon.com
- You would often watch movies or TV shows or listen to music through Amazon’s streaming services
- You take lots of photos, and often run out of storage space
- You own a Kindle
You should probably stay away from Amazon Prime, if:
- You rarely use amazon.com
- When you shop online, you are fine with free shipping that takes longer than a week
- You have little interest in Amazon Prime’s non-shipping perks
If you have Amazon Prime, what’s been your experience?
Do you have a topic you’d like to know more about? Let me know below. Thanks!
1 – Kindle ebook borrowing only applies if you have a Kindle device. It won’t work with the Kindle app on an iOS or Android device.
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