Is Amazon Prime Worth The Cost?

December 16, 2011

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For those of you that do not know what Amazon Prime is, let me tell you. To be honest, I had no idea what it was until about somewhere around a year ago. At a cost of $79 per year (or $6.58/month for you math junkies), Amazon Prime members enjoy “free 2 day shipping, instant streaming of movies and TV shows, and instant access to thousands of Kindle books”. It truly is what it says, too. As a member I have not noticed any hidden “catches”. The 2 day shipping? It’s really true. In fact, in many cases, you get the package(s) that you ordered the next day. Now, don’t quote me on that because I don’t want any angry readers! But I can’t recall a time where a package did not come within the 2 days, unless the item was on backorder, unavailable, etc.

Free 2 Day Shipping

One of the main reasons we opted to join the Amazon Prime club….for those of you that are frequent Amazon shoppers, you know that to avoid shipping costs your order has to be from Amazon itself (not one of the “sellers” that just sell on Amazon) and also has to be $25.00 or more. In many instances, we found ourselves filling orders to meet the $25.00 requirement and avoid shipping. Why not just pay the shipping? Well, if I’m going to have to pay the extra either way I’d rather actually get something for the extra money, right? Yes, I’m right! So, since joining Amazon Prime, I can’t even imagine how much money we’ve saved from filling orders with stuff that we really weren’t intending to buy. Maybe not a TRUE benefit of the program, but definitely very helpful.

Another very minor (or major, depends on what you think) benefit…..if you’re like me at all, it’s kind of nice to be able to order something and get it within a couple of days, versus waiting 5/7/10 days to receive it. Again, minor, but the somewhat instant gratification of receiving what I ordered that quickly is nice.

For those of you that are rushing out now to join Amazon Prime, be careful. Only products that are Amazon Prime eligible will qualify for the free 2 day shipping. That being said (because I have to say it), in the past several months since joining Amazon Prime I have yet to come across an item that I wanted to order and it was NOT “Prime” eligible. So don’t let that stop you from joining. In fact, they have a free one month trial of the program. We did it, and that’s what got us hooked. It’s a way to verify that everything I’m telling you is in fact true.

Free Video Streaming

I spent a lot of words on the shipping aspect alone, because that is the greatest benefit for me. They do have unlimited instant videos and movies. This is secondary to me because the movie selection is nothing like what you’d find on Netflix or in the video store – it’s just a subset of the entire Amazon Instant Video collection.

The streaming includes a lot of older movies, but nothing of the new release nature. They also include a decent selection of TV shows, but again, nothing that is extremely new.  One thing I’ve noticed is that they include the first few seasons of a show, but not the later seasons.  It seems like they’re trying to get you hooked on a show, then charge you to get the later seasons – a pretty smart strategy.

The movie/show playback and video quality is good … not great, but not horrible either.  You do need a compatible device in order for the streaming to work.  You can read more details about the program here.

I just don’t see the movies/shows library as the main reason for somebody to join.  Nonetheless, it’s a nice bonus if you were going to join Prime anyway.

Borrow Kindle Books for Free

Amazon recently added a Prime feature that benefits Kindle owners.  You can borrow one book per month from the Amazon Owners’ Lending Library for free.  This is similar to the feature of being able to borrow books from your local library, except that there’s no due date.  You can keep a book for a year if you want … but you can only check out one book at a time (and a maximum of one per month), so you can’t borrow another one until you return the one you have borrowed.

The lending library is a subset of the entire Kindle eBook collection, but just on the teaser page, I see recognizable names such as Michael Lewis, Suzanne Collins, and Stephen Covey.  Don’t worry – the authors (and publishers) are being paid.  Amazon is creating a pool of money each month, and this will be split based on how many times a book is borrowed.  If The Cell Window is borrowed as often as Moneyball, Kosmo will get as much money as Michael Lewis (and his publisher).

Like streaming, it’s probably not worth it to join Prime just to take advantage of the ability to borrow Kindle books – but it’s a nice added feature.

Worth the cost?

So, is Amazon Prime worth the $79/year? Yes, it definitely is. But, to prove that to yourself, join the club for a month for free and see for yourself. You’ll be happy you did.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mrs. Accountability
    Dec 18, 2011 @ 10:59:05

    Bob, great review. One thing you didn’t mention, Amazon Prime allows a member to “…share their shipping benefits with up to 4 additional family members living in the same household, or up to 4 coworkers to shop for the related account.” My son was the first to try Amazon Prime – he is much less inclined than me to pinch pennies – and I found myself asking him if I could log into his account to get the two day shipping for one of the same reasons you mentioned, the need to shop for extra items just to get up to $25. We felt a little funny sharing, not wanting to “cheat” Amazon or get kicked out of the program, so I researched and was delighted to learn it is okay to share the account. We have been splitting the cost between us so we each pay $39.50 per year which makes it even better. If you put this phrase in italics into Google, “sharing amazon prime benefits” the top hit should be Amazon’s page explaining how sharing works. However, I should let you know that as far as I could tell, sharing Prime does not extend to the new book lending program. Also, one more cool thing: One day shipping for $3.99/per item. My son will use this often when buying one big dollar item, like a new monitor, etc. We live pretty far out in a rural area so it is much cheaper to pay $3.99 for one day shipping than to drive all the way into town. I really love Amazon Prime.


  2. Mrs. Accountability
    Dec 18, 2011 @ 11:04:17

    One more thing. I just learned the streaming video option is also not available when sharing Prime.


    • hollymiller73
      Mar 28, 2012 @ 16:37:51

      Yep. it’s all true. the shipping is great. the movies are ok..decent selection….BUT you can not share movie streaming with secondary members on the account which sucks cuz I always forget my wife’s password.


  3. Frank
    Jul 14, 2012 @ 12:28:39

    Not true:

    I find that items that are eligible for “free” shipping with Amazon Prime are more expensive. Further, the price difference between Prime and non-Prime items is generally equal to the extra cost you would pay for expedited shipping. As such, you don’t really get free shipping – its built into the price of the Prime items.

    You do however get the video streaming and Kindle borrowing – so you have to ask yourself if those two items are worth the money.


  4. kosmo
    Jul 14, 2012 @ 13:07:46

    I hadn’t noticed this. Can you provide some example (links to a couple of specific items)? I’m curious what the cause might be.


  5. Mack
    Dec 31, 2013 @ 14:33:34

    Got Amazon Prime a couple months ago and they are going to give Netflix a run for their money. Look at what else they are giving away with the subscription: – Amazon may be too powerful in the end.


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