Whenever I mention that my wife and I are Amazon Prime members the follow up question is almost always “yea but is Prime really worth $119 a year?”. For us the answer is a resounding YES!
What Is Amazon Prime?
Amazon Prime is an Amazon membership service that provides access to instant video, movies, TV, music, photos, special Prime Day discounts and two day shipping on most orders from Amazon. Amazon Prime costs $119 per year (or $12.99 per month), or $59 per year (or $6.49 per month) for students.
Whether we’re shopping online, watching TV or listening to music we find ourselves using Amazon services more than almost any other brand so I wanted to provide a little bit more detail on why I think Amazon Prime membership is such a great deal and how it can pay for itself by replacing services you might already pay for.
Free Two Day Shipping
My wife and I really take advantage of Prime’s free two day shipping and if it’s something we can wait for, we just let Amazon deliver it for us. We don’t mind going to stores like Target or Walmart, but we have three kids under five years old so getting out to the store is a process and can rarely be done in under two hours, but with Amazon Prime we just order whatever it is we need and it’s at our house in a couple of days and occasionally it makes it in one day if we order early enough.
Not everything on Amazon qualifies for the two day shipping but most items have a Prime option. Amazon has lets you filter only on items that qualify for Prime (located here in the browser and here in the app) so you know you’re getting free shipping. It’s a big time (and frustration) saver for us and I know we’re getting our $100 worth out of the shipping alone.
Before I move on to the next benefit I do want to point out that you do NOT need Prime to get free shipping from Amazon. If you spend $35 or more on your order you get free shipping (standard, not two day) but with Prime there’s no minimum so if you just want to spend $0.99 on a toothbrush you can. If you don’t shop Amazon often this may be the way to go.
Prime Instant Video
Earlier this year I wrote a post about how my family cut the cable cord this year and Amazon Prime is a big reason why we were able to. Prime Instant Video is essentially the same thing as Netflix with a library of movies and TV shows on demand streaming through your TV, computer, tablet or phone.
We use Prime Instant Video and Netflix together because they have slightly different content available, but if you wanted to save money there is more than enough to get away without Netflix. We’re constantly using Prime Instant Video to catch up on old seasons of TV shows we like or stream PBS and Nick Jr. shows for our kids. The only bummer is that at the time I’m writing this Prime Instant Video is not available on Apple TV but streamers should note that it is available on Roku players and of course Amazon’s Fire TV stick.
If you’re looking for more than just Amazon Prime Instant Video you also have the option of adding additional television packages to your prime account. For example you could get a free 7 day trial of CBS All Access (and just $5.99 a month after that).
If you’re a Netflix subscriber (and can live without Orange Is The New Black or House of Cards) using Amazon Prime’s video library instead of Netflix would save you $95.88 a year, which would nearly cover the cost of a prime membership alone.
When we talk about streaming music we usually go straight to Spotify, Pandora or now Apple Music, but did you know that Amazon has a streaming music service included with Prime too? With Amazon Prime Music you have access to two million songs on commercial free playlists or albums from some of your favorite artists.
Need more music? Amazon also offers Amazon Music Unlimited which bumps your song options up to ten million songs. There are three options for Amazon Music Unlimited – a Single Device Plan for $3.99 a month, which allows you to use the service on an Echo or Fire TV, an Individual Music Plan for $7.99 a month (or save around $17 by paying $79 for a full year), or a Family Plan that can be used by up to 6 people for $14.99 a month (or save around $31 by paying $149 for a full year).
Amazon is also offering a Free 3 Month Trial of Amazon Music Unlimited so you have time to decide whether the extra cost is worth it.
If you subscribe to a service like Spotify Premium for $9.99 a month you could switch to the free version of Prime Music and save close to $20 a year for a pretty comparable service plus all of the other Prime benefits.
Over the last year Amazon recently rolled out Prime Photos, a cloud based photo storage service, to their list of prime benefits. The best part? It’s unlimited so you can upload as many photos of your kids, your vacation or your dinner as you want and it won’t cost you a penny more.
The storage is available for photos only so if you’re a Dropbox, Google Drive or iCloud subscriber and want to store work files, PDF’s or any other media you’re out of luck so this option isn’t ideal, but you do have the option to subscribe to Amazon CloudDrive for $59.99 a year, which is cheaper than most other cloud services.
If you pay for Dropbox, Google Drive or iCloud to store your photos, you could switch to Prime for the same price.
Prime membership also includes other benefits like the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library where you can virtually “borrow” books from other members (if you have a Kindle – doesn’t work with iPads or other non-Amazon tablets). You also have access to Prime Pantry where you can buy household goods for a $5.99 fee.
Cons of Amazon Prime
We love Prime but as with any service, Prime isn’t perfect but the list of cons is really pretty minimal. For example, if you like to buy gifts for out of town friends and relatives your shipping to their house isn’t free, there are some shows/movies/songs that aren’t available on Prime Instant Video and Prime Music service and how Instant Video is not available on Apple TV but for most of us these are non-issues and you can certainly work around them.
So Is Amazon Prime Worth It?
Amazon Prime may be worth it to you if…
- You order products from Amazon frequently (free 2 day shipping)
- You’re looking for a cheaper alternative to Netflix (Prime Instant Video)
- You’re looking for a cheaper alternative to Spotify (Prime Music)
- You’re looking for a place to store unlimited photos (Prime Photos)
Amazon Prime may not be worth it to you if…
- You don’t order from Amazon frequently
- Your Amazon orders are typically over $25 (Amazon offers free shipping for orders $25+ without prime)
- You don’t watch streaming video
- You don’t listen to streaming music
How Much Money Do We Save With Prime Membership?
For us, the $119 cost of a Prime Membership is well worth it for the free two-day shipping alone, but if you take advantage of all of the services that Amazon offers with a prime membership, your membership fee will more than pay for itself. Consider replacing these popular services:
- Save $95.88 – Replace Netflix ($7.99 / Month) with Amazon Prime Instant Video
- Save $119.88 – Replace Dropbox ($9.99 / Month) with Amazon Photos
- Save $120.00 – Replace Spotify ($10 / Month) with Amazon Prime Music
These three services alone would cost you $335.76, so the $99 Prime Membership pays for itself and still saves you $236.76, and that’s not even including the free shipping!
Sign Up For A Free 30 Day Trial
Here’s the best part… if you want to find out if Amazon Prime is worth it for yourself then sign up for a FREE 30 day trial and find out for yourself. I’m willing to bet you like it!
Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links where we may be paid a commission if you sign up for Amazon Prime through our links. That said, we were members of Amazon Prime long before we joined their affiliate program so all opinions are our own unbiased opinions.