Is Amazon Prime Actually Worth The Subscription Cost?

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E-commerce in the U.S. is a booming market valued at close to $1 trillion in 2023. That number is only expected to grow by an additional 50% over the next three years, making online sales the way of the future. The king of the hill, at least where e-commerce is concerned, is Amazon, a company that generated $365 billion in sales across the U.S. in 2022. While Amazon holds onto 37.6% of the online retail market in the U.S., that doesn't even take into consideration the $33 billion or $30 billion the company generated in its second and third-place markets, Germany and the United Kingdom, respectively.


Amazon Prime is a tiered subscription program offered by the e-commerce and streaming giant that allows members unrestricted access to special shopping and streaming services with discounted perks. While there are sneaky ways Amazon can trick you into spending more money, the jury is still out on whether or not Amazon Prime is one of them. The membership fee is $139 annually or $14.99 per month, while the Prime video subscription is $8.99 per month. Currently, there are 38 states where your membership is also subject to sales tax. However, the company seems to have considered a wide cross-section of people, including students, seniors, families, or people on government assistance. Is the membership worth the cost? We've compiled a list of benefits attached to Prime membership that may help make the answer to that question clearer. 


Expedited delivery

Nobody wants to wait an excessive amount of time for their order. Amazon is a first mover in truly expedited delivery, with the choice of two-day shipping available for an extra charge for regular users of Amazon's services. Now that they've become known as the masters of the two-day turnaround, Amazon has upped the ante with its same-day delivery option for Prime members-day delivery. Prime members not only get free two-day shipping, but they also get free same-day delivery, with customers in harder-to-reach locations like Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Alaska waiting one to four days for priority shipping at $5.99 per item, and expedited shipping taking two to five days at $11.99 per item.


Prime members can order products eligible for the delivery option before the cutoff time allocated to their location. That usually means next-day or same-day delivery by 9 pm the next day, so long as you've made your order before noon, excluding weekends or holidays. Amazon calculates based on your selected delivery time and location to determine what's possible with a countdown timer informing customers of when to make orders for arrival by the specified date. With same-day delivery available to over 90 U.S. cities, Worldwide Amazon Stores CEO Doug Herrington announced plans to double this capacity in the next few years, which has a huge impact on Amazon's already massive delivery numbers of 1.8 billion units.


Prime Day and other exclusive deals

A significant benefit to Prime membership is the exclusive deal days. Amazon offers members major savings on gift items over two days, including tech, household, gaming, and beauty products. Lightning deals happen sporadically and offer members more deals with a very limited checkout window to click, buy, and save. Prime members are fond of the deals offered, too. Last year's 48-hour event generated $12.9 billion in sales for the company, which represented a growth of 6.7% in sales from the previous year on 375 million items purchased.


Several deals are generally offered for Prime members at any given time, with as much as 67% being knocked off the purchase price. This is true even when Prime Day isn't happening. With cuts this deep it may be worth it to try out a 30-day free trial just to experience these kinds of savings for yourself. 

Saving movies and series for later viewing

Streaming platforms have revolutionized the way we take in television and film. While the ability to stream loads of content from your laptop, television, phone, or tablet is a major plus, if you've ever spent several hours on a plane without Wi-Fi, then you already understand the value of downloadable content. Downloading content is as easy as downloading the Prime Video App for Windows 10, macOS, Android, or iOS, and then choosing whether you want to download up to an entire season of shows, individual episodes, or the movie of your choice. You can get to the content you've downloaded even when you're wi-fi free by clicking your avatar and selecting your download option.


As of January 29, 2024, Amazon began running ads on the Prime Video platform, which may or may not affect how you view membership. While membership alone won't free you from having to sit through the ads, agreeing to an extra $3 per month will continue to provide you with ad-free entertainment. That's an additional $36 per year on top of the $139 membership fee, or $175 per year in total. So is it worth it? While there are things you should never buy online, streaming content isn't one of them, and being able to watch it whenever you want ad-free for an extra three bucks a month pushes the value proposition more toward a yes than no.

Sharing benefits

The only thing better than more of a good thing is the ability to share it with others. Amazon allows Prime members to spread the love by sharing the benefits of membership with another family member or adult sharing your household. Simply log into your membership page, tap on the "Share your Prime Benefits" section, and then "Manage your Household" by typing in your beneficiary's email and name. This feature will include sharing your wallets — which Amazon monitors to inform you of your credit or debit card info being moved into your beneficiary's wallet — so ensure it's someone you trust. After agreeing to the terms and conditions, your beneficiary has 14 days to accept your invitation.


The company notes that Amazon Household goes even further, allowing for up to six people — two adults and as many as four people under 18 years old — to gain access to all the benefits of a Prime membership including exclusive deals, books, e-books, audiobooks, streaming content, expedited delivery, photo album sharing, games, and apps. This comes with parental controls over purchases and content, with the option to factor time management and educational goals into Fire tablets and Kindle e-readers. 

Free cloud storage

In the digital age, everything is happening — or has already happened and is being stored — in the cloud. As such, the backup security of the cloud can't be underestimated as a benefit of Prime membership. Amazon Cloud Drive is one of the best cloud storage services you can have with unlimited storage for high-resolution photos and 5GB of free file storage included with your Prime Membership. Amazon Cloud works best with Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android, basically every system Amazon Prime is compatible with. Amazon employs a similar block-level file copying software to help your files sync quickly onto compatible systems. You can raise the storage by paying an extra $2 to $12 per month for 100 GB up to 2TB.


Amazon web services made up 32% of spending on cloud services in the fourth quarter of 2022, one of the three largest cloud service providers alongside Google and Microsoft. Amazon web services also held 32% of the market in the first quarter of 2023, making it the largest market share out of any cloud share provider in the world with over 1 million active subscribers. 

Should you cancel your Prime membership, be aware that you will still have full access to up to 5GB of photos stored in the cloud, however, you won't be able to upload more than that, and you'll have 180 days to delete or move anything above the 5GB limit before Amazon deletes them.

Free books

As an Amazon Prime member, you get Prime Reading for free. Prime Reading gives members access to around 3,000 magazines, comics, books, ebooks, and audiobooks, with an option to pay for a Kindle Unlimited subscription for even more readable content. While Prime Reading is perfect for classic book titles for kids, teens, and adults, Kindle will give you access to newer titles. That said, as an addition to your membership, thousands of free titles in different forms are still pretty impressive.


With the aforementioned Amazon Household, you can share your multiple Kindle books from your library with up to five other members of your household and control the settings, including parental controls for kids 12 and under. You can download up to 10 titles at once, with many of them having an audio option for narration. When you're ready for another title, you just return one and select another. If you consider the average book buyer in the U.S. spent $34.55 in 2022, and the average cost of a book is $13.95 to $17.95, the inclusion of thousands of books at your fingertips for the cost of a Prime membership is a steal for avid readers.

Free Prime Music

In a conversation about which streaming platform is the better bang for your buck, Amazon Music rarely makes the list. That seems unfair when looking at it through the lens of Prime membership, however. Amazon Music offers listeners access to the most popular podcasts and 100 million songs without the annoyance of ads. Like the streaming video component, Prime music and podcasts can be downloaded and played without any wi-fi, with the ability to mix your playlists to your heart's content. Better still, the sound quality of 100 million music tracks is unmatched, with high definition to ultra definition ensuring an ear-pleasing sound. You can also use voice commands to select music through Alexa.


According to Gizmodo, 176 million Americans subscribed to Amazon Prime in 2023, an increase from 2022, and representative of the 74% of members paying for subscriptions up from 66% the year before. Amazon Music may be a large factor in that. 

Prime Gaming

If all that wasn't enough, Amazon Prime membership includes a plethora of free games like the classic "Asteroid" rebooted as "Asteroids Recharged" alongside limited-time offerings for games like World of Warcraft and Pokemon Go. The average amount American families spend on gaming is $431 a year. Prime eliminates a lot of that cost through free gaming platform subscriptions like Twitch, with in-game freebies and of course, free games. These freebies together create a savings of $84.92 a year when you include the cost of a Twitch streamer subscription, in-game content, Jackbox game discounts, and free games.


Amazon has made some changes to its existing partnership with Twitch that will have streamers losing 25 cents off every $2.50 they used to make from each subscription, however, that cap helps to sustain free Prime member access to their favorite gamer stream, while also benefiting the highest earning streamers by placing no cap on their subscription payouts. Prime Gaming serves everyone's best interests, as long as you're a streamer with a whole lot of followers. 

Deals at Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh

After Amazon purchased Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in 2017, the company spun out its own brand of grocery stores, Amazon Fresh, in 2020. Priced below the upmarket prices of Whole Foods, the chain employs both e-commerce and in-person sales as part of its business strategy. While it's still too early to say if this is a smart business move or not, Amazon is offering unlimited grocery delivery from Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh for Prime members. While this service is now available for non-members for a fee, there are still perks and discounts attached to Prime membership. Spend over $100 on your Amazon Fresh order and get free delivery. Also, quick turnaround deliveries of two days will only be charged delivery fees of $6.95 for orders $50 to $100 and $9.95 for orders under $50. Non-member delivery fees are higher.


According to Supermarket News, Amazon slowed its rollout of Amazon Fresh stores and cashier-less Amazon Go stores — stores with sensors that track and charge you for the items you leave with — after taking a $720 million loss in the fourth quarter of 2022. Still, $19 billion in revenue is nothing to sneeze at.

Benefits for recipients of government assistance

Amazon Prime membership offers a way to get the best discounts if you're a senior through 50% off on all Prime benefits, starting with membership for $6.99. Anyone who receives Medicaid, SNAP EBT, or any other valid form of government assistance can also gain access to all the benefits of Prime membership for half the price. As long as you can provide proof of being a recipient by uploading a photo of your Medicaid eligibility letter, EBT card, or documentation proving your involvement in other government assistance programs — National School Lunch Program (NSLP), Supplemental Security (SSI), and Woman, Infants, and Children's (WIC) Programs, for example — you're in good standing. If you live in Puerto Rico, utilizing the Nutrition Assistance Program also makes you eligible. You'll just have to renew your membership through verification of your continued participation in these government programs annually to keep your half-price membership, which Amazon will inform you of by email.


Amazon offers SNAP EBT participants discounts through its grocery delivery service that includes produce, meat, dairy, bread, and cereals, as well as other pantry goods with reduced delivery fees — all the way down to free — if shopping through Amazon. That said, Amazon has also been taken to task by a 2020 US Government Accountability Office report that placed it and Walmart on a top 25 list of employers who paid their workforce so little that many of them have to supplement their diets and incomes through SNAP or Medicaid.

Student discounts

Students can also benefit from Amazon Prime membership with Amazon Student. Students can receive membership at half the price of regular membership, and get free two-day shipping on purchases made through the platform. It's hard to beat other perks like $25 return flights for the holidays between December and January for 3,000 lucky members. Students can also take advantage of a 10% discount on hotels and flights through StudentUniverse, discounted pricing on video and music streaming services, and a one-year free trial of GrubHub with free delivery for orders above $12. Course Hero can have a positive impact on your educational pursuits with a 30-day free trial followed by a 60% discounted subscription, while more savings on Calm can help you manage the stress of finals.


Signing up is easy. All you need is a valid ID like a driver's license or passport to verify your age through Amazon's online portal. Better yet, Amazon is offering the first six months of membership free to anyone 18 to 24 years old.