Let me open up with two important things. One, I’m a huge fan of Amazon Prime and I highly recommend it for pretty much everyone who has regular internet access. Two, I don’t use Prime Pantry, but I don’t think it’s a bad service. It’s one of the lesser-known aspects of Prime that can be great under the right circumstances — just not for me.
But is it right for you? Maybe, maybe not. You’ll need to consider a handful of details that will inform your decision. If you decide that it won’t benefit you, that’s fine. If you think it will, even better. I have no stake in this — I just want to help you come to the right decision.
So here’s everything you need to know about Prime Pantry.
1. How Does Prime Pantry Work?
As the name implies, you’ll need a Prime membership before you can take advantage of Prime Pantry, which means forking over $99 per year. Is it worth it? Absolutely. The two-day shipping alone is fantastic, but you also get Prime Video, Prime Music, and more.
Once you have Prime, Amazon supplies you with a virtual “pantry box” that you can fill up with Pantry-eligible items. You can tell whether an item is Pantry-eligible or not by looking for the Prime Pantry label, which you can see below:
Every pantry box has a weight limit of 45 pounds. You can fill it up with as many, or as few, Pantry-eligible items as you want up to that limit. To add an item to your pantry box, do as you would with any other item and click Add to Cart. What’s cool is that Amazon will tell you how much of your pantry box an item will fill:
To see what’s in your pantry box, just go to your Cart. Here you’ll see a Prime Pantry item that has a bunch of sub-items below it, along with how much each item costs, how much of your box each item takes up, and the total cost of the box. You can also see any eligible coupons (more on this below):
The last thing you need to know is that each pantry box has a flat-rate shipping fee of $5.99. This is on top of your Prime membership and on top of the individual Pantry item prices. However, since normal shipping rates for parcels can be anywhere from $0.25 to $0.50 per pound, this isn’t a bad price at all for 45 pounds.
However, you may have noticed that there’s an easy way to get free Prime Pantry shipping: when you place an order with Prime, if you choose No-Rush Shipping instead of the free two-day option, you’ll get a $5.99 credit for Prime Pantry (sometimes you’ll be offered $1 toward an electronic purchase, like an ebook, instead). Just select this one, and you’ll essentially get free shipping on your next Pantry order.
Note that if you’re a student with an active .EDU email, you can actually get Prime for 50% off through the Prime for Students program. That discount applies every year for up to four years or until you graduate, whichever comes first. This huge cut in price makes Prime Pantry a much better deal for students!
2. Prime Pantry Shipping Restrictions
As far as shipping restrictions go, you’ll need to know three major things that might turn you off from Prime Pantry.
1. Only in the continental U.S.
If you live in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Canada, or any other country in the world, you can forget about Prime Pantry. Since its debut, the service has only been available to users in the 48 states that make up the continental U.S. (There are ways to get around this but may violate the terms of Prime. Do so at your own risk!)
2. Only shipped by ground shipping.
Amazon Prime has spoiled me with its two-day shipping policy, so now anything longer than that feels like an eternity. And unfortunately, Prime Pantry is divorced from that two-day shipping policy that makes Amazon so great. All pantry boxes are shipped using ground shipping, which takes an average of four days.
Also, if you have non-Pantry items in your cart at time of checkout, they will not be included in your pantry box; they’ll ship separately.
3. Only for residential or business addresses.
For the most part, Prime can ship anywhere — including P.O. boxes, Amazon Lockers, and even APO, FPO, and DPO addresses. (Not always, but usually.) A major downside to Prime Pantry is that those exceptional address types are excluded: no P.O. boxes, no Amazon Lockers, no APO/FPO/DPO.
3. For Non-Perishable Items Only
This point isn’t so much a downside as it is an observation: 99% of the items you’ll find in the Pantry catalog are non-perishable household goods. You probably could’ve surmised that from the name itself (“things you’d put in your pantry”), but I just wanted to be extra clear on that. And by non-perishable, we mean “it might perish but not for a long time”.
Common Pantry-eligible item types include:
- Snacks, like cookies.
- Canned and bottled beverages, like soda.
- Cleaning supplies, like bathroom sprays.
- General supplies, like paper towels.
- Laundry supplies, like detergent.
- Food storage, like containers.
- Hygiene products, like soap and makeup.
- Healthcare products, like vitamins.
- Medication and first aid products.
- Pet care products, like litter.
As you can see, Pantry covers a lot of categories — along with several others that aren’t mentioned above. However, you will not find any fresh produce or groceries in the Pantry catalog. For that, you should look to Amazon Fresh instead.
4. No Generic or Luxury Brands
Here’s another detail that might seem unremarkable at first but could end up being quite the deal breaker: the Pantry is only stocked with “regular” brands.
I personally don’t care about brands all that much — I prefer to shop based on value-to-price ratio — but I know a lot of people who are picky about this sort of thing.
If that’s you, nothing wrong with that. I’m not here to judge. Just know that some of your preferred brands won’t be in the Pantry, especially if your tastes are more expensive.
On the flip side, if you’re a big bargain hunter and you always opt for generic brands, then you’ll also be sorely disappointed in the Pantry’s selection. In fact, if generic is all you buy, then switching to Prime Pantry will significantly increase your spending.
5. Save Money With Digital Coupons
Did you know that Amazon has a Coupons program for Prime members? I admit that I had no idea this existed until I began my research for this post. In short, you can browse Amazon’s catalog of coupons and click Clip Coupon to get an instant discount on that item at checkout.
As it turns out, a lot of Prime Pantry items are also eligible for these digital coupons. Individually these discounts may seem worthless, but when you have 45 pounds worth of stuff in your box and all of it is discounted to some degree, it adds up.
If you have the time to clip coupons regularly, you can save enough to negate the shipping fee and then some. Coupons are only available for a limited time and are only applicable up to a certain quantity.
Is Prime Pantry Right for You?
After looking at all of these facts about Prime Pantry, a couple things become very clear.
Convenience is the main reason to use Prime Pantry. You don’t have to leave your house, you can shop at your own leisure, and everything gets dropped off right at your doorstep. It’s great value for students (who get discounted Prime memberships) and supremely useful for those who don’t have cars and don’t want to walk back from the supermarket with ten bags of groceries.
Prime Pantry is NOT the best way to save money on groceries. It’s convenient, but that convenience comes at a cost — namely, flat-rate shipping and the lack of generic brands. The four-day shipping is also a bit disappointing. Only you can decide if the convenience is worth it.
How do you feel about Prime Pantry? If you use it, what do you like most about it? If you don’t use it, why not? What would convince you to try it? Share your thoughts with us below!