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There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to Amazon Prime memberships. It depends heavily on your online shopping habits.

So how do you figure out which is right for you? Let’s take a quick look at the benefits you get from Amazon Prime, and then figure out which membership type best serves your needs.

Amazon Prime (One Year Membership) Amazon Prime (One Year Membership) Buy Now At Amazon

Amazon Prime Shipping

Prime members get free two-day shipping on all eligible purchases, of which there are a lot. You also get free same-day shipping on select items in select US cities, but you have to spend at least $35 to qualify.

amazon same day

Two-hour shipping is also available in select US cities through Amazon Prime Now on a select list of grocery, electronic, household, health and beauty, pet, toy, sport, and outdoor items.

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime offers a lot more than just free shipping 6 Amazon Prime Benefits You Might Be Ignoring Right Now 6 Amazon Prime Benefits You Might Be Ignoring Right Now Scratch the surface. Amazon Prime has so many more benefits that people have forgotten about or simply don't realize exist. Read More . Prime members get access to Amazon Prime Video, which includes Amazon originals like Transparent and Fleabag. (Compared to Netflix Originals, however, Amazon Prime is definitely lagging in the original series category.)

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You also get a huge backlog of HBO shows like Sex and the City, The Sopranos, True Blood, and Girls. At the time of this writing, you also get some relatively recent 2015 and 2016 movies like Eye in the Sky, Room, and Sicario, plus popular TV shows like Mr. Robot and Downton Abbey.

amazon prime video

Amazon Prime also allows you to download select titles 3 Useful Things You Can Do With Amazon Video On Demand 3 Useful Things You Can Do With Amazon Video On Demand When most people think of Amazon, they think of shopping. However, the company is starting to appreciate the value of providing free services and products to customers. One example is the ability to download music... Read More for offline viewing — a feature it had long before Netflix introduced it You Can Now Download Netflix Shows to Watch Offline You Can Now Download Netflix Shows to Watch Offline Netflix is now allowing users to download content from its catalog to watch offline. This means you can enjoy Netflix even when you can't find a decent internet connection! Read More .

Other Amazon Prime Perks

Free shipping and video streaming are likely to be the biggest draws for most people, but there are plenty of other features as well. Keep these in mind when you’re thinking about how much the service is worth to you:

Membership Options

So now that you now what you get, how do you choose a plan that’s right for you?

Annual membership — Amazon’s annual Prime membership has gone up from $79.99 to $99 a year. Technically, you can share this membership with Amazon Household, so if you can find another person to share your Prime membership with, it comes down to just less than $50 per person. This is one of the most economical options, but there are serious privacy issues to consider — namely that you have to share payment information with one another.

amazon two-day shipping

Monthly membership — If you prefer not to shell out $99 in one go, you can opt for the month-to-month option. This will cost you $10.99 a month. You can use the monthly service for select times of the year and cancel your membership at any time. Going month-to-month for the full year costs $132. That’s $33 more than if you paid the full amount upfront, so if you can afford the $99 in one go, do it. If you wait for holiday shopping or Cyber Monday deals, month-to-month makes more sense.

No membership — You can still get free shipping with Amazon without forking over a membership fee. The difference is that you have to spend a minimum amount on purchases, and the shipping takes longer. To get free 5-to-8-day shipping, you have to spend at least $25 on books or $49 on eligible items. The other options are standard 4-to-5-day shipping for $5 to $17, depending on the item; 2-day shipping which ranges from $12 to $30; and 1-day shipping that ranges from $25 to $57. Amazon does not provide a clear breakdown of shipping charges — you have to place the item in your cart and go through the checkout process to see how much shipping will cost.

If you are purchasing multiple items, you can either group them together and have them all shipped together (at a potentially slower speed) or have them sent separately (at a potentially higher cost). In our tests, the added difference to ship items separately at a higher cost added $5 to $6 to the shipping charge.

We did just that with a variety of items and this is what we found:

So Which Is Right for You?

The best way to make a decision is to look at the table above and determine where your shopping habits fall. If you’re looking for more guidance, read on.

How many purchases would you have to make for Prime’s free two-day shipping to be worth your while? Without Amazon Prime, book lovers would have to make at least nine separate purchases (with two-day shipping). Depending on your reading habits or needs, this is actually very doable. If you read a lot and want those books fast, an annual Amazon Prime membership is ideal. Avid readers and purchasers should go for an annual membership.

amazon prime kindle

If you’re purchasing heavier items, you’ll earn the cost back at only four purchases per year. If you’re furnishing a new home, or have some large purchases planned, Prime will easily pay itself off in shipping costs. But that is a pretty unlikely scenario for most. Monthly Prime might make more sense for big ticket items if your shipping cost is over the monthly $10.99. If you’re anticipating purchasing one or two heavy items and don’t want to wait over a week for them, go for the monthly option.

If two-day shipping doesn’t matter to you, you’re going to have to bundle your purchases. You’ll need to get to $49 to get free 5-to-8 day shipping. If you find yourself occasionally spending extra money to meet that limit, put that money toward a monthly Prime membership. Do you do that regularly? Annual membership is a no-brainer. If you’re constantly looking for extra purchases to qualify for free shipping, go for monthly or annual membership depending on how often it happens.

If you shop more often at brick-and-mortar stores, ditch Amazon Prime altogether. To avoid long lines and harried holiday shoppers, sign up for a monthly account in November and December. The money you would spend on gas going shopping could be a good trade-off for the $22 for the two-month membership, and you’d also get early access to Amazon deals during that time. For the occasional or holiday shopper, it’s a choice between monthly or no membership at all.

Bottom Line

If you order more than 20 books a year from Amazon, an annual Prime membership is absolutely worth it. If you shop on Amazon only during the holidays, month-to-month makes more sense. If you rarely shop online, Amazon will try to pull you in with an Amazon Prime Video membership for $8.99 a month, but depending on your taste, it might not be worth the money.

Do you have an Amazon Prime membership? Do you think it’s worth the $99 a year? Let us know in the comments.

Image Credit: Jeramey Lende via Shutterstock

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  1. Sean M Lowery
    February 21, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    I love my Amazon prime. I signed up for annually. Totally worth it! Also love my Amazon prime videos, too

  2. Merv Boyd
    January 19, 2017 at 5:24 am

    Amazon Prime is well worth the cost, even with the increase.I use it frequently.

  3. Sam
    January 18, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    There's also the prime student option. With any .edu email address one can get a 6-month free trial followed by prime for $49 a year making it much more economical

  4. Keith Amdur
    January 18, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    I have prime and it`s good but the gaming is hard to understand this Twitch thing.Plus ever book that I want to read I have to pay for.The Prime books I don`t like.Prime music is worth it.Lots of music and the oldies or the songs I like are free.If I had a smart phone did ity would be better.I`m not getting one so I listen to muisic at home.Once I learn all there is about Prime I think I`ll like even more.

  5. Paul Tobeck
    January 18, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Been Prime members for 7 years now. We've found that just what we save in gas money and shipping at Christmas and for birthday presents easily pays for the $99 annual fee (We have to drive 40 miles to get to the nearest town with a mall/stores beyond our local WalMart). We've even started buying some groceries/snacks/household staples from Amazon even though their available at the local store for roughly the same price. Cuts down on trips, saves more gas.
    Admittedly, we don't take advantage of most of the other Prime benefits save for the occasional show on Prime video like Man in the High Castle, but the wife is now looking into a new Kindle so she can get the occasional free book.

  6. Amanda Ball
    January 18, 2017 at 6:03 am

    I do have Amazon Prime and I literally only use it for the free 2 day shipping. I paid the full $99 upfront but I order something at least every other day and some of the items weighting over 50lbs like I got a portable basketball hoop for the kids so that right there would have cost me almost $100 for shipping and would have taken 2 months to be delivered if I wasn't a prime member. I do wish they had a program just for the free 2 day shipping for like $50 because I don't need all the other stuff like music, books, photo storage and so on. My prime is to renew on the 27th of this month and I'll be opting for the $10.99 a month a plan.

  7. David Hanson
    January 18, 2017 at 3:16 am

    We have had Prime for about as long as they have had it. The reduced shipping makes it worthwhile for us. We don't watch much TV and our cable lineup is more than we can watch. I already have more than I can read so the book programs aren't useful either. Free select books are never anything that interests us. Perhaps, we will use the free music more as we recently added an Echo Dot.

  8. Ruth Trussell
    January 18, 2017 at 12:34 am

    Hello!
    As I have mentioned more than once to your Customer Service prople, I think you should offer a discounted Prime Membership to Seniors. I am aware that you offer such a plan to college students. Well, I feel it's time to do this for Seniors. After all, more and more seniors are now computer-literate. Many seniors have trouble going to "brick and mortar" stores, one after another and carrying multiple items, often heavy or bulky ones, home.

    Many seniors are living on a limited income. Some seniors have health issues or are concerned about falling, so they find it difficult to go out and buy the items they need.

    Amazon has been a lifesaver for me! I am 73, have severe osteoporosis, have broken multiple bones from falls, but I AM computer literate! I am retired and my income is limited.

    PLEASE... offer a discounted membership for seniors! I give Amazon a LOT of business! A monthly plan isn't the answer. The cost ends up being higher per year that way! I am most interested in free shipping. I do occasionally watch a movie, but not often as I am not set up for viewing them on my TV.

    I hope you will offer discounted PRIME to seniors VERY SOON! Thank you!

    Sincerely,

    Ruth Trussell
    art.n.nature@gmail.com
    635 W. Grace St., Apt. 1209
    Chicago, IL 60613
    (617) 548-5474

  9. Danofive0
    January 18, 2017 at 12:22 am

    I have Amazon Prime. Use it all the time. And there reading deal for $10.00 a month. Reading two,three books a month. Love the two day & next day shipping. Even same day now & then.
    And can even take movies & TV shows with me when I like.. And there service is A +.

  10. C Bower
    January 17, 2017 at 11:07 pm

    Another American Amazon post. Amazon.co.uk please!

  11. Jose Gonzalez
    January 17, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    One thing that was not mentioned is the free shipping for returns. That could at to a lot if you have to return an item you didn't like.

  12. Ruth H
    January 17, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    At my age of 80 I order from Amazon very often. I am not able to shop brick and mortar like I could when I was even 5 years younger. All my kleenex come from Amazon at less that .01 per sheet, I get my dog greenies, I get my vitamins and supplements, (most of them) from Amazon, I also occasionally order clothing. And I use their free books and storage. I find it a very good deal for me.

  13. Lorraine B Crouch
    January 17, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    We have been Prime members from the beginning and have loved it. Until now. We are camp hosting on a remote beach which takes about 25 minutes of sharp winding roads to reach. Remember placed an order last week which indicated "guaranteed delivery" by last Friday. Sure enough, we received notice that it was delivered that morning and spent the next 2 1/2 days kicking on doors and generally making pests of ourselves looking for it UNTIL IT WAS ACTUALLY DELIVERED SUNDAY AT 4:30 P. M. I understand we are remote, but the combination of the guaranteed delivery, indicating they had delivered it when they had not, and all the time we spent looking for the package and bothering a lot of people, absolutely incensed me. Adding insult to injury, when we called Amazon, we got the most uncaring representative.

    • aaron
      January 18, 2017 at 2:54 pm

      I don't think that was Primes fault. Thats the delivery company telling amazon that it was delivered

  14. Phil N
    January 14, 2017 at 7:48 am

    When I signed up for a free trial the only option was month-to-month. I accidentally went beyond my 30 days and they only charged me $10.

  15. R
    January 13, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    Your "bottom line" states Prime is $99/month.

  16. Daniel Yeo
    January 12, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    Bottomline: $99 a month? Hell no. $99 a year, definitely.

  17. macmaharaja
    January 12, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    kickback from Bezos ?

    • Gerry
      January 14, 2017 at 2:24 am

      Check your penultimate sentence.