You don’t need Prime to benefit from Amazon. In fact, there are several nifty Amazon tips and tricks that don’t require Prime at all, such as how to snag free standard shipping. But with a Prime membership, dozens of other opportunities open up — many that aren’t even related to shopping.
We already covered some of the lesser-known Prime benefits before, including the Prime Pantry and unlimited photo storage, but Amazon has introduced a handful of others since then. And unfortunately, many of these new additions have flown under the radar.
So whether you have an existing Prime membership or you’re thinking of grabbing one soon, you’ll want to keep reading. Never before has Amazon Prime been so worth the price of admission. It even makes for an excellent gift for friends and family!
1. Same-Day / 1-Day / 2-Hour Shipping
You might best know Prime for its offer of free 2-Day shipping, but you might be surprised to learn that Prime members in certain cities also get free 1-Day shipping, free Same-Day shipping, and even free 2-Hour deliveries!
To qualify for 1-Day or Same-Day shipping:
- Your order total must be at least $35.
- For Same-Day, all items must be marked Same-Day eligible. For 1-Day, all items must be marked 1-Day eligible.
- You must check out before the cut-off time, usually around noon.
- The shipping address must be in an eligible zip code. As of this writing, there are over 5,000 participating cities and towns across the continental U.S.
To qualify for 2-Hour deliveries:
- Only certain household items and essentials are eligible.
- The shipping address must be in an eligible zip code. As of this writing, there are over 30 participating cities and towns in select states around the U.S.
The 2-Hour delivery service is called Prime Now and can be expedited to 1-Hour delivery for a $7.99 fee. As of this writing, you can also get free 1-Hour delivery from select restaurants in certain cities. Amazon calls this a limited time benefit but provides no details on when it will end.
Look for Prime Now to continue expanding. In March 2017, Amazon began offering free 2-Hour delivery of beer and wine through Prime Now in Cincinnati and Columbus. And for Echo owners, Amazon recently introduced Prime Now ordering through Alexa.
2. Early Lightning Deals
Did you know that Amazon has an awesome deals program called Lightning Deals? In short, a Lightning Deal is a discounted item that’s only available in a certain quantity and duration before the discount ends. I recently grabbed a product I wanted for 25 percent off, but that’s on the low side.
The Lightning Deals program isn’t exclusive to Prime members, but Prime members have something called Prime Early Access. This lets you get a 30-minute head start on most (but not all) Lightning Deals, which is great because these deals sell out surprisingly fast.
Visit the Lightning Deals page to see what’s available at any time.
3. Free Ebooks
In October 2016, Amazon launched a new feature called Prime Reading for book lovers. With it, you get unlimited access to over 1,000 ebooks in Kindle format, including novels like 1984 and The Hobbit, as well as hundreds of nonfiction titles. It’s currently only available to those in the U.S.
Check out the Prime Reading catalog to see the full collection. One thing to note is that Prime Reading also includes approximately 350 titles that come with Audible Narration, meaning you can experience them as audiobooks.
Another way to get free ebooks with Prime is through the Kindle First program. Every month, you’ll get to pick between 4–6 pre-release titles to download without paying a cent. The selections are spread over many genres so there will always be at least one that interests you. It’s just one of many ways to take full advantage of a Kindle device.
4. Outfit Comparisons
If you aren’t using the Amazon Shopping app yet, you should consider it. In addition to the ability to shop no matter where you are, and on top of the notifications of when orders are shipped and delivered, you’ll get access to the latest Outfit Compare feature.
Introduced in March 2017, this feature lets Prime members upload two full-body photos of themselves in different outfits. Amazon’s “fashion specialists” will analyze each outfit and recommend which one to wear. As of this writing, it’s only available in the iOS version, but it will arrive on Android soon.
5. Original Films and TV Series
You probably know about Prime Video already. It’s a top contender to both Netflix and Hulu, packed full of excellent TV shows worth watching, many that can only be watched on Prime Video. But this service has been around since 2011, so why are we mentioning it?
Because it recently elevated itself to new heights. For the first time ever, an Amazon Studios film won an Academy Award — actually, not just one, but two: Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay. That film was Manchester by the Sea, by the way, and it will be on Prime Video come May 2017.
Other notable original productions include Bosch, The Man in the High Castle, and Transparent. Other watch-worthy exclusives include Catastrophe and Fleabag. Note that you can also extend Prime Video with add-on TV subscriptions.
6. Twitch Prime
If you play video games, then you’ve probably watched Twitch at some point. For the uninitiated, Twitch is like YouTube except focused on real-time gameplay streams rather than uploaded videos (although some streams are saved as VODs after the fact). Twitch started as a platform for watching live tournaments and other events, but has since evolved into so much more.
Although Twitch is completely free, you can unlock bonus features with a Twitch Turbo subscription (e.g. no ads). What many don’t know is that every Prime membership comes with Twitch Prime, which basically grants the same benefits as Twitch Turbo.
To learn more, check out our introduction to Twitch Prime.
7. Annual Prime Day
In July 2015, Amazon ran its very first Prime Day promotional event. It was marketed as a kind of Black Friday exclusive to Prime members, but to disappointing results: the selection was unimpressive, the deals weren’t that great, and the overall feel of it was “okay but lackluster”.
It ran again in July 2016, and some parts of it were better while others still needed work. The takeaway, however, is that Prime Day is going to be an annual event and it’s reasonable to expect that Amazon will learn from its mistakes and improve going forward.
Prime Day may not be good enough yet to be the sole reason to grab a Prime membership, but it’s certainly a wonderful benefit to have alongside all the other benefits you get.
What Do You Love About Amazon Prime?
At the end of the day, the main draw of Amazon Prime is still the same: free 2-Day shipping. If you’re like me and you do most of your non-grocery shopping online, then the price of Prime pays for itself in no time and is absolutely worth it. If you only buy off Amazon during the holidays, a monthly subscription might be the better option.
What about you? If you’re a Prime member, which features do you use most often? If not, what else does Amazon have to do to win you over? Share with us in the comments below!