Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
Allow me to start with two important remarks.
One, I’m a huge fan of Amazon Prime and I recommend it to pretty much everyone who has regular internet access. Two, even though I don’t personally use Prime Pantry, that doesn’t mean I think it’s a bad service. It’s actually one of the lesser-known benefits of Amazon Prime that can be great under the right circumstances.
But is Prime Pantry right for you? 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 best decision according to your needs.
Here’s everything you need to know about Prime Pantry.
1. How Does Prime Pantry Work?
As the name implies, you’ll need an Amazon Prime membership to take advantage of Prime Pantry, which means committing to $129/year. Is Amazon Prime worth it? I think so. The two-day shipping alone is fantastic, but you also get Prime Video, Prime Music, and more.
As an Amazon Prime member, you have three ways to shop Prime Pantry:
- On Prime Pantry orders that total under $35, shipping costs a flat $5.99.
- On Prime Pantry orders that total $35 or more, shipping is free.
- With a Prime Pantry supplemental subscription, orders that total $10 or more have free shipping. The supplemental Prime Pantry subscription costs $4.99/month on top of the regular Amazon Prime membership.
Only Prime Pantry-eligible items count towards Prime Pantry orders. The easiest way to shop Prime Pantry is to visit the Prime Pantry Store page. However, you can also browse Amazon normally as long as you look for the Prime Pantry label, which you can see on the items below:
When Prime Pantry-eligible items are added to your Cart, they’ll display separately from normal Amazon items. In your Cart, you’ll see a Prime Pantry item that has a bunch of sub-items below it, along with how much each item costs and the total cost of the box. You can also see any eligible coupons (more on this later in the article):
Note: If you’re a student with an active .EDU email, you can actually get Amazon Prime for 50% off through the Prime for Students program. This discount applies every year for up to four years or until you graduate, whichever comes first. This 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 details.
Only in the Continental US
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 US. (There are ways to get around this but may violate the terms of Amazon Prime. Do so at your own risk!)
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. Unfortunately, Prime Pantry isn’t included in the two-day shipping policy that makes Amazon so convenient. All Prime Pantry orders are shipped using ground shipping, which takes an average of four days.
Note: If you have non-Prime Pantry items in your Cart when checking out, they’ll ship separately.
Only for Residential or Business Addresses
For the most part, Amazon Prime can ship anywhere—including PO boxes, Amazon Lockers, and even APO, FPO, and DPO addresses. One major downside to Prime Pantry is that those exceptional address types are excluded: no PO boxes, no Amazon Lockers, no APO/FPO/DPO addresses.
3. Prime Pantry Is Mainly Non-Perishable Items
This point isn’t so much a downside as it is an observation: 99% of the items you’ll find in the Prime 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 eventually perish, but it’s shelf stable for quite some time.”
Common Prime 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, Prime Pantry covers many categories—along with several others that aren’t mentioned above. However, you will not find any fresh produce or groceries in the Prime Pantry catalog. For that, you should look to Amazon Fresh instead.
4. Prime Pantry Lacks Generic and Luxury Brands
Here’s another detail that might seem unremarkable at first but could end up being quite the deal breaker: Prime Pantry is only stocked with “regular” brands.
I personally don’t care about brands all that much—I prefer to shop using value-to-price ratios—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 available through Prime Pantry, especially if your tastes lean toward the more expensive end of the spectrum. Then again, if you’re a bargain hunter and always opt for generic brands, you’ll also be sorely disappointed in the Prime Pantry selection.
5. Save Money With Prime Pantry Coupons
Did you know that Amazon has a Coupons program for Amazon Prime members? I had no idea this existed until I dove a little deeper into Amazon as research for this article. 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 an entire Cart worth of stuff and all of it is discounted to some degree, the savings add up. If you have the time to clip coupons regularly, you might even save enough to negate the shipping fee.
Note: Each coupon is only available for a limited time and is 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 a great value for students (who get discounted Prime for Students memberships) and supremely useful for those who don’t have cars and don’t want to walk back from the supermarket with heavy bags of groceries.
Prime Pantry is NOT a 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, but not a deal-breaker.
If Prime Pantry isn’t for you, Amazon Prime is still worth getting for other reasons. Perhaps the benefits of Amazon Prime Day, the fact that you can share your Amazon Prime with family, or the convenient Amazon Prime Reading will convince you to become a member.