Why I Pay for Amazon Prime (a Mini Review)

by Miranda Marquit · 36 comments

A short time before Christmas last year, my husband signed up for a free trial promotion of Amazon Prime. We wanted to make sure that the Christmas gifts we ordered arrived on time, and Amazon Prime offers free two-day shipping. I had resisted Prime for quite a while, due to the $79.99 annual fee, but I figured that, once we finished the trial, and Christmas was safely delivered, we could cancel and avoid the fee.

Fast forward a few months, and we haven’t canceled because I’ve decided that I quite like Amazon Prime.

Convenience and Access

In reality, it’s all about convenience. We do a lot of our shopping online. While we try to shop locally when we can, there are some things that we can’t find in our small valley. Specialty foods and a number of inexpensive entertainment items just aren’t available here in town. So, we order them on Amazon.

Before, we just used Super Saver shipping. However, doing so meant that if we didn’t want to pay for shipping, we had to order enough to amount to $25. After doing the math, we realized that we spent more money each year trying to get free shipping than we would spend on the Amazon Prime membership. Plus, the membership comes with two-day shipping. We can get our orders quickly, increasing the convenience.

Another bonus is that we are able to access instant streaming of movies and TV shows. While there isn’t a terribly wide selection right now, it is growing — and some of the offerings are newer than what we can find on Netflix. But one of the real perks for me is the library lending program offered through Amazon Prime. I can “check out” thousands of books for free using my Kindle. I don’t have to leave the house; just use my Kindle to access Prime-available books.

Amazon Prime represents convenience and access on a number of levels. We have found that Amazon Prime is definitely worth the money for us.

Evaluating Whether a Price is Worth Paying

Of course, for someone who only uses Amazon on occasion, Prime might not be the best option. However, we probably should have been using Amazon Prime two or three years ago at my house.

There are many services out there that provide convenience and access for a fee. What you need to decide is whether or not these types of costs are worth it for you. Consider your situation, and evaluate your habits. I have embraced the Kindle, and love reading books on the device. My husband has been won over by streaming TV and movies. With Amazon Prime, we have unlimited access to our favorite entertainment options, without extra cost, and we have the convenience of fast shipping for our purchases.

To us, the convenience is worth it. This concept carries over in other areas as well. Consider how much convenience is worth to you, and whether you will use the services enough to make paying the price worth it. We’ve recently decided to drop the DVD delivery with Netflix because we’re just not using that part of the service and instead been streaming everything. In any case, the important thing is to look at your options and habits, and then only pay for what you will actually use.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Rhonda Sanford says:

    Amazon Prime is more than just free shipping…It doesn’t cost anymore than Netflix or Hulu Plus for a subscription and you get to watch movies, borrow books and plus the free shipping…I figure I am paying to have the movie subscription and everything else is just a bonus..You don’t have to have a Kindle to take advantage of any of these benefits since there is Kindle for PC.
    I just wanted to let anyone know this information so that they understand that Prime is like Netflix with a few more benefits and is not limited to a handheld Kindle. Hope this helps.

  • Daniel Abrahams says:

    I am biased since my son works for Amazon. But Netflicks alone cost more than Amazon Prime. Get yourself a $50 Roku and enjoy the hundreds of free Amazon Prime video streaming offerings or low priced movies in the thousands. Then download the free kindle stuff. And use it for Holiday shopping. It becomes a no brainer. Go one step further, and cut the cord to your cable bill, get broadcast HD quality TV, with the Amazon prime video streaming, and focus on the things that are really costing you money.

  • SteveP says:

    For me using Amazon Prime means I actually get everyday things I need sooner than if I were to go to rely on going to the actual store.

    Here is what I mean; how often do you make a shopping list for something you have run out of and it just sits under a magnet on your refridgerator door until you finally go to the store? For me I have a very busy life (who doesn’t) and getting to the store is not easy and sometimes it takes a week before I actually go. Not to mention how often do you go to the store and forget to buy what you needed becuase you left the list at home?

    Here is where Amazon Prime is so awesome, I can order even little things like cat food, Windex, toliet cleaner, etc., and have it in just two days at my door. When I need something I go to my computer, iPhone, iPad (I have one of them near by all the time) and I just order it right there on the spot so I never forget to buy something that I’m out of. It doesn’t matter if it is just one bottle of Windex or not, the shipping is free so I don’t care how large or small the order is. In fact because the shipping is free I use Amazon Prime probably 4 or 5 times a week which means Amazon is getting a lot of business from me that they would not have otherwise. For me I don’t care that the price is slightly more on some items because I get it quickly, I save money on gas gas, but most important I save my very valuable time by not having to wonder around in the store looking for what I need!

    In my opinion this was brilliant on Amazon’s part and a HUGE value for me.

  • Damon S says:

    I love Amazon Prime. I’d like to address a few issues people have had here.

    I too have noticed that items marked Prime are often listed with a price that is higher than others on the site for the same product, but it is very rare that the Prime price is more than the price + shipping when you purchase it from other vendors. Even if it was, I get it in two days, I don’t have to pay for the fuel in my truck to go get it, and often it’s still cheaper than I can get it at a local store anyway.

    I can find almost any item on Amazon, and it goes into the cart without lifting and it’s shipped to my door so I don’t waste my valuable time searching local stores.

    I find that most people who have issues with the movies and shows that Prime offers for free are usually unaware of how to use the technology. I have my PS3 registered with Amazon Prime, and all the movies stream directly to my living room TV. My kids watch LOADS of cartoons on Amazon, so much in fact that I simply cancelled my cable. My cable bill is now $50 for cable internet instead of $160 for internet and TV. That’s $110 in my pocket EACH MONTH and my kids still get to watch things on TV that they love. That’s $1320 a year in cable TV savings, if you’re counting. Minus $80 for Prime…. $1240…. yeah, I’d say that Prime is paying for itself quite nicely.

    Amazon.com is one of my favorite things in the world. Black Friday I sat at my computer writing on one screen, the Black Friday deals were up on another screen, and I shopped from home. I have only gone to one store this year for Christmas, and it sure wasn’t on psychopath day, er, I mean Black Friday.

    I’ll keep my Amazon Prime, thanks. More like Amazing Prime.

  • Daniel in Brookline says:

    I’ve been an Amazon Prime member for years, but recently I pushed it farther than I ever had before. I needed a specialty item of furniture, and just for a lark I looked it up on Amazon. There it was, for $200 below list price… with Amazon Prime shipping available. I didn’t believe that they’d give me free shipping for something weighing 220 pounds, but they did.

    By comparison, a local store offered it to me for more money, with no shipping available. (They suggested that they might help me manhandle it into my minivan. Unpacking it was my problem.)

    As far as I’m concerned, my Amazon Prime account just paid for itself, and then some, with a single purchase.

  • Ann says:

    Some of my family members have Prime and speak highly of it. And one grandchild has taken advantage of the free Prime offer at college. They use it mainly for shipping.

    I’ve shopped at Amazon for years, mainly for books, Kindle books, and DVDs but have never tried Prime. I’m tempted, but wonder about the streaming aspects. I currently use Netflix for DVDs because I’m very hearing-impaired and need the captions. Someone told me that the Amazon streaming did not offer captions or subtitles. (Supposedly Netflix is working on it, streamed captions coming soon). What about Amazon — are there captions?

  • Laurie Sanders says:

    If you have a Kindle Fire, definitely spring for the Amazon Prime membership. We have used and used and used the video streaming and the free shipping that comes along with the membership. It has been worth every penny and cheaper than a Netflix subscription.

  • Janet says:

    I’ve had Prime for the last year and will probably renew it because I hate to shop, and I REALLY hate to drive to shop. When I think of something I want to buy, I look first on Amazon and don’t hesitate to purchase a single item instead of waiting to bundle them. BUT some items don’t have “prime” available, and that can be annoying. Used items from other vendors through Amazon don’t have free shipping either. The free movies look like a good idea but I have only found 3 or 4 movies I cared to see – not really saving money there. Based on what others say, I’ll explore the Kindle option more. Prime isn’t fantastic, but it’s nice.

  • Julie says:

    HOWEVER…. I used to like Amazon Prime more, but I have recently discovered that the free two day shipping comes with a price – higher price on most merchandise that offers two day shipping. It is as if the merchants have included shipping in the price. This is not to say that Prime is a bad idea. I think overall it saves you some money if you buy a lot of big ticket items and need them fast. Prime is more worthwhile on big ticket items. If you purchase mostly small household items and don’t need quick shippping, you may end up losing money as some of them could be priced twice or three times more than regular retail.

  • Conservative Professor says:

    We live 20-to-25 miles from any decent shopping. I am not ashamed to say that I have nearly developed a callous on my “one-click” index finger using Amazon Prime. It’s simply not worth $5 or $6 of gas and the effort to shop around different stores (btw, I abhor shopping malls). Another point: our son is disabled an cannot drive. He would be lost without Amazon Prime and one-click shopping. For people who are not able to get out and shop, Amazon opens up the retail world for them.

  • Brandi Heil says:

    I am a student and when I first went back to school Amazon had a promotion for Free Prime for a year if you had a valid school email address. I fell in love with it. When my first year was up, Amazon offered me prime for half price for the next year. I took advantage of that deal! When the 2nd year was up, I had seen how much money I saved and it was no problem for me to pay $80 since I normally save double that just in shipping for books. I do have a question about the movie streaming. What device do you all use to stream to your TV? We have not used that option yet because I get so many Redbox free codes that I usually just grab a movie from Redbox. However, it would be very helpful with me having kids to just stream a movie when I need to or they want something to watch.

    • Jason says:

      I think the Roku will stream from Amazon.

    • Jest says:

      have a Roku and so does my son in another state, we both access the Prime account. When you figure that netflix is $7.99 a month ($95.88 a year) for just streaming, its a no brainer. There is a lot of good free Prime instant tv/movies and I like being able to buy a season’s pass to a couple of favorites tv programs–with the pass I can watch the program the day after it plays on cable tv. I live rurally and do buy 60-70% of my stuff online; I am sometimes irked that things that I want aren’t eligible for Prime but I still save as much as I pay for in fees. The library is fantastic. I know that I fully use Amazon’s Prime and get my money’s worth several times over. But it really depends on usage.

  • JR Howard says:

    I love Prime. My wife signed up for it before I deployed to Afghanistan last year (I am in the Army). We used Amazon.com frequently to send gifts and care packages to each other. Although, I couldn’t take advantage of the online movies while overseas, I certainly saved lots of money on shipping!

  • Marina says:

    I am having trial period for Amazon Prime. During this time, I ordered two things. The first one I ordered Friday, and received Wednesday next week (there was a Memorial day between). The next one I ordered from some company who sells through Amazon. I ordered it Friday, and received next Friday. So, I did not win anything in the speed of delivery. Amazon does not tell it, but to stream a single movie, you need to pay a price of movie theater. It is much more expensive than on Netflix. The option to borrow books for Kindle exists, probably, only in commercial: I scouted their site throughly, could not find an option to borrow anything. I will try to stop this trial membership, if they will let me. Otherwise, I will demand money back.

    • Brandi Heil says:

      You have to go into the Kindle library and register your kindle. I download books and they are sent directly to my kindle.

    • Jason says:

      I have been a long-time prime member, and feel it is totally worth the price. That said, not EVERYTHING is eligible for prime shipping. If you purchase from another vendor that resells through Amazon, they may not have prime shipping. For the most part though, I am able to find prime shipping for almost all of my purchases at no extra cost. This alone has paid for the annual membership fee, and was the primary reason I became a member.

      As for streaming, again, not everything is prime available. Some movies/TV shows do still require a rental. That said, it seems the free Prime Amazon library continues to grow, and contains a tremendous amount of decent content.

      I can’t speak to the kindle library as I haven’t used it, but that’s a feature I’ll be sure to check out.

      All in all, if you’re already doing even a modest amount of shopping on Amazon, a Prime membership is worth looking into.

  • raomdc says:

    I use amazon prime for practically every household item purchase. Even bought medication for my pet recently from amazon. None of these is an impulse buy by the way. I put them in the cart, monitor price changes and when I think they are at their lowest, I buy them and get shipped in 2 days.

    I recently indulged in a vanity item for myself using the points I had collected from the amazon prime credit card. Every dollar you spend on amazon results in 3 points that can be used towards your purchase on amazon (or other usual rewards like travel etc.)

    I am trying to watch what I spend and this has been a great tool. I do not like paying annual fees but in this case $79 per year is very much worth it. I’ll bet I have saved enough in gas (going to a store) as well.

    The only thing that bothers me (as a recycling fanatic and who takes her own grocery bag to the store) is all the cardboard packaging and plastic fillers I accumulate. If there is a good way to put them back in the system, I will be very happy.

  • MoneySmartGuides says:

    My story is exactly like yours!! I resisted Amazon Prime for years. I would always wait until I really needed something so that I spend $25 to get free super saving shipping. But this past Christmas, I waited until the last minute to order a gift. I thought that since Prime is free to try, I’ll use it and then cancel. I haven’t canceled it.

    Mainly because I have realized that Amazon has many of my household products cheaper than the stores. I buy plenty on Amazon in a year to offset the $79 annual cost. And as you mentioned, the benefit of movies is a great bonus.

  • Architect says:

    This article and comments have listed good reasons to justify Amazon Prime, but they don’t apply to people like myself. I also had a free trial of Amazon Prime, but I never had the reason to use it. I keep a long Amazon wish list, so getting my shopping cart total to $25 or more is easy.

    Secondly, I never really need anything shipped to me that fast, although I can see how people living in remote areas can justify this. Waiting a week is just fine for me.

    Another issue is that I downloaded Google books in addition to Kindle. There are many books on Kindle that are listed as free to Prime members, but they’re completely free on Google My tablet is a Motorola Xoom. Books. As far as streaming, we only watch educational videos, so finding documentaries on Youtube, solarmovie.eu, and SwapDvd.com, which are free, is good enough.

  • Carson says:

    The lack of logic never ceases to amaze me. “Free shipping” at the cost of $80 a year. The shipping isn’t free, you are paying for it. Kind of like “free shampoo” when you stay in a hotel; that stuff is factored into the room cost. Shipping isn’t “free”, depending on how much you use the service it is more or less expensive than other non-prime shipping costs, but it isn’t “free”.

    • Brooks Davis says:

      Carson, have you priced shipping charges lately ? I agree with you on one point. If I ordered one item from Amazon, Prime would not be worth it.

      I ordered about 30 items last year from Amazon. There were camping items, home repair items, gift items ( graduation, birthday, etc), automotive accessory items, you name it. Some of those items weighed 50 lbs, some were oversized and came in 2 boxes. I got them all in about 2 days, if there was a delay, I was notified immediately and given the option to cancel……..

      I would have burned at least 2 tanks of gas tracking down and buying all of these items, not to mention the time and aggravation of driving in my town ( Houston) in the first place.

      So Carson, no it isn’t free shipping with Amazon. But if you back up a little and look at the big picture, this is what Prime does for me. It encourages me to quit driving around and just compare and order the item from Amazon instead of standing in line with hobos at Wal Mart, Target, Best Buy, etc. And that , dude, is worth every bit of $80 …………………………………….It is what it is.

      P.S. I do not work for Amazon, nor do I sell on Amazon.

    • Brandi Heil says:

      Shipping for just one book is usually about $3.99 and can take a week to get to your house. Amazon prime gives you free 2 day shipping. I have kids who are in school and just the required reading books I have to order them pretty much pays for the prime cost itself. Plus it is fantastic when your kid says “Mom I need this book by Friday!” and you know you have to work all week and have no time to get to the store. The items I order always come within 2 days, and most of the time I get them the very next day.

    • Michael says:

      It’s not free but, depending upon usage, it is discounted. When the extra’s, like streaming are included — and especially the opportunity cost and hassle of going to stores is factored in — Prime might be free, or even arguably cash flow positive.

      We are heavy users of both the two-day shipping and the streaming and couldn’t be happier. We’ve been Prime members since they first launched the service and buy all sorts of products through Prime. We are price sensitive but Prime prices are rock bottom.

      We use Prime all the time — so much I’m surprised they haven’t thrown us out of the program — and couldn’t be happier.

  • Jean says:

    Yea, Amazon Prime is definitely worth it. A friend of mine saved a few hundred dollars on shipping easily as well as having some items delivered on the very same day! It’s great value for money for sure.


  • Peter says:

    I had a free trial with the Amazon Prime and got hooked with the free 2 day shipping and now that I have a Kindle Fire – the Kindle lending library and free instant streaming of a lot of video content. I ended up finally paying for it when my account ran out because we were using it enough to justify it.

    • Brooks Davis says:

      A free trial for Amazon prime was how I started out………..like you, I became hooked on the free 2 day shipping, I mean 2 days for free ? I can’t find it in Houston any faster than that !

      Order on Wednesday, here before the weekend ! And I didn’t have to drive somewhere !

  • James Petzke says:

    That’s a really interesting perspective. I’ve never really thought of getting Prime before, but I think I’ll look into it more now.

  • Brooks Davis says:

    I echo the sentiments of other Prime users……it is worth it ! I have grown to use and trust Amazon more and more over the past few years, and Prime is just one good feature of Amazon. My Amazon story is this: I tried to purchase a QUALITY am/fm weatherband radio that would stand up to outdoor/camping use, with a good battery life. I could barely find any AM/FM radios period, and most of them were crap. The Best Buy guy even said: why do you want one of those ??? I can listen to sports on the radio while doing something else was my answer………..

    Amazon had a great selection of radios, I found a “Sangean” AM/FM radio that uses rechargeable AA batteries and charges them when plugged in to an AC outlet. The user reviews on Amazon are great……you already know sort of what you are buying before you buy it !

  • Thad P says:

    I love Amazon Prime as well. It is not at all a waste and continues to improve.

  • Jeff Crews says:

    I have been debating on whether I should get my Amazon Prime account back. I recently got a Kindle Fire, and the live streaming (free book borrowing) could be pretty handy!

  • Carl Lassegue says:

    I started the Amazon Prime free trial and I loved it. I did not use Amazon a lot before but for that month, every time I needed something I purchased it from Amazon. But because I do not plan on using it as much throughout the year I did not think it would be worth it to spend that much money on it. I also do not have a Kindle so the other features do not appeal to me.

  • Marie says:

    I love Amazon Prime. For my family Amazon Prime is much more than just a convenience: We live in a rural area and have to drive an hour for any shopping. Normally we easily recoup our annual fee for Amazon Prime at Christmastime alone. Last September, however, I sustained an injury and cannot walk w/o crutches, let alone drive. This has forced my husband to not only work all day, but do ALL the shopping. Amazon Prime has allows us to shop for everything from food to clothing to gifts and generally receive our items in 2 days. I never have to consider shipping fees this way. I get to purchase exactly what I need and my husband no longer has to fumble around in stores wondering if he is purchasing the exact item I requested. If you live in a rural area or cannot drive, Amazon Prime is probably well worth the annual fee.

    • Brandi Heil says:

      My friend is very ill and her husband injured his back. They use amazon prime to order several things, she also uses Walmart.com and uses the free site to store or cheap shipping to buy all of her groceries, and food for her pets. They don’t have to walk around the store or push the heavy buggy around to get the items they need. Both of these services have helped them out so much.

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