Thinking about Signing Up for Amazon Prime? Make Sure It's Worth Your While

The online retailer has added new perks and expanded some services, but it isn't for everyone

Thinking about Signing Up for Amazon Prime? Make Sure It's Worth Your While
March 20, 2017

When you think of shopping, which store springs to mind?

Maybe it used to be Macy's. Or JC Penney. Or Belk. With the rise of online shopping, though, chances are good that your answer has changed:

Amazon.

Amazon has become an e-commerce giant. Its rise has forever changed the way consumers buy goods and services, and it dominates the online shopping landscape.

Anyone can sign up for an Amazon account, but the retailer offers special perks to those willing to buy a Prime membership. But is it worth it?

Prime Perks

Amazon has long touted fast and free shipping as the cornerstone of its Prime membership program. Consumers can have more than 30 million products delivered in only two days, a number that is now lessening to one or even the same day with the entry of delivery drones into the picture.

But fast shipping isn't the only benefit to a Prime membership. Here are some others:

  • Streaming of thousands of movies, TV shows, and music playlists and stations
  • On-demand streaming of Audible audiobooks
  • Unlimited free photo storage in Amazon Cloud Drive
  • Unlimited access to thousands of books, magazines, and comics with Prime reading
  • Sharing of certain membership benefits, including free shipping, video streaming, and unlimited photo storage, with an Amazon Household Account
  • Five percent cash back on purchases made through Amazon and paid for with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature credit card; two percent at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores; one percent on all other purchases

Drawbacks

No retailer is perfect, and there are certain aspects of an Amazon Prime membership that will make some consumers think twice before signing up. Here are a few:

  • The $99 annual membership fee + $1 tax = $100 total
  • Additional costs for Amazon Fresh ($14.99 per month) and Prime Now (same-day delivery, $7.99 in select cities) services
  • Charges higher prices on certain items than competitors that don't charge an annual membership fee (e.g. Jet.com)

Test Drive

Only you can tell whether or not an Amazon Prime membership is a good choice for you. If you're not sure, Amazon offers a 30-day free trial period. Note, however, that if you sign up for the free trial and decide not to stick with Prime, you have to cancel in advance or you will automatically be charged the membership fee.