Amazon Prime is about way more than two-day shipping. Check out our comprehensive guide to the twenty-six benefits that make Amazon Prime Membership so worth the price.
The long list of benefits is roughly organized by category: free delivery services, shopping discounts, cash-back rewards, digital media, family sharing, and bonus benefits. You may find jumping directly from the Table of Contents is easier than reading through all the benefits at once.
All the Benefits of Amazon Prime
What is your $99 a year worth? Quite a bit as it turns out. Your benefits will save you hundreds of dollars every year. Let’s get started with the many free delivery options you can access.
This is why everybody signs up for Amazon Prime in the first place: not-quite-instant gratification. If you buy enough stuff, the free shipping will more than pay for the membership fees.
One footnote: It only applies in the contiguous United States. Shipments to Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico get free standard delivery within three to seven business days.
People living in five thousand cities across the country can get free one-day delivery on qualifying orders worth at least $35. You can check your zip code for availability. As long as you place your order by the afternoon, you will receive your stuff by 9pm the next day.
Not fast enough? Place the $35 minimum order by noon and you’ll get your stuff by 9pm on the same day.
Prime Now delivers orders to your door within two hours. You can’t pick from everything in Amazon’s catalog – Prime Now’s local warehouses only hold so much. But you can choose among thousands of essential household items, books, electronics, toys, and more.
Your Prime Now order will arrive within two hours, but for an extra $7.99 you can get the delivery within an hour. Amazon’s drivers will deliver any time from early morning to late evening, Monday through Sunday.
There is one catch: Prime Now is only available in thirty-two major markets.
Members in nine markets can order groceries from local grocery stores like Sprouts or New Seasons Market (and maybe Whole Foods soon). The store will pick and pack your order before handing it over to Amazon for delivery.
Amazon’s own grocery service, Amazon Fresh, offers a wide selection of produce, meat, seafood, and household items for free same-day or next-morning delivery.
But there are two catches. While Prime Members are the only ones with access to Amazon Fresh, they must pay a $14.99 monthly membership fee (after the 30-day free trial). And it is only available in certain markets. Amazon does not list which markets they are so you must check your zip code at the link.
More than 6,400 restaurants in twenty markets will hand take-out orders to Amazon drivers. Prime Members’ meals arrive within an hour of the original order. There is no charge for Amazon Restaurant delivery, and no markup on the menu. The only restriction is the $20 minimum order.
The Prime Pantry is a convenient way to replenish everyday essentials like paper towels or breakfast cereal. It lets you stop buying those hard-to-store bulk packs and simply re-order things as you run out. Just order five items from the Prime Pantry and get free ground delivery within one to four business days.
Yes, four-day delivery is longer than two-day delivery. Most Prime Pantry items are too bulky or heavy to fly on airplanes so they must travel by a truck. Setting the five item minimum ensures that the shipment is as cost-efficient as possible.
Obligatory footnotes: You must pay a flat $5.99 delivery fee if you order fewer than five items. And it is only available in the contiguous United States since shipments to Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico have to travel on ships.
Sooner or later Disney will release Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope – The Han-Shot-First Cut. When it does, you won’t want to wait for delivery.
That’s where Amazon’s Release Date Delivery program comes in. When anyone pre-purchases new release video games, books, music, and other items, Amazon will offer to deliver it by 7pm on the release day. Prime Members get the delivery for free.
Amazon wants to eliminate the friction slowing your purchase decisions. The Dash Button is a case in point. Prime Members can buy these little Wi-Fi enabled buttons. Each Dash Button is linked to a specific branded product like Tide laundry detergent or Bounce fabric softeners. When you notice that you are running low, you press the button and Amazon ships you a fresh supply.
The Dash Wand takes buttons to the next level by integrating Alexa as your own kitchen assistant. As the last flakes fall out of the cereal box, scan its bar code with the Dash Wand and cereal will go onto your grocery list.
Or just say “Corn Flakes” because Alexa is always listening.
Prime Early Access gives members access to Amazon’s Lightning Deals half an hour before the general public. This could be the only chance you have to get the most popular deals – it’s entirely possible for Amazon to sell out before the thirty-minute window expires.
Amazon created Amazon Family to give new parents a quick-and-easy place to find all the things they need for their growing family. Before the baby is born, they can create a baby registry so other people can buy the stuff for them.
Amazon Family organizes deals and exclusive offers by life stage so age-appropriate products are easy to reach. Besides the extra discounts and exclusive offers, Amazon Family purchases qualify for all of Prime’s free shipping benefits.
Amazon offers several credit card and gift card programs that provide financial benefits. The Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card generates a 5% credit on all eligible purchases – Amazon or otherwise. That’s a better deal than the 3% credit non-Prime card holders get.
The Prime Store Card only works with Amazon purchases but gives you a choice between 5% cash back or 0% financing.
Amazon Reload will credit your account 2% every time you recharge your Amazon Gift Card directly from your checking account.
Prime members who own a Kindle or Fire device can read books for free by borrowing them from the Kindle Owners Lending Library. You get one e-book each month by logging into the library from your Kindle device and checking out the book you’re interested in. You can keep it as long as you want without late fees or Kindle library cops hunting you down. But you can’t borrow another book until you “return” the one you already have.
Note that this only works with Amazon hardware. The Kindle apps cannot access the Kindle Owners Lending Library.
Kindle Unlimited gives anyone free access to more than one million books and other content. Prime Reading opens a subset of that catalog to Prime Members. Besides books, you can read current issues of magazines like Sports Illustrated or Real Simple as well as Marvel Comics titles like Jessica Jones: Alias. Prime Reading works with Fire devices and the Kindle Reader app on iOS and Android devices.
Amazon editors send a Kindle First email to Prime Members every month. It includes a hand-picked list of six pre-release e-books. You can pick one of the e-books and get it for free a month before publication. You pay nothing and it becomes a permanent part of your Kindle library.
Audible Channels is a value-added subscription service from Audible that produces podcasts and audio documentaries. It also makes selections of audio books available for streaming or offline listening. Normally, users need to pay $60 every year for Audible Channels. Prime Members get it free.
Amazon Music Unlimited is the company’s answer to Spotify and Pandora with a library of more than ten million songs and curated playlists. As you listen – or skip it – each song, Amazon’s algorithms learn how to make personalized recommendations. Amazon lets subscribers download tracks within the Amazon Music app for offline listening while running or traveling.
This isn’t free for Prime Members, but they do get a $2-per-month or $20-per-year discount off the regular subscription price.
Prime Music is a subset of Amazon Music Unlimited that Prime Members get for free. While it only gives you access to a two million song library, the other Amazon Music features are there from playlists to offline listening and more.
Prime Members get free access to thousands of movies and TV shows through Prime Video. At no additional cost you can binge watch previous seasons of The Expanse as well as Amazon Originals like The Man in the High Castle and The Grand Tour.
Amazon Channels lets Prime Members add HBO and other cable channels to their Prime Video experience. Amazon also curates more narrowly focused in-house channels like the Heera Channel which offers the latest TV shows and movies from India.
Each Amazon Channel requires its own subscription with monthly prices ranging from $4.99 for channels like Heera to $14.99 for premium channels like HBO.
Prime Members get a safe, secure way to automatically back up an unlimited number of photos to Amazon’s cloud storage service. Ordinarily, Amazon Drive requires a $59.99 annual subscription for a terabyte of storage. Prime Photo is free with no limit on the number of pictures you can upload.
There is one catch for serious amateur photographers. Prime Photos really does not like RAW files. It might recognize the file is a photo, but it won’t generate previews.
Twitch is the social video platform for gamers by gamers that Amazon bought in 2014. It lets people live stream their game play, watch gaming tournaments, and play popular video games. People can chat about their favorite games and subscribe to popular streams in exchange for virtual benefits like emoticons.
Twitch Prime gives Members who game a package of benefits that includes ad-free streaming. More direct benefits include free access to games and game content on Twitch as well as Amazon discounts on game hardware and physical games. Less physical benefits include exclusive emoticons, chat badges, and customized chat colors let Twitch Prime members display their status.
Amazon Households lets six members of a household share many of Prime’s benefits. Each household member can take advantage of free shipping offers, Video and Music streaming, and Photo storage. Amazon treats each household member as a separate person with their own profile, history, and recommendations. At the same time, a Family Library lets everyone share books, movies, music, and other content.
FreeTime is Amazon’s app for kid-friendly content. Parents can browse more than 13,000 videos, games, music, and e-books for content that is entertaining, educational, and most importantly safe.
FreeTime’s controls let parents block all other access to the tablet or smartphone so kids can’t stray into dark areas of social media. Time limits cap the amount of time kids stare at the screen or prohibit access to categories like games at certain times of the day.
Prime Members get discounted monthly subscriptions: $2 for a one-child plan and $3 for the family plan.
Prime Members get access to special offers from time to time. Amazon has two promotions going on right now:
- A $6 per month discount on the first six months of an Audible subscription.
- A free six-month trial of The Washington Post’s digital edition.
Since these promotions may have expired by the time you read this, you will want to check the Prime page for the latest offers.