Zach and I have been using Amazon Prime for about five years now and one question we receive a lot from friends and family is, “Is Amazon Prime worth it?”
We certainly think it is! First, let me explain what Amazon Prime is and what it does.
Is Amazon Prime Worth It?
Disclaimer: There are referral links in this blog post that will direct you to Amazon Prime. You may click the links for more information, but you are not obligated to sign up. If, however, you choose to sign up for a 30-Day Free Trial, I will make a small commission for referring you. I will never try to sell you anything that I have not used or do not like. I have used Amazon Prime for a few years now and I would not continue using it if I didn’t like it.
1. Free 2-Day Shipping on Prime Eligible Orders
What this means: If you don’t know what “prime eligible” is, no worries! Amazon prime makes it VERY easy to see what is and isn’t prime eligible. There are very few things that I have personally ordered that weren’t. Which is weird, isn’t it? You would think they would make a larger profit by just making sure nothing was prime eligible, but that’s not the case. For instance, I searched “Single Serve Coffee” and this popped up (click on the picture to view a larger version):
I’ve circled every instance of Prime eligibility. As you can see, every one of them was eligible and that was only the first 9. The price you see listed is the price you will get once the order has been placed.
Drawbacks: There isn’t any REAL drawback to this. Sure, there are many items that are not Prime Eligible, I can usually find a different brand of the SAME item that is eligible. If I can’t, then there are two other options. Some orders you simply have to pay shipping for. Others are what Amazon calls “Add On Items” which means you get 2-Day Free Shipping if you order it alongside a Prime Eligible item. But there are enough Prime Eligible items that I don’t consider this to be a drawback.
Oh! One thing some people don’t realize is that the free 2-day shipping occurs on a BUSINESS day. So, yeah, you may have put an order in on Friday afternoon, but you won’t see that puppy until Tuesday or Wednesday. This isn’t a problem with Amazon Prime, though, this is just how mail processing and delivery works.
Is it worth it?: For just this? Definitely! But that’s my opinion. For one thing, Zach and I are married which means that even though we have our own separate Prime accounts, we’re only charged the price of ONE Prime account. So that’s nice! Secondly, between the two of us we order from Amazon A LOT. In fact, it’s where we do the majority of our shopping. We buy coffee on Amazon, we buy birthday and Christmas gifts from Amazon. Any time we go out to a store, we price-check anything we’re interested in buying and see if we can get a better deal on Amazon. 95% of the time, we can. So, yes, the price of a full-year of Amazon Prime is $79, but we would spend WAY more than that without it. We definitely get more than our money’s worth.
I recommend trying the 30-Day Free Trial and paying attention to the things you buy. Write down what you paid and look it up on Amazon Prime. How much will you have saved by the end of the month?
2. Unlimited Instant Streaming with Prime Instant Video
What this means: Amazon’s Prime Instant Video is just like Netflix. It has a lot of the same shows, and then some.
There are many free shows on Amazon that are unavailable on Netflix. Anyone else watch Downton Abbey? I’m addicted to that show, but I only have a very basic cable package. Netflix posted the first season and then no more. Why? Because Amazon Prime bought the rights to it. So now I watch Downton Abbey for free on Amazon’s Prime Instant Video. The price of Prime Instant Video is included when you purchase Amazon Prime. Which means I’m already paying for it, so why not use it?
Maybe one night you’re snowed in and you want to rent a movie. All new movies get uploaded right onto Amazon Prime and you can just rent them. The last time I checked, the price to rent a movie on Amazon Prime was about $3.99. (In fact, here’s a list of movies that are available and here is a list of TV shows. If you want to see the ones that are free to watch, check “Prime Eligible” in the left sidebar. Unfortunately, that doesn’t list the renting price…only how much you would pay if you wanted to buy it. In which case, it would download to your Cloud and you would be able to watch it whenever…without having a bunch of DVDs taking up space in your living room.)
Another perk is that you can watch episodes of TV shows that just came out. The only two shows Zach and I want to keep up on are The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. If you have Prime, you can pay $1.99 to see each episode as they come out instead of waiting until they’re free and having major scenes spoiled for you because your friends won’t stop posting about it on Facebook. We don’t usually do this because we’re fine with blocking our friends and family and waiting for it to come out. But it IS cheaper than upgrading our cable package.
You don’t have to watch Prime Instant Video on just your computer, either! Zach and I can watch it on our
- Nintendo Wii (this is where I do most of my viewing)
- parents’ blue-ray players, when we visit them (most come with the Amazon Prime app)
So you can watch it anywhere you can get Internet access! Basically, it’s just like Netflix in that sense. I believe other video game consoles, like the PS3 & 4 and the Xbox One, have the app, as well. But I don’t own any of those, so I’m not sure.
Drawbacks: Be careful when selecting something. For one thing, Amazon will post EVERYTHING on streaming, even if it’s not Prime Eligible. So while season four of Game of Thrones will be uploaded immediately to Amazon, that doesn’t mean you can watch it for free.
Also, you can only watch Amazon Prime under the primary account holder’s name. So when I set up Prime Instant Video on our TV, I had to get Zach’s username and password because he is the primary account holder. Even though I am able to get free 2-day shipping under my account, I can’t use the other perks. Which is annoying, but fine, I just use Zach’s account and it’s not a big deal.
One last drawback is something very small…but I simply don’t like the Prime Instant Video interface. It can be kind of confusing. There are times where, if you search for something, your results won’t always show up in order. For instance, if I search for Psych on Netflix, it will show me one search result and then each season can be found by clicking on the show’s name. In Amazon Prime, I would get 8 different search results because there are 8 seasons. Each season is listed separately and sometimes not even in the right order. This is because, unlike Netflix, if you get tired of waiting you can purchase a season before it gets uploaded onto the free streaming. So the reason they do it makes sense, but I wish they would at least post search results in order. (UPDATE 3/17/14: My brother and I had a discussion about Prime’s interface last night and he told me that it’s only a problem if you watch it on the Wii…as I do. He watches Prime on his PS4 and he likes it better than Netflix. So there’s that!)
Is it worth it?: YES! Netflix got me addicted to Downton Abbey and then took it away from me! Amazon Prime came in and saved my sanity because I HAD TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED NEXT! Plus, this basically means that Amazon Prime is just a version of Netflix that also gives you free 2-day shipping on nearly anything you want.
3. A Kindle Book to Borrow for Free Each Month
What this means: OK, so I actually had to do some research on this one because I don’t own a Kindle.
You can’t download just ANY book. According to the website, though, there are over 500,000 titles you can download. As with the Instant Prime Video, it has to be a Prime Eligible book in order to qualify. If you like to read, this is a pretty awesome feature.
If you own a Kindle (or a tablet with the Kindle app) you can get help borrowing books here.
Drawbacks: Only one per month? I have been known to take a full month to read a whole book, but not often. Usually that only happens if I’m not very interested in the book. If you’re an avid reader, only getting one book per month would be torture.
Is it worth it?: Eh. As I said, I don’t own a Kindle…so I can’t really weigh in on that. To me, it doesn’t sound like it would be…especially since you can just connect your eReader (any kind of eReader) to your area’s public library and borrow as many eBooks as you like (the drawback to that is that you’re limited to only the books your area carries AND you have to sit on a waiting list until the book is available, which makes no sense since it’s an electronic file, not a physical book). However, if you own a Kindle, try the 30-Day Free Trial and tell me what you think of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.
Amazon Prime may not always be perfect–nothing is. But I find it is DEFINITELY worth a try! And with a free full month, why not? If you hate it, cancel it (cancel here). No big deal.