What Is Amazon Prime? The Benefits, the Cost and Whether It’s Worth It

Amazon Prime membership gives you free two-day shipping, plus extra privileges like music and video streaming, for a $119 annual fee.
Anisha SekarJun 14, 2021

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

A standard Amazon Prime membership currently costs $119 per year — perhaps a steep price to pay for free 2-day shipping. But if you’re a bookworm, a video buff or just someone who often shops online, the benefits might well outweigh the costs. To help you decide whether it’s a good deal for you, we've broken down the basics on what Amazon Prime actually offers.

Amazon Prime is a subscription service from Amazon. It gives members access to exclusive shopping and entertainment services, discounts and more.

Amazon Prime’s key benefit is its free two-day shipping on millions of eligible items. In some cities, you can even get same-day delivery on eligible orders. While Amazon does offer free standard shipping on qualifying orders of $25 or more to non-Prime customers, it takes five to eight business days for those orders to arrive.

But just as the company has expanded from a simple bookstore to a finger-in-every-pie empire, so has Prime extended its benefits to include:

Prime Now narrows the free same-day delivery window on certain items — including Whole Foods groceries — to as little as two hours, but it’s only available in select metro areas.

Prime members get an extra 10% discount on eligible sale items at Whole Foods Market, in stores and online.

You can stream thousands of TV shows and movies for free using . Members can also subscribe to channels like HBO and Showtime for an additional cost.

Members can choose from over a thousand books, comics and magazines to read for free. The service is available on Kindle and Fire tablets, as well any iOS or Android device with the Kindle app.

You can listen to over 2 million songs and browse Prime Playlists, all ad-free with . Prime members can also get a discounted subscription to Amazon Music Unlimited, which has over 70 million songs.

With , you get access to free PC games and in-game content, plus a monthly Twitch channel subscription.

Prime members get the exclusive perk of shopping annual deals. During the rest of the year, you’ll get access to Lightning Deals with a 30-minute head start on non-Prime members.

A Prime membership gives you unlimited, full-resolution photo storage and 5 GB video storage. Your photos will be added to the cloud through the Amazon Photos app, which you can access from both your computer and mobile device.

As an Amazon Prime member, you have access to Amazon's own consumer-first line of everyday items, like baby wipes.

Free for all Prime members, offers family-oriented coupons and deals, including up to 20% off diapers when you set up five Subscribe and Save subscriptions per month, and a 15% baby registry completion discount.

The cost of an Amazon Prime membership depends on the plan you choose, but you can try it for free for 30 days.

Here’s a breakdown of the payment plans and what they include:

Heads up: Amazon keeps your credit card information on file when you sign up, so if you decide you don’t want the membership once your free trial expires, make sure to log into your account and cancel it. Otherwise, you’ll be charged the membership fee.

Whether Prime’s membership perks justify the price tag depends on which ones appeal to you and how much you use them. Let’s start by evaluating two of Prime's biggest draws: shipping and streaming entertainment.

There are other considerations to take into account, such as the convenience of having your items shipped in days instead of weeks, or not having to go to the store to buy essentials like paper towels.

Keep in mind, too, that you can share your shipping benefits with another household member. If you split the cost with a roommate, for example, you can effectively cut the cost down to under $60 a year — a pretty amazing deal. Free two-day shipping for less than $5 a month is well worth it for most shoppers.

The best way to figure out if an Amazon Prime membership is worthwhile: Sign up for the free trial. Then, you can decide whether to make the investment.

On a similar note...
Dive even deeper in Personal Finance