What is Amazon Prime? The benefits, the cost, and whether it’s worth it
Free one-day delivery and video streaming are just some of the features of an Amazon Prime membership, which you can get for just a £79 annual fee.
A standard Amazon Prime membership currently costs £79 a year, or £7.99 if you pay monthly. While this may seem a lot for free delivery alone, if you regularly shop online, watch hours of film and TV, and listen to music, the cost could well be worth it.
If you’re debating whether to take the plunge and get Amazon Prime, we look at exactly what you can get with your membership to help you see if it’s right for you.
What are the benefits of Amazon Prime?
A major benefit of Amazon Prime is its free premium delivery and one-day delivery options on millions of items. You may even be able to benefit from free same-day delivery on certain orders. While non-Prime members can get free delivery if their order is over £20, there will usually still be a wait of 3-5 business days before their order arrives.
But while free delivery is a significant perk, Amazon Prime has expanded to offer much more to its members, including:
- Prime Now. Prime Now offers even faster delivery in selected areas of the UK. On certain items you could get your delivery in as little as one or two hours.
- Unlimited movie and TV streaming. Prime Video has thousands of TV shows and films for you to stream, including Amazon Originals and popular film titles which are regularly updated.
- Unlimited reading. Bookworms have the choice of thousands of e-book titles, comics, and magazines which they can read for free on Prime Reading.
- Early access to new books. Prime members can enjoy free early access to a new book release each month thanks to Amazon First Reads.
- Unlimited music streaming. Prime Music has over two million songs which members can explore and listen to completely ad-free. For a discounted monthly cost, Prime members can also get Amazon Music Unlimited to access tens of millions of songs.
- Prime Day and Prime Early Access. When Prime Day comes around, members can get exclusive access to these deals. Throughout the rest of the year, members can also take advantage of Lightning Deals 30 minutes before they are opened up to non-Prime members.
- Free unlimited photo storage with Amazon Photos. You can store your photos on a secure Amazon Cloud Drive, which you can share with other family members and friends. It is accessible on both computers and mobiles.
- Stock up with Amazon Fresh. You can get free same-day delivery on your groceries with Amazon Prime if your order is over £40. This is only available for certain postcodes however.
- Amazon Family. Free for all Prime members, Amazon Family offers family-oriented deals, including 20% off items like nappies and baby food.
- Try before you buy. Only open to Prime members, Prime Wardrobe gives you seven days to try on up to six items of clothing or shoes that you order. You only pay for the items you keep and you don’t need to pay extra for shipping or returns.
- Prime Gaming. Each month Prime members can get access to a range of free games and exclusive in-game content across different gaming platforms. Members can also get a free channel subscription each month to a broadcaster of their choice on Twitch.
With Amazon Household, Prime members can share some of their membership benefits with up to one other adult and four children. Household members can access free delivery, Prime Video, Prime Reading, and more, although certain Prime benefits will be excluded.
How much does Amazon Prime cost?
You can get a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime to see if it’s for you. After this, the cost of an Amazon Prime membership depends on the plan you choose.
The payment plans on offer include:
- Prime Video: £5.99 per month. This will only grant you unlimited streaming access to TV shows and films. In total it will cost around £72 per year.
- Prime: £7.99 per month. This is the monthly payment plan option for full Prime membership, where you can receive the full benefits of Amazon Prime. By spreading out your payments, you will pay a total of about £96 a year.
- Prime: £79 per year. Again, you will get all the Amazon Prime benefits. By paying an annual lump sum for full membership, you will spend less than paying monthly.
Students can get all the regular Prime benefits at a discounted price, although there may be some restrictions.
- Prime Student: If you’re a verified student enrolled in higher education with a valid email address, you can get a free six-month trial of Prime Student, followed by a discounted annual membership fee of £39, or £3.99 monthly.
Remember: Amazon keeps your card information on file when you sign up. So, if you get a free trial but then decide you don’t want to pay for Prime membership, make sure you actively cancel it otherwise you may get charged membership when your free trial expires.
Is an Amazon Prime membership worth it?
The question of whether an Amazon Prime membership is worth it is very personal. It depends on how you use Amazon, your habits, and your hobbies, but let’s look at how the cost of some of the Prime features compares.
- Delivery. If you spent more than the cost of your Prime membership on delivery charges last year, then you are likely to recoup the membership cost just from this!
- Reading. A full-price Kindle e-book can cost between £0.99 and £9.99, or sometimes even more. So, if you regularly read e-books, you could save money by reading one of Prime Reading’s many free titles or by borrowing books from the Kindle Lending Library.
- Streaming entertainment. Amazon Prime, which includes Prime Video, is cheaper than the standard Netflix plan, and it is also less expensive than some popular music streaming services like ad-free Spotify and Apple Music. If the choice of songs, TV shows, and films offered by Amazon Prime appeals to you, and means you won’t pay for other streaming subscription services, then it could be worth the cost.
Of course, you should consider all the benefits of Amazon Prime to see how useful it is for you. As well as cost, think about how important it is for you to get items delivered quickly for example.
Remember that if you live with other people, whether a family member or a flat mate, you could split the cost of Prime membership so you pay under £40 a year, which could make it an even more attractive proposition.
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This article was originally written by Anisha Sekar, a former personal loans and writer for NerdWallet and subsequently updated by the NerdWallet UK Editorial team.
Image source: Getty Images
Rhiannon is a financial writer for NerdWallet, with a particular interest in personal finance and insurance guides for consumers. Read more