Jeff Bezos' cash cow has certainly become a staple of the online marketplace. Amazon's AMZN market cap is currently around $1 trillion - one of the highest among the FANG giants (which include Netflix NFLX, Alphabet GOOG and Facebook FB ). And with over 100 million Amazon Prime members around the world, it seems as though Prime is showing no signs of stopping its global takeover. In fact, according to Bloomberg this week, the average Amazon Prime member spends over $1,400 per year.
But, why are so many people using Amazon Prime? What are the benefits of Prime, and is it worth it?
What Is Amazon Prime?
Amazon Prime is the paid membership service by online marketplace Amazon that offers members benefits like free two-day shipping, access to Prime Video and other benefits. The subscription has monthly or yearly fees and is currently used by over 100 million members worldwide. The cost of Amazon Prime is $119.
Amazon Prime membership was launched in 2005, which initially focused on giving subscribers fast shipping and discounted rates. When it launched, the cost of Prime membership was $79. And, by the following year in 2006, Prime Video - Amazon's video streaming service - launched.
Since the service's debut at $79 per year, Amazon Prime membership has increased in cost twice - in 2014 to $99, and recently to $119 in 2020.
Currently, Amazon Prime Video is available in over 200 countries as of 2016, according to Variety.
But Amazon hasn't stopped there. The online retail giant acquired Whole Foods for a cool $13.7 billion - giving Prime members extra benefits while shopping for groceries in various states in the U.S.
And while Amazon may be in place to become the leader of the FANG pack, what are the benefits of Prime that have people subscribing in droves? Better still, is Amazon Prime worth the extra cash?
20 Amazon Prime Benefits
Let's break it down. Here are the top 20 benefits an Amazon Prime membership offers.
1. Free Two-Day Shipping
One of the biggest pulls for Prime members has got to be the free two-day shipping on millions (read: most) of items on Amazon. Only eligible items on Amazon Prime have the free two-day shipping. There are exceptions - like gift cards, magazine subscriptions, and most items on Amazon Marketplace - so make sure to check for the Prime logo.
2. Free Same-Day or One-Day Shipping
Some cities get a free same-day (or one-day) shipping perk on orders over $35 made before 9 a.m. Orders made after 9 a.m. for these cities can get next-day free shipping. Check your zip code here to see if you can get this benefit.
3. Amazon Restaurants
Similar to Seamless GRUB and Postmates, Prime members can get restaurant food delivered for a $20 minimum in cities like New York, Los Angeles, and 17 others via Amazon.
4. Prime Discount at Whole Foods
For Prime members, shopping at Whole Foods comes with a 10% discount on sale items and select weekly best-sellers.
5. Prime Photos
With Prime Photos, Prime members get unlimited access to Amazon cloud storage for their pictures, as well as 5 GB for storing videos and documents.
6. Music Streaming
It seems like there are countless ways to stream music online - and Amazon Prime offers yet another option.
7. Prime Video
What may be one of the best features for Prime members, Prime Video has taken the video streaming industry by storm.
Prime Video allows members to stream hundreds of movies and TV shows, at no additional charge - including Prime Originals, which have become a huge hit. Additionally, Prime Video members may also subscribe to TV channels like HBO or Showtime and only pay for the channels they want. Not a bad bargain.
Video streaming is unlimited, and you can download videos onto your phone to watch later.
8. Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
Amazon Prime Now offers a rewards Visa V Card - which offers users 5% back at Amazon and Whole Foods Market, 2% back at restaurants, drug stores, and gas stations, 1% back on some other items. Learn more about the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card here.
9. Prime Now Delivery
If you need an item and need it fast, Prime Now is your go-to. Some Prime Now items can be delivered within two hours of ordering in 32 U.S. cities. If you've gotta have it in an hour, an extra $7.99 will get you one-hour delivery in certain cities.
As the foundation upon which the Amazon empire was built, there are a lot of perks you can get for books and reading with Prime. With Prime, you can borrow a plethora of magazines, books and other reading materials from the Kindle Owner's Lending Library. So if you've got a Kindle or mobile device handy, you have access to all these books and more. But if you don't have an actual Kindle handy in your home, Prime Reading allows you to borrow books, magazines and more and read them on other devices or through the Kindle app.
11. Amazon Key and Home Delivery
With Amazon Key Home Kit, you can allow access for Amazon deliveries to be made inside your house or even car - as well as schedule other family or friends, access to your home. The security kit starts at $155 and is available in select areas.
For deliveries, you will receive a notification of a time window in which the delivery will be made - and, you can even watch the delivery live through the Key app.
12. Amazon Elements
Amazon is getting in on the market for transparency in organic goods with their product lines. Amazon Elements offers a variety of products that are all organic - from vitamins to baby products and more. Prime members get special access to these products.
13. Twitch Prime
Good news for gamers worldwide - Twitch Prime offers ad-free access to Twitch and lots of discounts on games. Plus, a free subscription to Twitch.tv.
14. Amazon Household for Prime
For big families, this is a no-brainer. Amazon Household allows Prime members to share the benefits of an account if they're in the same household - for up to 10 people (two adults, up to four teenage profiles and up to four child profiles, to be exact).
15. Prime Early Access
If you've just got to have the newest thing before everyone else, Prime grants you first dibs on a variety of new products with Prime Early Access. Members get to see products in Amazon's Lightning Deals a whole 30 minutes before anyone else.
16. AmazonFresh delivery
For those of us who don't have the time or energy to go out grocery shopping, AmazonFresh allows your food essentials to come straight to your door. Prime members can shop at a large online grocery store at a same-day or next-day delivery. Once $14.99 per month, AmazonFresh is now a free benefit for Prime members.
17. Outfit Compare
Ever been out shopping by yourself and wanted a second opinion? Well, Amazon has got you covered. Outfit Compare is available to Prime members in the Amazon app and lets you upload pictures to get an opinion on which outfit is better. Pretty handy for those spontaneous shopping trips or that big event.
18. Prime Wardrobe
With Prime Wardrobe, members can pick three items that are marked with the "prime wardrobe" logo and have them shipped to your house. If you don't like something, you can return it and only pay for the items you keep. You get a 7-day try-on period to decide what you like.
19. Prime Pantry
Unlike AmazonFresh, Prime Pantry allows you to order lower-cost grocery or household products and ship them directly to you for a flat rate of $5.99 a box. If you order over five items, Amazon won't charge any delivery fees.
20. Student Discounts With Prime Student
Students get a 50% discount on Prime memberships with Prime Student - bringing membership costs to around $59 per year. You can get a $10 credit for referring a friend or fellow student.
Is Amazon Prime Worth It?
Given all the benefits, there aren't that many cons to an Amazon Prime membership that don't come around to the price. But that price keeps rising and may be a hefty cost for shoppers if they don't frequently purchase items online. At $119 per year, it is worth examining how many benefits you will use with a membership to see if it is worth the expense.
Recent reports suggest Prime membership growth is stalling.
"Prime membership growth has flattened," Josh Lowitz, partner, and co-founder at CIRP research firm, told Bloomberg this week. "Amazon Prime membership has now spread far beyond the early adopters who were presumably the most committed Amazon shoppers."
But, given that Amazon Prime offers a 30-day free trial, it might be worth a shot to see if the value is worth the price for you.
What Is Amazon Prime Video?
Prime Video may very well be the wave of the future for online movie and video streaming (move over, Netflix?). But with Netflix's strong Q3 earnings reports this week, Prime Video may need to hold their horses before claiming more market share.
Still, Amazon's Prime Video is one of their most popular Prime features - which includes hundreds of movies and TV shows streaming for free through the site. And with the advent of Prime Originals, it is increasingly becoming a staple of most online video streamer's subscriptions.