Was Amazon Prime Worth it? One Year Later

aaron_image1With another year behind us, I thought it would be interesting to look back and access a few expenditures we incurred in 2013. One of those was our Amazon Prime membership with a yearly fee of $79.

So, was it worth it?

A look at Amazon

If you’ve been here for any amount of time, you may already know my appreciation for Amazon. Just this past year, the company topped a list of companies with the “best public image”.

What’s not to like: Amazon offers a lot of great services and (overall) has excellent customer service. I mean, how neat is it that you can go online today, browse some items, checkout and then have it at your door-step a day or two later? Or set up a “subscription” to a few items you routinely purchase and have em arrive on an appointed day?

And this isn’t to mention different ways you can make money on Amazon – from selling your ebooks, to selling old CDs.

But like all companies, they are far from perfect. They’ve recently incurred some scrutiny for their warehouse conditions and not paying workers. And Huffington Post just published a piece yesterday likening them to Walmart (a company that doesn’t have a very good public image).

is prime worth it

Amazon Prime

But back to the Amazon Prime membership. My wife and I signed up for Prime a couple years ago after we’d heard a friend using it who “saved a lot of money”.

So, we’ve been members for about two years now. In 2013 we had 15 deliveries via Amazon – most of them qualifying for Amazon Prime’s 2-day free shipping. That’s one of the real perks that attract most people. Other features of Prime are:

  • No minimum order size
  • Unlimited instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows with Prime Instant Video
  • Read free books each month through Kindle First and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library
  • & special offers

For us, it’s really always been about the two-day shipping. Even though I own a Kindle, I haven’t taken advantage of their library for members OR the video streaming.

Through our 15-some shipments, here’s a look at what each shipment would have cost us if we didn’t have Prime (only 13 items are listed, as the other 2 were bought from Amazon Sellers in which shipping was not covered):

11.98
11.98
11.98
12.97
14.97
13.96
10.97
9.98
12.98
5.74
5.74
5.74
5.74
_________
$ 134.73

As you can tell – just in shipping costs alone – the Amazon Prime fee of $79 was worth the price – and saved us another $56.

While I used Amazon’s shipping rate page to figure out prices for the items that we shipped – Amazon likely has negotiated rates with shippers that are much less than what is published.

Is Amazon worth it for you?

I would say that my wife and I are not one of Amazon’s heavy utilizes. We purchase items there mainly as gifts or if we need something we can’t get elsewhere. But, if you were a heavy online shopper – I am sure Prime would be well worth it’s yearly due.

I’d be interested to know if Prime has been worth it to you or if you’ve had any other experiences with the service.

Get a 30-day FREE trial of Amazon Prime

Update 10/5/16: Amazon announces that Prime members will have access to some 1,000 books via their memberships. Not a bad deal for Primers.

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27 comments

    • Aaron says:

      Yeah – I really didn’t think their selection was the greatest. Redbox/Netflix probably offer a little better choices (but then again, I haven’t really used that part of the service for awhile).

  1. Tracie S says:

    I can comment on the video and free books. We find that we use them quite often. My husband uses as many of the free books as he is allowed and we use the streaming to watch whole seasons of shows we heard were good but couldn’t watch without cable. I love that I can watch seasons on tv and catch up on them on my ipad as there is a streaming app for ipad and iphone as well. Pretty convenient. We’d given up on Netflix as the movies just got to be too limited and almost nothing we wanted to watch was available for instant download.

    Add that to free shipping and we have a win-win.

    The one warning I have about the free shipping, however, is that we used to be much more careful with our Amazon purchases. We’d keep adding items to our cart until we’d reached the free shipping threshold. Often by then we’d realize we had things in our cart we no longer needed or wanted. Now we just immediately order whatever it is that we want and it is in our house within 2 days.

    On the flip side, if you find yourself buying unnecessary items just to get to the free shipping threshold, then Prime indeed be for you!

  2. Amy says:

    I’ve recently joined Amazon Prime and I think it’s good value for money. I have a lot of purchases from there so I’ve been trying to find a way to create a digital inventory of all of them where I can include all the information that comes with each purchase. I’ve come across an Amazon purchase tool called Unioncy that automatically creates a catalogue of all my belongings. I’m curious to hear if anyone else has tried and can share their experience? Seems to be quite useful to me.

  3. iriekat says:

    I am a relatively new Mom – A working, commuting, budget crunching time starved Mom. I build my shopping list of non grocery baby/toddler needs on Amazon. I can sit in the convenience of my home at any time of the night and compare prices. Amazon often has better prices than competing websites or brick and mortar stores and I get baby essentials shipped to me for free. No going out from store to store to spend gas and valuable family time toting a toddler in cold and rainy weather and free 2 day delivery?

    A no brainer for me..for a while I forgot that I could also watch movies!

    I agree with the movie streaming .. still an issue.. I recently watched an Amazon Prime movie and had issues that I thought were on my end. The next day I got an e-mail from Amazon with an apology and a 100% refund.

    Nicely done Amazon.

  4. jim says:

    Aaron,
    If you’ve got a kindle and aren’t taking advantage of the free books, you gotta give it a try. I haven’t paid for a book in over 3 years (with one exception – the lone survivor which was well worth the money). There’s a ton of variety and if you like, you can sign up for a weekly email that they’ll send you tailored to your particular taste. Granted, they slip some books in there that you have to pay for, but if you can ignore those, you can read for free without even having to go to the library. I love it.

  5. Heather says:

    I have found Amazon Prime to be very valuable. I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth out of the free shipping. I’ve eliminated a cable bill and Netflix because I don’t watch TV regularly and when I want to, I stream on Amazon. I love my Kindle and have taken advantage of Kindle First and their lending library. Because I used to have Amazon Student I received Amazon Prime at a discounted rate for awhile-only $39 I believe. Well worth it for me!

  6. zimmy says:

    I plan on upgrading to Prime in the next couple of weeks just for the fast shipping upgrade alone . I also think my children will enjoy having a wider selection of movies to choose from. It should be a win-win situation for my entire family.

  7. It’s definitely worth it in our household. We order a lot of baby items and with another one on the way, the orders should increase.

    Don’t really take advantage of their video selection. Maybe I should check it.

    Read an article that Amazon patented “Predictive Shipping”. So they’ll send out your orders before you even buy them!

  8. Jen Knox says:

    I’m an Amazon Mom member, and when I combine that benefit with Subscribe and Save, I regularly get 20% off my entire Subscribe and Save order with free shipping. I’m not sure I could live without Amazon Mom and SS!

    I have friends with just Prime (the regular account) and I know they have also said that it’s well-worth the money even without the extra benefits that Amazon Mom provides.

    My favorite items to get delivered: toilet paper and paper towels. =) I hate dragging those things home and the prices with Amazon Mom and SS beat even the best deal at Costco!

    This doesn’t even count the benefit of the Prime streaming videos. We have Netflix as well, but because the catalogs are slightly different, we’ve been really happy having both to select from.

    Love, love, love Prime and everything associated with it! Best investment we’ve made in terms of saving money on everyday items!

  9. JANIS NEILL says:

    AMAZON PRIME IS THE BEST THING OUT THERE.I AM SURE THEY LOST MONEY WHEN IT COMES TO SHIPPING ON ME . I LOVE THIS FEATURE. AMAZON IS ALMOST THE ONLY SITE I USE WHY WITH ALL THE PERKS OF PRIME, NUMBER 1!!!!!! TO ME

  10. Glad to see this broken down. I easily order more than 15 shipments a year on my prime account, plus I share it with my boyfriend, so it DEFINITELY pays off. Amazon pretty much rocks my world (though I did not know that info about the warehouse workers/conditions, which I will absolutely need to look into and consider).

  11. My wife and I love Amazon Prime and have been loyal users for a couple years. My only problem with it, and it has more to do with me than the service itself, is that you have to be really careful not to overspend. The free 2-day shipping is so darn tempting that I found myself doing a lot of impulse buying last year. I am trying to keep myself more in check in 2014!

  12. Clifford says:

    I have used Amazon Prime for 3 years and it pays for itself with the shipping savings alone. After having it for a year I bought a Roku to utilize the instant streaming and realized that I could get by without paying satellite service. I dont watch sports and read most of my news online. IMHO I believe that Amazon Prime is a much better streaming service than Netflix. The movies are mostly the same, some tv shows are different but the format for Netflix (search options ) are terrrible. I am cancelling my 2nd free trial of Netflix. My savings of 60 $ per month on cable is really adding up. 3 rokus and no satellite service for over 2 years now.

  13. I have Amazon Prime as well and use Amazon Mom (despite being a Dad!).

    For the last few years, I have saved tons of money buying diapers using the Subscribe & Save feature. It definitely has been worth it.

    I haven’t used the e-book lending library yet.

    And I have rarely used the streaming. I will say that Amazon has exclusive rights to some television shows (Downton Abbey comes to mind).

    I’ve “cut the cord,” so the combination of Netflix, (free) Hulu, and Amazon Prime fills a void.

  14. Peter says:

    We’ve been Amazon Prime members for 2 years now and we’ve found it to be a good value. We would probably do it for the shipping benefits alone – more than worth it, but we also use Amazon Instant streaming quite a bit as well through our Xbox, in addition to getting free ebooks from the kindle lending library every month. The streaming choices have improved over the years, and we’ve discovered a lot of series on there. While it may not be as good as Netflix, it isn’t half bad for what you’re paying. The books in the lending library aren’t likely to be new releases or high profile books, but there’s a lot of good content in there for the taking.

  15. Andrea says:

    I absolutely love Amazon Prime – being able to get everything in two days with no shipping charges means I can order everything from dog food to laundry detergent (often cheaper than I can buy it at Walmart). I placed over 100 orders in the last year alone, simply because it’s convenient and I want to be sure to get some bang for my $79. I also added my parents to my account so they can take advantage of the free 2-day shipping. One of my TVs also has support for Amazon streaming, so I can watch the instant videos (though I admit I don’t do this very often). I can’t imagine a world where I wouldn’t pay for Prime – it’s a fantastic system and one I can always justify.

  16. NSN says:

    Of course, all of your math is assuming you’d get the 2-day shipping if it were a normal order (which is NOT true, I mean how impatient are we!). You probably would have simply chosen the cheapest (which many times is $3.99 or FREE anyway). In actuality, the free shipping comes in 2 days many times, ANYWAYS. Go back and do your math without using 2-day as the comparison.

    Most of the stuff I order on Amazon is ALREADY shipped FREE. This is not such a slam dunk as you make it out to be…and I order plenty from Amazon.

    13 shipments x $4 = $52..if you’re not an impatient person.

  17. PastTense says:

    This is a very poor analysis, and it is quite doubtful it was worth it to you just for the shipping. It is very doubtful that you needed two day shipping on most of the items, so standard shipping would have been quite satisfactory for most of them.
    1. Many of them would have qualified for Supersaver shipping (over $35 currently). 2.For many others there would have been another supplier whose price plus shipping would have been very close–Amazon prime prices often seem to be jacked up (with the shipping cost built into the price). So Amazon might be $19.95 while supplier X might be $15 plus $5 shipping–so you saved $.05.
    3.For others you would have found the item on another site such as eBay, Walmart, Staples with a competitive price.

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