Amazon Prime Day is coming up very soon, and if you want to get in on all the discounts and deals of the annual sale, you will first need to be an Amazon Prime member. Quite an impressive tactic to get people to become paying customers, Amazon. But you don't actually need to shell out loads of money right away or commit to a full-fledged membership you're not sure about.
If you're not one of the 54 million Americans who, according to a recent report, already have Amazon Prime, you can take advantage of a free 30-day trial. This will give you access to all those exclusive Prime Day deals, and if you really don't want the service, you can cancel your trial before it's over and never pay a dime.
But are there good enough reasons to keep Prime after Prime Day? One of the biggest selling points of a Prime membership is the free two-day shipping. No surprise there. You might not know that there are even more extras and freebies that extend well beyond online shopping. Even if you’re already a Prime member, read on to find out about some of the perks that come with each and every Prime membership to ensure you're getting everything you're paying for.
Amazon Prime basics
• Free 2-day shipping on millions of Prime-eligible items
• Free same-day shipping in select locations on select items
• Guaranteed release-date delivery on many physical books, games, and movies
• Early access to Amazon Lightning Deals
• Exclusive Prime-only deals, coupons, and discounts
• Access to additional Amazon services for free
Amazon Prime: $10.99/month Or $99/year
(25% savings if you commit to a full year)
*Students can try Prime Student for free for 6 months, and save 50% on membership ($49.99) after the trial. All you need is a.edu email address.
NEW: Whole Foods Perks
Amazon's recent acquisition of the Whole Foods grocery chain is great news for Amazon Prime members. Not only is Amazon cutting costs for customers, but the Whole Foods rewards program will be rolled into Prime for added savings and in-store benefits.
Prime members will also be able to purchase Whole Foods products (365 Everyday Value, Whole Paws, Whole Catch, etc.) online and take advantage of Prime 2-day shipping, or order through Prime Pantry, Prime Now, or Amazon Fresh.
The final advantage of Amazon's takeover of the grocery store chain is that a bulk of Whole Foods locations will be converted to Amazon Locker locations where Amazon customers (Prime and otherwise) will be able to pick up and return packages.
Movies and TV
With Prime Video, you can stream thousands of TV shows and movies for free. This includes original programming like Mozart in the Jungle, Man in the High Castle, Transparent, and more. Prime Video is available on countless devices, such as iOS and Android smart phones and tablets, some smart TVs, any Amazon Fire TV devices (of course), Roku, XBox, and Playstation. And Apple recently announced they're finally bringing Amazon Video to the Apple TV with the next big iOS update in the coming months.
For anyone who enjoys watching TV during their commute or on the treadmill, select shows can be made available offline too. This mean no buffering and no worry of using up your entire month's worth of high-speed data in a few days.
Prime members can access a library of over 2 million songs through Prime Music. It works just like streaming services like Spotify and Pandora, allowing you to create custom playlists and stations. If you have an Amazon Echo, you can even ask Alexa to play a specific song, music by a particular artist, or just "play music" and let her suggest songs based on your listening history.
Amazon Music Unlimited
If you want even more tunes, you can upgrade to Amazon Music Unlimited. This service typically costs $9.99/month, but Prime members save 20%—or more if you want to pay for a year up front for $79. There's also an Echo-only subscription for $3.99/month, if you'd prefer.
Even if you don't own a Kindle e-reader, Prime membership gives you instant, free access to over a thousand books, comics, magazines, short stories (Kindle Singles),and more with Prime Reading. Some of these books also feature Audible narration if you prefer to have someone read to you.
You can access these free titles through the free Kindle app on any Android or iOS device. It's also available on any Kindle e-reader or Fire tablet. If you do have one of these Amazon devices, make a point to explore Kindle First and the Kindle Owner's Lending Library for even more free reading.
Getting your hands on a book hot off the proverbial printing press can be exciting, but reading it before it's available to the public? That's even better. With Kindle First, Prime members can read one of the six Editors' Picks of new books for free as early as a month before it comes out. If you're not a Prime member, you can buy the book for $1.99, which is still a very good deal for early access.
The catch with Kindle First, Prime or otherwise, is that you are only able to choose one of these books. But if you're sharing your library with other members of your Amazon Household, you might be able to get more than one.
Kindle Owner's Lending Library
This is easily my favorite part of owning a Kindle. The Kindle Owner's Lending Library lets you borrow one book a month completely free of charge. You can keep it as long as you want while you're a Prime member (cancelling Prime removes any borrowed books from your Kindle library). When you're done you can exchange it (as long as it's been at least one month) for a new book. The Lending Library is shared across an Amazon Household, so even if you have multiple e-readers, you can only take out one book at a time.
Audio books and podcasts are marvelous for commuting, long drives, workouts, or really any time you want to read but don't feel like opening your eyes. Audible, an Amazon company, is best known for its massive library of audio books, but there is also Audible Channels. With Audible Channels, you can listen to original audio series like "Presidents Are People Too!" from your iOS, Android, or Windows device. If you're a podcast fan, you might discover a new favorite.
Audible Channels: Free with Prime membership
($60/year without Prime)
FreeTime Unlimited is a special service that gives children ages 3-12 unlimited, ad-free access to thousands of books, apps, TV shows, movies and games. This includes programming from major networks like PBS Kids, Disney, and Nickelodeon. It typically costs $4.99/month for one child or $9.99/month for up to four kids, but Prime members can get this service for $2.99 for one user or $6.99 for the family plan. If you'd rather pay annually, it costs $83 for Prime members (it's usually $119).
The only caveat is that you must have Fire TV, a Kindle e-reader, a Fire tablet, or an Android device to access the content. But the perk of this service is that kids can't accidentally (or purposefully) buy apps, books, shows, etc.
Prime Now is currently only available in select cities across the U.S. If you're living in one of these locations, you can take advantage of fast, same-day delivery on a wide assortment of home goods, groceries, and other products.
Prime Now, which you can access through a unique mobile app or on the desktop site, allows you to have items delivered within a two-hour window the day you place your order. Or you can select 1-hour delivery for an extra $7.99. You must meet the order minimum of $40, but if you're in a pinch and need groceries for dinner, Prime Now can be a life saver.
Deliveries are made by individual drivers (not Amazon's delivery service), and you can track your order's journey from the warehouse to your front door through the app. I don't recommend trying to order frozen or refrigerated items, as I had an unfortunate experience with "ice cream soup" on a warm night a few weeks back. But dry goods like pasta and cookies, household items like toilet paper and laundry detergent, and entertainment products like video games and movies, and even select electronics are perfect for Prime Now orders.
Every Amazon account automatically gets 5GB of cloud storage for photos. When you upgrade to a Prime membership, you'll also get Prime Photos with unlimited storage. You can transfer every single photo and image file you have into the cloud and view them from any device. Once they're in the cloud, you can safely delete them from your device, freeing up memory.
Amazon recently added a tagging feature that detects faces, locations, and objects automatically so you can search for specific photos easily. You can also invite up to five others to a "Family Vault" where you can all share photos in one place. Don't worry—the shared folder only shows images you add to it. You can keep private photos private. Printing photos from your library is easy too, and your Prime membership means you won't pay for shipping either.
Amazon has countless home and grocery items on its virtual shelves, and Prime Pantry offers even lower prices on thousands of essentials for Prime members. This includes grocery items, beverages, beauty products, baby care, pet care, and household items. Plus, there are always loads of coupons and discounts to help you save even more.
All you need to do is order a minimum of 5 qualifying Pantry items, and you'll get free shipping. You can order less if you want, but you'll have to pay a $5.99 shipping fee to take advantage of the savings. It's also worth noting that Pantry boxes are shipped with ground shipping, so they may take longer than two days.
If you or someone in your family is an avid gamer, Twitch Prime will be especially useful. Twitch is a live streaming service video service for gamers to watch other gamers play games. It's free to sign up and watch, but free accounts will encounter ads. Prime members, however, get ad-free viewing, as well as a free monthly subscription, free in-game loot (characters, skins, maps, virtual currency, exclusives, etc.), discounts on pre-orders for box games, and guaranteed release-date delivery.