16 Amazon Prime secrets you didn't know about
Being a Prime member gets you access to Prime Day and so much more.
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Amazon Prime Day is coming, folks. If you don’t already know, it will begin Monday, July 15 at 12 a.m. PT (3 a.m. ET) and run until Tuesday, July 16 at 11:59 p.m. PT (Wed. July 17 at 2:59 a.m. ET). That means you have 48 hours this year to access exclusive deals at their lowest prices, the longest the sale has ever run. But you need to have a Prime membership in order to shop.
If you don’t already have a Prime membership, you can take advantage of a free 30-day trial to try out all the different services and perks before you take the plunge. And if you somehow don’t like it, you can always cancel your trial before it's over and not pay anything. But there are a ton of freebies and even a few secret benefits that Prime members can take advantage of—making the $12.99/month or $119 annual fee completely worth it.
Even if you’re already a Prime member, read on to find out about some of the perks that come with every membership to ensure you're taking advantage of everything you're paying for.
Amazon Prime basics
• Free 2-day shipping on millions of Prime-eligible items
• Free 1-day shipping in select locations on select items
• Free same-day shipping in select locations on select items
• Household sharing with 2 adults, up to 4 teens (13-17), and up to 4 children (12 and under)
• Guaranteed release-date delivery on many physical books, games, and movies
• Early access to Amazon Lightning Deals
• Exclusive Prime-only deals, coupons, and discounts including Prime Day
• Access to additional Amazon services (see below)
Amazon Prime: $12.99/month Or $119/year
(You can save 25% if you commit to a full year.)
Other membership options
Students can try Prime Student for free for six months, and save 50% on membership ($59/year or $6.49/month) after the trial. All you need is a .edu email address.
Household sharing allows you to split your Prime membership with one other adult, up to four teens (13-17) and up to four children (12 and under). Everyone in an Amazon Household can share all the services and perks of Prime, including Kindle libraries, Amazon Video, Amazon Music, and more. Both adults can take advantage of free 2-day shipping. Teens can make purchases, which the adults need to approve first, and children in a Household can be monitored with parental controls.
1. Same-day delivery with Prime Now
Like the idea of same-day delivery? 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 get 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 lifesaver.
Deliveries are made by individual drivers (not Amazon's delivery service) kind of like Uber Eats, 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 last summer. 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 and kitchen appliances are perfect for Prime Now orders.
2. Special savings and offers when you shop at Whole Foods
Amazon's acquisition of the Whole Foods grocery chain in June 2017 has been nothing but great news for Amazon Prime members. This merger has resulted in a whole bunch of perks for all shoppers both on Amazon and at Whole Foods, and Prime members come out on top.
More online grocery options: You can now purchase Whole Foods brands (365 Everyday Value, Whole Paws, Whole Catch, etc.) online and take advantage of Prime 2-day shipping to get your items. These same products are often available to order through Prime Pantry, Prime Now, or Amazon Fresh.
Plenty of in-store savings: Prime members can scan the Whole Foods app or share the phone number associated with their Prime account at the register to unlock savings like an added 10% discount on select sale items as well as weekly Prime-only deals on everyday groceries. And if you have an Amazon Prime Rewards credit card, you can earn 5% back at Whole Foods just like you do on Amazon.com. (Non-Prime members with the Rewards Visa card get 3% back at Whole Foods too.)
An easier way to get and return online orders: The final advantage of Amazon's takeover of the grocery store chain is that a bulk of Whole Foods locations have been converted to Amazon Locker locations where Amazon customers (Prime and otherwise) will be able to pick up and return packages.
3. Easy online grocery shopping and doorstep delivery with Amazon Fresh
Amazon offers a grocery delivery service called Amazon Fresh. This service is exclusively available to Prime members for an additional $14.99/month (regardless of whether you pay for Prime annually or monthly).
The selection at Amazon Fresh is pretty robust for a virtual grocery store, though finding specialty items can be tough at times. However, there are lots of coupons and discounts to browse through. You'll also want to spend at least $50, as any orders less than that will result in a $9.99 delivery charge. But if you only need less than $50 of groceries, you can probably manage to get to a store, right?
When your cart is full, you can choose your delivery window for as early as same-day if it's available. They have limited deliveries for every available time, but they can deliver groceries as early as before 6 a.m. or as late as 10 p.m. and you don't need to be there to receive your delivery, but you can request an in-person drop-off if you want.
The food arrives in paper bags or recyclable totes, and you can specify your preferences on Amazon. I personally have had a really hard time getting the totes picked back up so I opt to recycle the paper bags myself. For frozen and refrigerated foods, Amazon uses insulated bags and frozen water bottles to keep things cool. The water bottles are a new change that I love because the ice packs they used previously were so wasteful. Plastic bottles aren't super sustainable either, of course, but at least you can drink them when they melt. Can't say the same for ice packs.
Amazon Fresh is not available everywhere yet, but the list of locations is always growing.
4. Extra discounts on household items with Prime Pantry
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.
Like Amazon Fresh, Prime Pantry is available for a monthly fee of $4.99. All you need to do is order a minimum of five qualifying Pantry items, and you'll get free shipping. You can order less if you want, but you'll have to pay a $7.99 fee to take advantage of the savings, which may defeat the whole point.
If you want to try it out but don't want to commit to a full month, you can pay $7.99 for a single delivery, which is what non-Prime members are charged. But, it's more affordable to just pay the monthly fee and cancel at the end of the month if you don't want to use the service again. It's also worth noting that Pantry boxes are sent via ground shipping, so they sometimes take longer than two days.
5. Discounts on the stuff you buy over and over with Subscribe and Save
If you do a lot of your shopping online for things you use every day—like cleaning supplies, toiletries, and even drinks and snacks—Subscribe and Save is worth checking out.
This Prime-only service helps you save up to 15% on recurring purchases. The more products you add, the bigger the discount will be (5 or more unlocks 15% off).
And it's totally customizable too. I used to get a couple cases of Gatorade and bottled water every two months, and then every month I'd get paper towels and toilet paper. And if you find that you don't need something one month, you can cancel or pause your deliveries. Amazon sends you an email alert a few days before your order ships so you can make changes if needed.
6. An easy way to stream your favorites with Prime Video
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, and more. Prime Video is available on countless devices, such as iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, some smart TVs, any Amazon Fire TV devices (of course), Roku, Apple TV, XBox, and Playstation.
For anyone who enjoys watching TV during their commute or on the treadmill, select shows can be made available offline too. This means no buffering and no worry of using up your entire month's worth of high-speed data in a few days. Plus, you might be able to cancel some of your other streaming services to save a little extra since this one's free.
And it should go without saying by now that this is the only way to watch the exclusive Taylor Swift live performance this July 10.
7. Commercial-free listening with Prime Music
Prime members can access a library of over 2 million songs through Prime Music for free. 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.
8. Even more music at your fingertips with 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-specific subscription for $3.99/month, if you'd prefer, but it's for a single device only.
9. Free books and stories with Prime Reading
Even if you don't own a Kindle e-reader, your 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 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.
10. Get new books before they're available to the public with Amazon First Reads
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 Amazon First Reads, 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.
11. Borrow one book for free every month with 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 (canceling 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 if you have multiple e-readers, note that you can only take out one book at a time.
12. Listen to fun podcasts with Audible Channels
Audiobooks 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 audiobooks, but they also have this service called 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)
13. Give your kids fun and educational things to do with FreeTime Unlimited
Amazon's 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, an Echo smart speaker, 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, or other items.
14. Store your photos in the cloud with Prime Photos
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 so you can keep private photos private. Printing photos from your library is easy and cheap too, and your Prime membership means you won't pay for shipping either.
15. Try things on before you buy with Prime Wardrobe
For Prime members who love to buy their clothes at Amazon, Prime Wardrobe is for them. It makes it super easy to try before you buy, and unlike similar services like Dia and Co. and Topshop, you don't have to pay to use it.
Here's how Prime Wardrobe works: You choose at least three items, then Amazon sends you a box to try everything on. At this point, you don't pay a dime. After you've tried everything on, you can send back whatever didn't fit or wasn't quite right. You'll only be charged for whatever you decide to keep.
Returns, typically a hassle and a half, are actually designed to be as painless as possible with Prime Wardrobe. Amazon includes a prepaid return slip so you don't have to print anything out, and the box they ship the clothes in is resealable so there's no scramble for packing tape either.
There's no monthly fee, no shipping costs, and no penalty if you decided to return everything.
16. Watch your favorite Twitch streamers for free with Twitch Prime
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.
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.