Is Amazon Prime Really Worth It in 2021?

by Manage Money

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Is Amazon Prime worth the roughly $120 annual fee? It depends on who you ask.

In 2018, JPMorgan estimated all the benefits provided by a Prime Membership were worth $784 annually! Even though Amazon’s benefits add up to more than the annual fee, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good purchase for everyone. It largely depends on if you will take full advantage of those benefits.

The big question is, do these benefits live up to the hype and more importantly, are they worth it to you?

Also, there are some serious reasons to consider not getting Prime – cost, impact on the environment, other available memberships, and better entertainment platforms.

In this post, we’re going to help you break down the pros and cons of Prime so you can make good decision for you!

Amazon Prime Benefits

Amazon works hard to keep customers. They established two-day shipping and returns, then continued to add even more benefits for Prime members. We’re going to break down the most popular benefits one by one below.

Free Shipping and Returns

You can return most new, unopened items sold and fulfilled by Amazon within 30 days of delivery. During the holidays, items shipped by Amazon between November 1st and December 31st can be returned until January 31st (learn more about their Return Policy).

Amazon.com offers free returns on most items delivered to an address in the 50 United States. Look for “Free Returns” next to the price to confirm that the item qualifies for free returns (learn more about Free Returns). All return-eligible items weighing under 50 pounds and sold by Amazon have at least one free return option. You can return the item for any reason in new and unused condition for up to 30 days after purchase.

Don’t worry about printing a label or packing up your item. Just go to “Your Orders” and select the item you wish to return. Tell why you want to return the item, then choose a drop-off location near you that supports label-free, box-free returns. You’ll get a QR code for an employee to scan, and you’re done.

Most refunds are fully refunded in 3-5 days after processing the return (learn more about Refunds).

Video Streaming

Watch award-winning Amazon Originals, movies, and TV shows included in your membership. Just like other streaming services, you can filter by category or search for an old favorite.

Prime Video Home Screen
Amazon Prime Video

The big difference between Prime and other services like Netflix and Hulu is the option to buy or rent thousands of movies. Instead of having “no search results,” you can watch that movie you’re craving for a couple of bucks.

Amazon’s original content won’t be found anywhere else, and it won’t stop coming. Amazon’s spent $11 billion on Prime video and music in 2020 and seeks to be a global entertainment leader.

If you want to purchase Amazon Prime Video by itself, the cost $8.99 per month.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage allows you to save data and files online instead of on your phone or computer. If your computer or phone is destroyed, you don’t lose your documents.

Amazon Cloud Storage

As a prime member, you get free cloud storage for the most important memories – photos and videos. You can store unlimited full-resolution photos and get 5 GB of video storage through Prime Photos.

If that isn’t enough storage for you, increase your storage to 100 GB for just $1.99 a month (there is also a 1 TB version if you have tons of files). For context, 100 GB will allow you to store about 14 hours of 1080p HD videos. Less than half the cost of a cup of coffee for all your memories to stay safe forever isn’t too bad!

Prime Exclusive Deals

Prime exclusive access deals have something new every day. You can shop their Deal of the Day, Lightning Deals, and limited-time sales. With over 55 categories to filter through, you’re guaranteed to find something you want.

Some of these deals only last for an hour or two, others are a few days. The more you shop, the more Amazon can suggest items you will love.

Prime Wardrobe – Try Clothes on at Home

Need new jeans that makes you feel amazing? Check. Need a cute outfit for picture day? Check. Want to force your partner to try on a new, hoodie to replace that old, worn-out favorite? Check.

Amazon Prime Wardrobe
Prime Wardrobe

You choose between three and eight clothing items, shoes, or accessories — including great styles from brands for women, men, kids, and babies. Once the box arrives, you get seven days to try everything on in your home. Then return the pieces you don’t love and pay for what you keep.

Two things really set Prime Wardrobe apart. One, the box is smartly resealable (no more searching for tape) and, two, a pre-printed return label comes with your order. All you have to do is put the items you don’t want back in the box, attach the label and drop off your package at a nearby UPS location. It couldn’t be easier.

Access to Books, Magazines, & Comics

Prime members can read as much as they want from over a thousand books, magazines, comics, Kindle singles, and more. With fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, short works, and magazines right off the newsstand, you’ll always find something to read.

Prime Reading includes books with Audible Narration, so prime members can switch seamlessly between reading and listening without losing their place.

You don’t need a Kindle device to enjoy Prime Reading. With the Kindle app for iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac, you can read on any device. Download the app, and read anytime, anywhere.

Music Streaming

Unlimited Music Streaming is available to add on to Prime. For an additional cost of $7.99/month, you get on-demand, ad-free streaming of any song. You can download music to listen offline with unlimited skips and follow your favorite podcasts. There are over two million songs, ad-free to enjoy!

Amazon Music Unlimited
Amazon Music Unlimited

There is a ton of free music content available using your Prime account, but a paywall does exist. Amazon Music Unlimited is an additional charge to your Prime membership.

FeatureAmazon Music PrimeAmazon Music Unlimited
CostIncluded with Prime Membership
(Prime Exclusive)
$7.99/month for individual plan for Prime members
$9.99/month for individual plan for non-Prime members
Available Titles2 million songs
Thousands of stations
Top playlists
60 million songs
Thousands of stations
Hundreds of playlists
Ad-free, Unlimited PlaysYesYes
Supported DevicesAll Amazon Music supported devices; stream on one device at a time Individual Plan: All Amazon Music supported devices; stream on one device at a time
Family Plan: Amazon Music supported devices; stream on up to six devices at a time
Single-Device Plan: Manage music playback on a single compatible device
Alexa InteractionYesYes
Offline PlaybackYesUnlimited Individual Plan: Yes
Unlimited Family Plan: Yes
Single-Device Plan: No
Music Prime vs. Music Unlimited

Prime Gaming with Twitch

As a Prime member, you get exclusive in-game loot, free games, and a free subscription to support your favorite twitch streamer. This includes a members-only crowd chat badge and Prime Twitch chat colors and emotes.

For this to work, you need to link your Amazon and Twitch accounts. Then subscribe to use your Prime Gaming included with your Prime membership, and you’re off to the races! See what your favorite game offers as a reward, discount, or upgrade and get playing today.

Rewards Card

Amazon Prime offers two rewards credit cards

  • Amazon Rewards Visa Card
  • Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card

They have slightly different rewards percentages and cash-back bonuses. The Amazon Rewards is for anyone, and the Amazon Prime Rewards is only for Prime members. If you have Prime, you get bigger rewards and more cash-back!

BenefitsAmazon Rewards VisaAmazon Prime Rewards Visa
Welcome Bonus$50 Amazon Gift Card instantly$100 Amazon Gift Card instantly
Rewards at Amazon and Whole Foods Market3% Back5% Back
Rewards at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores2% Back2% Back
Rewards on all other purchases1% Back1% Back
No annual credit card feeYesYes
No foreign transaction feesYesYes
Bonus Rewards at Amazon NoneUp to 20% Back On rotating Amazon categories and products

Cyber Deals

Prime capitalizes on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Amazon Prime Day to give you the most cyber deals possible. You get early access to great deals so you can do all holiday shopping right from your computer or phone!

Some of the biggest deals are in electronics, TVs, anything made by Amazon (Kindle, Echo, Firestick, etc.), holiday toys and games, clothing, kitchen gadgets, and much more.

Subscribe and Save

Amazon allows you to save 5-15% on select items if you subscribe to them. This can be great for household essentials.

For example, you can have toilet paper, vitamins, cleaning supplies, grocery items, and anything else you use regularly shipped to you on a recurring basis. Amazon will even suggest how often to have the item sent based on other members’ subscriptions.

Each item you select gives you a 5% discount, but once you subscribe to 5 or more items per shipment, that discount will increase to 15%.

Reasons to Cancel Prime

Prime comes with many potential benefits, this doesn’t mean that it is the right choice. Here are a handful of reasons you might decide “Prime isn’t for me.”

Prime is Expensive

Prime costs $119 a year or $12.99 per month ($155.88 per year). If you can’t afford to buy a yearly membership and save, it is pricy.

Also, Prime tries to get you to buy additional memberships. Like Amazon Music Unlimited for an additional $7.99 a month. Or an audible subscription for audiobooks. Kindle unlimited is another add-on for another monthly charge.

If you got all of these subscriptions, you could be paying $50 a month without buying a single additional item.

Once you are a Prime member, Amazon never attempts to stop selling you these subscriptions, so it takes discipline to say no every time.

There are Other Retail Memberships

You may be able to get what Amazon is offering for cheaper. Amazon has a lot of services that come as add-ons that you may be able to get elsewhere cheaper. If you don’t need all the extras – music, video, gaming, etc. It may be worth using other subscription(s) to get what you want.

Also, Amazon Prime is one of many memberships of big-box retailers that you can join. Depending on where you live, it may be easier to use what is close to you and familiar. Below you can see other memberships compared to Amazon Prime:

MembershipPrice
Amazon Prime$119 per year
Walmart+$98 per year
Sam’s Club$45 per year
Costco$60 per year
Membership Price Comparison

Besides retail memberships, you may take advantage of wine memberships, activity passes, gym memberships, city museums, zoos, or other things higher on your priority list. This list isn’t even including the video streaming service you pay for. Choose what memberships you want wisely because they add up quickly!

You Can Take Advantage of Free Trials

You may be someone who needs Prime infrequently for the free shipping. You don’t need the extras because you don’t use any of them and Prime isn’t worth it for you. Sign up for a month, and cancel it when you’re done, before being charged. Take advantage of the free trials.

If you forget to cancel your free trial and get charged, that’s not a problem. If you haven’t used the membership, you can get a refund.

Prime’s Free Shipping isn’t Rare Anymore

Prime has led the charge to get fast, cheap shipping everywhere. Just a few years ago, it was common to wait 7-14 days for a package to arrive. Now that seems like an eternity.

Other big-box retailers have switched their standard shipping to equal Prime’s two-day shipping. Just to list a few:

  • Apple
  • Best Buy
  • Costco
  • CVS
  • Home Depot
  • Ray-Ban
  • Target
  • Verizon
  • Walmart

Unlike Amazon, some of these have a minimum order, but two-day shipping is the industry standard. You don’t need Prime anymore to get things shipped fast.

You Don’t Need Prime for the Free Shipping

With millions of items on Amazon, there is still the offer to get free shipping. It just takes longer to ship. Items that are lightweight such as cosmetics, earbuds, and mobile phone accessories, often have free standard shipping.

On top of that, you get free shipping if you order $35 of eligible items. You can see if they’re qualified as you shop by filtering items that are “Eligible for free shipping.”

Amazon Prime Might be Increasing Your Carbon Footprint

If the caring for the environment is a big deal to you, Amazon is not your friend. They depend on thousands of gas-guzzling airplanes and trucks to deliver all their merchandise. As more people shop online, this only grows.

In 2019 the company said activities tied to its businesses emitted 51.17 million metric tons of carbon dioxide – the equivalent of 13 coal-burning power plants running for a year.

Amazon has a long-term goal to be carbon neutral by 2040. While this is admirable, they have a long way to go.

There are Other Sources for Video Streaming Services

Amazon Video is not the current leader in streaming. Amazon has been scooping up studios and ramping up their content production, but since it’s not their main focus, they aren’t really playing the same game as the industry leaders like Neflix and Hulu.

Other streaming services include Netflix, Hulu, HBOMax, Paramount, Disney+, Sling, Fubu, and ESPNN+.

Amazon Prime Makes You a Lazy Shopper

Amazon is a business, so they want to make the best deal for themselves. This means that Amazon will have their products come up first, even if there is a cheaper equivalent from a competitor.

Amazon is also really good at satisfying out need for comparison shopping all within their store. This means you might miss out on great deals in other places because you get in the habit of only looking on Amazon.

Finally, the convenience of looking something up on your phone and hitting the order button a few seconds later, might lead to an increase in impulse spending. If you struggle with self-control, an Amazon Prime membership might be more harm than help.

Who is Prime Great For?

Amazon Prime is great for anyone who loves to shop online, get stuff quickly, watch movies, listen to music, or wants a great combination package of deals. If you only need one of those things, Prime might not be the best option for you.

How to Sign Up

  1. To sign up for Amazon Prime, go to Amazon and click “Prime” on the top left.
  • This takes you to a new page. Again, click “Try Prime.” Don’t miss that they have plans for students and those with EBT/government assistance.
Try Amazon Prime
Try Amazon Prime
  • “Create New Account” or sign in if you already have an Amazon account without Prime.
Create an Amazon Prime Account
Create an Amazon Prime Account

  • It then takes you to a payment page where you enter a credit card and decide on monthly or annual billing.
  • Confirm your billing and shipping address.
  • Start enjoying all the benefits of Amazon

Top Alternatives

Amazon is not for everyone. You may enjoy another service more or want to see the other options. Here are a few quick ones.

Online Shopping Alternatives

If you like shopping online, but don’t want to send all your money to Amazon, consider these alternatives.

  • Overstock.com – free shipping on everything in the continental U.S. and always has a deal running!
  • Walmart – Save money, live better, shop Walmart.
  • AliExpress – Your source for cheap stuff
  • Etsy – Shop for handmade, unique, custom, vintage gifts for anyone!
  • eBay – Electronics, cars, collectibles, and anything else!
  • Craigslist – the classified listings of old on the internet; jobs, personal ads, home supplies, and more.

Video Streaming Alternatives

If you like video streaming, but can’t find what you’re looking for on Amazon Prime, check out these other streaming services.

  • Netflix – an extensive library of feature films, documentaries, TV shows, anime, award-winning Netflix originals, and more. Watch as much as you want, anytime you want.
  • Hulu – Stream full seasons of exclusive series, current-season episodes, hit movies, Hulu originals, and more.
  • HBOMax – Stream over 10,000 hours of classic favorites, new hits, and current movies in theaters
  • Paramount Plus – Watch thousands of episodes of your favorites shows on any device.
  • Disney+ – Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, Disney, and National Geographic all under one roof.
  • Sling – The best of cable TV without the cable, including the top news, live sports, and more.
  • Fubu – Watch over 100 live channels with free cloud DVR included. No contracts, no fees, and cancel anytime.
  • ESPN+ – Live sports at your fingertips wherever you go.

Don’t forget that many of these offer bundle options to give you a better deal.

Cloud Storage Alternatives

Amazon’s cloud storage is one of many. There are certainly other options available.

  • Google One Cloud Storage – Get a family plan for all of your photos and videos in with encryption. For personal use, you can get 100 GB for $1.99 per month or 200 GB for $2.99 per month. If you need a massive amount of storage, you can get 2 TB for $9.99 per month.
  • Microsoft OneDrive – Get 100 GB for $1.99 per month Unlike other services, Microsoft also offers it’s Microsoft suite with 1 TB of storage for $6.99 per month. And if you have a family, you can get 6 TB for up to six people with the Microsoft suite for $9.99 per month.
  • Dropbox – Grab 2 TB of storage for $9.99 per month.

Music Streaming Alternatives

If Prime music doesn’t have what you’re looking for, consider these other paid music streaming platforms.

  • Apple Music – Play over 75 million songs with playlists, artists, and albums inspired by your listening history.
  • Spotify – With Spotify, it’s easy to find the right music or podcast for every moment – on your phone, computer, tablet, and more.
  • Tidal – high fidelity music streaming of over 70 million songs
  • YouTube Music – listen to music videos ad-free, offline, and with your screen off!
  • Pandora Premium – ad-free personalized music with unlimited skips, offline listening, and your favorite podcasts

Related Questions

How Much does an Amazon Prime Membership Cost in 2021?

The annual membership fee costs $119 per year or a $12.99 monthly fee ($155.88 for a year).

How Quickly Does Amazon Ship?

If something qualifies for Prime shipping, it will ship in two business days or sometimes even faster.

How Much is Prime Video?

Prime Video is $8.99 per month if you purchase it separately from Amazon Prime. It is included for free if you are a Prime member.

How Much is Prime Music?

Prime Music is free for Prime members. Current Prime members can get Amazon Music Unlimited for $7.99/month for an individual plan and is $9.99/month for non-Prime members.

How Much is Audible?

Audible has two different plans – Audible Plus and Premium Plus. Audible Plus is $7.95/month, and Premium Plus is $14.95/month.

How Much is Kindle Unlimited?

Kindle Unlimited is $$9.99/month. Prime reading offers books for free with your Prime membership.

How Much is Prime Gaming?

Prime Gaming is free with a Prime Membership. You cannot buy Prime Gaming on it’s own, it requires a membership.

How Much is a Prime Membership Worth?

JPMorgan estimates that your Amazon Prime membership is worth $785 annually. For the $119 annual fee, Prime members get a ton of benefits.

Does Amazon Prime Have Discounts for Students?

Yes! Amazon offers its Prime membership for $6.49/month to students with a school email address. In addition, you can get Prime Music for $0.99/month and special discounts on textbooks.

What are the Benefits of Having Amazon Prime?

Fast, free delivery, save big on groceries, prescription savings and fulfillment, exclusive deals for you, access to over 2 million songs, award-winning shows and movies, Prime gaming, and thousands of books and magazines.

Does Prime Ever Go on Sale for $67?

It happened once in 2015 to honor the 5 Emmys it took home at the 67th Emmy Awards.

Is Prime Right for You?

Amazon does do a great job of keeping people in its orbit like a tractor beam. There’s a reason it’s one of the global leaders in selling and shipping.

You’ll have to decide for yourself if the free shipping, video and music, and deals are right for you. If you don’t need it to be happy, be bold and cancel so your wallet can thank you!

Ryan Pramberg

Ryan Pramberg

Ryan loves to serve people. The more he learned about money, the more it became apparent that he enjoyed talking about it with other people. My goal is to be wealthy in all aspects of life: faith, family, friends, and financial. I hope the things I learn help you live a life of purpose.

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