Amazon doesn’t fess up about the number of Prime subscribers it has, but the Consumer Intelligence Research Partners firm estimates the retailer has around 80 million U.S. members as of early 2017. Not all of those people are paying the full $99 yearly fee. There are ways to enjoy Prime perks for less, though it depends on whether you qualify for special pricing tiers if you’re willing to settle for fewer features, and if you’re patient enough to wait for discounts.
Here’s how it works:
Try the free trial:
New Prime subscribers can sign up for a free 30-day trial. You will need to provide your payment details and you will have to cancel if you choose not to continue, but that’s plenty of time to take the service for a test drive to see if an ongoing membership is worth it.
While many Prime subscribers opt to pay out the $99 for a year of service, you don’t have to commit to a whole 365 days. Amazon offers a monthly subscription at $10.99. This makes sense if you just want the perks for a short amount of time, like during the shopping frenzy leading up to the holidays or for binge-watching a particular show included with Amazon’s streaming video service. Just be sure to cancel when you’re done.
Join Amazon Student:
Prime Student is a discounted version of regular Prime that costs $49 per year, but you have to be a student with a .edu email address to qualify. Amazon is currently offering a free six-month trial of Prime Student that makes it an even sweeter deal for students on a budget.
Discount for people on government assistance:
Amazon recently announced a major Prime discount for people enrolled in certain government assistance programs. This brings the monthly fee down to $5.99 for qualifying customers with an EBT card. You will need a valid EBT number to confirm your eligibility. The offer is good for up to 48 months and you will need to re-qualify every 12 months. Click here to learn more about it.
Talk to customer service about late shipments:
If you already have Prime and you have a problem with shipments showing up late and outside the promised delivery window, then get in touch with Amazon’s customer service. Service representatives have been known to extend Prime memberships with an extra free month as a way to make up for late deliveries.
Wait for a sale:
Amazon Prime doesn’t offer blanket membership discounts very often, but they do happen from time to time. For example, Amazon dropped the Prime price down to $73 in early 2016 to celebrate its original show “Mozart in the Jungle” earning awards at the Golden Globes. It also lowered the price to $80 last November to promote its new show “The Grand Tour.” This is an unpredictable way to save on Prime, but it’s worth jumping on if a discount pops up.
Set up Amazon Household:
You can split the cost of Prime with a willing family member. Amazon Household lets you share Prime benefits between two adults when each has a separate Amazon account. This works best with another family member you live with. You have to link your accounts and share payment methods, but you will both be able to take advantage of free shipping and streaming of digital content. Households also lets you add profiles for up to four children, but the kids can’t use your account to shop on Amazon.
Use Subscribe & Save
You don’t have to be a Prime member to get Amazon’s Subscribe & Save discounts. By committing to a recurring ship date for certain eligible items, you can save up to 15 percent on those purchases. These offerings include quite a few grocery, household, pet, personal care, and office supplies. The more items you subscribe to, the higher your savings percentage. You can always skip deliveries or cancel your subscriptions.
Settle for the $25 free shipping:
If you don’t care about the bonus Prime perks like streaming video, two-day shipping, photo storage, and streaming music, then you can skip the whole membership deal and just settle for free shipping. The only catch here is that you need to have at least $25 worth of eligible items in your cart to qualify. This is an easy option for patient and frugal shoppers.