Amazon Prime is a membership program designed to offer customers perks for loyalty to the retail giant. It's a secret weapon for businesses seeking to control their equipment spending. Consumers who sign up for a $119 annual fee (or opt for a $12.99 monthly fee) enjoy free two-day shipping, free streaming of video and music, access to e-books, and the opportunity to try on new clothes before committing to buying them. You get access to more than 1 million special deals on Prime Day (July 16 and 17). And you can extend your personal Amazon Prime membership to your Amazon Business account. Here's what you need to know.
What is Amazon Prime?
Amazon recently admitted that the company has more than 100 million Prime members globally. Last year, Amazon shipped more than 5 billion items through Prime, more than any year. People reportedly love the convenience, shipping, savings and entertainment options offered through the program. Your membership starts with a free 30-day trial. After that, you can pay $12.99 per month or $119 per year.
For students or recipients of Medicaid, you can get Prime for $6.99 per month. That is an expansion of the program that affords a deal to anyone on government assistance programs, including food stamps. It requires customers have a valid Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card.
Note: If you decide to cancel your subscription after the 30-day free trial, you'll need to proactively cancel before your time is up. Simply go to your account, select Manage Prime Membership and click Do Not Continue or End Membership.
Who wants to wait six to eight weeks for delivery? If you need a new UPS, you need it now. That’s one of Prime’s biggest selling points. Amazon offers free two-day shipping in the contiguous U.S. The vast majority of Amazon items are eligible for Prime shipping, but there are some exceptions, such as products sold through the Amazon Marketplace (unless that seller chooses to offer it).
Same-day delivery is available in eligible ZIP codes, and in select cities. It is $2.99 or $5.99 on most other orders. In those cities, you can get 1-hour delivery for thousands of products at local stores. And you can get free two-hour delivery in eligible zip codes through Prime Now. Saturday shipping prices varies by item size and weight for as low as $7.99. Orders over $1,300 may require a signature.
Those in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico can expect Prime deliveries in three to seven days for free. For expedited shipping of two to five days, prices vary based on size and weight, starting at $5.99. Priority shipping of one to four days similarly varies starting at $11.99. Note: Expedited shipping is not currently available in Puerto Rico.
Prime comes with release-date delivery on eligible pre-order items within the continental U.S. Some mail carriers will make deliveries to residential addresses as late as 7 p.m. Signature isn't required for most release-date delivery items.
It's worth mentioning that Amazon Business comes with its own Prime shipping deals. You get free two-day shipping on orders of $49 or more. You also get improved order tracking and Amazon's tax exemption program.
Prime members enjoy a 30-minute head start on Amazon's Lightning Deals. A recent survey of current Lightning Deals included 83 percent off an iPhone 6 screen protector, 61 percent off a portable battery pack and 20 percent off a surge protector. Sure, those won’t do anything for your new laptop deployment. But every little bit helps.
During Amazon's annual sales extravaganza, known as Prime Day, you can save even more. The e-tail giant recently announced this year's Prime Day will be July 16 and 17, for a total of 36 hours. It will feature more than one million deals on all sorts or products including TVs, furniture, appliances and other everyday essentials. It will offer the biggest discounts on Amazon's own devices such as Fire tablets and Echo devices. This year Prime Day will also extend to Whole Foods Market. Prime members who spend $10 in store get a $10 credit for Amazon.com. And Amazon Prime Rewards Visa cardmembers will also enjoy 10 percent back when shopping at Whole Foods.
For those who own an Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, Amazon Tap, Fire TV or a Fire tablet, you can access Alexa-exclusive deals accessed through voice shopping. You can preview, track and shop for specific items as you are alerted to new ones from the Amazon App or at amazon.com/watched.
Prime members in select locations can pay an additional $14.99 for free delivery on all Amazon Fresh orders of $50 or more. Amazon Fresh is a grocery delivery and pickup service. The related service, Prime Pantry, is available to Prime members, but shipping isn't free.
If you're a parent, you might also appreciate the FreeTime Unlimited perk that comes with Prime. It comes with a ton of kid-friendly, free content for $2.99 per month. Non-Prime members pay $4.99.
Many of those deals offered on Prime Day will come from small businesses and entrepreneurs who will take advantage of the increased traffic to the site to sell their goods. According to Amazon, on Prime Day 2017 small businesses and entrepreneurs had more than $50,000 in sales on Prime Day, which lead to the creation of an estimated 900,000 jobs.
"Prime Day 2017 was a big success for us as we skyrocketed up rankings to No. 1 bestseller for pet supplies, which let us rapidly grow our team from 30 people to 60 people," said Victor Chang, CEO, Furbo Dog Camera.
"Prime Day is always a big day for us. Sales generated on Prime Day have helped us expand our team and move into a larger office space in New Jersey. In fact, since moving to our new space, we have already hired 10 new employees," said Elena Castaneda, CEO, Bling Jewelry.
Amazon Store Card
Prime members are eligible for an Amazon Prime Store Card, with no annual fee. It earns you 5 percent back on every Amazon.com purchase, as long as you're not using promotional financing. Store Card holders can choose promotional financing on orders of more than $149, to be paid back over the course of six months. For orders of more than $599, you get 12 months. Interest starts accruing on the purchase date if you have not paid your balance within the given time frame. The APR was 27.49 percent as of press time.
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
Eligible Prime members can earn 5 percent back on all Amazon purchases, in addition to rewards earned shopping elsewhere. Specifically, you get 5 percent back at Whole Foods Market, 2 percent back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores, and 1 percent on everything else. It has no annual credit card fee and no foreign transaction fees. As soon as you are approved you get a $70 Amazon gift card. The APR starts at 15.74 percent as of press time.
Through a rewards program called Amazon Prime Reload, members can earn 2 percent cash back on purchases when they first load funds into their Amazon Balance using a debit card attached to their bank's checking account. Your Gift Card balance never expires and there is no fees associated with this perk. You'll have to provide Amazon with your driver's license number and bank account information. The process of adding funds takes about 5 minutes, but can be delayed by as much as 4 hours.
For two adults living in the same household, you can create an Amazon Household to share benefits. Plus, you can extend your personal account to your Amazon Business account to take advantage of some of its benefits on business purchases. First, log in to your personal account. Then, click Your Account > Your Prime Membership > Share Your Prime Benefits. Next, select "Extend Prime shipping to your Amazon Business account." You'll need to enter those credentials and then click "Extend your Prime shipping benefits." If you're already a Prime member anyway, this seems like a no-brainer.
If you don't yet have a Prime account, you can do this process in reverse. First, log in to your Business account. Then, go to amazon.com/prime to complete the sign-up process.
Amazon offers some pretty tremendous streaming-media benefits. It’s unlikely to help your business, but sure doesn’t hurt at home. You get access to Prime Video, which comes with popular original series, such as Electric Dreams, The Tick and The Man in the High Castle. Prime Reading lets you read more than 1,000 e-books and magazines for free with no limits. With Amazon First Reads, Prime members get early access to download a new book for free every month, or purchase hardcover titles at exclusive prices. You can get unlimited listening to original audio series and playlists through Audible Channels for Prime.
Wanna look good for your next client meeting or job interview? Try out Amazon Wardrobe, which is part of your Prime membership. It allows you to try on items you select and send back whatever you don't want within seven days. Then you're only charged for those items you decide to keep.
Twitch Prime lets subscribers watch Twitch game streaming without ads. Prime Music can stream 2 million songs to eligible devices. And you can get unlimited access to The Washington Post with a six-month free trial.
Amazon also throws in some other fringe benefits. The Prime Photos perk gives you unlimited photo storage from any device. And gamers can get special, exclusive deals on new titles.