Amazon has over 200 million Prime members worldwide, with the vast majority being in the US. It’s likely around 1 in 2 households have a subscription, which grants them free shipping on orders (generally 2 days or less), free streaming options, access to special sale events, and more benefits. Amazon also gets benefits from Prime: members tend to be very loyal to Amazon, with many shoppers starting their product search or even only considering to buy what they’re looking for at the online superstore.
Amazon Prime launched in 2005. It was originally dedicated just to free two-day delivery (and reduced price one-day shipping) for $79. Over the years, benefits were added (and some discontinued, like the Prime Pantry box) and the fee rose, eventually to $119 a year in 2018.
Amazon also added a monthly subscription option in 2016.
Those enrolled in a college class or receiving government assistance can pay a reduced rate for up to four years.
However, all prices are going up.
|Current Price ($)||New Price ($)|
|Prime Student Monthly||6.49||7.49|
|Prime Student Annual||59.00||69.00|
|EBT & Medicaid Monthly||5.99||6.99|
These prices will take effect on February 18th for new Prime members. Existing subscribers will have fees raised starting March 25th.
According to Amazon, this hike is due to the “continued expansion of Prime member benefits as well as the rise in wages and transportation costs”.
Now, this news isn’t out of left field. The last time Prime had a price increase was four years ago, and that was four years after raising rates. Inflation also continues to be a major issue in the US. And as Amazon hypes productions like The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and its deal with the NFL for Thursday Night Football, the cost of those streaming additions cost a lot of money.
However, rising costs for streaming and pandemic-related issues (salaries, gas, etc.) is still of little comfort to those who point out Amazon is still is experiencing record profits, even though the last quarter was lower than expected.
Shoppers may have had another bill go up recently: Netflix.
On January 14, Netflix announced increases for all their monthly plans: $9.99 for Basic, $15.49 for Standard, and $19.99 for Premium, $1-2 higher for each tier. This roughly mirrors their last hike in October 2020. A Netflix spokesperson told Reuters, “We’re updating our prices so that we can continue to offer a wide variety of quality entertainment options.”
Netflix did not set a date for the new rate for existing members. Instead, subscribers would be alerted of the change by email at least 30 days out from renewal. Members have been getting notified since then with many going to start paying the additional amount by late February or early March.
Is It Worth It?
As with every price increase, subscribers are faced with a question: is it worth it? It’s a dilemma where there is no obvious answer, as everyone’s habits are different. And with most people sharing Amazon or Netflix with others in their household, cancelling or downgrading is likely to be a joint decision.
For streaming, of course there are many alternatives. Anime fans have dedicated services like Crunchyroll or mixed offerings like HBO Max. Since there is no cheaper annual plan, fans can also easily rotate subscriptions — watch the latest hits on Netflix for a month or two, cancel, and jump to another service for a bit.
Fans can also do the same with Prime, but of course, it’s cheaper per month with an annual plan. But unlike with video streaming, it’s not as easy to find a good Amazon Prime alternative, especially when it comes to a place that sells anime and manga. Barnes & Noble sells most manga and anime, and Members get free shipping on all orders. Some toys and such may be excluded though. Best Buy has Totaltech, and they sell anime and video games. However, Totaltech pushes the tech angle, and it costs $199.99 a year, or spend $1,500 in a year to be given free shipping at Best Buy for a year. Walmart’s Walmart+ program is cheaper at $98 a year or $12.95 a month, but their offerings can be very spotty when it comes to anime and manga, especially right now with the industry-wide stocking issues. Target has similar problems, and they usually completely remove an item from search if it’s not in stock, making it hard to monitor when they receive a shipment. However, most items are eligible for free shipping with a RedCard, and there’s a debit card option if you don’t want to open a credit card.
Here is a final tip for current Prime members: turn off auto-renew, and buy a Prime gift subscription right now at the $119 rate. Choose a date to send it to yourself, up to December 31, 2023. If you receive the email before your membership ends, don’t click on it! When you’re no longer a Prime member and ready to rejoin, then click the link to get Prime back. Since you’ve already paid the $119 upfront, you can avoid that $20 extra it would cost with auto-renewal for a year or two.
For me, I think of Prime like a Costco or Sam’s Club membership. Yes, the $140 price point is a bit hard to swallow, [but] my family enjoys Prime Video, and I like being able to get free shipping without worrying about getting to $35. My family also has Walmart+, Costco, and Sam’s Club, and while those quickly add up, they all have their niche [missing words?]
As for Netflix, while there are some shows and movies I’d love to watch, I haven’t had one in years. I do have other services (including satellite TV), but I’ll likely cull some streaming services once promotional rates expire. Just too many shows and too few hours in the day.