Just about everybody has shopped on Amazon, and more than 100 million Americans have an Amazon Prime account. Amazon is now the largest retailer on the planet, and still growing. From grocery stores to their own delivery services, they just keep expanding.
If you've ever bought from Amazon, you are probably getting frequent notices from them, letting you know about products you've shown interest in, what's on sale, and more. But this is just the tip of a very large iceberg.
You probably have no idea of all that Amazon now has to offer. If you're a Prime member, chances are you aren't taking advantage of everything you could be.
Bet there's a few things here you didn't know about.
Amazon Prime Features and Benefits
Amazon revolutionized online shopping in 2005 when they rolled out Amazon Prime: for a reasonable annual fee, Prime membership got you free shipping, free returns, and guaranteed 2 day delivery.
It was a great deal for anyone who loved online shopping, and it made an already convenient practice--shopping from home--even more convenient.
For the average user, Amazon Prime costs $119 per year, or $13 per month. New members get a free 30-day trial before being charged.
If you're a student, a Prime membership will cost you just $59 per year, or $6.49 per month. Students get a full six months free before being charged. (See more about student benefits below.)
If you still don't have an Amazon Prime account, there's no better time to get one than for your holiday shopping. It could save you a small fortune on shipping costs alone.
You can also give Amazon Prime as a gift.
How Do I Know if an Item is in the Prime Program?
You have to look for the Amazon Prime symbol to be sure an item is part of the Prime program:
Alternatively, you can use the Amazon Prime search filter, the first filter on the left side of the page:
Speaking of search filters: using the search filters is a great way to narrow your search and see only items relevant to your criteria. You can search not only by Prime, but by department, average review, brand, price, new arrivals, condition, seller, and more. If you don't use these criteria to search, you should: they can make a frustrating experience a lot easier.
Here's a list of what you get with Prime membership. Note that some of these will cost you an extra fee; Prime membership is a prerequisite to signing up for services like Music Unlimited, for example.
Free Shipping, Free Returns, 2 Day Delivery
The main benefits of Amazon Prime--the ones pretty much everybody knows about--are free shipping, free returns, and guaranteed 2-day delivery on many Amazon products: according to Amazon, over 100 million items qualify for free 2-day delivery.
Even on items that aren't part of the Prime program, you may still get free shipping. But you have to read the details to know for sure--and you probably won't get it in 2 days, or get free returns.
Free One Day Delivery, Same Day Delivery, and 2 Hour Delivery
Amazon Prime now offers even faster delivery: free one-day delivery coast to coast on more than 10 million items.
One Day Deliver: To find out what these items are, you can filter your search by "Get It by Tomorrow" in the search filters on the left side of the Amazon screen. You are guaranteed to receive your items by 9 pm the next day.
Same Day Delivery: Amazon Prime now offers free same day delivery on more than 3 million items. This service is only available in select cities and must be placed before noon to receive items by 9 pm the same day.
2 Hour Grocery Delivery: In select cities, you can get free 2 hour grocery delivery from Amazon, Whole Foods, and other participating retailers.
Amazon Prime Pantry
Amazon Prime Pantry is a grocery service offered by Amazon. Pantry is a way to save money on staples you buy regularly. You get unlimited free shipping on orders of $35 or more. If under $35, you pay a shipping fee of $5.99.
With Pantry, you fill a virtual box with Pantry-eligible items. Amazon notifies you on how much room is left in the box until it's full. When full, they ship it out to you.
Non-Prime members can participate in Prime Pantry but have to pay a $5.99 shipping fee on all orders.
Previously, Prime Pantry cost $4.99 per month on top of your Prime membership, but you no longer have to pay this fee to get the Prime Pantry service. (If you are paying this fee, you should cancel it.)
Amazon Fresh and Prime Now (Available in Limited Areas)
Amazon Fresh was $14.99 per month but as of October 2019 it is a free service for Amazon Prime members. You can get one-day and in some cases 2-hour delivery on fresh and perishable grocery items. You can also get pickup service, sometimes in less than 30 minutes.
Both services offer speedy delivery in select cities--as short as one hour in some cases.
How is Fresh different from Prime Now? Fresh is exclusively grocery items--including Whole Foods items now that Amazon owns Whole Foods--while Prime Now can include anything sold on Amazon, plus in some cases restaurant orders and alcohol delivery from participating retailers in your city.
How are Amazon Fresh and Prime Now different from the Same Day and 2 hour delivery discussed above? To be honest, we're not sure; they seem to offer similar services. Our guess is that Amazon is in a state of flux right now, perhaps tripping over themselves a bit to get all these services out to the public. We expect that these services will eventually all merge into a cohesive whole.
The important things to remember are that 1) All of these services are free for Prime Members, and 2) Only certain cities have Fresh, Prime Now, and 2 hour delivery (while One Day Delivery and Same Day Delivery are available coast-to-coast on select items).
Release Date Delivery
Prime members are eligible for free release-date delivery on new products. So if you order a book, video game, CD, or movie before its release date, you will automatically have it on its release date.
Amazon Day Delivery Option
Prime members can also choose to have all their orders delivered on one day. Add items to your order throughout the week to have them all delivered together on the same day.
Missed Delivery Date Reimbursement
If your 2-day Prime delivery date was missed, Amazon may extend your Prime membership by one month.
Click here to find out if your missed delivery is eligible.
If you don't have Prime, Amazon will refund your shipping costs on missed delivery dates. Learn more here.
Key By Amazon In-Home, In-Garage, and In-Car Delivery
You can also have free delivery inside your home, garage, or car. If you set up the service, you can watch the delivery live.
If you're in a situation where you can't be home for deliveries and can't leave packages out in the open for fear of being stolen, it's a great option.
Reduced Rates on Overnight Shipping
If you need overnight delivery, having Amazon Prime will get you a reduced rate.
Rewards for No Rush Shipping
You can also choose the No-Rush Shipping option at checkout and earn rewards on future purchases. You will still get your order within a week, and you will have earned credit towards other items.
You can select no-rush shipping on your checkout page.
Prime Early Access
Prime members get early access to Lightning Deals and other sales events on Amazon and other sites owned by Amazon.
Shared Prime Membership
People living in the same household are eligible for sharing the same Prime account. Two adults and up to four children can be on the same account.
You simply have to create a household so Amazon knows who is on your Prime account.
Sharing an account makes Amazon Prime a total no-brainer for people who shop online. It reduces the cost to less than $7.00 per month per person. It's unlikely you'll find a better rate on shipping anywhere else on the Internet.
Prime Rewards (The Amazon Credit Card)
With an Amazon Prime credit card, you can earn 5% cash back on Amazon purchases, 2% back on many non-Amazon purchases, and more. You can also get special sale prices on some products. Right now you can get 15% cash back on select Samsung TVs.
Digital Content Streaming
You get a boatload of free digital content from Amazon Prime Video, Prime Music, and Audible audio books.
Not all of Amazon's digital content is free.
For example, everything in Prime Music is free with a Prime membership, but Amazon Music Unlimited content is its own thing and costs $3.99 per month--you can think of it as a competitor to Spotify--except you need an Echo device to use Music Unlimited.
Prime Video offers unlimited streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows, including its own productions such as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Transparent. Other content includes old HBO shows like the Sopranos and hundreds of other TV programs.
A Prime membership also gets you access to Amazon Channels, a subscription service allowing you to pick and choose the networks you want and not pay for anything you don't watch. Options include HBO, Starz, Showtime, and more.
Note: You do not need a Prime membership to use Amazon's digital streaming services, but you will have to pay a monthly fee, which varies for each service. Prime members will also have to pay an additional monthly fee for premium channels like HBO. (Even so, you should do the math for yourself: subscription services can save you a significant amount on your monthly cable or satellite TV bill, because you pay only for the channels that you want.)
Free unlimited photo storage in Amazon Cloud Drive for you plus five others.
You can download the Photos app here too.
Reader Benefits: Prime Reading, First Reads (AKA Kindle First), Lending Library
Prime Reading gives Prime members access to over a thousand freebie books, magazines, comics, ebooks, and more every month. You don't even need a Kindle--you can use the free Kindle app on any device to gain access to all this free media. This differs from Kindle Unlimited basically in what's available: with Kindle Unlimited, which costs $9.99 per month, you get significantly more options. (See more about Kindle Unlimited, which is not a Prime program, below.)
First Reads/Kindle First gives Prime members the opportunity to download a Kindle book from editors' picks each month before the official publication date. Non-Prime members can also participate, but they have to pay for the book.
New titles are announced on the 1st of each month.
Prime members with Kindles can also lend qualifying books to other Prime members. (Not all titles, including most popular titles, will be lendable.)
Video Games and Twitch Prime
Prime members get $10 credits on pre-orders of select video games.
Twitch is a popular gaming broadcast service. Prime members can watch Twitch streams ad-free. You get montly bonuses plus thousands of free games, with new games available every month.
This is Amazon's books-on-tape service. Some books are free with Prime, while some you will be charged for.
Amazon Prime Wardrobe
Prime Wardrobe is a free service to Prime members that allows you to order 3-8 items of clothing at once to try on. You have a 7 day window to return the items you don't want.
Amazon has been upping their fashion game, and Prime Wardrobe could be a good way to try items without having to pay return shipping costs. You may be surprised by Amazon's large fashion selection.
Amazon Prime Day
Amazon Prime Day is summer's version of Black Friday and only for Amazon Prime members. During this day-and-a-half period, Prime members can find deals on everything Amazon sells.
If you're not a Prime member, you can start your free 30 day trial membership to take advantage of Prime Day.
Student Benefits of Amazon Prime
In addition to a discounted Prime membership, students also have a few other benefits:
- Instead of a 30 day free Prime trial, students get a 6 month free trial.
- Students can use the Amazon Textbooks service to rent, buy, and sell textbooks
- Students get a reduced rate on Music Unlimited, just $0.99 per month.
Amazon Elements is Amazon's own line of home essentials. Right now it's mostly vitamins and baby products, but will probably expand into other areas. You must be a Prime member to purchase Elements products.
Whole Foods Discounts
Now that Amazon owns Whole Foods, Prime members can save when shopping there, and also get free 2-hour Whole Foods delivery in Prime New cities. The standard discount is 10%, plus more deals that change weekly.
Summary of Amazon Prime
To summarize, Amazon Prime offers some amazing services that make the cost of membership worthwhile for most people who like to shop online--particularly when a membership can include everyone in the same household.
If you're still not sure, you can try Amazon Prime for a 30-day free trial. It's the best possible time of the year to sign up and take advantage of all that free shipping on holiday shopping, not to mention holiday entertaining and groceries.
Non-Prime Services to Know About
Free Shipping Over $25
Amazon offers free shipping on any order of more than $25 to all buyers. You don't need Prime to get this.
The Amazon App
If you like to shop from your phone, you should have the Amazon app. It's easier to use than a Google page; for example, once you're all set up, it remembers you so you don't have to sign in. The interface is cleaner too, and it's geared to your personal preferences.
Amazon Outlet is a "little known section of the site where you can get discounts on overstocked or clearance items" (this description is from businessinsider.com).
The Amazon Outlet page has a totally different menu, which is worth familiarizing yourself with. You can search for coupons, renewed deals, outlet deals, warehouse deals, digital deals, and Woot! deals. (Woot! is a "wild outpost on the fringes of the Amazon community where you'll find new, absurdly great deals every day.)
Amazon Outlet is organized similarly to regular Amazon, and you can search for deals by department.
Did you know you can trade in your old devices? Yep: you can trade in e-readers, tablets, media players, bluetooth speakers, cell phones, and gaming items. You can also trade in books.
In exchange for the used items, Amazon will send you an Amazon gift card.
Amazon Warehouse (Used Stuff)
Amazon Warehouse is where you can buy open box and refurbished items at a good discount over new items.
You can click right to the Warehouse page and shop by category, or, if you're looking at regular Amazon listings, you might see an option to click to Warehouse if there are used or refurbished models available.
If used or refurbished items are available, you will also see those options in the search criteria on the left side of the page.
Open box and refurbished items are typically in like-new condition, and can be a great way to save a little money.
"Basics" is Amazon's private label for myriad products including clothing basics, batteries, electronic and computer accessories, office supplies, pet supplies, and more.
Basics products tend to be those which people may not have a strong brand preference for. You do not need to have a Prime membership to purchase Basics products; you only need to want to save a few bucks over a brand name product.
Quality of Basics products can vary from okay to excellent. On average, Basics products tend to get great reviews because people love to save money. Our recommendation is to read the reviews and make your choice: at least you'll know the reviews are legit!
Amazon Home Services
You may have noticed that if you buy a large appliance on Amazon, they now offer installation services.
They offer a lot more than that. Amazon Home Services offers all kinds of services, including house cleaning, window cleaning, gutter cleaning, carpet cleaning, pressure washing, general handyman services, and more.
You can even have someone come out and hang a picture for you.
If you need home services, Amazon isn't a bad way to go. People need to qualify to be listed by Amazon, and the prices will be comparable to those in your area, or maybe a little lower.
Amazon Registry: Wedding and Baby
You can sign up for a wedding or baby registry on Amazon, or you can go to the site and search for somebody else's registry.
This is also the page for gift cards and electronic gift cards. There are also links to help you find gifts and shop for friends and family. It's kind of a one-stop page for gifts and special occasions.
Credit Card Points
If you have a credit card with a point reward system, you may be able to use those points to shop on Amazon. Chase, CitiBank, Discover, and American Express all work with Amazon.
This is great if your credit card stores leave something to be desired (as they so often do); instead of buying something just so you don't waste your points, you can get something you'll actually use from Amazon.
Whatever you're looking for, you should start your Amazon shopping on the Daily Deals page.
You don't have to be a Prime member to take advantage of Amazon's Daily Deals (but again: if you do a lot of shopping on Amazon, you should seriously consider a Prime membership). Amazon offers daily deals in every department. It's a great way to find great stuff at a discount, and a great way to keep customers coming back to their site again and again.
The Daily Deals are easy to find. Just go to any Amazon page and click on Today's Deals in the menu at the top of the page (left side of screen):
This takes you to the Deals page, where the deals are broken down by category. You can look at all the deals, or you can sort by category. As with all Amazon searches, you can use the search criteria down the left side of the page to limit your search by numerous criteria, including price, reviews, % discount, and more.
Daily Deals are updated at least daily, and many are updated hourly. You can shop by category or by deal type (e.g., "coupons, Deal of the Day, or Lightning Deals--they're all options at the top of the page).
You can watch deals, look at upcoming deals, and even look at your browsing history (in case you've forgotten what you want to buy).
Amazon offers numerous extended warranty options on purchases.
While extended warranties can often be a waste of money, in some cases they're a smart purchase. One of those situations is when you buy a commercial product for home use that doesn't have a warranty (like many of the portable induction burners we review on this site). Commercial products can be an expensive risk without a warranty, so purchasing one from Amazon is a no-brainer way to protect yourself.
If you buy any large appliances on Amazon, an extended warranty is also a great way to cover any possible problems. The appliance industry does not offer the buyer protection it once did, so we recommend purchasing an extended warranty on any large appliance, no matter where you buy it.
In addition to having registries, Amazon has a Gift page with a ton of suggestions. They have Gift Guides in many categories, including home, electronics, toys, fashion, stocking stuffers, white elephant, beauty, and more. They also have Oprah's Favorite Things and (new this year) Mariah's Must-Haves, lists of real products that Oprah and Mariah Carey adore.
Or, you can shop by price or by person (men, women, teens, toddlers). They've put together a great guide to help you no matter what you're looking for.
Kindle Unlimited is basically a subscription service for reading books, magazines, and audio books with over one million titles available and new ones being added all the time. Kindle Unlimited costs $9.99 per month whether you have Prime or not.
Missed Delivery Date Reimbursement
You don't need to have Prime for Amazon to reimburse you on a missed delivery date. If Amazon misses a delivery date, they will refund your shipping costs. Learn more here.
Price Watches and Price Drop Alerts
If the price drops on an item within 7 days of purchase, Amazon will refund the difference to your account.
The trick here is to stay on top of price changes (Amazon isn't going to notify you about price drops as it does about everything else on the site they think you might be interested in.)
Fortunately, there are people on top of that. camelcamelcamel.com is a site that provides tools to keep track of prices on Amazon. You can sign up for free and get access to several different price watching options. There's a browser plug-in, an Amazon price history chart, and of course, price drop alerts. You can choose the products you want to keep an eye on. You can even easily create price watches for all the items on your Wishlist.
This is not an Amazon service, but it's a great way to keep track of pricing on Amazon.
Subscribe and Save
You can save money on recurring purchases (vitamins, shampoo, toilet paper, dog food, etc.) by subscribing and setting up a regular delivery schedule. Over time, this can add up to significant savings on products you purchase regularly. Most products are discounted between 5 and 15%.
You do not have to have Amazon Prime to use the Subscribe and Save service.
Any product eligible for Subscribe and Save will have the option listed on the product page just above or just below the Buy Now button:
While Amazon's business is an ever-expanding model, this is a thorough list of Amazon's retail offerings as of the mid-2020. We hope you've found something useful here; something you didn't know about Amazon yet.
Thanks for reading!
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