Wondering whether you should shell out for Amazon Prime? Here are the pros and cons.
I’ve had Prime for around four years now, so I’ve made enough use of most of the services to give a decent assessment. Below I’ve outlined what you’ll get if you sign up, as well as a few ways to get it for less. Then at the end, my thoughts on when it’s worth getting and when it should be avoided.
What is Amazon Prime?
Amazon Prime is a paid for membership to the online giant that gives you a series of benefits normal customers don’t have access too – or pay more for. There’s a long list of these extras further down the review.
How much does Amazon Prime cost?
The free trial
Everyone can try it for free for 30-days, and I think everyone should give it a go for this free month. It’s best to time your trial for when you think you’ll most need free delivery or when there’s a big promo event such as Prime Day (in July each year) or Black Friday (the fourth Friday in November each year).
Since any adult in the household can take one you can double up, or more. We used the first of our trials a few months before our wedding for last minute supplies, and then our second in late November/ early December for Christmas gifts. You can sometimes repeat your trial a year after a trial has finished, so there’s the potential to do this every 13 months.
The annual membership
Amazon Prime costs a hefty £79 a year, or £7.99 a month. This is a lot so you’ve really got to use two or three of the perks for it to represent good value.
There are usually a couple of times a year where you can get the membership for around £59. These are usually in the run-up to Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday. I always list these on my Amazon deals and discounts page (so bookmark it and check back!).
The student discount
Even better, there’s a trick which will give you six months free, then three years at £39 a year. To get this you need to have a student card. Sadly, the loophole where anyone could get a student card is closed.
Again, each household member can have the trial, so you once more can double up. We did this, giving us a full year for free, before moving on to the half-price deal.
What you get with Amazon Prime:
Free next-day, possibly same-day, delivery
There’s no minimum spend for delivery when you’re with Prime. This is really useful if you order from Amazon a lot, especially if items often cost less than £20. Normally you’d have to pay extra to get things sent through, and they will take a few days. However, since not everything on Amazon is sold by Amazon, there will be items that aren’t eligible for Prime delivery.
Exclusive access to flash sales such as Prime Day
In the middle of July, Amazon marks its birthday with Amazon Prime Day. This usually features some big discounts on Amazon products like Kindles, Echos and Fire TV, as well as all sorts of other items. And these deals are only open to Prime members.
The Black Friday sale (which essentially runs for about 12 days, if not longer!!) is another big sale with extra offers for Prime members.
Now, I find most of these deals are stock clearance or encourage you to buy things updated don’t need. But that doesn’t stop me looking, and there are bargains to be found.
Early access to “lightning deals”
Personally I don’t check these out very often, but as a Prime member you can buy the daily deals 30 minutes earlier than everyone else. Since stock is usually limited, this could be the difference in getting the bargain and missing out.
Top TV and movies with Prime Video
This is probably what I mostly use my Prime membership for. There are some good exclusive TV shows such as The Americans, Mr Robot and The Marvellous Mrs Maisel, plenty of box sets and decent recent and classic movies.
You can stream from your computer, smart TV or via Fire TV stick, though I’ll most often download programmes to my phone to watch on the tube. This costs £5.99 a month on its own.
Live Premier League Football and tennis
Amazon is also increasing the sport you can watch exclusively via Prime. US Open and other tennis has been available to watch for a couple of years, and this season there will be live Premier League football too.
The matches will be over two weekends in December (3rd/4th and 26th/27th), and unlike on BT or Sky, you’ll be able to watch every single fixture. You can read more about how this’ll work here.
Ad-free streaming with Prime Music
This streaming service is ok. It has a lot fewer songs than Spotify, but there’s plenty to keep you occupied if you don’t want to shell out extra for premium music streaming. There is an extra Music Unlimited service which you pay £9.99 for, though there’s an extra £2 discount for Prime members.
E-books with Kindle Owner’s Lending Library
More than 600,000 ebooks can be “checked out” on your Kindle (not the app), though you can only borrow one book a month.
Digital books and magazine with Prime Reading
This is the latest addition to Prime. You get access to a few thousand ebooks and magazines to read via a Kindle, Kindle app, or even your computer. There are a few big titles, such as the Harry Potter series, but otherwise don’t expect to pick up the novels on your reading list.
The magazine offering isn’t bad, but the titles change every month. It’s better instead to see if you can get digital magazines from your library.
Unlimited photo storage with Prime Photos
Amazon’s cloud-based storage will keep the photos you take safe if you had computer or phone gets lost or stolen. You also get 5GB of storage for other file types with Amazon Drive – the same you get with Apple iCloud, but less than the 15GB with Google Drive.
Two hour delivery with Prime Now
This app only service is great if you need something delivered in two hours – as long as your postcode is covered.
There’s also a code for first-time users to save on their first purchase, so it’s worth a go.
Cheap nappies with Amazon Family
You can save 20% on nappies once you’re a Prime member through the Amazon Family part of the membership.
Access to Amazon’s food delivery services
Prime members also get to use the following food services, though there’s an extra charge for delivery. These can be ok for the odd special offer, though I think you’re generally better off using standard supermarkets.
- Amazon Fresh – £2.99 delivery
- Amazon Pantry – £3.99 delivery
What you don’t get included with Amazon Prime
You’d be forgiven for expecting Prime gives you all the extra services Amazon offers. But no, you need to pay extra for the following:
- Amazon Music Unlimited – an extra £7.99 a month
- Kindle Unlimited – an extra £7.99 a month
- Audible audiobooks – an extra £7.99 a month
- Amazon Channels – extra TV channels such as Discovery and Eurosport
My verdict on Amazon Prime
So is Amazon Prime worth the money? Well, yes – as long as you use at least a couple of the services. Personally, I get enough use from the free delivery, exclusive discounts on Prime Day and Prime Instant Video to justify the £79 fee. That works out as £6.58 a month.
In fact I think that price is good enough just for the streaming services (as long as you use them!). But what if you don’t want to watch anything? Is it worth it for just the free deliveries?
Without Prime the standard delivery costs are between £1.99 and £3.99 for items under £20 (it’s £10 for books). You’d need to order something under that price roughly an order every fortnight to break even. Do you order that much from Amazon?
And of course you need to consider where else you shop. I’ve found that I shop much more with Amazon because I get the free delivery – and that’s exactly their aim! And that’s not necessarily a good thing.
The more the high street suffers, the more I’ve consciously started looking for non-Amazon retailers and paying a little bit more.
Music-wise you’ll get more songs if you pay more, either with Amazon or another provider like Spotify. I actually much prefer Spotify so pay for that instead.
You can get Amazon Video for just £5.99 a month, so that’s cheaper than the full Prime membership too, but if you already have Netflix or NOW TV you might not need the extra channels.
If you’re not keen on becoming a full member, then just take out the free trial each year at a time when you know you’re likely to be buying more. Then binge watch programmes and the other services for that month.
But overall I’m a fan – at least while I’m paying just £39 a year in the student deal. Next year I’ll have to pay full price, so I will probably take a break until the summer and see if there’s discounted membership ahead of Prime Day.
Other ways to save at Amazon
Make sure you check out my Amazon deals and offers page. This is where I’ll list flash sales, gift card bonuses and other extras. For example you can often get a free top-up when you buy a gift card. All this and more via the link below!