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Wondering whether you should shell out for Amazon Prime? I’ve been using it for the last two and a half years, putting me in a good place to assess the pros and cons.

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. So we used our trials a few months before our wedding for last minute supplies, and then in late November/ early December for Christmas gifts. You can also repeat your trial a year after a trial has finished, so every 13 months.

>> Get your 30-day Amazon Prime free trial

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 £59. These are usually in the run-up to Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday, though there wasn’t one for Black Friday in 2017. 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. Fortunately anyone can get one of these as explained in this article. 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.

>> How anyone can get an NUS Card

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!!) 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 American Gods, plenty of box sets and decent recent and classic movies. Amazon are also increasing the sport you can watch exclusively via Prime, with the US Open tennis available to watch this summer and in a few years live Premier League football too.

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.

>> How Amazon Prime Video compares with Netflix and NOW TV

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.

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 magazines 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.

Free digital credit with No Rush Delivery

If you select “no-rush” delivery you opt out of the next day service. But in return you’ll get some credit, usually £1 digital credit you can spend on MP3s, apps for movie rentals.

A nice trick here is to spread your order out as separate purchases to get more credit. I find they tend to come all in one box anyway!

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.

  • Amazon Pantry – £2.99 delivery charge
  • Amazon Restaurants – £3.99 delivery on orders under £30

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, no rush digital credit and Prime Instant Video to justify the £79 fee.

Of course, I don’t actually spend that, and I’d encourage everyone to use the student membership trick so it costs only £39 a year. But if it’s just for one feature I’m not so sure.

Let’s look at deliveries. If you can wait until you have a £20 total worth of items (it’s £10 for books) you can get free delivery. If you do order as you go along with cheaper items, the standard delivery costs are between £1.99 and £3.99. So that’s roughly an order every fortnight. Do you order that much from Amazon?

Then of course you need to consider where else you shop. Since I’ve got my Prime membership I tend to buy more from Amazon than previously. Of course that is the whole point from their perspective. But there’s a school of thought which worries me about what happens when all the small (and even big) businesses who can’t compete close down.

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 do as I did before the student offer came up. 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.

Get your 30-day Amazon Prime free trial

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!

>> All the latest Amazon vouchers, deals and offers
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