- I've been an Amazon Prime member for years, but it comes with some extra costs.
- Membership fees, easy buying, and the convenience of free shipping add up over time.
Amazon Prime has costs beyond the membership fees.
Amazon Prime recently raised its fees. This led me to consider whether I wanted to keep my Prime membership active or not.
I ultimately decided that maintaining my membership was the right choice. But taking the time to assess whether it was worth it or not prompted me to realize there are three big ways that being a Prime member actually drains my bank account.
Here's what they are.
1. Membership fees
The main cost associated with being a Prime member is the fee I have to pay to be part of the program. On Feb. 18, the cost went up $20 and hit $139 per year.
I use Amazon to buy a lot of stuff and to save on shipping, plus I also use their streaming and music services. So this fee doesn't seem unreasonable to me. But if you're not a frequent shopper and prefer to use other streaming or music providers, then membership fees that amount to almost $12 per month may not be worth it for you.
2. I tend to buy at Amazon rather than shopping around
There are also some indirect costs associated with Amazon Prime membership. And, for me, one of the biggest is that I tend to buy almost everything at Amazon rather than shopping around with different local and online stores to make sure I'm getting the best deal.
When I shop with Amazon, I can get the items I've purchased with one click and they show up at my house within just a day or two. I don't have to enter my payment information, try to get my order up to a certain dollar amount to avoid shipping costs, or wait for my items to arrive.
The convenience of one-click ordering and quick delivery have caused me to almost stop price shopping entirely. The problem is, on the few occasions when I've checked prices elsewhere, I've often been able to find items for a little bit less. It's not clear exactly how much I'm overspending as a result of my loyalty to Amazon, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's more than $100 per year.
Now, I could maintain my membership and still choose to make the choice to shop around. But when leading a busy life, it's really tempting not to do that.
3. I buy more due to free shipping
Finally, the last way Amazon costs me money is that I tend to buy more because I get free shipping. Since I know I don't have to pay extra to have something sent to my house, it's easy to pop onto Amazon and make dozens of small purchases a month for everything from a Blues Clues notebook for my toddler to new socks.
These are items I might not even buy if I had to pay a shipping fee for them, or even if I had to wait until I'd amassed an order of a certain size to purchase them. But since they don't cost much and have no shipping costs, it's easy to fall into the habit of just clicking and spending.
Amazon wants to encourage small impulse purchases and loyalty to the company through its Prime program. So I don't think these added costs are accidents. But if you're trying to decide if Prime membership is worth the cost, it's worth considering whether you also incur these added expenditures as a result of being a member.
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