I Quit Amazon Prime. Here's What I'm Doing Instead

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  • Amazon Prime seems like a deal on paper, but in practice, it cost me far more money than it saved me.
  • I shop at retailer sites instead -- which, surprisingly, is often as good a deal as, if not better, than Amazon -- and use Walmart+ for items that need quick shipping.
  • If I really need something from Amazon, I just wait until I have at least $25 worth of stuff in my cart so I still get free shipping.

I had an Amazon Prime membership for many years. It seemed like such an essential part of my life that I didn't think about it much -- I simply paid for it once a year and enjoyed my "free" shipping.

Then, a few months ago, I began a strict overhaul of my personal finances. I put every single bill and expense under the microscope. If I couldn't use actual facts and numbers to justify its existence, it got cut.

Amazon Prime fell under the ax.

As it turned out, I simply wasn't using it enough to justify the annual cost. (A cost, by the way, that has increased significantly just in the last few years to now being $139 a year. Yikes!) What's more, I figured out that it was actually costing me money, since I was much more inclined to impulse buy on Amazon than anywhere else.

So I canceled it. And, to be honest, I haven't missed it at all.

Buying directly from retailers saves me money

One of the biggest changes I've made in how I shop in my post-Prime life is that I'm much more likely to buy directly from a retailer. And you know what? I've realized how little I saved buying from Amazon instead.

It used to be almost a given that Amazon was cheaper than buying from the retailer. This was thanks either to a lower price on the item or to the free shipping -- or, best, the combination of the two.

Those days seem to be gone. For nearly everything I've purchased in the last few months, the retailer's price was either the same as or lower than the Amazon price. Plus, most retailers now offer some sort of free shipping on their sites. So even on that front, it's a wash.

Even when the retailer is slightly more expensive, I think I'm still coming out ahead. How? Because I'm no longer losing $11 a month paying Amazon for my "free" shipping.

Walmart+ is often faster

But what about those things you need, and you need them fast? Well, for one thing, Amazon's two-day shipping hasn't really shipped in two days for a while now. On average, I'd wait three to five days for something to arrive, no matter which method of shipping I selected.

For another thing -- they're not the only folks doing one- or two-day shipping anymore. My Walmart+ membership gives me free two-day shipping on a ton of items. I can even get same-day or next-day delivery on a lot of things. And guess what? Stuff tends to actually show up when it says it will. Go figure.

Moreover, Walmart+ is cheaper. The $98 annual cost is significantly lower than that of Amazon Prime right off the bat. Even if it weren't, it makes sense for me, at least, as I get it for free through the The Platinum Card® from American Express. (Terms apply; enrollment required.)

If all else fails, I still get free Amazon shipping

In the (very) rare cases that I need something from Amazon I can't get elsewhere, I can still get free shipping on basically anything sold by Amazon (or even just fulfilled by them). All I need to do to qualify for free shipping is spend at least $25 on eligible items. 

Waiting until I have an order that qualifies for free shipping -- rather than impulse-buying every little thing -- has the added benefit of a built-in introspection period. The days, or sometimes weeks, it takes to fill up a cart with qualifying items often gives me time to either find a different item, or to simply realize I don't need the item in the first place.

I spent years thinking Amazon Prime was a valuable, necessary part of my financial life. In the end, though, it wasn't all that valuable -- and it definitely wasn't necessary. It's several months into my Prime-free life and my only regret is not canceling sooner.

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