Is Amazon Prime Worth the Money?

Is Amazon Prime worth the money? The short answer is yes. The service costs $99 per year and an average end-user saves $231 to $331. That’s based on certain assumptions about how much a customer will use each Amazon service. Even without these assumptions, Amazon Prime more than pays for itself with free shipping alone. See the list of Amazon services and their approximate values below.

The growing list of Amazon Prime’s services includes free two day shipping, Amazon Prime Video, Prime Music, Prime Reading, Audible Channels, Dash Buttons, Pantry, Restaurants and more.


Is Amazon Prime Worth the Money? Total Value: $231 to $331

Anyone asking “is Amazon Prime worth the money?” will discover the answer is a resounding “Yes.” A cost/benefit analysis shows the service is definitely worth more than the $99/year asking price.

The $231 value assumes each customer will order something from Amazon once a month and that they’ll use Prime video at least ten times a year. It also assumes one use of Prime reading and Prime audible per year and minor use of other Amazon services. Even without those assumptions however, the service is worth the $99 asking price for the shipping alone.

The figures below will prove fairly accurate for the average Amazon Prime user. To see how we arrived at each figure see the sections below. The reason there’s a different value for city vs rural is Amazon Prime Restaurants.

Is Amazon Prime Worth the Money?
FeatureCalculated Value Per Year (for non-city dwellers)Calculated Value Per Year (for city dwellers)
Amazon Prime Cost Per Year-$99-$99
Free Two-Day Shipping$110$110
Prime Video$36$36
Prime Music$15$15
Prime Reading$10$10
Audible for Prime$10$10
Amazon Dash Buttons$5$5
Amazon Pantry Value$40$40
Other Amazon Prime Benefits (See below for list)$5$105
Total Amazon Prime Value$231$331
Value After Cost$132$232

When is Amazon Prime Not Worth It?

amazon-prime-worth-moneyThere are certain people for whom Amazon Prime won’t be worth the money. Those are people who won’t use Amazon’s services for video, music, reading or free shipping. It’s possible to get free shipping on most orders from Amazon by making the order size big enough. Amazon offers free shipping on orders of $50 or more.

Shoppers who use the $50 or more method religiously will find Amazon Prime isn’t worth it. That said, it’s harder than it sounds to rack up $50 of purchases every time some small item is needed. The process involves a lot of waiting, sometimes for months. Imagine a case where a shopper needs to buy an item worth roughly $10 each month from Amazon. That shopper will have to wait five months to get the first item on the list. Also, the waiting game can result in spending more on purchases than intended when shoppers add items they don’t really need just to get the free shipping.

Still, for those who can stand to wait, the free 5-day shipping method works. If those shoppers also don’t care about any of the other included services, then Amazon Prime isn’t worth the cost.

Also see: 18 Ways to Save Money at Amazon

Amazon Prime is Worth the Money for Free Two-Day Shipping Alone: Value: $110 and Up

Amazon Prime is generally worth the money for the shipping alone. Shoppers who spend $99 on an Amazon Prime membership get free two-day shipping on all eligible items all year long. Eligible items include all items sold and fulfilled by Amazon and many items from third party sellers.

For anyone who shops even once a month on Amazon, it’s very easy to rack up $100 in shipping costs in a year. That assumes an average shipping cost of $8.33. In fact we estimate the average shopper will spend more on shipping at a minimum of about $110 per year.

That shipping savings alone makes Amazon Prime worth it. The services shown below are just icing on the cake. To sign up for Amazon Prime, click here.

Amazon Prime Video Value: $36

Is Amazon Prime worth it for the video service? Not by itself. Amazon Prime video is a nice addition to Prime. Like Netflix Streaming, Prime Video seems to have a lot of sequels to movies people actually like, and a lot of documentaries about popular films. It does also have the occasional great title. Now showing on Amazon Prime video as of 12/15/16 for example are Happy Gilmore, Spectre, Mockingjay Part 2, Kill Bill, Rocky and Fletch. There’s also The Hunt for Red October and Event Horizon. There are also some cool Amazon-only series and replay series, like the stellar Man in the High Castle and Downton Abbey.

Despite that fairly good list, the hits simply don’t change out enough to satisfy most cord-cutters. We figure the average Prime subscriber will watch an average of ten series episodes and movies on Prime per year. At going rental rates, that makes the value of Prime Video about $36. Of course some viewers may use the service a lot more, while some may not use it at all.


Also see: Amazon vs Ebay: Where Should I Sell My Stuff?

Amazon Prime Music Value: $15

We value Amazon Prime Music at $15 per year. That’s based on what the service offers and its competition. Amazon Prime Music does have a huge selection of excellent music. A four-month test with an Amazon Echo shows a few gaps in the service, but not akin to the movie title gaps on Amazon Prime Video or Netflix Streaming. The reason we don’t rate Prime Music higher in terms of value is its competition. With excellent free alternatives out there like Pandora and YouTube Music there isn’t really much of a reason to buy Amazon Prime just to get music.

That said, Prime Music does have one nice feature over and above other options. With Prime, listeners can ask for a specific track or song. That’s something that doesn’t work as well with Pandora’s at-times-tetchy AI interface. Combined with an always-listening Amazon Echo, the feature comes in very handy around the house. It’s that added convenience that scores Prime Music its $15 value in our estimate.

Music lovers can unlock Amazon’s Music Unlimited service for another $9.99 a month ($7.99 for Prime users and $3.99 for Echo owners). That services has five times the titles of Amazon Music.


Amazon Prime Reading Value: $10

We value Amazon Prime Reading at $10 per year, so again Amazon Prime isn’t worth it for the reading alone. Much like the video service, the reading service carries a limited selection of titles. The Prime Reading library holds a rotating roster of over a thousand books. Available on iOS and Android with the free Kindle app, the service currently showcases Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Hobbit and The Millionaire Next Door among many others.

Kindle owners can get more bang for their Prime buck by using the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. It lets users of that device borrow over a million books, but it’s only available to those with a Kindle.


Amazon Prime Audible Value: $10

Yet another nice perk that adds to the “Is Amazon Prime worth it” answer is the Audible for Prime feature. Prime subscribers can listen to select audiobooks free with the Audible app. Users get access to Prime’s limited selection of streaming audiobooks. The list includes a sampling of bestsellers, plus old classics narrated by celebrities. We give this perk a $10 a year value.

Amazon Prime Dash Buttons Value: $5

Amazon Dash buttons are another really cool feature that again don’t make an Amazon Prime membership worth it on their own. Only available to Prime users, Dash buttons are little reorder buttons for life. They are physical buttons shoppers can hang around the house. They can be hung from appliances and cabinets or stuck up with 3M contact strips. The idea is, a shopper sticks a dash button for Tide or Downy on their washing machine or dryer. When that product starts to run low, they just click the Dash button and a replacement is automatically ordered.

Dash buttons can be used for frequently used food items, cleaning supplies, pet foods and lots of other branded consumables. They cost $4.99 each but that price is refunded after the first use. We value Dash button access at $5 per year, though some shoppers will find it infinitely more valuable. With free Prime shipping it can severely cut the cart-load during regular shopping trips.


Also see: Can We Trust Amazon Reviews? Sure, With Caution

Amazon Prime Pantry Value: $40

We can’t say Amazon Prime is worth the money just for Prime Pantry, but it helps. We value Pantry at $40 per year. What is Amazon Pantry? It’s cheap shipping for low cost items shoppers traditionally buy in grocery stores. A great way to cut down on the weekly shopping cart load, Pantry allows shoppers to pack a box with five items like breakfast cereal, soda and trash bags.

These items aren’t available for free shipping on Amazon but can be grouped in a box of five items for total shipping of $5.99. Since shoppers can buy these items at their local grocery store, we don’t think this service is worth hundreds. That said, the cost of delivering the items from a local store would likely run to around $10 per trip. Using that as a basis and figuring on 10 uses per year gives us our $40 estimate.

Amazon Prime Restaurants Value: $0 to $250

Prime Restaurants is one of those services that make Amazon Prime worth the money for people in big cities. Rural dwellers won’t like it as much. Only available in certain metro areas, Restaurants gives Prime users free delivery from dozens of popular restaurants. For city dwellers who use the service a couple times a month, this one can be worth up to $250 a year.

Other Amazon Prime Services Value: $5

Other Amazon Prime services include free same-day delivery in some zip codes and free two-hour grocery and store delivery in some areas. There’s also free photo storage, deep discounts on certain popular products like diapers, and discounts on video games. Finally, Amazon Prime users get access to the popular Twitch.TV gameplay streaming service for free. While none of these services make Prime worth it on their own, we estimate a $5 total value for the lot.


How to Sign Up for Amazon Prime

Agree with us that Amazon Prime is worth the money? Interested shoppers who want to test drive the service for free can do so at Amazon’s free Prime trial page. Just click the “Try Prime” button and let Amazon do the rest. Your account won’t be billed the $99 fee for 30 days and Prime can be cancelled at any time. After signup, a Prime menu item will show up at the top of Amazon’s site. Just click it to access any Prime service and enjoy the free shipping.

Amazon Prime users can add a second adult in the same household to their account for increased family access.

As another nice Amazon perk, the Discover It credit card is now offering 5% cash back on all Amazon purchases through December 31. The deal is good for up to $1,500 in cash back value with all new accounts.