Still, the multitude of features and perks doesn't mean the yearly outlay will pay off for every shopper. Here's a quick-hit list of the benefits of investing in a Prime account, along with areas to consider carefully if you're thinking of joining Prime.
Cost: For $119 per year, consumers receive free two-day shipping for eligible purchases, unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Prime Video and book-borrowing privileges from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. Those who only shop heavily a few months a year might want to consider the same benefits for $12.99 per month. A Prime Student membership is $59 annually or $6.49 monthly.
Cost-benefit ratio: If you typically have a total order required for free standard shipping from Amazon, or constantly need (or want) items within two days, the savings in shipping and time-opportunity cost can quickly offset your investment. A free trial membership available through the Amazon website will also give you an idea of how many of the items you need or like that qualify for Prime and how often you might use the service. Just be careful to cancel the membership after the free trial period if you don't want it, since a credit card is required.
More Amazon Prime shipping benefits: To truly maximize the shipping benefits of a Prime membership, you must live in one of the more than 8,000 cities and towns that receive free same-day or one-day shipping on more than a million qualifying items (and orders over $35). To see if you qualify, check out your zip code on the Amazon website.
Tapping those shipping benefits is a matter of looking for the Prime FREE Same-Day or Prime FREE One-Day logo when you're shopping on the site, or using that filter in search. At check-out, make sure to choose the same-day or one-day option.
You also have to order in the morning, typically before noon, to receive items by 9 p.m. that day or order in the afternoon for qualified free one-day shipping to arrive the next day by 9 p.m.
Prime Early Access: Bargain hunters and those who genuinely enjoy online shopping will revel in the Amazon Prime member benefit of a 30-minute early access to Lightning Deals on Amazon.com.
Sharing benefits with household members: If you're a happy shopping family, Prime membership costs can be divided. Prime members can allow others adults in their Amazon Household to share Prime benefits at no extra cost by linking their regular Amazon account to the Household service and agreeing to share payments. Shared benefits include shipping, video, vault for photo storage, other digital benefits and exclusive offers.
More must-know facts about Amazon Prime benefits and features: