I Always End Up Needing to Get Some Last Minute Christmas Gifts Despite My Best Intentions
Once again I’m in that same boat and I’ve realized that Christmas time is perhaps the one time of year that I can benefit the most from having our Amazon Prime membership. Amazon Prime used to be all about the Free Shipping, and that’s still a huge benefit…but that’s far from being the only great benefit anymore. In fact, that hasn’t been the case for quite some time now. But to offset those benefits there’s also now a fee to join the Prime membership program, whereas back in the early days it was free. Despite the fact that there is a cost now…one which has increased slightly through the years..the advantages still far outweigh the costs because the value of the increased services is significant .
Amazon has become a leader in so many ways in the retail industry, including a leader in technology and in online commerce. Much of their business model centers around the Prime program. Some might say it’s the cornerstone upon which Amazon’s meteoric rise to dominance is based.
The Prime Program is brilliant, yet many people don’t really know much about it or about all the advantages it has to offer. Since I’ve been hurriedly trying to finish up with a few last minute Christmas shopping tasks, I’m undoubtedly racing to meet shipping and delivery deadlines both as a sendor and recipient. Amazon has a banner across the top of all their shopping pages giving customers a countdown to how many days are left for them to take advantage of Prime free shipping and still meet Christmas deadlines.
Today’s banner reads ‘2 Days Left!’ Today is December 21st and surprisingly there are still 2 days left for shoppers who have Amazon Prime to order and receive gift items in time for Christmas. That warning gave me the idea to write this post…especially because several friends recently have asked me for specifics about the Prime program and I wasn’t able to confidently answer all of their questions. I needed to do a little research first.
What Exactly is the Amazon Prime Program?
When the Amazon Prime program began it was all about the free shipping.
Specifically the program offered a way for customers to receive free shipping at expedited speeds for a small annual fee. But it didn’t really take off as planned so Amazon made it free to join and then it was pretty much free to stay in it as long as you shopped frequently enough and you paid attention to messages displayed while doing that. Because there were always ‘deals’ to be had for remaining in Prime for free.
Now, that’s no longer the case. While there are a few different Prime options as shown is the screenshot above, the main $99 per year option is really the only one that the vast majority of people bother with. This $99 annual fee has been constant for many years now, while the additional program benefits to customers just keep going up and up.
Prime Program Membership Benefits
The vast majority of the benefits fall under the umbrella of free content. While that may not sound like a big deal…believe me it is. Amazon Prime free video streaming content is one big reason we were able to ‘cut the cord’ to our cable provider and the net savings for us has been $235 a month. That’s a gain of $2820 a year! Or technically $2721 if you deduct the $99 cost of out Prime membership fee. Plus, we get free shipping on almost everything we order.
If you’re a last minute shopper and haven’t yet finished your Christmas shopping you can still join Prime today and take advantage of their great free shipping and last minute shopping deals too. The link below will take you to where you can signup for a 30 day free trial of Amazon Prime.*
Here’s a link to the screenshot below which shows Amazon’s Holiday Delivery Calendar and spells out exactly when you need to place your order to have it show up in time for Christmas.
Use this link for a 30 day free trial: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial
Although its Not All About the Shipping…it Still Kind Of Is!
We have a sort of philosophy that we follow now…namely that if we can’t get a product from Amazon, there’s a good chance we just won’t get it at all!
That’s because we’ve really come to take the free shipping for granted. It’s not just that though…it’s also the expedited delivery aspect. We’ve come to expect being able to place an order one day and have it show up on our doorstep the next day…because we happen to live close to one of Amazons ginormous new distribution facilities. We’ve even had a few instances in which we’ve ordered something in the morning and it’s arrived later that same day! Which I discovered is actually a brand new feature that Amazon has been slowly debuting around the country.
Amazon Prime Now
If you’re lucky enough to live in one of the cities shown below that currently has Amazon’s newest fast shipping concept called Amazon Prime Now officially available to you, then you have access to lots of local shopping and even food deliveries by local restaurants…which you schedule when you place your order. Amazon guarantees free delivery in 2 hours! Since we don’t officially have a Prime Now available in our city, we can take advantage of some of the great features like carry out dinners…but with a distribution center so near us we can order from the regular Amazon website and sometimes reap NOW benefits…we just can’t actually schedule same day deliveries.
Because we aren’t officially served yet, I don’t know that much about the program. It appears to me that if you intend on using Amazon as your main meal delivery alternative…they may charge a separate, monthly fee based subscription for that…if I remember correctly it’s $7.99. But if I’m right I know that $7.99, which would be the monthly cost to for regular carry outs delivered to your home…is a steal compared to other services like this!
Below is Amazon’s out comprehensive listing of all the benefits included in Prime. The benefits that are shown inside the turquoise boxes are what I call the free media category in the discussion below.
Prime Free Content Can Roughly Be Grouped Into 2 Main Categories
The First Category is Media
This includes music, streaming videos (made up of movies, TV shows and documentaries) and video games. Below are some charts showing more details for each category and representative examples for each.
I talked above about how my family recently began using Amazon video and how it’s helping us save about $2700 annually since we discontinued our cable television service or ‘cut the cord!’ I talk about the costs we were paying to Time Warner Cable in great detail in Part 1 post on ‘Cutting the Cord.’ In addition to using Rokus we use one Amazon Fire TV streaming box too. And we installed an HD antenna on our roof and hooked that up to a Tablo DVR (and an attached hard drive) that I got at Amazon. I’ll be writing a future post giving a lot more detail about all these things but one thing I probably won’t get to that (because there just so many details to cover) is how we find great things to watch on Amazon…so here briefly are some ideas.
Finding things to watch is easy. We just Google something like ‘the best Prime Movies‘ and always find quite a few current lists of some of the best movies (for example) right now. Here are a few current examples:
Prime Video Games
Since I don’t really play video games (with the exception of PokémonGo) I can’t speak from personal experience about Prime video game services…but I do know that this is a relatively new offering and it seems to be quite popular.
Here’s a link to more about Amazon’s Prime Video Game program which has partnered with Twitch, one of the leading social platforms for video gamers.
Prime music doesn’t really have a listing of music because there are so many titles and so many genres, it would be massive. Amazon created a really helpful video that demonstrates all the different ways that people can use Prime music easily. The link takes you to the pages shown in the screenshot below, which gives a lot more information about how to best utilize all the great features of Prime music.
The Second Main Category is Written Content
Amazon has a dizzying assortment of written content which is free for their Prime members.
They are all displayed in the screenshot below in the turquoise boxes…2 towards the bottom of this list of Amazon Prime member benefits, and one in the middle…New Audible Channels.
The first alternative I’ll discuss is Amazon’s Kindle First program (it falls under the Kindle Books category above.) This is where members get to choose 1 new book every month from a preselected list referred to as Amazon’s Kindle First. These are all pre-release versions of upcoming new books. The screenshot below shows the books available for the month of December.
Here’s a list of the books you can chose from in December (screenshot below.)
The second alternative is to find free reading material in Amazon’s huge Prime library.
Prime – Free Reading Material for Prime Members – Includes Books with Audible Narration
Here’s a link to Amazon’s Free Prime Reading Material collection. The webpage is shown in the screenshot below.
The 3rd alternative is that members can choose to borrow one book a month from Amazon’s Kindle Owner’s Lending Library.
How to Download Kindle Content to Devices
Amazon Kindle Unlimited
Amazon Kindle Unlimited isn’t included as a part of Prime but I thought I’d mention here because it’s an additional service my family began using a few months back and we love it. It’s a huge money saver for people who like to read a lot. We tried it for 30 days free first before deciding to continue paying $9.99 a month for it. If you examine our most current Kindle reading material you’ll notice that the vast majority of it came from Amazon Unlimited.
Use this link to try out Kindle Unlimited for 30 days: Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial
Additional Prime Member Benefits
Amazon Newsletter Subscriptions
Amazon publishes lot’s of newsletters for their Prime members, featuring their many different services and ways to save money. Here’s a link to their main newsletter listing which you can use to subscribe from. The main newsletter I subscribe to is the Prime Member newsletter which you can see at this link.
Directory of Prime Services…Top Movies and TV. Etc.
To see a lot more detailed information about the Prime program and find links to all of the content categories I talk about above you can go to the directory of Prime services page and begin exploring.
Amazon Wants Everyone to Have the Benefits of Prime
I think this is true because Amazon wants to expand their distribution centers across the US…so by having more people using expedited shipping services they can justify building these huge centers…it’s a win-win scenario! That’s why I believe Amazon and made it so easy to join Prime and even to share the benefits with family members.
Prime Membership’s Can Be Shared with Family Members
*Amazon Associate Disclosure: I’m an Amazon Associate therefore I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase through my links. This has no impact on price or any other consequence for you.
Please leave any comments you may have below..especially if you know about some Prime membership benefits that I’ve forgotten to mention in this post!