In 2014, Amazon Prime got a price hike from $79 to $99 per year. It was the first for Amazon Prime in the program’s nine-year history, and the online retail giant said the increase was necessary to offset the fuel and transportation costs needed to deliver millions of items in two days, for free.
Last year, Prime got another price hike, from $99 to $119 per year.
Prime is free to join for 30 days, so you can try it without making that year-long commitment. Sign up at the holidays to get free shipping on your gift purchases and then cancel, for example. There’s also the option to sign up for Prime for $12.99 per month, though if you plan to use it for any length of time, the $119 annual fee is a better deal.
The main Prime perk is free, two-day shipping, and that could soon be one-day shipping. But Prime members also get Amazon Video streaming, Amazon Prime Music, Prime Reading, and Amazon Photos. If you’re a regular Amazon user, Prime is a pretty good deal.
But perhaps you’re on a budget and are looking for ways to pay less than $119 for Amazon Prime free shipping and other perks. Here are some options.
1. Join Amazon Student
Students still get a discounted Amazon Prime rate when they join Amazon Student.
Those who sign up get a six-month trial that includes free, two-day shipping on Prime items, as well as access to Prime Video, Amazon Photos, Prime Reading, and free same-day delivery in certain areas. Once the six-month trial is up, Amazon charges $59 per year or $6.49 per month for four years or until graduation, whatever comes first. At that point, Prime Student also kicks in unlimited Amazon Music streaming. To qualify as a student, you’ll need a .edu email adress.
2. Get an EBT or Medicaid Discount
If you have a valid Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) or Medicaid card, you can sign up for Amazon Prime for $5.99 per month for up to four years. After Amazon verifies your accounts, you’re eligible for free, two-day shipping, Prime Video, Prime Music, and Prime Photos; Household sharing is not included. EBT/Medicaid status will have to be verified every 12 months; Amazon will email you to re-verify.
3. Spend $25 or More
If free shipping is your game, Amazon offers free shipping on orders of $25 or more for those without Prime, with delivery in 5-8 business days. With millions of items, it’s not hard to rack up enough items to hit the $25 mark. Some items are not eligible; look for “FREE Shipping” messaging on the product detail page to see if your item qualifies. You can get free, one-day shipping with gift cards, but they don’t apply to the $25 total, Amazon says. If you’re just shy of $25, select a cheap, add-on item.
4. Get a Subscribe & Save Membership
Shoppers who tend to buy the same things should look into a Subscribe & Save Membership. Although it does not cover everything on the site, members can save up to 15 percent on orders and receive free shipping on every Subscribe & Save order. Members must select eligible items, and choose a delivery schedule to subscribe. While it’s not as expansive as an Amazon Prime membership, it is convenient and worth a look.
Alternatively, you can always find other ways to get free shipping on the web. FreeShipping.org has a continually updated database of thousands of free shipping coupon codes for a massive number of online stores. Browser add-ons such as PriceBlink.com, Coupons at Checkout, InvisibleHand and Honey will find coupon codes and discounts, many for free shipping, at thousands of online stores.