Today, I received the email that I have been dreading:
After hinting that a price increase for their Prime membership was on the horizon back in January, it looks like Amazon has made that a reality. The yearly cost for Prime membership will now be $99 – up $20 from the current rate of $79.
I have been lucky that I have been able to enjoy the perks of a Prime membership without ever having to pay the full membership price. I was able to get free Prime for a while because of my university affiliation and then was grandfathered in under the student rate once my free period was over. It’s been quite a luxury to order most items from Amazon and getting free two day shipping without having to meet a minimal purchasing requirement. It certainly lends itself to more impulse buying, which for me is never a good thing.
Amazon Prime does come with a number of perks – there are lots of TV shows and movies that are free to stream for Prime members, though admittedly I have not taken full advantage of this. There is a fair amount of overlap with what I can stream through my Netflix and Hulu Plus accounts, so I haven’t fully explored the Amazon streaming experience. As they have expanded their offerings to include more original programming, I have started to pay more attention to what they have to offer. I still haven’t completely trained myself to think of streaming the same way that I think of cable, however, and though I enjoyed their program Alpha House I never finished watching all the episodes of the first season. Amazon has also gotten into the show saving business when they picked up the BBC series Ripper Street after it had been canceled. Kindle users also get access to a borrowing library with a Prime membership that allows them to read books for free.
These are all nice options to have, but the impending price hike makes me have to reevaluate if Prime is worth almost $100 a year. While I am clearly aware of all the benefits that come with Prime, I don’t make a regular habit of actually using them. Right now, even at a discounted rate, I’m primarily paying for the shipping benefits; the other stuff is nice in theory but I haven’t fully maximized my membership value. Over the course of the next year, I’m going to really have to take stock of my Prime habits and make more of an effort to utilize all the services that I’m paying for. If after that year I find that I’m still not streaming or using my Kindle more often, it might be time to bid adieu to my Prime membership. While the difference is only $20 a month, there is something psychological about paying nearly $100 that makes the investment in Prime seem less worthy.
If you are thinking about joining Amazon Prime – act now. New users have one week to join at the current lower membership rate; anyone joining after this grace period will automatically pay the $99 annual fee.
Does the price hike impact the likelihood that you’ll keep your Prime membership? Is it worth the price increase or does it discourage you from signing up? Sound off in the comments below.