How much you have to spend on Amazon to make Amazon Prime worth it

Amazon has been adding even more value to its Prime membership. Here's the math on whether Amazon Prime is worth the cost.

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Credit: Amazon

Amazon Prime costs $99 a year, but for that price you get a whole lot more than 2-day shipping on all Prime-eligible products in the online superstore. Let's take a look at what Prime members get for nearly a hundred bucks a year and when you'll break even on the membership fee.

Business Insider recently ran the numbers for the value of the features offered on Amazon Prime and concluded that the membership is worth it if you:

  • Buy at least 10 items that you need or want to get with 2-day shipping (I'm a last-minute birthday gift shopper, so this is the perk I need the most)
  • Buy at least 20 items that cost under $35, since you need a $35 minimum order for free shipping without Prime. With Prime, the shipping is included with no minimum order amount required.
  • Watch Amazon Prime video streaming instead of Netflix (which costs $96 a year) and buy one item for the free shipping. Netflix has better content, however.
  • Use the Kindle lending library to read a free book every month and do some combination of the above. Prices on the ebooks vary, but if each is about $5, the value of this service is $60.

The video on Business Insider doesn't calculate the value of Amazon's unlimited photo storage on Amazon Cloud Drive, access to Prime Pantry, or Prime Music. Here are some comparisons to place a value on these features, if you use them:

  • Cloud storage: For 1TB of cloud storage space on Dropbox or Google Drive, it'd cost $120 a year ($10/month); although they don't provide unlimited storage, you can store more than photos on those services. (Amazon Cloud Drive's unlimited storage for everything is $60 per year--half that of Dropbox and Google Drive.) Microsoft offers unlimited OneDrive storage with an Office 365 subscription for $70 a year.
  • Prime Pantry, exclusively for Prime members, lets you buy bulk or heavy items. In that sense, it may be comparable to a warehouse club membership. Costco Membership costs $55 a year, but the savings might be more substantial shopping at Costco than at Prime Pantry, which doesn't include produce or meats.
  • Prime Music: Over the weekend, Amazon recently introduced Prime Stations--ad-free music streaming--in addition to the on-demand music library. Spotify Premium costs $120 a year ($10/month), as does Google Play Music All Access. These services offer more songs, however, than Prime Music.

Basically, this all boils down to how much you tend to buy from Amazon and which features you'll actually use. Based on the numbers above, though, it's really easy to justify a Prime membership if you buy just a dozen items from Amazon in a year and/or use a combination of the membership perks.

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