9 benefits of an Amazon Prime membership

There's more to it than free shipping and streaming.

Credit: Rob Schultz / IDG

Amazon Prime built its popularity by offering subscribers faster free shipping, access to streaming movies and TV shows, and exclusive deals. But Prime membership includes other perks, too: Everything from free ebook offerings to free photo storage and even grocery delivery.

The list of benefits has grown considerably since the program’s launch, so we’ve highlighted the best of the bunch, the ones that make Amazon Prime worth having. Some of these you’ll already know, but the others you’re likely not taking advantage of.

The top Amazon Prime benefits

Free expedited shipping

amazon packages on conveyor belt Amazon

Expedited shipping is included for free with a Amazon Prime subscription, with no minimum purchase for most orders.

Amazon Prime’s upgraded shipping is the feature that started it all. These days, you get free two-day delivery on most items, plus free one-day delivery on over 10 million items, with no minimum purchase. In select areas, free same-day delivery on over 3 million items for qualifying orders over $35 is available as well.

Free shipping benefits also extend to several other businesses Amazon owns: Woot, Zappos, and shopbop.

Membership sharing

Standard Amazon Prime memberships can be shared with one other adult and up to four teens in a household. All household accounts can take advantage of Prime shipping benefits, Prime Video, Prime Reading, Amazon Photos, First Reads, unlimited listening on Audible Channels, and early access to Lighting Deals.

Child profiles associated with the same household can access digital content that’s been approved by the adult account(s).

Prime Video

You can stream thousands of movies and TV shows through Amazon Prime Video for free, including original content produced by Amazon—some of which is quite good, as our sister site TechHive noted a few years ago. Like Netflix and other streaming sites, the catalog changes often, so if you’re interested in a show or movie, watch it while you can. We’re still sad that Babylon 5 rotated off the list.

Grocery delivery

Prime members in select areas get free two-hour delivery on Amazon Fresh purchases—available groceries include produce, snacks, and meat.

Amazon Photos

amazon photos website screenshot PCWorld

Amazon Prime members get unlimited photo storage at full resolution, but only 5GB of space for video.

Amazon’s photo storage service lets you skip an Apple or Google subscription for photo and video backup—or set up a secondary backup for your existing backup service. Prime members get unlimited, full-resolution storage for photos and up to 5GB of space for video, with the ability to view your files across all devices. You can also easily share files, just as with rival services.

Prime Gaming

Amazon’s acquisition of Twitch resulted in further diversification of Amazon Prime perks—if you link your accounts, you can get free games and in-game content monthly, one free Twitch channel subscription to use on your favorite streamer, and special promotions on pre-order video games.

Amazon Music Prime

Not interested in paying for streaming music? No need. Amazon Prime subscribers get access to a couple million songs, plus millions of podcast episodes, as part of their membership. If you later want to access a wider catalog (and are willing to shell out for it), Prime members also get a 20 percent discount on Amazon Music Unlimited subscription.

Prime Reading

prime reading PCWorld

Feed your inner bookworm with the library of titles available through Prime Reading, which gives unlimited access to several thousand ebooks, magazines, comics, and more. While only a handful of books are recognizable bestsellers, you can find interesting reading with some digging. (We managed to find a few Lonely Planet guidebooks to use for vacation planning.)

Interested in reading material that you can keep even if your Prime subscription lapses? Be sure to choose a free Kindle book from the Amazon First Reads collection each month. Prime members get early access to these editors’ picks before the official publication date, with genres spanning suspense, romance, fantasy, historical fiction, children’s books, and more.

Prescription discounts

In addition to getting two-day delivery on purchases from Amazon Pharmacy, Prime members can get a discount on prescriptions when paying for them without health insurance.

How to sign up for Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime signup page PCWorld

Amazon Prime is normally $13 per month or $120 per year, but you may qualify for a discount.

If you’re interested in getting in on Amazon Prime’s range of benefits and services, you can first try before you buy—a 30-day trial membership is free.

Afterward, a standard Amazon Prime membership costs $13 per month or $120 per year (plus taxes). Students and people on qualified government assistance qualify for a 50 percent discount on a yearly subscription. First-time Amazon Prime Student subscribers also currently qualify for six free months of service, after which the student rate kicks in.

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Alaina Yee

PC World (US online)
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