I cancelled Amazon Prime a year ago and haven’t missed it. After being a loyal Amazon Prime shopper for over 6 years why’d I do it? $119 per year isn’t that much money to pay for convenience. But, it’s still money that can be saved or spent on other things. Like many people I was stuck at home for months starting in March of 2020. I moved most of my shopping including groceries to online. And, while scouring every corner of the internet for masks and Lysol wipes I realized Amazon wasn’t the only player in town anymore. No company could deliver in 2 days anymore given the circumstances. I was just happy to receive what I ordered even if it took two weeks. I decided to cancel Amazon Prime but always figured I’d rejoin. A year later and I’m still off Amazon Prime. Is Amazon Prime worth it anymore and how am I surviving without a service once deemed inelastic?
My Amazon Prime Financials
When I first joined Amazon Prime I was a student (so I had a student discount). It cost $39 / year. How much does Amazon Prime cost in 2021? $119 if you aren’t a student, which was a huge price increase for me. In March of 2020 I looked over my expenses and started thinking about if I should cancel Amazon Prime. I started reviewing how many times I used Amazon Prime in 2019. In 2019 it turned out that I ordered from Amazon Prime 30 times. 9 of these orders were over $35 so I would have received free shipping anyways.
I never used any of the other Amazon Prime features so that was worth $0 to me. I also don’t shop at Whole Foods so those added discounts didn’t do anything for me either.
At the end of the day I paid $4 each order to get the 2 day shipping. Or, if I didn’t need the 2 day shipping I paid $5.66 each order to get the “free” shipping for the times I didn’t hit the threshold. Sometimes I ordered from Amazon to avoid paying $5 shipping at other places. Yet, here I was actually paying over $5 for shipping from Amazon. I just didn’t realize it because I was paying $119 flat once a year.
What is Amazon Prime really costing you? Look over all of your purchases in the past year and the times you’ve used other Prime features like watching a video for free. Deduct all the times you spent more than $35 from the total number of purchases and add in the number of times you used other Prime benefits. Then, take the $119 and divide by that total count. That’s how much you paid for Prime every time you used a benefit.
My Buying Needs Changed
When I first joined Amazon Prime I was moving into my first condo while also working full time and going to school at night. Living in the city without a car I had to ship things most people could drive and pickup themselves. I didn’t need everything in 2 days, but I did have items that cost less than $35. And, there were certain things around the house I realized I did need pretty immediately. Starting from scratch, my condo was pretty empty. When I went to make a new recipe I would find out I didn’t have the kitchen items I needed to actually make the recipe. I couldn’t wait until I had enough to put me over a $35 threshold for free shipping and being in school I couldn’t afford to buy things well in advance to get over the $35.
Now that over 6 years have passed I have most of the stuff I need. I’m not in situations where I want to cook something like salmon and realize I don’t own a baking sheet. And, if there are things such as a frosting set I’m in a better financial place than I was as a student. I know at some point I’ll have to order k-cups so if I’ll add those to the order to get free shipping.
I Became Better At Planning Purchases In Advance
When I was in school and working full time I was often focused on surviving all the things due that week. I didn’t have enough time or energy to remember in 2 weeks a birthday was coming up. If there was a holiday coming up, it was something I’d start thinking about a few days before. This led to needing 2 day shipping for gifts and other items to arrive in time.
Looking back at what I ordered in 2019 below $35 sometimes the order was as simple as k-cups or another grocery item. We ordered these on Amazon for price reasons and there was no reason to not plan ahead. I don’t have to wait until we’re out to place the order.
Amazon Competitors Like Target and Walmart Have Come Out With Good Alternatives to Amazon Prime
In years past, only Amazon Prime offered free shipping and the ability to get most orders in 2 days. Several companies had been building up their capabilities and by Summer 2020 everyone living in the United States has other reliable companies that offer 2 day shipping for free.
Walmart.com offers free 2 day shipping on orders over $35. If you want to avoid the $35 minimum and/or get free shipping next day you do need to sign up for Walmart+.
Target offers free shipping on orders over $35 as well. But, if it’s less than $35 or if you need it same day you can order same day delivery through Shipt or pick up curbside. Not only is curbside free sometimes you’re even offered extra discounts on items if you select curbside pickup. It’s not a surprise that Target sales jumped 23% in their fiscal first quarter.
Target and Walmart Prices Are Similar to Amazon Prime
There are times when Amazon is cheaper by a lot and I will continue buying those items on Amazon and wait for 5-7 days to receive it. However, after consistently looking at Walmart, Target and Amazon when buying stuff online I’ve learned that the price is either the same or only $1-2 difference for most items I buy. This is cheaper than the $4-5 per order I ended up paying for Amazon Prime.
Recently our Keurig started breaking. A replacement was $169 at Target and we could pickup curbside within 2 hours or shipped free. Amazon was $129 and free 5-7 day shipping. Walmart.com was $129 and free 2 day shipping. Plus, Walmart.com had extra credit card points from shopping through our credit card portal. We went with Walmart.
What About Amazon Prime Day? Turns Out That’s Taken Care of Too
What if you like the deals on Amazon Prime Day? First, ask yourself do you really need those items. Secondly, Walmart and Target have that taken care of too. This year both Walmart and Target are launching June sales events coinciding with Prime Day. Target All Deals Day purchases qualify for same day delivery, curbside and in store pickup. You can actually get your purchases faster than you can ordering on Amazon Prime.
I thought I would never be able to live without Amazon Prime and here I am about a year later not missing it at all. After consistently looking at Walmart, Target and Amazon when buying stuff online I’ve learned that the price may be slightly cheaper on Amazon ($1-2) but it now takes 5-7 days to get it without Amazon Prime. I never used all of the other Prime offers, so I only paid the subscription fee for the free and expedited shipping.
$119 doesn’t seem like much for the extra convenience when Amazon was the only option in town. Now that you have other options from Walmart.com, Target.com and Target same day pickup among others do the quick math to see if it’s still worth paying for Prime. Especially if you only use it for the free shipping it may not be worth it anymore. Do the quick math, ask yourself is Amazon Prime worth it and possibly save yourself $119 / year.