Watch CBSN Live

What is Amazon Prime?

Inside An Distribution Center On Cyber Monday
An employee stacks boxes filled with merchandise for shipment at the Inc. distribution center in Phoenix, Arizona. David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

CBS Essentials is created independently from the CBS News staff. We may receive commissions from some links to products on this page. Promotions are subject to availability and retailer terms.

You've probably heard the name Amazon Prime. After all, Amazon is one of the largest companies in the world by market cap, and its Amazon Prime subscription offering is widely popular: The company announced in an April 2021 shareholder letter that there are 200 million Amazon Prime members worldwide.

Curious to know more about Amazon Prime? Here's what you need to know before you sign up for a free trial.

What is Amazon Prime, anyway?

In short, Amazon Prime is a lot of things -- a whole bunch of benefits wrapped up into one monthly or annual subscription. One key perk is access to free two-day shipping, on eligible items, when shopping on Amazon with no purchase minimum. In some areas and for some items, the perk gets even better: Amazon offers Prime members free one-day and even same-day shipping (on orders more than $35, if you order in the morning). And in some areas, Amazon Prime members also get free two-hour grocery delivery from Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh, the company's two supermarket chains.

Another fan-favorite Amazon Prime benefit is access to Amazon Prime Video, the company's video streaming service, with tons of great TV, movies and Amazon originals. Members also enjoy access to a (limited) song library via Amazon Music Prime, free games and in-game content via Prime Gaming, access to books and magazines via Prime Reading, access to special deals and much more.

You can read about all the benefits of Amazon Prime by clicking here.

Amazon Delivery
Amazon driver Shawndu Stackhouse delivers packages in Northeast Washington, D.C. in April 2021. Many Amazon deliveries are now made by the company's own vans. Tom Williams

How much does Amazon Prime cost?

If you've never subscribed to Amazon Prime, good news: The company offers a 30-day free trial. Right now is an especially good time to start your free trial; the company's subscriber-only sales event, Amazon Prime Day, is coming June 21 and 22. That way, you can give the company's biggest and best Amazon Prime benefits a whirl before making a long-term commitment.

There are two ways to subscribe to Amazon Prime. The cheapest approach: Subscribe on an annual basis, where the service will cost you $119 per year (plus tax, where applicable).

If you'd prefer a shorter-term option, Amazon also offers a $12.99 per month (plus tax) option. You can cancel it at any time, but know you'll wind up paying about $37 more per year if you pay monthly instead of up front.

Prime Member Deal
At a Whole Foods Market grocery store in San Ramon, California, signage advertises discounts for Amazon Prime members. Smith Collection/Gado / Getty Images

Do Amazon Prime members get better deals?

Don't expect Amazon Prime to offer you a discount on most of your day-to-day purchases on the site (outside the free shipping benefit). That said, the company does regularly offer limited-time and limited-quantity deals to its members. The biggest of these sales events, Amazon Prime Day, is right around the corner.

When is Amazon Prime Day, you ask? This year, the two-day event falls on June 21 and 22.

What is Amazon Prime Day?

Amazon Prime Day is an annual sales event started in 2015 as a deal-centric celebration of the company's anniversary. While the first Amazon Prime Day was highly hyped, the goods on offer were disappointing to some. Recently however, many of the high-profile deals have been compelling, with Apple computers, Amazon Echo smart home devices, Ring video doorbells, Instant Pot cookers and more all going on sale.

It's worth noting that there will be plenty of pre-Amazon Prime Day deals on offer at Amazon, too. Several big-box retailers will be getting in the game as well: Walmart has a competing Amazon Prime Day sale called Deals for Days. And some popular Prime Day items are on pre-Prime Day sale elsewhere, such as this deal on the 7-in-1 Instant Pot Duo Nova offered by QVC -- it's been marked down to $50 (save $75).

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.