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Essentials Shopping

Everything you need to know about shopping at Amazon

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Amazon

If you've experienced the thrill that is Amazon Prime Day, Amazon's annual big sale coming this summer, you know the mega-retailer offers major discounts on top-selling favorites like smart thermostats, Apple AirPods and so much more. To take advantage of Prime Day 2024 deals, you'll need an Amazon Prime membership. And to fully take advantage of your Prime membership, you'll want to know about all the tips and tricks to shopping on Amazon, and getting the most of that Prime membership.

We'd like to think of ourselves as having a healthy fascination (obsession?) with all things Amazon and we know we're not alone. But we like nothing more than to pass our Amazon knowledge on to fellow Amazon lovers. Keep reading for everything you need to know about an Amazon Prime membership, and how to maximize your Prime membership.


What is Amazon Prime?

Amazon Prime Try Before You Buy
Amazon

You've probably heard of Amazon Prime (especially if you're reading this). According to Amazon, as of 2021, its Amazon Prime service has more than 200 million subscribers worldwide. But if you're not one of the retail giant's Prime members, then you may wonder why the program has captured so many paying customers. 

Before you sign up for a free trial, here's what you need to know about Amazon Prime. The short answer is this: Amazon Prime is a lot of things -- major benefits wrapped up into one monthly or annual subscription.


How much does Amazon Prime cost? What's up with the price increase?

There are two ways to subscribe to Amazon Prime. The cheapest approach is to subscribe on an annual basis, where the service will cost you $139 per year, plus tax (where applicable). 

If you prefer a shorter-term commitment, Amazon offers a monthly subscription for $14.99 per month, plus tax. Know that if you opt for a monthly subscription, and then stick with it, you'll wind up paying more per year over the cost of an annual subscription. 


Does Amazon offer an Amazon Prime free trial? 

If you're an Amazon Prime rookie, good news: The company offers a 30-day free trial. You can use the free trial period to give Amazon's biggest and best Prime benefits a whirl before making a decision -- or spending a dollar on a membership.


What are the benefits of Amazon Prime?

While we've been able to single out the top 5 Amazon Prime benefits, there are dozens of benefits for subscribers. Here's a breakdown of some of the biggest benefits of an Amazon Prime membership.

Prime members get free two-day shipping -- and more

Prime Day
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

One key perk of Amazon Prime is access to free two-day shipping on eligible Amazon purchases. No minimum purchase is required. 

The shipping benefits don't end there. In some areas, and for some items, Amazon offers Prime members free, one-day, overnight -- and even same-day -- shipping on orders totaling more than $35.


Amazon Prime Video

Another major source of Amazon Prime's value comes from its Prime Video streaming service. Amazon spends billions of dollars a year on unlimited streaming content for Prime members. Acclaimed Amazon Original Series titles include "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," "The Boys" and "Modern Love." Beyond that, there's a lot of TV and movie fare to stream (good news for fans of "Step Brothers" and "The Hills"), making Amazon Prime a solid Netflix alternative.

If you want all the streaming content, but none of the other benefits of Amazon Prime, then you can buy a Prime Video subscription for $8.99 a month, plus tax. As with Amazon Prime, Prime Video subscriptions start with a 30-day free trial. 


Amazon Prime members get Whole Foods deals

In some areas, Amazon Prime members get free, two-hour grocery pickup from its supermarket Amazon Fresh. Delivery is also available for $10.

Additionally, Amazon Prime members get 10 percent off in-store sale prices (excluding alcohol) from Amazon's other supermarket: Whole Foods. They also benefit from special in-store Whole Foods deals marked with blue Prime member signs.


Amazon Key

Amazon Key is another delivery benefit included with an Amazon Prime membership.

When you select "Key Delivery" at checkout, your items will be delivered to your garage (instead of your doorstep) at no added cost. Amazon Key can be linked to work with a Ring app, or with a MyQ compatible garage door opener ($22).

As much as anything, this Amazon Prime perk delivers peace of mind: No more worrying if your 7-in-1 Instant Pot Duo Nova will be swiped by porch pirates before you get home.


Free Kindle books

An Amazon Prime membership works quite well with the company's flagship e-reader, the Kindle. The Prime Reading benefit offers free access to more than 3,000 books and magazines. Think of it as a digital lending library: You can download up to 10 titles at a time.

Prime members also have access to First Reads. Each month, through the Prime benefit, Prime members get one free Kindle download of a yet-to-be-released title, chosen from a selection of editors' picks. 


Amazon Music Prime

Via Amazon Music Prime, Amazon Prime members enjoy access to thousands of stations and playlists -- for a total of 2 million songs. 

For access to 100 million songs, you can upgrade to Amazon Music Unlimited, for $9.99 per month. (You can try the service via a 30-day free trial.) Non-Prime members can purchase Amazon Music Unlimited for $10.99 a month.


Prime Gaming

Another feature of Amazon Prime is Prime Gaming, which offers free games and free in-game content to members. Prime Gaming also entitles you to a free subscription to a channel of your choice on the Amazon-owned Twitch.tv, as well as free, exclusive emoticons. 


Amazon Prime Day and Prime Early Access

Amazon Prime Day is an annual, two-day sales event exclusively for Prime members. Many of the recent, high-profile Prime Day deals have been compelling, with TV dealsAmazon Echo smart home devices, air fryers and more -- all going on sale.

While Prime Day comes but once a year (usually in July), Prime Early Access regularly gives Prime members 30-minute-advance access to limited-quantity, limited-time sales known on Amazon as "Lightning Deals." In recent years there has also been a fall follow-up sale, titled Prime Big Deal Days in 2023, an October sale that also included Prime member exclusive savings.


Amazon Photos unlimited storage

You read that right: An Amazon Prime membership confers unlimited, full-resolution photo storage via Amazon Photos. Video storage is available, too -- up to 5 GB is included with your Prime membership. If you have a lot of video, then you can buy additional storage space; Amazon plans start at $1.99 a month for 100 GB. 

Should you ever cancel or fail to renew your Prime membership, then your total storage space, for photos and video combined, is capped at 5 GB.  


Amazon Household

If you're an Amazon Prime member, you can share certain Prime benefits, including Prime Delivery and Prime Video, with up to two adults in your household via Amazon Household. This is not about you sharing passwords on the hush-hush. This is about you creating official, linked accounts for your roommates, grandparents or whoever. 

You may similarly add up to four accounts for teenagers (ages 13-17) and up to four accounts for children (ages 12 and younger). The teen and child accounts come with guardrails -- i.e., any purchases by your teens have to go through you first, and your child's access to digital content is managed per your settings. And not to worry: The 12-year-olds and younger are not allowed to shop via their Amazon Household accounts.


Prime Try Before You Buy

Have you ever seen the movie montage where the hero goes to a boutique, and tries on outfit after outfit while "Walking on Sunshine" plays on the soundtrack? Prime Try Before You Buy (previously known as Prime Wardrobe) allows Amazon Prime members to go on fashionista sprees like that, minus the "Walking on Sunshine" part (unless, of course, you access the song on Amazon Prime Music). 

Have select clothes, shoes, jewelry and accessories shipped to your door via Prime Try Before You Buy. Try everything on, and take up to seven days to decide what you want. Ship back the rejects for free -- or, conversely, as Amazon puts it, only pay for what you keep.


Is Prime membership worth it?

Is Prime membership worth it?
Edward Smith/Getty Images

If you're not a regular Amazon shopper (and don't plan to become one), chances are Amazon Prime isn't a good fit -- the cost will probably outweigh the benefits. Similarly, if you're a regular Walmart shopper, Walmart+ is a good alternative to Amazon Prime.

But if you're already a frequent Amazon customer, then it may make sense to join the Amazon Prime club, if only for the unlimited, two-day shipping benefits, and the chance to shop until you drop on the next Amazon Prime Day.


Products we love at Amazon right now

Amazon currently has plenty of summer deals and terrific prices available to shop now. Check some of our top picks below.

iRobot Roomba Vac Essential robot vacuum: $180

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Amazon

Featuring a three-stage cleaning system, the iRobot Roomba Vac Essential robot vacuum is able to handle carpets and hard surface floors like a pro. The robot vacuum also has three levels of suction power, so you can choose between a more through clean and more quiet operation.

We like that the iRobot Roomba Vac Essential can be scheduled to clean automatically in neat rows, or can start cleaning via Alexa voice commands. There's also a spot cleaning setting where the robot will spin in place for up to two minutes.

It cleans for up to 120 minutes on a single charge, and automatically returns to its base when its battery is low. The vacuum will alert you when its filter or brushes need replacing.

Regularly $250, you can get this budget robot vacuum for just $180 at Amazon now ahead of Amazon Prime Day 2024.


Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite: $99 

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Samsung

The Galaxy Tab A7 Lite is an affordable option for anyone, not just kids. To take full advantage of parental controls, an adult will need to combine the integrated features with optional apps, like Bark for Android (which costs between $5 and $14 per month, based on the level of control an adult wants over the child's tablet).

This tablet offers an 8.7-inch touchscreen display and a battery life of up to 10 hours.  It runs the Android 11 operating system and offers full access to the Google Play Store where many optional apps are available to expand on the tablet's core capabilities.

This tablet comes with your choice of either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, which is not much. But it's expandable to up to 1TB with an optional microSD memory card. 

The Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite is currently out of stock at Amazon, but Walmart has the budget tablet at the same reduced $99 price (was $159).

Why we like this tablet:

  • This is an affordable, full-featured, Android-based tablet.
  • The tablet offers a 8.7-inch WXGA+ touchscreen display with 1,340 x 800 pixel resolution.
  • The tablet is housed in a metal frame, which makes it a bit more durable than most tablets, especially if an optional screen-protection film is added.
  • The Samsung Kids service can easily be added to the tablet.

Apple AirPods (2nd generation): $80 (38% off)

Apple AirPods (2nd Generation)
Apple

The second-generation Apple AirPods may not be the latest model, but they're still one of the most sought-after earbuds on the market. These are some of the most versatile earbuds you can buy if you're a regular iOS user. But beyond that, these are great earbuds that are perfect for tossing in your bag and heading out into the world. They just connect when you need them. There's no frustrating need to pair them. 

These 4.7-star-rated earbuds boast more than 24 hours of total listening time with the wireless charging case, fool-proof one-tap setup for Apple device owners and a low-latency wireless connection for full immersion when consuming movies and music.  If you need an everyday set of earbuds that look and feel premium, these are a great and affordable option. 

Why we like the Apple AirPods (2nd Generation):

  • Their clear and high-quality sound makes for immersive listening. 
  • They feature a one-tap setup and intuitive controls for better convenience. 
  • They have an impressive battery life of over 24 hours with the charging case, and quick charging for on-the-go.

Keurig K-Elite: $150 (21% off)

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Amazon

The Keurig K-Elite coffee maker makes a single cup of coffee at a time but features a 75-ounce water reservoir so you can make cups of coffee for everyone in your family. The 4.7-star-rated device has a strong brew button, an iced coffee setting and hot water on demand, perfect for making tea and hot chocolate on cool summer nights.

"I'm so pleased with this Keurig. [It was] so easy to set up and use. I love the iced coffee feature [and] how it gives different cup sizes also. Definitely worth the money," one verified purchaser on Amazon says.

Why we like the Keurig K-Elite coffee maker:

  • It offers five brewing size options, from 4 to 12 ounces.
  • The coffee maker includes a large 75-ounce water reservoir so you don't need to refill it in between brews.
  • The K-Elite features a strong coffee button for a stronger pour via K-cups.

Dewalt 20V Max cordless compact drill kit: $99 (45% off)

DEWALT 20V Max Cordless Drill / Driver Kit
Amazon

This compact cordless drill and driver kit is one of the best deals that you can score right now. It's currently a whopping 45% off. The kit includes a high-performance 20V drill with two batteries, a charging station and a carrying bag.

"We recently gifted our son the DeWalt 20V Max Cordless Drill as he's a new homeowner, and we (and he) couldn't be happier with the choice," an Amazon reviewer shares. "It's incredibly powerful, making even tough drilling tasks a breeze for him as he settles into his new place. The battery life is impressive, allowing him to tackle multiple projects without constantly recharging. One of the standout features is the ergonomic design, which makes it comfortable for him to use for extended periods."

Get it now for $99 (regularly $179). 

What we like about the Dewalt 20V cordless compact drill kit:

  • It has earned an impressive 4.8-star rating on Amazon with over 40,000 reviews,
  • It's an excellent entry-level drill set.
  • It comes with two batteries so you can use the drill for all-day projects.

Rockland Melbourne 20-inch expandable carry-on: $66 (53% off) 

Rockland Melbourne Hardside Expandable Spinner Wheel Luggage
Amazon

The Rockland Melbourne 20-inch expandable carry-on spinner is made out of ABS, a lightweight and durable plastic. It features multidirectional double spinner wheels with telescoping handles, along with interior zip and mesh pockets. Choose from multiple colors. Price varies by color. Right now, you'll get the best deal on the carry-on in the shade purple, it's currently 58% off. 

"I was able to fit a lot more than I thought in this little suitcase," an Amazon reviewer shares. "It's easy to maneuver and even with the extension added to it it's small enough to fit airplanes' carry-on requirements." 

It usually sells for $140, but right now you can buy this carry-on for just $66.

Why we like the Rockland Melbourne 20-inch carry-on:

  • The carry-on meets size restrictions for most major airlines, including United, American, Delta, Southwest and Allegiant.
  • It earned a 4.5-star rating on Amazon with more than 8,500 reviews.
  • The ergonomic handle and seamless spinner wheels make it easy to maneuver.

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card

The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card is an enhanced version of the Amazon Rewards Visa Card. Both cards offer cash-back bonuses, and neither has an annual fee, but only Amazon Prime members can apply for the Prime Rewards Visa. 

Prime members can earn 5 percent back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases made with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa (versus 3 percent offered by the regular Amazon Rewards Visa). There's a host of other rewards too, including a $150 Amazon gift card upon approval for the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa.   



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