Amazon (AMZN) is giving a price break on its prime service to low-income consumers on food stamps and other government assistance.
Customers who receive benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, can pay $5.99 per month for membership, which would include free shipping and unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Prime Video. The regular annual membership is $99 per year. But those who cannot afford to pay up front have to pay $10.99 a month for the same benefits.
Amazon's Prime program, with the perks it brings, has created strong habits among shoppers as competition is keen. Amazon says it wants to make the program more accessible. Walmart, which has the second-biggest share of online sales, has been trying to close the gap with Amazon.
The online retailer said customers will need to qualify for the discount by having a valid EBT card, which are typically used to disburse funds for food stamps and other government aid programs, such as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF.)
The move marks a departure for Amazon Prime, which is popular with upper-income households. The fastest-growing customers are those earning more than $112,000 in annual income, with more than 7 out of 10 of those families paying for an Amazon Prime subscription, investment firm Piper Jaffray said last year.
Amazon said EBT cards can't be used to pay for the Prime membership fees, and that customers can qualify every 12 months up to four times.