11 Amazon Prime hacks: How to get the biggest bang for your buck
Amazon jacked up the price of its Prime shopping club last month by a hefty 20 percent, hiking the annual rate from $99 to $119. So is the popular program service still worth the money?
One analyst estimates the total annual value members get from Prime at almost $800 a year, but that depends on using all of Prime's services, including lesser-known services such as Prime Music and Prime Photos. Aside from tapping those services, there are other ways participants -- and even non-members -- can save money.
More than 100 million people have signed up for Prime across the globe, according to Amazon.
"Now that the service has crossed the three-digit threshold, many are finding it difficult to justify" the cost, said Lindsay Sakraida, director of content marketing with DealNews. "But for many people, the benefit to having Prime is the convenience. Everything is easy to order because it's at your fingertips. You don't have to worry about meeting a free shipping minimum, and it's at your home in just a few days."
Here are 11 hacks for saving money using Amazon Prime:
Try Prime for one month free
If you don't have Prime already, you can try it for 30 days for free. Just remember to cancel the service after that, or else Amazon will charge you for the full $119 annual membership.
Share your Prime account with family
Amazon allows you to share a Prime account with another adult and up to four teens and four children. That includes sharing Kindle e-book libraries, free shipping and digital services like Amazon Photo.
Students get six months free service
Amazon will give students with an .edu email address six months of free Prime. After that, the program costs $59 per year, or half the regular price. If you're a Prime member who is going back to school and sign up for a student account, Amazon will refund you the remaining months left on your regular Prime account.
Sign up for a month or two
If you're not sure you'll get the full value from a $119 annual Prime membership, you can sign up for a month or two for $12.99 a month. That strategy can be effective for people who know they'll use Amazon frequently during a certain time of the year, such as the holidays.
Get a free digital book each month
Prime members can download a free digital book every month, although the selection is small and picked by Amazon's editors.
Earn cash back for reloading your gift card
This benefit is for Prime members who reload their gift cards through their bank accounts. In return, Amazon gives you a 2 percent reward on your balance, which is added to your gift card.
Get paid for "no rush" shipping
Amazon offers Prime members a discount or rewards toward future purchases if they choose "no rush" shipping at checkout. The rewards, which are added automatically to your account, can vary and are at Amazon's discretion.
Late delivery? You may get a free month
Didn't get your Prime shipment in two days? Amazon will often give a free month free of Prime to members as compensation for a problem like late delivery.
Weed out fake reviews
Fake reviews -- positive or negative recommendations that may not accurately reflect a product's quality -- are still an issue for Amazon. You can check the validity of reviews by putting the product link into Fakespot.
Get a 10 percent discount at Whole Foods
The Whole Foods app can help Prime members receive a 10 percent discount at the grocery chain on certain items. Amazon last month expanded the discount to all Whole Foods locations.
Receive money for sample boxes
Customers who buy an Amazon sample box -- collections of food and beauty samples -- get a credit of equal value toward the purchase of similar products on Amazon. For instance, if you buy the $9.99 women's skin and hair product sample box, Amazon will give you a $9.99 credit for a future beauty purchase.
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