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What Does Amazon Prime Cost, and Can You Get It Cheaper?

Before you settle into shelling out $99 a year, check out all the ways you can get Amazon Prime for free — or at least get it for less.
Amazon Prime tape

How Much Is Amazon Prime?

Amazon Prime is $99 for the first year, or you can opt to pay $10.99 per month. But there are several ways to pay less than full price.

Here's How to Get Amazon Prime for Free (or Cheap)

Since Amazon Prime launched in 2005 with free 2-day shipping, plenty of perks have been added to the service — including free eBooks, early access to Lightning Deals, and even 1-hour delivery from local restaurants. But you're looking to save even more.

Here's how to get free Amazon Prime if you qualify, and how to save on your subscription if you don't.

Everyone Gets 30 Days Free

When you first sign up for Prime, you'll get a free 30-day trial of the service. You can cancel at no cost if you do so before the trial ends — go to the Manage Prime Membership page and click "do not continue."

If you keep it after the free trial, Amazon Prime costs $8.25 per month if you opt for the $99 per-year plan. That's obviously a better bet than those $10.99 monthly installments.

Students Get 6 Months Free

If you're a college or university student with a valid .edu email address, you can get a Prime Student account, which has a 6-month free trial. After that lapses, you'll pay just $49 per year for four years (or until you graduate, whatever happens first). After signing up, a verification email is sent to your .edu account, but the email address on your Amazon account can be a personal one.

SEE ALSO: Amazon Prime Benefits You May Not Know About

During the free student trial, you get many of the Prime perks, including the following:

You also get Prime College deals, as well as Twitch Prime — which comes with game freebies, a free Twitch channel subscription every month, discounts on box game preorders and new releases, and ad-free viewing.

After the free trial, you're eligible for most Prime benefits. You can also receive a $10 credit if you refer someone who then signs up for Prime Student. If you already have a Prime membership, it's possible to switch from a regular Prime account to Prime Student.

When does Amazon Prime go on sale?

Amazon has historically cut its Prime membership prices in response to big company events. For example, Amazon offered a discounted $73 membership after its series Mozart in the Jungle garnered wins at the 2016 Golden Globe Awards. The company has done the same after Emmy wins, so many discount-watchers were surprised when that Emmy discount didn't happen in 2016.

However, in November, Amazon took $20 off a yearlong membership to promote The Grand Tour, one of its original series. So far in 2017, there have been no discount days, so it seems like Amazon is looking to become less predictable about its Prime discount promotions.

Free Amazon Prime for Current Members

If you're a member and your package arrives after the guaranteed delivery time — even if it's a matter of hours — you can request a 1-month extension for free. For example, if you have a yearlong membership lasting through June, your membership would be extended through July at no cost.

If your package arrives after the guaranteed delivery time — even if it's a matter of hours — you can request a 1-month extension for free.

Some restrictions exist, such as those pertaining to inclement weather or certain shipping preferences being checked, but Amazon will usually extend membership. Don't believe it? DealNews staff (and some readers) have confirmed this perk.

Snag More Free Trials

Signing up for services from companies such as AT&T, Sprint Mobile, and Frontier Communications can get you a year of free Prime membership.

And according to at least one Amazon rep, if you don't renew your Prime membership, Amazon also offers another 30-day trial after a period of time. (Really, though, this seems like asking for some bad karma.)

Find a Generous Family Member or Roommate

Fans of the sharing economy, this one's for you! Prime members can create a household and add one adult and up to four children to a single Prime account, provided you have the same address. You can split the membership cost, deduct from allowances — or even hope the other person foots the bill!

There's just one thing to keep in mind, should an acrimonious breakup suddenly make your Prime sharing more awkward: Adults that leave a Prime household cannot join another for 180 days.

Prime Student accounts are only eligible for Twitch benefit sharing, and student members can't create households to share benefits. (That roommate is okay to play video games with, but do you really want to share payment info with someone who subsists on cold pizza?)

Amazon Prime Is Cheaper for Cardholders

Prime members who sign up for the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card get $70 in Amazon gift card credit, so that pays for a good portion of the $99 yearly membership fee. Prime members also get 5% back from Amazon purchases. Those without a Prime membership can still apply for the credit card, and are eligible for 3% cash back on Amazon purchases.

SEE ALSO: Should You Get the New Amazon Prime Credit Card?

Other Amazon card perks include 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% back on other purchases. For more info about the credit card, check out our full rundown.

Don't Forget About the Unlimited Trials!

Before beginning a Prime trial, you can also check out some of the Unlimited trials, such as those for Amazon Music Unlimited or Kindle Unlimited. The music and reading selections included for free in Prime alone are — you guessed it — more limited, so trying out these premium paid services is definitely worth your time.

Readers, do you have any additional tips on how to get Amazon Prime for free? Share them in the comments below!

Contributing Writer

Josie Rubio is a Brooklyn, New York-based freelance editor and writer. She has visited five continents so far and loves to write about travel, food, nutrition, health... and pretty much everything. Follow her on Twitter at @JosieRubio.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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Adding to my first comment, (since no one has mentioned as of yet), let me also offer that even if an listed item isn't being currently tracked on that website, you can set your own pricing alerts if you so choose.
I've never been able to justify paying for Prime... My typical Amazon order is not a "must-have-now". So while I do browse there quite often, I am more inclined to moving an item I'd like to have to my cart or "save for later" option until such a time that I can reach the free shipping total. When I need something NOW, I simply scroll through my saved items and add whatever it is that I'd like to have soon at that time. Using the "save for later" feature will afford you the ability to review which prices have dropped (or increased) which, when combined with a quick check on (which covers most but not all listings) to see how close to the lowest/highest historical price an item is currently selling for does often change the hierarchy of what gets ordered or what can wait longer... This might end up saving you a few bucks every now and then.
I used both my kids' school address to get free student prime for years; then to get the half price Prime for another four. Last year was the first time I was looking at paying full price for it and wasn't going to. Then I saw Swag Bucks was offering the equivalent of $10 in points to start a Prime subscription and Amazon was offering coupon codes for up to $60 in different categories to only Prime members, so I figured by using both deals, I only really paid $30 for the year membership.
We too detested the Prime hike from $79 to $99.

We let it drop. (Make sure you contact customer support to turn off auto renew every time you re-up... they removed the self serve setting to do so.... and don't assume an expired card will block renewal - they'll auto-search your other cards to renew.)

We waited until we needed something significant enough to renew.

Now it is a no brainer to get the Amazon card. Think of it this way - if you spend $2,000 on Amazon you've covered Prime with that 5% back.

Or if you prefer - spend $1,000 and the effective Prime cost drops to $50 per year.
I'm waiting to sign up for Prime membership when the price drops again.
I subscribed to Prime for a few years before the price hike. I let it go once it went up to $99. During that $73 promotion I signed up again as I was again eligible as a "new" customer. I justified the cost by focusing solely on Prime Video, which worked out to be $6 and change per month (and seeing the rest of Prime as "perks" of the video stuff). When renewal time came I dropped the service. To me, $99 is too much for Amazon (though ironically, that's how much I pay for Apple Music [via their Ebay promo] and I have zero problems with only getting streaming music). haha
I've been a prime member since 2005. I've probably had 3 incidences with poor packaging . Plus I've been compensated more than 7 times for packages arriving after the 2 day period. I always check the sellers reputation before ordering to avoid headaches. Sure, there's plenty of items sold at my local store that is priced the same as Amazon, but if I don't need it right away, at least I save gas by ordering from Amazon. With Sunday delivery, that's a plus for me. Overall I'm very satisfied with prime. Oh yea, just got an email from Amazon...On May 28, 2017, you will be charged $99 for a year of Prime. :)
Or you could just shop at eBay. Lots of Prime people just resell on eBay and ship to you as a "gift". They make a buck or two and you don't have to join Prime
While one must have the same address to create a household, it doesn't appear to be a requirement to continue a household. My partner and I created a household and started sharing Prime some years ago. Recently, we separated fairly amicably, and have continued our Prime-sharing household from different addresses, and Amazon hasn't undone our household.
Not a prime customer but do understand why some are. There are reasons why some are reluctant to become members including problems with delivered packages (insecurity, refusal by apt mail room, etc) and quite frankly the wastefulness of those short lived cardboard shipping boxes. Similar to the plastic grocery bag discarded after only a short trip home, those boxes have become a big part of trash collection day. So while not necessarily a big fan of Walmart, I do see the benefit of their system. I recently picked up an item (that was shipped to the store) and noticed the packaging box was reused and the clerk handed over the individual items and kept the brown cardboard box for reuse. So long as Walmart happens to be on my itinerary travels and the line wait is not long, I can see some positives for their system in being able to challenge amazon.
michael bonebright (DealNews)
Our family has gone all-in on the Amazon ecosystem, but it takes a *lot* of work to make sure you're taking advantage of every single thing. Making sure we always have credits on our account to offset incidental costs, opting for longer shipping times, paying attention to varying prices in subscribed items, looking for coupons, using as many perks as possible... it gets a little overwhelming. If we hadn't joined when it was cheaper, I don't know that we'd have joined today.
It's a rare occasion these days to get free 2 day shipping with Amazon Prime as they advertise. Since Prime Pantry, Amazon has found another way to milk money from the paying Prime members. On top of the $99 yearly membership fee that members pay for the "free" 2 day shipping they now have to pay an additional $5.99 delivery fee to ship items that are marked for Prime Pantry. Amazon has made sure to include everyday products that are most used by consumers in order to get this extra fee for delivery even though members have already paid $99 for FREE 2 day shipping. It's a joke really and should of been included in this article instead of hidden away on another link. They claim that they lowered prices for Prime Pantry products because it's not cost effective to ship those items at that price so they have to charge the shipping fee. So, they lower some prices but then add an extra fee to ship those products. Sounds great if you're Amazon stockholders, not so much for us consumers.
At one time it was possible to sign on to someone with a membership for just a few dollars. A search of the internet or a company like Ebay would often get several options. This seemed to me like a win, win for all parties including Amazon. Those of us who weren't buying all the time could still get a break on shipping costs.
When Amazon decided to quash that and raise the cost of Prime, they lost me as a customer. It's not much of a deal when you have to add the cost of the Prime membership before it becomes a good deal. I've discovered that I can live without it. I've yet to find anything I need or can't do without with or without free shipping.

If you need some or all of the extras then Prime is probably a good deal but if all you need is the shipping, then not so much.