Amazon Expands Super Saver Free Shipping to Third-Party Merchants

The behemoth e-retailer just made it a lot easier to get free shipping. But will this just cause you to spend more?
Amazon boxes

It's no secret that consumers love free shipping, which makes buying online as easy, if never quite as fast, as buying in-store. But unfortunately, if you haven't signed up for Amazon Prime, which offers free shipping along with plenty of other perks, getting free shipping from Amazon can involve some confusion. The company's Super Saver shipping program will ship for free to addresses in the United States if you spend $35 or more — on the right items, that is.

Some Non-Amazon Merchants Now Eligible for $35 Threshold

But hitting this mark is about to get easier. Amazon has expanded its offerings by integrating third-party marketplace retailers into its search results, making it a snap to buy from non-Amazon merchants through Amazon. Until now, no items from marketplace vendors helped you qualify for free shipping. This could present a complicated puzzle for shoppers, who could easily fill their shopping cart with more than $35 worth of merchandise but still not qualify for free shipping. Now, however, all items that are listed for free shipping, whether that shipping is provided by Amazon or a third-party merchant, will help shoppers reach the $35 threshold that allows their order to ship for free.

Amazon says that this change more than triples the number of items eligible to meet the $35 minimum for free shipping, which certainly makes the process more straightforward for non-Prime customers. Still, there's confusion to be had: with Amazon shipping some items and third-parties shipping other items, you may experience some Amazon delivery delays, with some pieces of your order arriving at different times due to speed in processing shipments (at which the third party is likely to be slower). However, for shoppers willing to wait a few extra days to get items through Amazon's free (but often slow) Super Saver shipping, waiting a bit longer for some items isn't likely to be a deal-breaker.

Increasing Orders, Or Decreasing Prime Memberships?

Another potential benefit of having select third-party items help shoppers meet that $35 total is that it may increase the number of third-party merchants offering free shipping, so long as that in turn encourages consumers to buy more. However, we'll have to wait to see just how this change plays out through Amazon's marketplace.

Though Amazon is clearly trying to encourage frugal shoppers to spend more on the site by making free shipping easier, the site's estimated 40 million Prime members are currently the company's money-makers. Estimates suggest Prime members spend $1500 a year on Amazon, while non-Prime members spend only $625. Putting free shipping in easier reach for non-Prime shoppers might help narrow that gap, or it may make Prime membership seem less lucrative to anyone currently in the program primarily for the shipping benefits.

Whatever happens, making it easier to access free shipping is a good deal for consumers. Will you be taking advantage of Amazon's now easier-to-get Super Saver shipping? Let us know in the comments below.

Elizabeth Harper
Contributing Writer

Originally working in IT, Elizabeth now writes on tech, gaming, and general consumer issues. Her articles have appeared in USA Today, Time, AOL, PriceGrabber, and more. She has been one of DealNews' most regular contributors since 2013, researching everything from vacuums to renters insurance to help consumers.
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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To Ekeenan86:

I should have been checking; I hope you will see this. I have already made two purchases with one under $35.00 and it worked perfectly. Go to ebay and check it out. See what you think.
They track the sub accounts on these (physical & ip addresses!) I obtained one from a family member in another state, and they gave an ultimatum of either kicking me off, or disabling her account. Beware!
If you go to ebay and search Amazon Prime, it will take you to many offers for two day free shipping for as low as six dollars. It only allows the shipping and no Kindle or movie options. It's a bit cumbersome to get set up but for a year of free shipping at that price from Amazon, if you buy from Amazon, It's a great deal.
as one with no intention of ever purchasing a prime membership, this will be helpful for my frugal shopping habit