Money Talks, So Should You

Is it worth it: Amazon Prime

Clint Williams
by Clint Williams, Dimespring Contributor

You are living in a wondrous age when more than 20,000 movies and television shows are a give-away prize like a cheap plastic compass at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box.

The issue

Amazon, the online retailing giant, offers a membership program called Amazon Prime. The package of perks includes two-day shipping for millions of items, unlimited instant streaming of movies and TV shows and access to 12 e-books a year. The cost: $79 a year. College students pay just $39 a year for four years.

The breakdown

Shipping charges add up quickly when using Amazon’s two-day shipping. The company calculates the charge based on the highest applicable per-shipment charge of all the items in your order plus the per-item charge for each item.  So, for example, an order that contains a video game console and a video game, you will be charged the higher per-shipment cost for the video game console and the per-item cost of each item: $12.49 + $1.99 + $1.99 = $16.47 total two-day shipping cost.

READ: 15 cheaper ways to watch TV shows and movies

If you’re making a half dozen online purchases a year, you’re coming out ahead on shipping charges.

But, wait. There’s more.

The Prime Instant Video library offers on-demand access to more than 20,000 TV shows and movies. Popular TV choices include “Parks and Recreation,”  “Downtown Abbey,” “Fringe,” and “SpongeBob Square Pants.” The movie titles range from “Rango” to “Zombie Strippers.” A scan of offers tells you movie releases are typically several months old, but it should be easy to find something you haven’t seen.

But, wait. There’s more.

READ: 3 ideas for saving money at the movies

If you have a Kindle reader, you can also borrow a book a month. There are more than 180,000 book titles available, including all seven Harry Potter titles. The most borrowed title in the history of Kindle Owners’ Lending Library is “The Hunger Games.”

The verdict

If you’re a digital person — the sort who consumes most of your media on a tablet computer of some sort — this is a no-brainer. The $79 annual cost is cheaper than a subscription to Netflix, plus you get 12 books worth roughly $120. Online shopping has gone from novelty to habit, and Amazon Prime makes it even cheaper.


Clint Williams is an Arizona-based freelancer for DImespring. He has written for the Arizona Republic and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.