Is Amazon Prime a good deal at $7.99 per month?
You've heard of Amazon Prime, right? It's the service that upgrades you to two-day shipping on all your Amazon purchases, streams unlimited movies and TV shows, and gives you a monthly e-book rental, all for $79 per year.
That's a pretty solid deal, but no doubt some people balk at the idea of paying that much for a service they're not sure they'll like. What's more, competing video-streaming services like Hulu Plus and Netflix charge $7.99 per month, which seems more palatable.
The question is, how do the two options stack up, especially when compared with Hulu and Netflix? Let's crunch some numbers.
At $7.99 per month, Amazon Prime will cost you $95.88, or about $16 more than the annual plan. So if you can manage the latter, you'll save money over the long haul.
Okay, but how does a $7.99 Amazon Prime compare with a $7.99 Hulu Plus or Netflix? It's not quite an apples-to-apples comparison, because those two services do just one thing: stream movies and TV shows.
Prime does likewise, though I think Netflix offers a broader, better movie library. (For example, it now has last year's Best Picture winner, "The Artist," available for streaming. Amazon Prime doesn't have it; your only option is to purchase it for $12.99.) Plus, you can stream Netflix to a lot more devices, though Amazon Instant Video is starting to catch up. (It's available on iPad, for instance, but not yet on iPhone.)
Hulu Plus has a pretty dismal movie library, but offers a great selection of TV shows--most notably recent seasons and episodes of currently airing series. The big disappointment: You have to sit through commercial breaks. Prime and Netflix afford commercial-free viewing.
Of course, Amazon offers Prime subscribers more than just streaming video. You also get to check out one e-book per month from the "Lending Library." Assuming a purchase price of $9.99 per book, that alone more than covers your subscription cost. My only complaint is that the Lending Library selection leaves much to be desired. It has a smattering of bestsellers, but I find it rarely has any of the titles on my to-read list. Your mileage may vary.
What makes Amazon Prime such a killer deal, in my humble opinion, is the free shipping. No longer do you have to pad your shopping cart to at least $25, then wait a week or more for your items to arrive via slow boat. With Prime, you automatically get two-day shipping on everything you buy. As someone who does a fair amount of Amazon shopping, I seriously love this benefit.
So whether you pay $7.99 per month or $79 per year, I think Amazon Prime is a pretty sweet deal. Agree? Disagree? Hit the comments and let me know why.Veteran technology writer Rick Broida
is the author of numerous books, blogs, and features. He lends his
money-saving expertise to CNET and Savings.com, and also writes for PC
World and Wired.