Price Hike Got You Mad? Here Are Alternatives to Amazon Prime

Don't want to pay the new $99 membership fee? There are other ways to get shipping, streaming movies and e-books for free.

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An Amazon Prime box
Alamy
By Cameron Huddleston

Being a member of Amazon Prime certainly has its perks. Since the online retailer launched this program nine years ago, members have been able to get free two-day shipping for $79 a year -- a good deal for those who do a lot of online shopping. Membership also includes access to streaming movies and television shows and free Kindle e-book downloads. But now the question is whether those perks are worth $99 annually.

Amazon.com (AMZN) recently announced that it's hiking the price of its Prime service by $20 effective April 17. The news has elicited a lot of grumbling on the Amazon Prime forum from members, many of whom say the service won't be worth the higher price. They might be right.

There are plenty of ways to score free shipping on online purchases other than an Amazon Prime membership. You might not get your orders within two days -- as you would with Amazon Prime -- but you won't have to pay a membership fee to get free shipping with these other options. Plus, you can get free e-books through other outlets, and you can stream movies and TV shows for free or at a price that doesn't top $99 a year.

Free shipping. Amazon orders totaling $35 or more may qualify for free shipping even if you're not a Prime member. And plenty of online retailers frequently offer free shipping on orders that exceed certain dollar amounts. But there are some retailers, such as Zappos.com and Nordstrom.com,
that offer free shipping on all purchases all the time. And ShopRunner, which offers free unlimited two-day shipping from 85 online retailers, is waiving its $79 annual membership fee for a year for Amazon Prime members who haven't renewed their membership at the higher rate. You also can find free shipping codes and coupons at FreeShipping.org.

You might be able to avoid paying for shipping by having your purchases shipped to a retailer's brick-and-mortar store. Best Buy (BBY), Target (TGT), Toys R Us and Walmart (WMT) are among the merchants that have free in-store pickup and typically drop their prices around the holidays to match Amazon's prices. In fact, Best Buy, Target and Toys R Us have price-matching policies that extend to Amazon prices year-round. So if you're shopping at one of these stores and use an app such as RedLaser to scan the barcode of an item and find that Amazon is offering it for a lower price, show a sales clerk the lower price and ask for a price match. Then you can avoid shipping costs altogether and still get the best deal. See How to Get Retailers to Match Prices for more information.

Video streaming. Amazon Prime members have access to 40,000 movies and TV episodes. However, the movies typically aren't the newest releases. You can find many of the movies and TV shows available to Prime members for free at Hulu and Crackle. You can stream new releases starting at $4 through services such as Vudu and Blockbuster On Demand. Or you could pay $8 a month ($96 a year, which is less than a Prime membership) for unlimited streaming through Netflix (NFLX). See 9 Places to Get TV and Movies Online for more options.

Free e-books. With Amazon Prime, you have access to more than 500,000 Kindle titles. However, you can borrow just one a month. You don't even have to be a Prime member, though, to take advantage of thousands of free out-of-copyright books through Kindle Popular Classics. At Gutenberg.org or the University of Pennsylvania online books page, you won't pay a cent to legally download thousands of books whose copyrights have expired. For newer titles, check out your public library. Or join a free online lending community such as ebookfling. You list your Kindle and Nook ebooks on the site, then you swap ebooks with other members. For more, see 5 Ways to Borrow and Read More Free E-Books.


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48 Comments

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suealiaim

pfft. they hadn't raised the price in almost a decade.
it amounts to $8.25 a month...for free shipping AND you can stream video too.
its still a terrific bargain even if you never use the streaming...
AND you can share your account with up to 5 family members...just get them to chip in to pay for it.

March 19 2014 at 9:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sekinu2

They should offer a 2 tier option. For like $49.99 a year you get the free 2 days shipping as thats the main reason people had prime then if you use the other toss in garbage you can pick the premium option of shipping, movies, ebooks and whatever the other junk was.

March 19 2014 at 8:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
macrocker

I love Prime. I don't think the price increase it so much. It is well worth it. I can go to Amazon and get just about anything I want. Most of the time Amazon has the best price. They do have great customer service. I like Amazon because they are a great company. They are a good employer. I like everything I hear about Amazon.

March 19 2014 at 8:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to macrocker's comment
Sekinu2

They almost never have the best price especially on electronics or large items. they are usually more then the local store that has the item on amazon lol best prices..you sure you been on amazon?

March 19 2014 at 8:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Sekinu2's comment
suealiaim

i've gotten great deals on electronic parts at amazon. you just gotta shop around...which is much easier online!

March 19 2014 at 9:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
suealiaim

actually, amazon is a terrible employer. they're as bad as walmart.

March 19 2014 at 9:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
njmike563

Not just prime, but everything went up on Amazon. If you don't buy from 3rd party their prices are crazy. Now they charge tax and raises shipping fees to $3.99. I shop at Gohastings, cheap on pre-orders, no tax and 96 cents shipping. Can't beat it. Good bye Amazon.

March 19 2014 at 7:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to njmike563's comment
arvig

Actually the $3.99 shipping fees are only if one bumps up the FREE two day shipping on Prime to one day shippping. Tax is only charged to certain states as well, and that is beyond their control with regards to why they now must do so. As for prices, like any store one should shop around. Sometimes they ARE the cheapest, either via them or a third party using them as an Internet "store front". Sometimes they aren't. I can say that for any store.

March 19 2014 at 7:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
suealiaim

the shipping rates on amazon marketplace items (like 3.99 for media mail) are not amazon's prices, they are post office prices.

March 19 2014 at 9:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
congobreeze1

Amazon Prime is one of the greatest deals I have found. I will pay the additional $20 with pleasure... I have saved so much on shipping that I feel guilty. I even had an eighty pound crib ship for free. The Amazon cost for the crib was $20 less than any I could find here. I now have been watching many of the free documentaries, movies and series. I didn't even know about the downloadable books..It has definitely.been great bang for my buck.....

March 19 2014 at 6:53 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Jacknyd

There is a LOT more to Amazon.com than just the Prime. I pay for Prime and it is well worth it as long as they do not end up shipping by Surepost or Smartpost. Not only do you get prime on all orders that are sold and shipped from Amazon.com but you also get fantastic customer service. Very few companies will send you a call tag for the return of a damaged Item or a cancellation of the item if it does not meet the standards they advertise. Getting call tags and replacements are fast and easy. Companies outside of amazon will sell you anything but when push comes to shove, your screwed. Why would anyone pay to return a product that was defective to begin with, That is the company that sends it responsibility. I've purchased products from Battery charger companies that were defected and they told me to send it back at MY expense, I said absolutely not, Either send a call tag or I'll call the bank and cancel the payment. Amazon will always send a call tag unless you get a product and decide you don't want it for reasons other than it being defective or broken in some way or miss advertised. So for $79 a year and even the new price of $99 a year it is well worth it. Knowing i can (which has happened to me several times, ) get a part for my truck UTV ATV or even a household item that broke in 2 days is great. Where i live it would cost me a trip of 54 miles one direction and then back, Figure what that cost in gas alone and it is a no brainier. Of course if the part was needed at the moment it broke as an emergency yes i would have to take the trip. NO company in the world has better customer support and service than Amazon and at near 70 years old i go back a ways and can say this from experience.

March 19 2014 at 6:39 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
house123456james

Amazon uses the Russian mafia threw On trac there delivery company in Portland and seatle to deliver your packages. So every time you get a package in these areas you are funding the Russian mafia.

March 19 2014 at 4:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to house123456james's comment
arvig

Uh-huh. 1) Show us proof the Russian Mafia is involved with OnTrac. Sorry, I won't just believe some random person on a website. 2) Although I used to dislike OnTrac due to being late with packages, they have it seems stepped up their game. I've had one or two orders (hardly ALL of them) come via Ontrac and they were VERY fast, faster then UPS or FedEx. I still like UPS and FedEx but OnTrac seems to be improving.

March 19 2014 at 7:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mik's $ Toy

also, a LOT of bookstores will sell new copies of books they have had a long time for one-third the retail price and even with media mail shipping and handling costs of usually $3.99 they are still cheaper than paying full price. Also, there are two well known long-time book discount sellers that sell new books at great discounts and even buying 3 to 6 books I have never paid more than $6 for shipping.

March 19 2014 at 4:11 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Lisa Baumgarte

I don't mind the 20 dollar hike. I checked out the other sites that offer free shipping and they don't offer the diversity that amazon offers.

March 19 2014 at 3:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Lisa Baumgarte's comment
Sekinu2

You didnt look very good as even ebay is almost always much cheaper on same brand new goods and on used amazon can not even compete. usually name store items are cheaper right at the store then on Amazon directly.

March 19 2014 at 8:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tom

Free ahipping. - a bold subhead no less.

Free ahipping? Maybe I better re-new my Amazon Prime. Don't want to miss out on free ahipping.

March 19 2014 at 3:26 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply