Amazon Raising Its Free-Shipping Threshold From $25 to $35

Inside An Amazon.com Distribution Center On Cyber Monday
David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images


Bad news, Amazon fans: The site is making it a little harder to score free shipping.

For the first time in over a decade, Amazon (AMZN) is raising the minimum purchase necessary to get your order shipped for free. The usual $25 threshold for free "Super Saver" shipping is going up to $35, effective immediately.

"Amazon's minimum order size for free shipping has changed to $35," the company said in a brief announcement on its site. "This is the first time in more than a decade that Amazon has altered the minimum order for free shipping in the US. During that time, we have expanded free shipping selection by millions of items across all 40 product categories."

Luke Knowles of FreeShipping.org told us he was surprised by the move, noting that it's difficult to raise a free-shipping threshold once customers have gotten used to it.

"I guess it's probably just that they're not making enough money," he says. "They think they've already got the customer locked in to shopping with them."


That makes sense. Amazon's profit margins are notoriously thin, and shipping isn't cheap; raising the minimum allows the company to stop paying for shipping on small purchases, and may encourage some shoppers to add more to their carts, boosting sales figures.

When we reached out to Amazon to see if we could find out more about the change, a spokesperson simply emphasized that the minimum has been set at $25 for more than a decade. That's fair: It makes sense that the cutoff for free shipping should rise with inflation. Still, the change comes as competitors like Barnes and Noble have set their own free-shipping cutoff at $25 and others have ditched minimum purchase requirements altogether; if these companies don't follow suit, that's a competitive advantage over Amazon that they're sure to emphasize to shoppers during the holiday season.

There is perhaps one other reason why this move makes sense for Amazon. In its announcement, Amazon noted that "Millions of Amazon customers have already made the choice of faster shipping by becoming Amazon Prime members." Prime, it emphasized, carries no such minimum purchase requirements.

That little aside is significant. By making it a little tougher for people to get free shipping, Amazon might convince more of them to pony up the $79 a year to sign up for Prime -- a plan which gives them even more reason to shop loyally at Amazon.

Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.

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64 Comments

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tom

I have been a Prime member for a yr, and have more than paid for the membership with all of the free shipping I've received. This includes items that would have been more than $100 to ship. (Weber grill, metal plant stand, etc.). Also the free stuff I use with my Kindle. Will do this again. Is Amazon going to start with the sales tax thing in 2014?

October 23 2013 at 6:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Denise

I have Amazon Prime (for Roku, Netflix, shipping, book 'borrowing', etc.), but I don't think the higher purchase limit is unreasonable. Look at all the ones that 'ship free' after $99 (and up) purchases!

October 23 2013 at 6:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Pls

Not all items are included in "Prime" shipping either...

October 23 2013 at 6:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
JordanMalik.com

This does pose a peculiar situation for 3rd party merchants who were getting comfy increasing their prices from (say) $22 to $25 to meet the free shipping threshold. Some of those merchants may now assume they can just push that $22 price to $35, but I'm not sure how well that will work. It may be better for them to (instead) take other items they have priced at (say) $15 and increase them to $17.50 and then, in their Condition Notes say ("Buy 2 and get free super saver shipping"). But all that is going to be moot if there is a gaggle of customers signing up for Prime.

-Jordan Malik / http://jordanmalik.com/blog

October 23 2013 at 5:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to JordanMalik.com's comment
roborose2005

Many of those 3rd party merchants set their prices way off the wall anyway. One of them actually had a price tag of $500 for a six pack of Mrs. Meyers Clean Day hand soap! I sent an inquiry just on principle and have not received a reply -- maybe they had it removed.

October 23 2013 at 6:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Anthony

I'm not affected since I never buy anything from them anyway. I didn't appreciate being yelled at because I couldn't sort fast enough to suit them when I worked at the CVG-3 in Hebron, KY facility Dec. 2010 to Feb. 2011. If they want to terminate employees because of speed issues that's their business, I could do without all the screaming.

October 23 2013 at 4:44 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
trymel8r

Just in time for Christmas.....Perfect timing

October 23 2013 at 4:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sagg1948

Amazon has not turned a profit yet

October 23 2013 at 4:15 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
ladybegreen

Going from $25 to $35 over ten years is just an inflation index. I hope to be shopping at Amazon soon for some goodies.

October 23 2013 at 1:41 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
AlwaysRight

So what? I never use Amazon and would pay three times higher to somebody else rather than give a dime to Jeff Bezos.

October 23 2013 at 12:40 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to AlwaysRight's comment
temeculapaul

Let ignorance be your guide. Amazon partners with many thousands of independent businesses and now pays sales tax in each state so you are hurting a lot of small business people with your silly boycott and Jeff Bezos doesn't feel your loss of business at all!

October 23 2013 at 3:58 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Myrna

For books, often the price from an Amazon reseller is less than the price from Amazon. You always pay for shipping, but it is a standard charge of $3.99 (unless that has been raised also). So if you are not buying enough to qualify for Amazon's free shipping, the lower price plus $3.99 from the reseller might be the answer.

October 23 2013 at 12:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Myrna's comment
blutzwave

I think shipping from merchants was raised also. I checked some past orders from merchants in 2006 and I was charged $2.98 for shipping. And I think it was $5.00 for expedited shipping.

October 31 2013 at 4:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply