Amazon is raising the price for its Amazon Prime subscription service for the first time since it launched in 2005. Starting March 20th, 2014 the price will rise from $79 per year to $99 per year.

New subscribers will have to pay the new rate, as will anyone renewing a subscription — although students can get discounted membership for $49.

Folks who sign up or renew in the next week can also lock in the $79 rate for a year.

amazon prime march

Amazon Prime has changed a lot in the last decade. When it launched, it was just a free 2-day shipping service for about a million eligible items from the US store. Now you can still get free 2-day shipping, but the plan includes over 20 million items.

Amazon also lets Prime subscribers in the US stream more than 40,000 movies and TV episodes for no additional charge using the Prime Instant Video service. And Amazon Prime members can also borrow a book a month to read on a Kindle using the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, which includes about half a million titles.

So it’s not like you don’t get anything for that extra $20… but I suspect folks who only use the service for free shipping or for online video will be a bit miffed that Amazon doesn’t offer an option to pay just for the services you want.

There are alternatives. A Netflix streaming video subscription is now a cheaper option than Amazon Prime, at $7.99 per month, or just under $96 per year. And online retailer Newegg has launched its own free shipping program for $50 per year.

But I don’t think there’s anybody in a position to offer the same range of services bundled with a single subscription as Amazon. Word on the street is that the company also plans to launch an online music streaming service to rival Spotify and Rdio and bundle it with Amazon Prime.

That could help explain the price hike… although the same rumors suggest the service might be a bit more limited, possibly only allowing users to listen to specific songs a limited number of times before prompting them to buy that track from the Amazon MP3 store.

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10 replies on “Amazon Prime price hike: $99 for free shipping, digital media”

  1. I tried looking at Amazon’s site to cancel the auto-renewal of my membership but I only saw links to end it. That makes it sound like it would immediately cancel my membership. I emailed Amazon’s support to disable auto-renewal or how to do it from their site.

    Anyway, I won’t pay $99 and get nothing more than the current services/offerings.

  2. I feel this going to bite amazon in the butt, with the amount of of people dropping when this price hits. Even at $80 the price was always kinda ehh for the service you got, with the increasingly bad shipping service, and the lack of stuff on prime instant.

    1. I’m on the fence, but leaning toward not renewing. I do use the free shipping about once a month. However, I rarely use the instant videos because I have Netflix and Hulu+ which are better than Instant video and I can’t use the Kindle offer because I don’t have a Kindle. I do use the Kindle app, but the offer isn’t available unless you have the Kindle hardware.

      This is not part of Amazon Prime, but last year they also reduced their mp3 storage service from being able to store 5GB of songs to a limit of 250 songs, so I stopped using that.

      A $20 price hike for the year is not terribly bad, but it’s also for absolutely no additional services and services and I hardly used the ones they have in the first place.

      I’d pay $50/year for the free shipping and forgo the instant video, Kindle and whatever rumored music service they release that I probably won’t use. Not sure if I’m going to pay $99 since I’m not planning to change my usage.

      Perhaps if they lifted the 250 song limit and increased cloud storage for Prime subscribers I’d stay since those are things I did use.

      1. In my opinion if they would have given people free next day shipping and increased the price then i think that it would be worth the extra $20

    2. I already emailed Amazon to turn off the auto-renewal of my Prime membership citing that a $20 price hike and getting nothing out of it was the reason.

      If they kept the $79 shipping only plan and people could add a $20 fee for their lame streaming and Kindle perks then I would keep my Prime membership. It’s annoying that the majority of their HD content can only be viewed on iPads and Kindles with their tiny screens.

  3. The $20 hike does get you nothing. All those services were already included in the $79. Since I only used the free shipping, I won’t be renewing my Prime membership. I’ll look into Newegg’s offering at that time because I only buy electronics from Amazon anyway.

    1. I find that Newegg is more often cheaper than Amazon nowadays even with Prime. That includes tax and shipping. I usually get my stuff from Newegg in days and several items ship free.

      Amazon’s Prime shipping really hasn’t been a goos deal for a while now.

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