How to avoid paying $139 for Amazon Prime


UPDATE: Feb. 17, 2022, 4:40 p.m. EST The time has come. Today, Feb. 17, is the last day you can sign up for Prime at the $119 rate or gift yourself a subscription at the same rate. We’ve also corrected a previous version of this story that stated existing members had until March 24 to use the gift subscription method. We apologize for the error.

Amazon is raising its Prime membership prices. But with a little creativity, you might not have to pay the increased rate.

The company announced on Thursday that the monthly membership fee for Prime will increase from $12.99 to $14.99, while the yearly membership fee will jump from $119 to $139. This 17% increase will go into effect Feb. 18 for new subscribers and March 25 for current subscribers.

Amazon says the reasons behind the rises include higher wages, increased transportation costs, and costs associated with the expansion of Prime’s services, including video, pharmacy, and more. The move isn’t unprecedented — the company has bumped up Prime’s yearly cost by $20 every four years since 2014.

Maybe you were able to justify that 2018 increase from $99 to $119, but this latest price hike might have you wanting to end your membership altogether. While that’s certainly one option, we’ve come up with a couple of ways for you to keep getting the most out of Prime without paying the absolute most.

Give yourself the gift of no price increases for a year (or more)

Did you know that it’s not all that hard to send yourself an Amazon Prime gift membership? And since you pay that price in full, up front, and can activate it whenever you want, theoretically, one could buy a $119 yearly membership today and start using it months after the price hike goes into effect. You can even send yourself multiple gifts (if you don’t mind a hefty upfront cost), making it possible to avoid the $139 fee for some time.

Obviously, this process will differ slightly for new members and returning members. Since an estimated 153 million Americans are already Prime members, we’ll start with step-by-step instructions for existing members.

Go to your account in the upper right corner and navigate to the Prime page.

There, you’ll see a box with your membership information. To apply a gift subscription, you will need to cancel your current membership and start anew, but how you should go about this varies slightly depending on the end date of your subscription.

If your membership is set to renew after the price increases on March 25, you’ll just want to make sure you check the box to get a reminder, or set a reminder through your own preferred methods, before it automatically renews with the higher rates.

If your membership is set to renew before March 25, you can let it renew as usual with the $119 rate, but you’ll want to make sure you set a reminder a year from its renewal date so you remember to cancel your membership.

Since this subscription is set to renew in Oct. 20, you’d check the reminder box and make sure you end it by Oct. 19. Then, you’d apply your gift subscription.
Credit: Mashable Photo Composite / Amazon

Go to the give the gift of Prime page.

You’ll have the option of a three-month subscription for $39 or a full year for $119. To get the most bang for your buck, we recommend opting for the latter.

We recommend opting for the yearly gift subscription, especially if you’re already a big fan of Prime.
Credit: Amazon

Input your email and make sure to complete your order by Feb. 17. If you wait until past this date, the gift membership will cost $139, even though existing members’ Prime rates do not increase until March 25.

Send yourself as many gift memberships as you’d like, and enjoy a year or more of Prime at the $119 rate.

If you’re new to Prime, we recommend just signing up before the price hike (by Feb. 17) unless you anticipate this is a service you’ll want to use for years. If you want to pay up front for several years of subscriptions, here’s what to do.

Go to give the gift of Prime.

Send yourself the gift memberships by Feb. 17 at the latest.

Redeem when you choose and enjoy a lower price.

Share the love (by which we mean a Prime account)

One email + more than one user = lower Prime prices for all. That’s the basic formula for this next money saving trick.

If you and a small group of highly trusted people in your life all want to use Prime without paying the full $139, sharing a log in can help you split up the price. We want to emphasize that you’d only do this with people you really, really trust, as everyone with access to the account will also have access to the payment information on the account. Even if that means you just two other people that closely, a three-way split means that $139 price comes out to about $47.

If you don’t want to share a password or email with anyone, Amazon does allow you to share your Prime benefits with your Amazon Household for free. In this case, you’ll share the membership but each have your own email and private account. An Amazon Household can only include two adults, meaning that a year subscription comes out to $69.50 per person at the lowest.

Say goodbye to Prime

For some, these new prices could signal the end of their time with Prime. And while free two-day shipping is nice, it is also true that Prime members tend to order more than they otherwise would without the service. With plenty of stores now offering pick-up, drive up, and speedy shipping, Amazon’s price hike might just be the opportune time for you to explore other shopping avenues.

This story was originally published on Feb. 4, 2022.