What Happened When I Canceled My Amazon Prime

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In 2021, I got fed up with paying for Amazon Prime. With prices rising for seemingly everything these days, this could be a good moment to decide if the subscription is worth it for you, too.

Ultimately, I dropped Prime and then re-subscribed. The story of why is a little nutty, or so it feels to me. Read on to learn more and get a better sense of whether it makes sense for you to go Prime-less.

Saving the subscription fee — $139 a year if you pay annually and $180 a year if you use the $15-per-month plan — probably isn’t life-changing. But it can be a satisfying way to punch back against inflation.

Why I quit Prime

Skeptical man raising his glasses and one eyebrow
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Before I explain why I ended up resubscribing to Amazon Prime, I’ll explain the five main reasons that I stopped my membership in the first place.

All in all, for me, it turned out that Prime didn’t offer outstanding value.

For you, though, the value of Prime will depend on the features you like and use most and how you’d replace them. For help weighing the value of Prime, check out:

1. Prime Video didn’t offer me much

Woman watching Netflix
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One reason I subscribed to Prime was for Prime Video, Amazon’s streaming video service. It’s free for Prime members but $8.99 per month for non-members.

Yet, using Prime Video, I’d found there wasn’t a lot I wanted to watch. My Netflix subscription pretty much had me covered.

2. The public library covered my reading needs

man reading e-book ebook
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As a Prime member, I’d tried and quickly rejected Amazon’s Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (which has since gone kaput), Prime Reading and First Reads. Two reasons:

  • The public library. I download all the free e-books and audiobooks I want from my public library system online. If they’re not available, I put my name on a waitlist and download something else to read in the meantime. I check out print books at the brick-and-mortar library. If the library doesn’t own what I want to read, they borrow it for me through an interlibrary loan.
  • Bad experience. A couple of times I was led, click by click, into making a book purchase that I assumed, wrongly, was free. After that, I grew skittish of Amazon’s free reading options. If you don’t read the fine print, you may be unpleasantly surprised. Fortunately, Amazon’s excellent customer service canceled or refunded the accidental purchases.

3. I didn’t like Prime Music

Upset woman using a laptop computer
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I’ve tried Prime Music, another no-charge Amazon Prime benefit, but didn’t like it as well as another free music service I was using at the time, Apple Music. (It generally isn’t free, but a free subscription came with an Apple TV I received as a gift.)

To sample Prime Music before paying for Prime, you can sign up for a 30-day Amazon Prime free trial. Remember: Cancel the subscription before the trial ends to avoid being charged for Prime if you decide it’s not for you.

4. The credit card rewards were a wash

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa card
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A favorite Prime benefit of mine is the no-annual-fee Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. I liked the 5% cash back on my Amazon purchases and had become pleasantly attuned to using the rewards for “free” purchases now and then. I paid the balance off monthly so that interest fees wouldn’t offset the value of the rewards.

When I canceled Prime, Amazon downgraded my credit card to one that offers 3% cash back on Amazon purchases instead.

To see if the cash-back rewards were worth the cost of a Prime membership, I located my Amazon spending for the year. I found 5% of that total spending and compared it with the Amazon Prime fee. The result: I spent roughly the same on the subscription as I received in rewards on Amazon purchases. In that regard, it was a wash.

Here’s a shortcut: Given the current annual Prime fee of $139, you now would have to spend $2,780 per year at Amazon (and/or subsidiary Whole Foods Market) to earn enough in cash back on those purchases to cover the annual Prime fee.

If card rewards are a lure for you, you can find and compare offers on cash-back credit cards at Money Talks News’ Solutions Center.

5. You can get free shipping without Prime

Amazon purchases
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Prime members enjoy free and fast shipping for most purchases. When considering dropping Prime, I wondered if I’d miss Prime’s fast free shipping.

“What’s the rush?” I decided, finally. As we explain in “9 Things Anyone Can Get for Free on Amazon,” non-members can get free shipping on many things, too. Amazon spells out the rules here. You’ll just have to wait longer for your stuff — five to eight days, Amazon says. Also, a $25 minimum purchase is required.

The experiment ends

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For a few months after I quit Prime, I patted myself on the back and enjoyed free shipping without Prime.

Then came the moment when I forgot to plan ahead and needed to receive a purchase quickly. I rejoined Prime for one month, planning to cancel again before the next month’s bill.

But I forgot and was charged for the next month’s Prime subscription payment. Since I’d paid for it, I began using free two-day shipping with no minimum again. Pretty soon, I was behaving as if I had an annual subscription but paying at the higher monthly rate.

It was time to end the experiment. I had to acknowledge that I was hooked. Sadder, wiser and against my better judgment, I’m now an annual Prime subscriber once again.

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