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Amazon competitor Jet eliminates its annual membership fee

Just three months after launch, the Internet price-club Jet has eliminated its $50 membership charge.

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Price clubs like Costco and Sam's Club are all well and good, but they charge an annual membership fee. Plus, whenever you want to stock up on laundry detergent, toilet paper and Starbucks K-Cups, you have to actually get in the car and drive there. What is this, 1997?

Enter Jet, an Internet-powered price club that launched in July. Though ostensibly an Amazon competitor, the company carries a selection of food, clothing, household goods and other items that seems closer to the likes of Costco.

Indeed, Jet charges $50 annually for a membership, a cost you'd have to factor into your purchases to make sure the value is really there.

jet-free-membership.jpg
Jet

But that's no longer the case: A Jet membership is now free. Which is a surprising move given that Jet had previously said that membership fees were intended to be the company's primary source of profits.

So maybe this is a desperate attempt to lure new customers, or maybe Jet has found a different way to make money. Either way, let's see how its prices really compare. I'll use the aforementioned K-Cups as an example, because I buy them regularly.

Here's the comparison breakdown for a 54-count box of the House Blend.

  • Amazon: $41.83
  • Costco: $32.99
  • Jet: $33.89

So although Jet is a bit higher than Costco, there are a couple advantages. First, there's no sales tax -- not for me in Michigan, anyway, or not yet. Second, shipping is free, though only if my cart total hits at least $35. The coffee alone wouldn't get me there. Third, the more "smart" items you add to your cart, the lower your overall price.

This last is a pretty clever incentive, kind of a real-time instant-coupon deal. For instance, by adding some toilet paper to my cart (which easily pushes me above $35), I received an additional savings of 96 cents. Not a fortune, but it adds up. If I throw in a 16-pack of Pop-Tarts (don't judge me!) for just $3.50, I save another $1.06.

It's worth noting that you can still save $10 on your first purchase by using coupon code TENBUCKSNOW.

I haven't tried Jet yet, but I use Amazon Prime religiously for everything except food and household stuff. If I can get coffee, TP, cereal and other things I buy regularly delivered to my door for free, at a price that's at least as good as my local grocery store and/or Costco, I'd kind of be crazy not to. The time saved alone adds a lot of value.

What do you think? Have you tried Jet? If so, what do you think? If not, was it the membership fee keeping you away?