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Amazon Prime Price Hike: There's Still Time to Lock In Your Rate for Another Year

There's a trick for locking in one last year at your current rate before the popular Amazon Prime membership goes up to $139.

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Introduced in 2005, Amazon Prime now has 172 million members.
Angela Lang/CNET

Amazon announced big fourth-quarter profits along with some bad news for customers earlier this month: The online retail giant is raising its annual membership price again. An Amazon Prime membership will soon cost $139 for annual subscribers, up from $119, and monthly members are looking at an increase from $13 to $15 ($156 to $180 for 12 months). For new accounts, the price hike goes into effect on Feb. 18. But if you already have an account, the cost won't increase until Mar. 25.

This bump marks the first time Amazon has raised prices on Amazon Prime since 2018, when the cost went from $99 to $119 per year (from $11 to $13 monthly). The premium subscription service originally launched in 2005 at $79 per year.

As of December 2021, about 172 million people subscribe to Amazon Prime, according to a report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. The report notes that Amazon Prime has added 30 million new subscribers each of the past two years.

Even though the price is rising, there are ways to maximize your current subscription or get in on the old price before it's gone. Read on to learn all about the Amazon Prime price change and how you can save money.

How much is Amazon raising the price of Prime?

For the majority of people, the price of Amazon Prime will change from $119 per year to $139, or from $13 monthly to $15.

Prices will also increase for students and other low-income subscribers. Prime Student members will soon pay $7.50 per month, or $69 per year. For recipients of Electronic Benefit Transfer and other qualified forms of government assistance, the monthly price will increase from $6 to $7.

When will the price of Amazon Prime change?

The price changes will take effect Feb. 18 for new Amazon Prime accounts. For existing accounts, the increased price will kick in on the first renewal payment after March 25.

How can I save money before the price of Amazon Prime changes?

If you were considering an Amazon Prime subscription, now's the time to do it. Prices will change for new accounts on Feb. 18. If you pay for a yearly subscription before then, you'll lock in the $119 yearly rate until 2023.

Current Amazon Prime members should take a look at their Amazon accounts to see if they are monthly or yearly subscribers. If you're a monthly subscriber and switch to a yearly subscription, you'll also lock in the $119 rate until next year.

Can I buy a future Amazon Prime membership with a gift card now?

Savvy bargain shoppers have noted that Amazon's "gift of Prime" service can be an effective method of extending the current price rate. If you buy a gift subscription of Amazon Prime before the price change and activate it when your existing subscription expires, you'll get another year at the $119 rate. If you sign up for a yearly account before Feb. 18 and buy another yearly gift subscription at $119, you won't be paying the new $139 yearly rate until 2024 (though you will be paying $238 upfront).

Why is Amazon raising the price of Prime?

Despite better-than expected fourth-quarter earnings, Amazon gave several reasons for the price hike in its press release, including more big-budget shows on Prime Video like The Wheel of Time, Jack Reacher and the upcoming The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power as well as its decadelong exclusive license to NFL's Thursday Night Football. The company also touted expanded availability for same-day delivery to 90 metropolitan areas in the US, free shipping for more items and more deals on products.

What services does Amazon Prime offer?

Amazon Prime originally launched with unlimited free two-day shipping for a large number of its products, and that main service remains its most popular benefit. However, Amazon Prime has since expanded its offerings and now includes many other benefits. 

Here are the biggest services Amazon Prime provides:

  • Free two-day, next-day or same-day shipping
  • Free grocery delivery via Amazon Fresh
  • Discounts at Whole Foods
  • Free streaming video via Prime Video
  • Free streaming music via Amazon Music
  • Free magazines and books via Prime Reading
  • Unlimited photo storage on Amazon Photos

Visit the Amazon Prime info page for a full list of the services included in an Amazon Prime membership.

Who are Amazon Prime's competitors?

Pricier Amazon Prime subscriptions could make competing services more attractive, but there aren't a whole lot of them. Walmart Plus, which currently costs $98 per year, offers expedited delivery and groceries, but the superstore chain's service doesn't have the extensive TV shows, movies, music and games included with Amazon Prime.

Both Target and Walmart have tried to compete with Amazon Prime Day, a massively popular and yearly two-day sale for Amazon Prime members. Target has launched its own Target Deal Days and emphasizes that no membership fees are required. Similarly, Walmart began its own Deals for Days promotion for three days in June 2021.

Competitors like NewEgg Premier and Google Express encountered difficulties competing with Amazon Prime. NewEgg launched Premier in 2014 but shut it down in December 2019. Google Express also launched in 2019, but it lasted less than a year.