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Check Out These Hidden Amazon Prime Perks Ahead of Black Friday

There's more to a Prime subscription than two-day delivery and streaming.

Amazon Prime logo on a laptop screen
The list of Amazon Prime benefits continues to expand every year.
James Martin/CNET

This story is part of Gift Guide, our year-round collection of the best gift ideas.

Black Friday shopping season is here, with just four days until the big day. As you consider the premium deals to snag and services to subscribe to, don't forget about the underrated perks that come with an Amazon Prime subscription. Sure, you know about Amazon Prime's expedited shipping and its streaming service, but what about Whole Foods discounts and cheaper prescription drug costs? 

Launched back in 2005 (for only $79 a year), Amazon Prime quickly caught on with customers due to its free two-day shipping on all eligible items. While expedited shipping is still a big feature of the service (which now costs $139 a year or $15 a month), in recent years Amazon has added a ton of perks and benefits for shoppers who subscribe to Prime.

Read on to discover the biggest Amazon Prime membership perks you might not know about. For more, find the very best movies and TV shows to watch on Prime Video. 

1. Watch HBO or other premium TV channels without cable

You probably know about Prime Video and Amazon Music Prime, but you might not know all the special details. Amazon Prime members have access to a large number of feature-length movies and hit original TV shows like The Boys and The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power, as well as an Amazon Music Prime library featuring 2 million songs and thousands of curated playlists. 

Prime members can also download movies and TV shows for watching later offline.

And if a show or movie you want to watch is not included as part of your basic Prime subscription, you can subscribe to premium channels such as HBO, Showtime and Starz for $5 to $15 a month, with no need for cable or satellite service.

Music lovers can upgrade to Amazon Music Unlimited to get a library of 90 million songs that can be streamed to multiple devices for $9 a month or $89 a year.

2. Get money back by choosing no-rush shipping

If you don't need your purchase to be delivered quickly, you can opt out of two-day or shorter delivery options by selecting "no-rush shipping" and receive your package in about six days. In return for your patience, Amazon will give you rewards.

There's no standard for no-rush shipping rewards -- they vary from item to item -- but they generally provide discounts on products and services that you might buy from Amazon.

Some common rewards are $1 credits for Amazon digital services like movies, music and ebooks, $3 coupons for Amazon's Happy Belly-branded snacks, $10 to $20 off TV or furniture purchases, and $10 to $20 off Amazon Home Services.

The value of no-rush shipping will depend on whether you'll use any of the rewards. It might not seem like much, but a few no-rush shipping selections could easily earn you the $3 to $4 you need for a free movie rental from Prime Video.

3. Qualify for discounts on groceries from Whole Foods

If you're a frequent shopper at Whole Foods, an Amazon Prime membership can reap serious dividends. Prime Member Deals available in physical Whole Foods stores give members discounts of 10% to 20% on selected items marked with blue Amazon stickers. 

Yellow tags indicate even further savings, usually at least another 10% off an already discounted price. Prime members who scan the Whole Foods Market or Amazon app at check out get an extra 10% off storewide sales. Prime membership also gives you access to special online deals.

4. Get exclusive access to Thursday night NFL football games

Thursday Night Football on Prime Video

Prime Video launched its NFL coverage in 2017.

Amazon

Prime Video has been broadcasting Thursday night NFL games since 2017, but the 2022-23 season marks the first time that you can only watch Thursday night games via Amazon

The popularity of the NFL was evidenced when Amazon recorded its highest-ever number of Prime subscriptions for a three-hour period during its exclusive showing of the Week 1 matchup between the Chiefs and the Chargers. Prime Video has also shown late-season Saturday games and wild-card playoff games in recent years.

5. Free same-day Amazon Fresh delivery

Whole Foods isn't the only grocery option available to Amazon Prime members. Subscribers also have access to the online grocery store Amazon Fresh that provides free deliveries to some locations. Amazon Fresh has some similar products as Whole Foods, but generally focuses on a broader range of groceries and home products at lower price points. 

Anyone can purchase products from Amazon Fresh, but only Prime members get free same-day delivery. Amazon Fresh also has 44 physical locations that offer special weekly deals for Prime members.

6. Try items like clothes and shoes before you buy them

It's almost impossible to size clothing correctly online -- to know if it fits, you have to try it on. Prime members get that chance with Amazon's "Try Before You Buy" service. In specific personal shopping categories like clothes, shoes and accessories, you can order items and keep them for seven days without paying for them.

Return what you don't want before the trial week is over, and you'll only pay for the items that you keep. Eligible products are indicated on Amazon with a "Try Before You Buy" icon. Several online reports have indicated a limit of six products for "Try Before You Buy," but the Amazon site doesn't specify a maximum.

7. Borrow unlimited books, magazines and comics

Amazon Prime members gain access to Prime Reading, a service similar to Kindle Unlimited with a different collection of materials. You can borrow as many books as you like, and many include audible narration, so you can switch back and forth between reading and listening. The electronic downloads don't require a Kindle or Fire device.

Amazon First Reads gives Prime members access to editors' selections of early book releases. Anyone with a Prime membership gets one free Kindle book a month, as well as regular discounts on selected titles.

8. Exclusive deals, faster shipping and a test month for running shoes from Zappos

Amazon acquired the online shoe giant Zappos back in 2009, and it now provides a number of benefits for Prime members who link their accounts on Zappos.com. Prime members get faster shipping, bonus reward points for shopping and exclusive deals on certain products. 

Zappos also lets Prime members participate in Runlimited, a 30-day guarantee program for running shoes.

9. Early access to Lightning Deals on Black Friday

Lightning deals are sort of like Amazon's version of a fire sale, featuring very low prices for a limited number of products that are sold out very quickly. On Black Friday, these lightning deals can become extremely popular and very short-lived.

The good news for Amazon Prime members is that they get access to lightning deals on Black Friday earlier than everyone else. The bad news? There are a lot of Amazon Prime members out there…

10. Save money on prescription drugs online or at your local pharmacy

Amazon Prime Rx savings card

Prime membership provides a discount card for prescriptions at local pharmacies.

Amazon

Amazon Prime Rx savings program gives Prime members discounts on prescription medicine, whether it's purchased at Amazon Pharmacy or in-store at a physical pharmacy. An Amazon Rx savings card can be printed out or saved digitally and used for discounts at more than 60,000 participating pharmacies, including CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid.

Amazon says that members can save up to 80% on common prescription drugs using Prime Rx, but it's important to note that Amazon's Prime Rx savings program does not work with health insurance. You'll need to be sure that any savings you get from the program are more than you'd get from insurance coverage.

For more about Amazon Prime, learn about what to expect from this year's Amazon Black Friday discounts and deals