By Noah Henry • March 19, 2014
Netflix officially costs less than Amazon Prime. Since 2005, Amazon has been delighting consumers across the world with free, timely shipping and access to thousands of movie, television, and Kindle e-book downloads. For nine years, people have been glowing about the great deal that is Amazon Prime, which has been dominating retailers in terms of quick turnaround and marvelous media selection.
All good things come to an end. At least, for some people. A high percentage of members will gladly pay the extra $20 to continue owning an Amazon Prime account, but others will see it as just one more bill to worry about. Amazon says the decision to hike the cost was because of fuel and transportation costs (a $75 membership in 2005 adjusted to inflation would cost $100 today). So, in a sense, Amazon is still the jolly green giant saving folks from worrying whether they’d be able to find a better deal elsewhere.
If your membership renews on or after April 17, you’ll be charged the $99. Because this is a deal-breaker for some people, let’s take a look at some of the alternatives to owning an Amazon Prime account.
Free shipping isn’t some magical idea only reserved for Amazon Prime members. There are many stores that make free shipping a policy. Whether you need clothes, batteries, perfumes, shoes, sunglasses, or random at-home products, these stores cover the gamut and offer free shipping with no minimum purchase requirement:
You could also get around shipping costs by having your products delivered to the local brick-and-mortar store. Retailers like Best Buy, Toys R Us, Walmart and Target allow customers to order their desired product online and have it shipped to the nearest location. These stores even have price-matching policies which exist year-round. Pull out your RedLaser app and scan those bar codes; the prices for the same product on Amazon will let you get the same price at these stores.
Amazon Prime offers over 500,000 Kindle titles, but you can only download one per month. It would take you 42,000 years to read them all. Here are three sites where you can find cheap or free e-books:
Free-eBooks.net: Like Amazon Prime, Free-eBooks.net is subscription based. You can either get a free account or VIP account. You can download five e-books per month, which is four more than Amazon Prime. The VIP subscription gives you unlimited access and costs less than $40 a year. If you have Amazon Prime strictly because of its e-books, this is already the preferable choice.
Project Gutenberg: Project Gutenberg was the first e-book download site. It has over 44,000 free e-books and over 100,000 from partners and affiliates. This is a considerably smaller library, but it’s free. You can also enjoy the novelty of patronizing the original e-book source.
Kobo: Kobo has four million titles and free apps for Apple, Android, BlackBerry and Windows. Their prices are very competitive, as low as $2.99 per book. Kobo also sells more popular titles than your average free e-book site, and they list one very cheap Daily Deal each day.
Movie and TV Streaming
Although Amazon reigns supreme with a selection of 40,000 titles, there are sites that let you stream movies and television shows for free. Crackle and Hulu are two of them. Red Box Instant offers movies for $1, and you can stream the hottest new releases online. Or, you can take advantage of the one-month free trial and bounce when the time’s up. And, if you have a library card, go to your public library. Odds are there’s a sweet selection.
Don't let the Amazon Prime price hike bring you down.
Noah Henry Noah Henry is an amateur movie critic, foodie, bowler, and beer reviewer. But he's no amateur when it comes to saving money, so listen up!