Don't Bother Getting A Kindle Fire Unless You Have A Credit Card

Heather really likes her new Kindle Fire, once she got it working, but she’s sending it back. Why would she do that? Because the Fire isn’t a very fun device without Amazon Prime, and you need to have a credit card to sign up for Prime. She doesn’t have any credit cards, and she doesn’t want any. So back the Kindle goes.

She wrote an open letter to Amazon on her blog about her experience owning the Kindle Fire, and trying to pay for a Prime membership with a gift card. (Spoiler alert: you can’t do that.)

Don’t get me wrong. After a very rocky start, I came to love the device. It was my first gadget, and it took some getting used to, but I did enjoy it. I loved snuggling under the covers with Squish and watching an episode of Sesame Street, and hiding in the dark reading a good book. When I discovered that all seven seasons of Malcolm in the Middle were available free using Amazon Prime, I was hooked. But I’m letting it go.

My husband bought me the reader for my birthday, and I wanted to send it back within 12 hours. The device would not let me complete the steps to register it, and it was unable to connect to the internet. The Fire does not come with any instructions besides a simple illustration showing how to turn it on. The entire owner’s manual is contained on the Kindle itself, but sadly, I couldn’t access it without being able to register the device in the first place. I spent a Saturday on chat with customer service and discovered something totally fun. The software was obsolete right out of the box. And despite its $200 price tag, it does not come with a USB cable, so couldn’t just upgrade to the new software. They had to ship me a new unit. And I had to front the money for shipping, though it was later refunded.

But when I finally got it working, it was great. For Christmas, my sweet bought me a cover and some accessories, but the big item was an Amazon gift card so that I could purchase a year of Amazon Prime and have access to my favorite old TV shows.

Today, I sat down and entered the card number into my account and tried to purchase Prime. Turns out, I can’t. I spent much time with customer service to discover that the only payment type they accept is a credit card. We follow the financial teachings of Dave Ramsey and cut up our credit cards years ago. We have no interest in going into debt. Pre-paid cards have fees of up to 18% attached. Besides, the money we would have used is tied up in a gift card that they say can’t refund.

Legally, Amazon is probably covered. Even though their gift-card page does NOT list Amazon Prime under “limitations,” and even though it took even the customer service rep about 5 minutes to find it, there’s a clause buried on the Prime page requiring a credit card. They have me. And my money.

Without Prime, there’s no reason to have the Fire. I’m not a gamer, so the apps are not my thing. We don’t have cable. We wanted to stream shows. If I can’t do that, I don’t need the extra features of the Fire. I can get a different reader for less. So the Fire is going back. I spent my afternoon on e-chat with customer service reps and got everything I need. I’m heading off to print the shipping labels in just a few minutes.

In case you weren’t aware of this rule, it’s true that you can’t pay for Prime with a debit card. It’s in Amazon’s own help pages, under “Fees and Renewal”:

Only credit cards are eligible for payment of your Prime membership. Do not sign up for Prime with a debit card. Also known as a “check” or “ATM” card, a debit card typically has the word “debit” printed on the face of the card. MasterCard uses a unique debit hologram above the MasterCard logo. Visa identifies its debit cards as check cards and prints the word debit above the Visa logo.

If all credit cards we have on file for you are declined for payment of your membership fee, you have 30 days to provide us a new credit card or your membership will be canceled. If you provide us with a new card and are successfully charged within 30 days, your new membership period will be based on the original renewal date and not the date of the successful charge.

Dear Amazon, You Can Have My Kindle Fire Back [Becoming Cliche]