Amazon Jacks Up Rate On Prime Memberships To $99/Year

Amazon said in January that it was considering increasing the annual subscription rate on its Amazon Prime program — which includes free two-day shipping on many purchases and access to the site’s library of streaming videos — by twenty to forty dollars. This morning, the e-tailer began notifying customers that it is indeed jacking up that rate from $79/year to $99/year.

Reads the e-mail being sent to Prime members:

We are writing to provide you advance notice that the price of your Prime membership will be increasing. The annual rate will be $99 when your membership renews…

Even as fuel and transportation costs have increased, the price of Prime has remained the same for nine years. Since 2005, the number of items eligible for unlimited free Two-Day Shipping has grown from one million to over 20 million. We also added unlimited access to over 40,000 movies and TV episodes with Prime Instant Video and a selection of over 500,000 books to borrow from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

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UPDATE: Readers with Amazon Student Prime accounts say their yearly rates are also increasing by $10 to $49/year.
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UPDATE #2: Because of discrepancies between renewal dates mentioned in e-mails sent to Prime subscribers and what some members were seeing on their account profiles, Consumerist spoke to Amazon, which confirmed that new users will be able to sign up for Prime at the current $79 rate until March 20. Existing members whose accounts renew before April 17 will have their memberships re-upped at the current rate. Any memberships purchased after March 20 or renewed after April 17 will be at the $99 rate.
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Some consumers have reacted negatively to speculation that the annual rate could increase so dramatically at once. As we’ve argued in the past, Amazon would be facing less of a backlash if it charged a monthly rate, as the prospect of going from $6.58/month ($79/year) to $8.25/month ($99/year) may not have seemed as drastic to some consumers.

What remains to be seen is whether those angry customers will ditch their Prime subscriptions when it comes time to renew.

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  1. HappyCamper says:

    I recieved a letter this morning that was slightly different than your story. My price increase will not go into effect until 2015. The renewal for 2014 will remain the same. I still beleive for those of us that order often and watch the movies, this is a good value.

    Dear xxxxx,
    We are writing to provide you advance notice that the price of your Prime membership will be increasing in 2015. Your 2014 annual renewal will remain at the original price of $79. On April 14, 2015, your membership will renew at $99/year.
    Even as fuel and transportation costs have increased, the price of Prime has remained the same for nine years. Since 2005, the number of items eligible for unlimited free Two-Day Shipping has grown from one million to over 20 million. We also added unlimited access to over 40,000 movies and TV episodes with Prime Instant Video and a selection of over 500,000 books to borrow from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.
    For more information about your Prime membership, visit our Prime membership page.
    Sincerely,
    The Amazon Prime Team

    • Saber says:

      There must be a cutoff date/month, because my renewal date is July 6 and I’ll be paying the new $99/month. That means that either May or June is the cutoff date, I’m guessing. It kinda stinks, but at the same time I do save out on shipping. I’ll probably renew, but I am really hoping that they do something for people who do stay loyal who were paying the older rate.

    • SingleMaltGeek says:

      I got the same letter as HappyCamper — my renewal date is Oct. 15, and my letter said I will pay $79 this October and then $99 next October. I was a member for a few years, then cancelled early last year over the Add-Ons, then renewed last October. Maybe that has something to do with it?

      All I know is, it’s barely worth it for me when I STILL have to group small items together. I don’t even have the option to pay more to get them right away! For example, I used my Prime shipping to order a $2 roller for our shower door and fixed it 2 days after I ordered it because I had Prime. Now things like that WILL NOT be sent unless you order at least $25 total. Well hell, if I can wait until I have more things to group together why do I need Prime?!!?

      • MathManv2point0 says:

        Was the seller/order fulfilled by Amazon or was it a marketplace seller?

        • Raekwon says:

          Seems like he is referring to the “add on” items. They used to be shipped free with any order but now they ship free with any order over $25. These are normally very small/cheap items which cost more to ship than for the item itself.

          • sylphon says:

            What really drives me bonkers though is I have yet to have a ‘add-on’ item that actually ships with the rest of my order. Every single item I’ve ordered that has been an add-on ends up shipping by itself! Not much of a money saver for them, just a hassle for customers. It’s good in theory or on paper, they just don’t seem to actually utilize their supposed saving methodology.

            • theoriginalcatastrophegirl says:

              i placed an order recently for 6 items, three of which were add ons. one of the add ons came by itself from AZ, one came with another item from KY, and the third came with the remaining 2 items from VA. just doesn’t make any sense as to how that saves on shipping. but they did all arrive the same day, so that was impressive

          • SingleMaltGeek says:

            @Raekwon is correct, @MathManv2point0. I am referring to items that are sold by Amazon, not third-party marketplace sellers, but they will not ship it unless you order more items so that your total is at least $25, even if you’re a Prime member. No free 2-day shipping on thousands of items like this one: http://www.amazon.com/Maxell-Data-Transfer-Cable-191035/dp/B00419ZRZ4

            Amazon’s Add-On popup info

      • Saber says:

        I just spoke with a rep – those emails saying $79 renewal in 2014 are in error. Everyone after April 17th is going to pay $99 and they’re working on fixing it. Nice job all around, Amazon. *sigh*

    • theoriginalcatastrophegirl says:

      my renewal date is this week and i got the same email about 2014 remaining the same:

      “We are writing to provide you advance notice that the price of your Prime membership will be increasing in 2015. Your 2014 annual renewal will remain at the original price of $79. On March 16, 2015, your membership will renew at $99/year.”

      i’m pretty happy with that, although i’ve been using the shipping and streaming a LOT lately so i still think it will be a good value when it goes up.

  2. MissPurdy says:

    It’s still a good deal at $99 a year. I just signed up with Prime in Oct when I ditched cable, I’ve saved so much on shipping alone. I don’t have Netflix or Hulu so the increase doesn’t bother me. Now if they start raising it $20 a year then I’ll rethink keeping my membership.

    • SingleMaltGeek says:

      It’s a pretty good deal if you order from them a lot (which I do) and you use their streaming service a lot (which I don’t). For me, I have Netflix apps on my TiVos, so I use those the most; the TiVo allows you to purchase and watch Amazon Instant Video content, so it is connected to your Amazon account, but for some reason it does not allow you to stream Prime Instant Videos for free. Switching to my Roku is more of a pain, although if we want to watch the Prime Instant content that’s probably what I should do.

  3. ComputerGary says:

    Interesting that they’re raising rates now, considering this story alleging that Amazon is cheating Prime customers through shipping costs…

    http://gma.yahoo.com/amazon-accused-cheating-customers-shipping-costs-210708580–abc-news-personal-finance.html

    • MathManv2point0 says:

      Thanks for providing the link. If Amazon is really doing that, that’s pretty consumer unfriendly and deceitful.

  4. Raekwon says:

    Looking at my buying history I’ll probably still renew next year at the higher rate. Had free shipping on some rather large items this year (60lbs+) so it is worth it to me. I also enjoy their streaming and if this results in more movies and tv I’m all for it.

  5. NYCitizen says:

    I signed up for Amazon Prime yesterday. I’m pretty happy with the timing.

  6. DaveP says:

    I tried Prime with the free trial last spring and it was not worth it. I ordered several item, all sold by Amazon and Prime eligible, and the quickest item came one week later. One item took two weeks. I complained and they gave me a second month for free. I placed a few more small orders and the quickest I got an item was 4 business days. They sent a book via media mail. Super Saver shipping is about the same speed and it’s free.

  7. theocraticjello says:

    I got a full years notice with it going into effect next April, and for me $99 is worth it. I have packages coming in most weeks from Amazon. I’d make my money back in my second month of a Prime membership.