'Tis the season to be an Amazon Prime member. Free two-day shipping means you still have time to order holiday gifts — and that's just the beginning.
While free shipping with no minimum purchase requirement may be the best-known benefit of a Prime subscription, it's hardly the only one.
I should know. Amazon added so many perks this year alone that I recently gave up on my goal of convincing my husband to give up Prime.
Once we got married, I refused to watch his next $99 annual fee come out of our budget just because he was too impatient to wait more than two days for orders to arrive.
But then Amazon launched Twitch Prime, a perk aimed at gamers like my hubby. I soon realized that trying to convince him to quit Prime was futile.
I also realized that, when you consider all the benefits of Prime, the subscription is a steal for many people.
All those benefits make Prime a great gift too. Plus, you can buy a Prime subscription as a gift right up to the last minute. Amazon can email it to the recipient as soon as you buy it, or at a later date of your choice.
Besides free shipping, the perks of Prime include:
Free photo storage:Prime Photos gives Prime members unlimited cloud storage for digital photos for free. Yes, you read that right: an unlimited amount of online storage space for photos. With the introduction of the new feature called "Prime Photos Family Vault" last month, you can even share your unlimited space with up to five relatives or friends. All six of you will be able to access and add pics to your Family Vault.
Free music:Prime Music allows Prime members to listen to a catalog of some 2 million songs for free. The service is ad-free and on-demand, with unlimited skips and offline playback.
Cheap music:Amazon Music Unlimited, which just launched in October, is Amazon's own full-fledged on-demand music streaming service with a catalog of tens of millions of songs. The most expensive Unlimited subscription plan costs $9.99 per month. That's the same price as Apple Music's Individual plan and Spotify's Premium plan. But Prime members can buy that Amazon Music Unlimited subscription plan for a discount that works out to $6.58 per month.
Free e-reading:Prime Reading grants members free access to more than 1,000 books, magazines and comics for Kindle, which is Amazon's own line of e-readers. You don't need an e-reader to enjoy this Prime perk, though. Just check out "How to Enjoy E-books Without Buying an E-Reader."
Free access to audio series and audiobooks:Audible Channels is a paid subscription service that provides unlimited access to original audio series. As of September, Prime members get the subscription for free. They also get access to a rotating selection of more than 50 audiobooks for free.
Free movies and TV shows:Prime Video is Amazon's video-streaming service that provides unlimited access to thousands of movies, TV shows and Amazon's original video content. A Prime Video subscription costs $8.99 per month, but Prime members get it for free. Check out the "Amazon Video" page to see what's available.
Cheap movies and TV shows: Enjoy watching certain cable channels, but don't want to shell out for an expensive cable TV package just to watch a few favorite channels? Because they get access to a feature called Amazon Channels, Prime members can buy add-on subscriptions to more than 80 individual channels of their choosing. As of this month, even HBO is one of the choices.
Exclusive discounts. Just to name a few: Prime members can access certain Amazon Lightning Deals — steep discounts that are limited in quantity and duration — before everyone else. They can also use Amazon Family. This feature entails saving an extra 20 percent on diaper subscriptions and an extra 15 percent on certain items in your baby registry, among other discounts and rewards. Prime members also save an extra 20 percent on video game pre-orders and new releases.
See the best sellers on Amazon of 2016 below:
How to subscribe
Amazon sells two types of Prime subscriptions.
Prime is the main option. It costs $99 per year — which is the cheaper price overall — or $10.99 per month. A free 30-day trial is available. To sign up, just click the yellow "Start your 30-day free trial" button.
Prime Student is for college students. It costs 50 percent less than the main subscription option. A free six-month trial is available — click on the yellow "Start Your 6-Month Trial" button.
For more ways to stretch your dollar at Amazon — even without Prime — check out "10 Strategies to Save Big Bucks at Amazon."
Do you subscribe to Prime? Let us know why, or why not, in a comment below or on our Facebook page.