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I'm cancelling Amazon Prime before the price hike — here's why

amazon prime box
(Image credit: Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

You might have heard the the price of an Amazon Prime membership is going up, with Amazon boosting the price of an annual membership for existing customers by $20 to $139 starting in March. (For anyone just signing up for Amazon Prime, the new rate is already going into effect.) We certainly did in my household where the outraged cries echoed from one room into the other, until my wife told me to put a lid on it.

When news broke of the price increase — the first since 2018, sure, but 17% more than we were planning on paying when our subscription renews later this year — we did what we always do in my family when the cost of something goes up. We sat down at a table and asked ourselves, "Do we really need this?"

In the case of Amazon Prime at $139 a year, we decided that no, we do not. (Alternatively, you can do this trick to avoid the price hike).

This isn't to advocate that everyone go out and cancel their Amazon Prime subscription. For some people, the service is probably quite essential. For others, a $20 price hike is simply the cost of doing business. If you're satisfied with Amazon Prime and don't feel aggrieved by paying $139 each year for what the service has to offer, more power to you.

Rather, I'm sharing our decision-making process — how my wife and I reached the conclusion that it was time to part ways for Amazon Prime — in case you're facing a similar internal debate and wondering how to make your own choice. Maybe our approach can help you decide.

What you get with Amazon Prime

Before you can decide whether it's worth paying a higher rate for Amazon Prime, it's helpful to review what exactly your subscription entitles you to. Everyone knows about Prime Day savings and free shipping, I'm willing to bet, but there may be other parts of Amazon Prime you stand to benefit from.

Our Amazon Prime guide gives a thorough rundown of the service, but here's the highlights what comes with an Amazon Prime subscription.

  • Free 2-day delivery on millions of items, with 1-day and same-day delivery available on select items and in select areas
  • 2-hour delivery on groceries in select areas
  • Free 2-day delivery on prescriptions from Amazon Pharmacy
  • 10% off select Whole Foods purchases
  • Free Amazon Fresh deliveries on orders of $35
  • $2 monthly discount on FreeTime Unlimited
  • Access to Amazon Prime Video
  • Access to Amazon Prime Gaming
  • Access to Amazon Prime Music
  • Unlimited photo storage in Amazon Cloud Drive
  • Access to Kindle Owners' Lending Library

There are other perks listed on Amazon's website (opens in new tab), but that's a pretty substantial list that covers the main Amazon Prime benefits.

What Amazon Prime benefits don't you use?

Now, how many of those benefits are actually valuable to you? If you find yourself crossing out a lot of the items on that bullet list because you don't use them, you may be saying a lot about just how essential Amazon Prime is to you.

For my family's part, we get our groceries and prescriptions elsewhere, so strike those from the reasons to keep Amazon Prime. We can also remove services like Prime Gaming and Prime Music — we're not really big gamers at our house, and another streaming service provides our music. My wife enjoys reading ebooks but has never felt motivated to check out the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. 

We could give photo storage a try through Amazon Prime, since you can't have too many backups. Let's consider that an unused benefit we could try should we keep the service around.

Otherwise, though, stripping out several streaming perks, groceries and pharmacy deliveries, and we're left with the services we do use — free delivery, FreeTime Unlimited for our daughter's Kindle and Amazon Prime Video.

Do you really need the Amazon Prime benefits you use?

So the ultimate question becomes are the Amazon Prime benefits that we're using cover anything we couldn't live without? Or to e less stark about it, would giving up those benefits downgrade our life in any way?

Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids review

Got a Fire HD 10 Kids tablet? Prime can get you a discount on FreeTime Unlimited (Image credit: Future)

FreeTime Unlimited is Amazon's subscription service for kid-friendly books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, Audible books, and games on different devices including my daughter's Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids tablet. Our Prime membership saves us $2 per month on that service. That's a price hike we could easily swing, and my daughter seems to be aging out of her tablet anyhow. So discounted FreeTime Unlimited isn't enough to keep us tethered to Amazon Prime.

I'm the primary consumer of Amazon Prime Video in our household, but lately, I've been streaming fewer things through that service. In part, that's because I find the other available streaming options (Hulu, Peacock and Disney Plus) to offer much more relevant material to my interests. I don't think I've watched an Amazon Prime Original by design or by accident, and the library of older movies changes too frequently to get too attached to anything. I could probably delete the Prime Video app from my Apple TV box right now, and after about a week, I would forget it was even there.

Prime Video hidden features

How much do you actually watch Prime Video? (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Free shipping is the biggie, and the one thing that certainly convinced us to stick with Prime the last time Amazon raised prices. This time around, though, I'm not seeing $139 worth of value for keeping that around.

For one thing our buying habits have changed. Back when we had a infant, the prospect of not having to leave the house to have things like diapers, toys and children's books shipped in bulk was overwhelmingly appealing. Our daughter's old enough now to where hauling her around shopping runs is not the hassle it once was — on the contrary, she's at an age where she's most eager to go on visits to the local stores.

And as my wife said when we discussed the value of Amazon Prime in our lives, shipping ain't what it used to be. Blame the supply chain if you want, but we've noticed things aren't arriving as speedily as they used to, negating the value of that extra money we're spending each month to cover our Prime membership. And that's not even delving into the environmental concerns we can gas on about, making us a joy to be around at parties.

The free shipping Amazon Prime afforded us used to be enough to justify the annual cost of a membership. It's not anymore.

Finally, something we do still get some value out of — Amazon's Subscribe & Save — isn't even tied to Prime. So we can continue to buy those items at a discount even if we jettison our Prime membership.

To make a long story short, the free shipping Amazon Prime afforded us used to be enough to justify the annual cost of a membership. It's not anymore.

Deciding whether to keep Amazon Prime

So that's why we're not renewing Amazon Prime once our current membership comes to an end. (For current Prime members, the new rate goes into effect once your current subscription is up after March 25.) If you're facing a similar decision, just pinpoint the Prime-tied services you do use and ask yourself valuable they truly are. Your answer will tell you if that $139 is going to be money well spent.

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.