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Walmart Free Shipping vs. Amazon Prime: Which Is Better?

Walmart is getting a jump start on Amazon Prime Day. The brick-and-mortar retailer recently announced that it'll begin offering 1-day shipping with no membership fees required. It's a snarky jab in the ongoing fight between Walmart and Amazon.

In a blog post, Walmart CEO Marc Lore explained that the retailer is now offering 1-day shipping in Phoenix and Las Vegas only. It will expand to Southern California in the coming days. According to Walmart, the next-day shipping option will be available on up to 220,000 frequently purchased items ranging from diapers to electronics. It'll be available on all orders of $35 or more. 

Less than 24 hours after Walmart's announcement, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos hopped on a John Deere front loader and took to Twitter to announce that Amazon is investing $1.5 billion in a new air hub designed to expedite deliveries.

Clearly, the battle to make 1-day shipping the new e-commerce standard is a fierce one. Fortunately you, the consumer, are the biggest beneficiary.

But which retailer offers the better shipping policy right now? Here's a break down of what the country's biggest retailers currently offer when it comes to expedited shipping.  

Amazon PrimeWalmart
Membership FeeYes ($119/year, $12.99/mo)None
Minimum Requirement$25$35
Next-Day ShippingYes (select cities only)Las Vegas/Phoenix & select cities only
Products EligibleOver 3 millionUp to 220,000
Extra PerksPrime Now, Prime Video, Amazon Channels, Prime Music, Twitch Prime, Amazon Fresh, Prime Reading, First Reads, moreIn-store discounts

The Shipping Wars

Amazon and Walmart have been rivals for years, but the feud got serious in 2016 when Walmart — in an effort to grow its online presence — acquired Amazon competitor for $3.3 billion. In the months that followed, Walmart threw all its retail weight at its rival going so far as launching ShippingPass, a low-cost ($49/year) alternative to Amazon Prime ($99/year).

Walmart eventually shuttered ShippingPass and replaced it with its free two-day shipping policy. Millions of Walmart's products are eligible, and those that aren't ship for free within three to five days. In addition, the retailer lowered its minimum purchase requirement from $50 to $35. Along with the option to buy online and pick up in-store, it gave Walmart shoppers multiple shipping options, none of which were tied to a membership program. It was Walmart's biggest chest thump to date in its never-ending battle with Amazon.

MORE:Amazon Prime Day 2019: Best Deals to Look For

Not one to stay quiet, Amazon reacted by lowering its free shipping minimum. In June of 2017, it also acquired Whole Foods, which has given Amazon a huge brick-and-mortar presence. Since its acquisition, Whole Foods has introduced exclusive discounts for Prime members. Last year, the high-end grocer also participated in Prime Day 2018.

Walmart has its own grocery service and this week, Walmart-owned partnered with H-Mart to deliver groceries from the country's largest Asian supermarket.   

So as the two giants continue to duke it out — the question remains. Who has the best shipping program? It all depends on what you're looking to buy.  

A 2018 report by student financing site LendEDU shows that shopping on Amazon might actually cost you more.  

The study rounded up a list of 50 products and performed a price comparison analysis to conclude that Amazon was 10 percent pricier than Walmart. The items they looked at were split into five categories: home goods, kitchen/home appliances, tech/entertainment, food/beverages, and miscellaneous items. The biggest savings were in the food department, where Amazon was 22.5 percent cheaper.  

Does this mean Walmart is better? Not exactly. Consumers looking to save money should note that although Amazon Prime has a hefty $119 membership fee, it includes many perks, of which free shipping is just one. For instance, Prime Video provides lots of free movies and shows, whereas Prime Family can help you save money on diapers, baby food and more. And the perks continue to accumulate as Amazon announces more Whole Foods-Prime member exclusives. Walmart, by comparison, doesn't offer any of these perks.  

What the retailer does offer are small discounts when you opt to ship certain products to a Walmart store for in-store pickup. Walmart's Pickup Discount is available on select items only. (To find these items, just click on the "Free Pickup + Discount" radio button on the left hand column of any page).  

Regarding shipping: it boils down to quicker delivery versus an all-inclusive package. Both Walmart and Amazon sell a wide range of items, so if you have no loyalty to one store, Walmart's 2-day shipping easily beats Amazon's five- to eight-day delivery window that non-Prime members are stuck with. But if you want an all-inclusive package that's convenient and constantly growing, Amazon Prime is hard to beat.

Louis Ramirez

As deals editor at Tom’s Guide, Louis is constantly looking for ways to avoid paying full price for the latest gadgets. That means price checking against multiple retailers and searching high and low for the best deals to bring readers. A born-and-bred New Yorker, Louis is also an avid swimmer and marathoner. His work has appeared on Gizmodo, CNET, and Time Out New York.