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Not only do Amazon Prime members get great deals on everyday items, they get them on groceries now.

Amazon Prime members can now access Amazon Fresh, a service that can deliver groceries straight to your door or have them ready for you at your local store in select cities.

But should you ditch the grocery store and opt for convenience and a $9.99 delivery fee? In short, only if you’re buying groceries pretty often and live in a big city. Here’s everything you need to know about how the online grocery service works.

What is Amazon Fresh?

Fresh is an online grocery delivery service run by Amazon. You order groceries using the Fresh feature on Amazon and schedule whether you want them delivered as soon as the next day. Their other option is picking up your order from a nearby supermarket. This option is better for people on-the-go, since you can pick up your items in as little as 15 minutes.

Fresh offers food, drinks, household products, pet care products, health products, beauty products, and more. It stocks both popular name brands and Whole Foods’ signature 365 Everyday brand.

How does it work?

It works almost the same as Amazon does — you add your items to a cart online, then check them out. But there are a few differences.

You must be an Amazon Prime member to use Fresh. If you want to try it out for a little while, there’s a 30-day free trial with no delivery fees.

Fresh also offers multiple delivery options. You can choose from either attended delivery or doorstep delivery. The former is where you’ll ideally be home during the delivery. You choose a one-hour delivery window and have your order (including produce) delivered in paper bags. The latter is where you might be away from where you live, so your items will come in temperature-controlled totes within a two- to three-hour time slot.

Fresh doesn’t deliver to university dorms, and people using the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can get Fresh for free.

How is it different from Amazon Prime?

Amazon offers a service like Fresh called Amazon Prime Now. Prime Now delivers groceries and household products like Fresh does. One of the main differences is Fresh’s food selection has a wide variety, while Prime Now only delivers what’s available at Whole Foods and locally-sourced stores.

However, unlike Fresh, Prime Now doesn’t have a membership fee. It’s free with your Prime membership. Prime Now’s delivery fee of $4.99 is also less than Fresh’s for orders under the same $35 threshold.

Although Prime Now’s food selection may be limited, it’s rich in miscellaneous items like gifts and electronics.

Enter your zip code here to see if Amazon Prime Now is available near you.

What can I order from Fresh?

You can order all sorts of products — toiletries, produce, makeup, and more — you’d find in a traditional grocery store. And just because it’s a delivery service doesn’t mean you can’t order perishables. Dairy, meats, cheeses, yogurts and more will come delivered to you in an insulated tote, if you opt for doorstep delivery when you check out.

Besides snacks and produce, Fresh also sells household, pet care, personal care, health and beauty products. Even if you don’t have a Fresh (or Amazon) account, you can still browse all their products here if you’re considering the membership.

How much does it cost?

On top of your annual Amazon Prime membership of $119, it costs $14.99 per month for a Fresh subscription.

The free shipping threshold is $50 before tax in most areas. However, some areas qualify for free shipping over just $35. If you do, it’ll automatically be applied during checkout. If you don’t, the delivery fee is $9.99. It’s best to do large grocery hauls just to skip the fee.

Fresh offers its own coupons and deals on their website under the “Fresh Deals” menu. Like regular grocery stores, there are always bogo deals and savings to take advantage of.

Some products like meat and cheeses can be costly. Amazon Fresh doesn’t have a brand of its own, so many selections can be filled with relatively more expensive name brands.

Is Amazon Fresh available in my area?

Probably not. Here are the select cities Amazon Fresh is present:

  • New York City
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Philadelphia
  • Los Angeles

Fresh used to sell in other states like Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Virginia and California but rolled back certain zip codes in 2017, according to Vox. Check here to see if Fresh delivers in your area.

Pros and Cons of Fresh

Amazon Fresh certainly has its strong and weak points. Deciding whether it’s right for you is a matter of where you live, how often you buy groceries and whether you’re an Amazon Prime member.

Each online grocery delivery system is unique — here’s what’s unique about Fresh…

Advantages

Having anything delivered to your doorstep is convenient. If you hate walking up and down crowded isles, or are busy working from home, then Fresh can save you a lot of time and energy.

Users have said Fresh helps them shop for healthier options. Fresh has all kinds of dietary preferences organized for you by section, including organic groceries, plant-based lifestyles and gluten-free diets. People on meal plans may also benefit, since you can reserve your grocery hauls ahead of time and plan your week’s meals out.

Fresh’s wide variety of meats and meat substitutes is also compatible with all kinds of diets. Since Fresh has several brands of the same thing to choose from, you can find what you need.

Another advantage is you can compare different brands and read reviews before you buy, just like anything else on Amazon.

Disadvantages

Fresh is only available in a handful of regions, so it’s hard to access it even if you wanted to.

Several other reviewers pointed out Amazon Fresh often runs out of stock for certain items. When this happens, Amazon will simply give you an alternative brand similar to the item you ordered for free. But the downside is you won’t find out until your order has reached your doorstep.

Also, the only coupons available are those already on Fresh — you can’t use outside offers. And if you like to rigorously sift through the produce section to pick the freshest items, this is not an option.

Final Thoughts

In most cases, Prime Now is likely a better choice for you than Fresh. It’s cheaper, quicker, and does most of the same things Fresh does.

Fresh may be convenient, but it’s only worth it if you have an Amazon Prime membership already. Fresh is best for people who are always on-the-go and either don’t have much time to go grocery shopping or live in a big city where lugging groceries around may be a hassle.

If you do live in a place where it’s available and have a Prime membership, you can sign up here to test Fresh’s 30-day free trial.

About the Author

Kristen Grau

Kristen Grau

Kristen Grau interns at Debt.com. When Grau is out of the office, she serves as the managing editor of Florida Atlantic University's student-run newspaper, the University Press, and is the Palm Beach County editor of South Florida Gay News.

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