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You’ve heard of Amazon Prime, but what is it, exactly? Basically, it’s a membership program that gives you several perks.

Committing to a membership at $99 a year may seem like a no-brainer. Can an estimated 90 million people be wrong when it comes to the promise of free two-day shipping?

Amazon knew what it was doing here. Studies show that once you’re a member, your spending increases. So the first question to ask yourself: “Do I shop enough — and fork out enough in shipping — that spending $99 will save me money?”

Of course, this membership has other privileges, including free movie and music streaming.

And that may be enough to tips the scales. If the answer is still no, there are other options…

Part-time Prime

Maybe you don’t need Prime year-round, but that free shipping could come in handy when the holidays roll around, or in a month filled with birthdays and anniversaries. Consider paying by the month and only for the months when you shop a lot.

Amazon announced Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, that its Prime monthly fee has increased from $10.99 to $12.99 in the U.S., an 18 percent jump. So, it’s still a deal if you’re in for only a month or two, but if you stick with it all year it’ll add up to nearly $156 a year.

Prime for college students is also going up from $5.49 to $6.49 a month, beginning now for any new members. For those already signed up, the increase begins Feb. 18, 2018.

The cost of an annual Prime membership remains the same, at $99 and $49 respectively.

Keep in mind: If you fail to cancel, you could wind up paying a lot more for what you could’ve gotten for $99.

Discounted Prime

If your income is so low you qualify for federal assistance, you also qualify for a discounted Prime membership. A college student? You qualify for free service for six months and $49-a-year for the next three and a half years — or $5.49 monthly. Amazon also launches college graduates into the world for the first several months at a discount.

Keep in mind: The student membership doesn’t get free streaming until after the six-month trial.

Share the Prime

The rules of what’s called Amazon Household have gotten tighter — the days of flying on your dad’s Prime membership even though you’re grown and live in another city is no longer an option. But Prime will cover two adults in one home and up to four teens and four children under 13 as long as you agree to share payment methods.

Keep in mind: The sharing includes free deliveries, 2 percent rewards on Prime Reload (more about that further down), and streaming access with parental controls in play.

Now that you’ve settled that, here’s something else to consider: Is it time to pay for Amazon with Amazon? You have two intriguing options that can save you big…

The Amazon credit card

If you’ve shopped at all on Amazon, you’ll have seen the pitch for Amazon Visa. You get $70 for signing up and 5 percent back on all Amazon purchases.

Keep in mind: How much shopping on Amazon do you really do? Other credit cards offer 1 percent back on everything, others 5 percent back on all travel. Only you know how you spend. Also, rewards won’t offset the interest if you don’t pay off the card every month.

Prime Reload

If you have a Prime membership and an Amazon gift card, you get 2 percent rewards every time you reload the gift card.

Keep in mind: You have to give them a debit card linked to your bank to get the points. You can reload with your Amazon Visa, but then you don’t get the 2 percent for reloading, just the 5 percent you’re spending.

Best of all, shopping on Amazon Prime means avoiding this at brick-and-mortar stores…

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Article last modified on August 8, 2018 Published by, LLC .