Everyone has a Prime account now, don’t they? It’s become almost an afterthought—a utility bill paid once a year (or once a month) in return for fast delivery, a Netflix clone, a Kindle lending library, and some other bits and pieces. But is Prime such a no-brainer? Maybe you’re tired of paying the richest man in the world, or you’re eager to cut the cord that tethers you to the Amazon machine. Maybe you’ve become a monthly fee addict and are ready to break free. Whatever your reason, here’s how to move on from Amazon Prime.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution here, and Prime is undoubtedly excellent value for those who order a lot of stuff from Amazon, enjoy the original shows on Prime Video, and make good use of the extra perks... but for some of you, Prime might not be the necessity you thought it was.
Amazon Prime Video is the video streaming service that comes as part of Prime: Without a membership there’s no (legal) option for getting access to exclusive Prime Video content like Transparent or The Grand Tour, so if you love those shows but don’t like subscribing to Prime, one option is to buy Prime month-by-month and binge watch as fast as you can.
What you might not know is that Prime Video is also available as a separate service for $8.99 a month, without the upgraded shipping and all the other Prime extras. You can choose this as an option by quitting Prime and signing up separately, so it’s worth considering if you love Prime Video content but don’t want the other perks.
Some of the shows that Prime Video has bought the rights to can be bought separately on DVD or Blu-ray, like Mr. Robot, so don’t assume that just because something’s on Prime Video, it isn’t available elsewhere or in another format. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime will cling to their originals, but a lot of the other material is more widely available.
Signing up for Netflix to replace Prime Video can cost as much as a Prime membership on its own, but the more expensive plans let you watch on two or four screens at once, and let you create profiles within each account—maybe you can share an account with a partner or sibling to get your streaming fix.
Super-speedy delivery is the perk that Prime first made its name with, and if you order a lot of stuff from Amazon—and need it quickly—the subscription pays for itself very early on. On the other hand, standard Amazon delivery isn’t all that sluggish, with your packages arriving within a few days.
That might seem slow if you’re used to Prime, but it’s usually perfectly fine, unless you’re trying to meet a deadline for a birthday or anniversary (and why did you leave it so late anyway?). Super-fast, next-day delivery is often available outside Prime as well, as long as you pay for it—so it might work out cheaper, depending on how often you really use it.
Delivery times and prices are going to vary depending on what you’re getting and from where, but buying a lot of goods together often qualifies you for free delivery (the $35 mark will typically get you free delivery in most cases), as does buying stuff that’s lightweight and disposable.
If there are products you buy a lot of on a regular basis, check out Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program, which gives you a discount overall and throws in free shipping as well. You don’t have as much choice over the items you pick, but it’s handy for the essentials, and you don’t need a Prime membership to qualify.
Prime Music is a cut-down add-on for Prime, with a limited library of “more than two million” tracks, so you probably won’t miss it too much when it’s gone—you can opt for the largely superior Spotify or Apple Music, or sign up for the more comprehensive Amazon Music Unlimited. Like Prime Video, Music Unlimited exists outside Prime, but non-Prime members need to fork out $9.99 a month rather than $7.99. If you just want your songs on a single Echo, then it’s $3.99 a month.
If you’ve quit Prime and need a free music fix, check out Google Play Music—you’ll need to supply it with audio tracks you already own, but you can store up to 50,000 songs for free, and stream them to your computers and mobile devices. Spotify has a free tier too—if you don’t mind the occasional ad break, and then there’s always the option of going back to iTunes...
There’s also buying music downloads or ripping CDs. You might end up paying more than you would for a Prime subscription for new music, but you will at least own the music—and you always have the option of not spending anything for a month or more.
Bear in mind there’s more free music and movies out there on the web than you might think, not to mention the option of sharing with someone else on a family plan for something like Spotify or Apple Music (though to be fair Amazon Music Unlimited has a family plan too)—so there are ways you can make sure you get plenty of tunes every month without keeping up your Amazon Prime subscription.
Then there’s files and photos—unlimited photo storage in the cloud is one of the best benefits of signing up for Prime, but Google Photos is a superior service. It’s also completely free for an unlimited number of pictures and videos, if you don’t mind them being resized down to 16 megapixels and 1080p respectively along the way (if you do, you’ll need to pay for extra storage space).
From the automatic AI-driven tagging of your shots, to the smooth editing features available across the web, Android, and iOS, Google Photos is just about the most comprehensive and versatile photo management tool out there at the moment—and the perfect place for your photos if you’re abandoning Prime.
If you’re more of an iOS enthusiast, iCloud Photo Library will take care of your photo storage needs. It’s doesn’t offer unlimited storage space like the Prime add-on, but it doesn’t cost much at all, and it offers more in the way of searching, editing, and just about everything else you want to do with your pictures.
Amazon Prime includes numerous other smaller benefits too. Not all of them are easily replaced or duplicated elsewhere, but you usually don’t need to look far outside the Amazon ecosystem to find an alternative—you can’t get Amazon’s Lightning Deals without Prime, for example, but you can choose to shop at other online retailers offering big reductions of their own.
As for the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, this is another perk you can’t replace exactly, but what you can do is borrow ebooks for your Kindle from more than 11,000 libraries in the US. You can also hit up friends and family and get them to lend you ebooks as well. Sure, the selection may not be as strong, but you don’t have to rely on Prime to get free eBooks on a temporary loan.
Admittedly some Prime features you just have to live without once you cancel your subscription, like an ad-free Twitch Prime experience, or access to the Amazon Dash buttons—it’s really down to you whether you can or can’t live without these different products.
Bear in mind that having a Prime account naturally makes you more likely to go all-in on everything Amazon, so take some time away and you might find you’re not as dependent on it as you thought—if you’re paying monthly you can always take a month’s break as a trial run. Everyone uses Prime differently but do the math, decide what you really need and make use of, and you might be able to survive without it after all.