What's really included in an Amazon Prime membership?

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Amazon Prime started out as the online shopping giant's two-day free shipping service. Now the $100 a year subscription ($50 a year for students) has expanded well beyond that. Customers still get two-day free shipping, but the package includes so much more. It really is the best deal you'll find anywhere.

First, you get free two-day shipping. If you order regularly from Amazon or hate waiting for your packages, this is already a great perk. If not, it's just the icing on the cake.

Second, you get access to all kinds of media hosted on Amazon — including Prime Video and Prime Music. Prime Video is a streaming service similar to Netflix. Their catalog is slightly different from other services, but it still offers a wide range of shows and movies. Amazon even has their own award-winning original programs. If that's not enough, you can rent or purchase new releases right from your account. Prime Music is Amazon's answer to Spotify. There is a limited catalog available to Prime subscribers, but customers can also upgrade to Prime Music Unlimited for $8 a month. (Non-Prime members would pay $10 a month.)

Third, you get unlimited cloud storage for all of your photos. By downloading the Prime Photos app, you can back up all of your pictures and videos. And then clear up much needed space on your phone. The photos are stored safely in the cloud forever. You can browse through them with the app and re-download anything you want.

Fourth, you get the Prime Reading library. This is a limited selection of ebooks and magazines that any Prime member can read for free. You can check out different titles indefinitely with no due dates. These titles can be read on any Kindle device or in the Kindle app. If you want more selection, you can subscribe to Kindle Unlimited for $10 a month. This service lets you read all the ebooks and audiobooks you want. Additionally, Prime members get early access to new Kindle releases at the beginning of each month. Kindle First allows members to purchase one of six new release Kindle books for free. That's 12 free books a year.

Fifth, members can order groceries online with Prime Pantry. This services has some limitations. Only specific products are eligible for pantry orders and it doesn't include any fresh produce. It's all dry goods for your pantry. What's nice is that you can also set up recurring orders. You'll never have to worry about buying toilet paper again.

Sixth, with Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods Market, Prime members will receive even more benefits in store. Select Whole Foods products will become available with Prime Pantry. Prices will be cut in store for all shoppers. More price cuts will be available to Prime members. Amazon Lockers will also be available at select Whole Foods stores. You can pick up Amazon.com orders there or use the lockers to send back a return.

Lastly, Amazon is constantly adding perks and benefits to your Prime membership without raising the cost. This is quite the deal if you're interested in what Amazon has to offer.

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