When you think of what it costs to get fast delivery through Amazon Prime, you probably think of the annual membership fee of $59 — and that might be just too high for you, especially if your renewal is coming up but you’ve recently experienced a pandemic-related layoff. On the other hand, with coronavirus cases surging across most of the country, you might also be looking for a way to shift some of your in-person purchases over to delivery. If you want to have the option of scoring free shipping or free grocery delivery but don’t want to pay for a whole year of Prime up front, keep in mind that you can pay for the service monthly instead of plunking down for a whole year.
This isn’t a new hack. We first published this advice last year, after it was pointed out by a commenter on another Lifehacker post — one about whether signing up for Prime is worth it. Lifehacker reader Noskferatu had this to say about their attempts to spend less on Prime:
We just started paying for month here and there when we’ve got a lot going on and don’t want to go places to shop and ya know, interact.
Seems to work out and keep me out of the 120/yr range… more like $30
Prime fans don’t need this tip — they’re too busy telling us why they love Prime. But people who have never had Prime, or cancelled Prime and miss it just a little bit (raises hand) might love this option.
If you pay for Prime on a monthly basis, you pay $6.99.
This advice used to make a lot of sense for those times of year when you know you’ll be getting more packages than usual — the holidays, a kid’s birthday — but in COVID Times, when case counts will surge and then (hopefully) fall again, it feels especially useful. Get it for a few months when you don’t want to leave the house to go to a grocery store. Get it for a few months when you’re moving and know you’ll need lots of small odds and ends and you don’t want to trek to multiple stores. Get it for Prime Video so you can binge a ton of TV while you’re staying inside.
And then cancel it when you don’t need it anymore.
It’s not impossible to get by without Amazon Prime by batching your orders so they hit the minimum to be shipped for free. But for those times when you want your purchases fast and know you’ll be ordering at least three or four times in a month, it may be worth it to plunk down the monthly membership fee.
Just don’t forget to end your membership before it auto-renews.
This post was originally published on July 5, 2019 and updated in July 2020. Changes included updating the lede, checking and updating information for accuracy and timeliness and adding a new header photo.