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Amazon Prime hikes membership fee by $20 to $99 a year

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Do you love Amazon Prime’s unlimited two-day shipping? Endless streaming videos? The Kindle lending library? It’ll soon cost nearly $100 a year to partake.

Amazon.com is raising the annual fee for subscribers to its Prime service to $99 from $79. The change affects existing customers whose annual renewal date falls on or after April 17, while new customers have just a few days to sign up at the old rate.

The price for Prime’s student members will increase $10 to $49 a year. Members of the Prime Fresh grocery delivery service will continue paying $299 a year.

Amazon rationalized the increase by noting that the fee has not changed in the nine years since Prime’s launch, “even as fuel and transportation costs have increased,” said spokeswoman Julie Law.

“If you consider things like inflation and fuel costs, a Prime membership valued at $79 in 2005 would be worth more than $100 today,” Law said.

The fee boost isn’t exactly a surprise: Amazon teased the uptick during its fourth-quarter earnings call in January, saying it could raise the annual price by as much as $40.

Amazon signed up more than a million new Prime members in a single week in December, making for a record holiday season for the service, the company has said.

And in October the e-commerce giant raised the free-shipping threshold to $35 from $25 for shoppers who aren’t on Prime.

Amazon said it has tens of millions of Prime members worldwide but declines to break out the exact numbers.

The company said it has notified members of the impending fee increase, which Law said only affects U.S. customers.

Amazon stock was up 2.7%, or $10.17, to $380.81 a share in early trading.

New subscribers have a week to lock in at the current $79-a-year rate. Starting March 20 new Prime members will pay $99 for the pleasure.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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