Amazon has launched a new shopping hub called Amazon Access, which is still about shopping but, in a twist, is designed to help those living on government assistance.
Amazon Access starts by providing new features and support for alternate payment methods. This means customers can now buy food on the website with SNAP EBT (better known as food stamps) and various higher-priced items through Amazon Layaway. The latter allows people to pay 20 percent of an order’s total cost upfront and then pay the rest over time with no interest or extra fees attached.
Amazon is also renaming its discounted Prime tier to Prime Access while keeping its monthly subscription cost at $6.99. The company states the reason for the name change is to give Prime Access a unique identity thereby making it more visible to customers who need it.
Provided you qualify, the tier gives you all of the benefits found on a regular Prime account, like free games via Prime Gaming plus and “fast, free delivery.”
Each of the three main features of Amazon Access, has its own focus. The SNAP program, for example, is primarily focused on food products, including vegetables, meat, and non-alcoholic drinks. Not every food product found on Amazon can be bought with food stamps. The company states you’ll need to “look for items labeled SNAP EBT Eligible.”
Amazon Layaway is designed for electronics (such as computers and TVs) and various household items, including furniture, tools, and appliances. To put something under layaway, you’ll have to check off the box next to “Reserve with Layaway” on the checkout page. Once you place the order, layaway starts and you have eight weeks to make four payments to fully pay it off. But you can always pay it off fully beforehand if you can afford it.
And as mentioned earlier, Prime Access gives you the same benefits as a base subscription from exclusive discount deals, unlimited storage on Amazon Photos, and access to the platform’s streaming service.
Other shopping features were highlighted in the announcement too, but they’re not locked behind a plan, meaning anyone can use them. These include coupons, which have their own page where you can “clip” them, and support for Amazon Cash. The company notes you can also, if necessary, change the site language to Spanish.
According to a company representative, both Amazon Access and Prime Access are exclusive to the United States. This doesn't come as a surprise considering the announcement specifically mentions US-only programs.
When asked about expanding to other countries, they said there’s no information to share, but that Amazon is looking into it. Eligible customers can try out Prime Access as a 30-day free trial. All they have to do is upload an image showing “valid proof of [identification] or government assistance documentation.”
Amazon claims it created the Access hub to provide “accessible offerings” during these tough economic times. Although the company isn't afraid to hike up prices when it wants to. Back in February, Amazon raised the price of a monthly Prime subscription to $14.99 in the US. And a few months ago, the UK saw the same thing happen with no new benefits.
It may interest you to know that Amazon is holding a second Prime Day from October 11 to 12. Be sure to read our coverage and see our predictions for what might go on sale.
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Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.