What is Amazon Prime? Amazon’s subscription service in Australia explained

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Although Amazon launched locally in Australia in December 2017, the online retail giant’s famous Prime subscription service – already well-established in other markets like the US and the UK – took a little longer to arrive. It finally made landfall Down Under some six months later in June 2018, and brings with it a range of savings and benefits for Aussie shoppers for a flat monthly fee of $6.99.

So what’s included? In a nutshell, if you sign up for Amazon Prime in Australia, you’ll get:

  • Free two-day delivery on domestic purchases
  • Free standard delivery on orders over $49 made from the ‘global’ section (ie. international purchases)
  • Access to Prime Video, Prime Reading and Twitch Prime
  • Early access to discounts and deals
  • Big savings on Amazon Prime Day

What is Amazon Prime?

The main appeal for Amazon’s Prime service is that it offers members fast and free delivery on many purchases, plus access to some of the company’s streaming services. 

Prime members also get exclusive early access to select deals and offers, and get to participate in a members-only annual sale called Prime Day.

In the US, Amazon Prime offers free shipping on millions of items, same-day delivery (or even two-hour delivery in some cases) and access to it’s video and music streaming services, unlimited ebooks and audiobooks, and unlimited photo storage. However, to get all the goods and services Amazon promises in its Prime package American customers pay US$12.99 a month (US$119 a year).

In Australia, unfortunately, there are some caveats to what Prime members get, but it also costs us less – half of what the US pays, to be precise.

How much does the Prime service cost in Australia?

In Australia, Amazon Prime subscriptions cost $6.99 a month, or $59 per year.

As an introductory offer for Aussies signing up for Prime, the monthly membership is currently just $4.99 until January 31, 2019. After that it will revert to the usual $6.99 monthly fee. 

As is customary with all of Amazon’s subscription services, there’s a 30-day free trial on offer. If you aren’t happy with the Prime service, you’ll need to manually cancel your membership before the 30-day trial ends or you will be charged $4.99 the following month.

What do Australian Prime members get?

Amazon has brought the promise of free delivery for its Aussie Prime members, but it’s limited to domestic purchases only. If you buy something from an Australian third-party merchant selling goods on Amazon Australia, you won’t be charged for delivery, not matter how small or large your final order costs. 

The caveat here, though, is that the product needs to carry the “Prime Eligible” label. If that’s not visible, speedy or delivery is not an option even if you are a Prime member. However, if the order is over $49, it automatically qualifies for Amazon’s free standard delivery policy.

Also worth noting is that, in Australia, Prime’s free delivery service isn’t the 'same day' one that's offered in the US. Locally, it’s a two-day delivery promise – something that's most likely due to Amazon having only one Australian fulfilment centre located in Melbourne. We’re hoping that might change to a one-day delivery promise, since the company’s second fulfilment centre in Sydney is nearly ready to open.

On international items bought from the new 'global' area of the store, only purchases over $49 will be eligible for free delivery, but again, it needs to carry the “Prime Eligible” label to qualify.

Prime members also get exclusive early access to Lightning Deals (Amazon’s limited-time deals that vanish within hours of going live).

Alongside those shopping benefits, there’s a number of complementary digital-media subscriptions that are included for free with Prime:

Amazon Prime Video | Free

Access to Amazon’s Prime Video streaming service comes as part of the package. If you’re a Prime Member you can watch some excellent TV shows like American Gods and The Man in the High Castle, or enjoy blockbuster movies or settle down for some classic cinema.

Amazon Prime Reading | Free

This service gives Prime members access to over a thousand books, comics and graphic novels spanning every genre possible for all age groups in digital form. You don’t even need a Kindle device to access those ebook titles – you can just download the Kindle app available for iOS and Android.

Twitch Prime | Free

Twitch is a video site dedicated to watching live-streaming games; the Prime service offers members free game content, savings on games, and free games each month. It, too, is a default part of the Prime package and comes at no extra cost, a boon for every gamer.

Prime Photos | Free

Prime Photos is Amazon’s free online photo storage service that comes included in the Prime package for Aussie members. All you need to do is download the Prime Photos app for iOS or Android, or use a desktop web browser, and you can back up an unlimited number of images and videos.

Other Amazon services in Australia

While Prime members in the US get additional perks, like access to free grocery and restaurant deliveries and a free subscription to the Washington Post (which Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos also owns), the Australian Prime service is limited to just the aforementioned options. 

However, Amazon’s repertoire in Australia still extends beyond those Prime offerings. There’s a smattering of other services that the company runs locally, although you’ll need to sign up for them individually, paying either a monthly or annual fee for each. 

Here’s what those locally-available Amazon subscription services entail:

Kindle Unlimited | $13.99 per month

If you’re an avid reader, a Kindle Unlimited membership provides a lot of bang for buck. You can read to your heart’s content with over a million titles to choose from, and you can read on Amazon’s Kindle e-readers, or any iOS or Android device via the dedicated Kindle app. Kindle Unlimited also gives you access to Audible narrations of the titles you’re reading, so you can continue enjoying the book even if you need to put the physical pages aside. It’s $13.99 a month for Kindle Unlimited, but there’s a 30-day free trial if you want to give the service a try before spending any money on it.

Music Unlimited | $11.99 per month 

Music aficionados will likely enjoy Amazon’s unlimited music streaming service, which gives subscribers access to over 50 million songs. You can listen anytime, anywhere and, like other music streaming services, there are individual and family plans, plus an Echo plan which lets you play your fave tunes on your Echo device. An individual plan costs $11.99 a month, while the family plans will set you back $17.99 per month, giving you the ability to set up to six separate music accounts. The Echo plan is just $4.99 a month, and Music Unlimited also comes with a 30-day free trial.

Audible | $16.45 per month

Audible is for those who love their stories but don’t always have the time (or patience) to sit down with a book. You can listen to your favourite books via the Audible app anywhere, even while driving or doing chores, with many books narrated by some great performers. Audible costs $16.45 each month after a free 30-day trial of the service.

While Amazon Prime has its perks, you don't have to be a member to avail low prices on products being sold on the online marketplace. 

If you're after savings on cool gadgets and gizmos, we handpick some excellent bargains to be had on tech in our Best Amazon Deals and Sales page.