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Amazon Prime and Prime Pantry Review by Nightcat

Updated on November 24, 2015
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Nightcat enjoys cooking and was once a hot-foods worker in a previous life. She enjoys passing on tips for home chefs of all levels.

I've avoided Amazon Prime for years. For one, I really don't have the membership fee just lying around. Who does, right? But I am as curious as ten cats, so I signed up for a thirty day free trail. And so far? I'm pleasantly surprised. I've already saved the cost of membership on allery meds alone, so to me, it seems more than worth it. Add in that Amazon is honest about how fast items will ship, two days for Prime items and a little longer for Prime Pantry orders. Plus free two day shipping is a great deal and you can expedite an order if you will pay for faster shipping.

But I know you're wondering if it is worth the ninety nine dollar yearly fee to you. That depends a lot on your finical situation and whether it is a practical solution for you.

If you honestly live right above a dollar or less store and feast well from there, then no. And keep in mind that with the Prime Pantry adds on a $5.99 shipping fee to your order. I know, I freaked out too at first. Sounds like something only rich people can afford, right? Well, it isn't. I live on a pretty tight budget, I don't have money to do both Amazon then merrily ride the bus. That said, if you too have to ride the bus, take the taxi or subway, or even gas up your car it may be a cheaper and less hassle, if you can plan ahead.

A Prime Pantry box once filled hold a huge amount, as we will get into later. And yes, if you only want or need one or two items they ship for the same price. Add in that you can ship just one Prime item or more, for free? That all makes Amazon Prime a great option for those of us who find it hard to get to a bricks and mortar store for any reason.

As always, all written content and photography is my original work. If you use any photos or quote this article, a link and credit are appreciated. All videos are used for educational and entertainment purposes only, if you wish to have something removed, please let me know.

Prime vs. Prime Pantry

Prime items have two day free shipping. No minimum order. Prime Pantry items ship only in Prime Pantry boxes for a flat rate of $5.99 even if you buy only one item.

Prime Pantry Boxes are Huge!

As you can see compared to a yardstick, the box is pretty darn big.
As you can see compared to a yardstick, the box is pretty darn big.

Prime Pantry

My Prime Pantry experience was a pleasant surprise. True, I didn't realize there was a flat shipping fee for an order of any size (well, what will fit in a box). But luckily I avoided the fee on my shipment by purchasing four items in a special promotion.

Yes, I know, four things I may not have normally looked at, but the flavored water and cereal bars are now tucked away in my pantry and will be used. It's the same as a bricks and mortar store saying you have to buy so many of an item or spend so much to get something back. If you find yourself spending like crazy to earn fuel perks from your local grocery store, you understand the system.

The prices were roughly the same as in my area, some much cheaper and some the same or more. There were coupons on some items and an order placed on Wednesday afternoon was slated to arrive on Monday, and did, so it was pleased with the shipping speed.

I got things like toilet paper and coffee that are burdensome to carry on a bus. Not impossible, but harder to carry and if there is a stickler for rules on my return trip my return home fare doubled, leaving me with a trip cost of six dollars. So, the prices do work out to roughly the same for me.

The only caveat is that while not full my box was heavy, so that's something to keep in mind if you live in a walk up apartment building.

GoodSense Allergy

GoodSense All Day Allergy, Cetirizine HCL Tablets, 10 mg, 365 Count
GoodSense All Day Allergy, Cetirizine HCL Tablets, 10 mg, 365 Count

Time will tell but having the same active ingredient as the store brand this was a fantastic buy for me. And being able to order a year's worth of allergy meds shipped to my door for free? Priceless!


Securely Packed

Everything was packed carefully, so no spills from the water or powdered milk.
Everything was packed carefully, so no spills from the water or powdered milk.

Why I Was Trying Prime

To be honest, I live in a rural area and don't drive. There is a bus service, Monday to Friday, which is two dollars per zone. So that's at least four dollars any time I run out of anything just to get to the store. And let's not forget the utter joy of waiting for the bus, bus drivers who skip your stop or missing the return bus. Should I need a cab it is a base charge of twenty five dollars. Add on what I'm charged and it is thirty dollars or more. Yikes!

And with my arthritis and fragile health the Prime Pantry has so far worked out in my favor. I'm also keeping in mind I'm free to cancel at any time. But the free shipping on Prime items really helps and the prices often beat local stores.

And for Prime items? I enjoy being able to order something I need like allergy meds and get good savings. Just those alone paid for my membership fees. But again, it depends on how prices match up to your area.

Neatly Packed

Neatness counts. It was great having all my items arrive on time and in one piece.
Neatness counts. It was great having all my items arrive on time and in one piece.

What Am I Getting?

I am getting some things that may seem redundant depending on how you shop on Amazon. Free shipping, which if you are careful you can get without Prime if you pick and choose your items. Also free movies and videos, and again if you have the Internet or cable it may seem redundant but if the cable is acting up and the kids are bouncing off the walls it may be a lifesaver for you.

I could have also earned credit of one dollar if I choose a longer shipping process toward future video rentals but I really wanted to see if something ordered on a Sunday night will show up by Tuesday at the latest as regular shipping can take a while. It shipped Monday and arrived Wednesday as promised. Not too bad to be honest.

What am I not getting?

When I just remembered I needed garlic powder, there was no way I could find to add the cheapest add-on price to my current order, so, yeah, oops. So sometimes it isn't as simple as heading back into a store.

I'll admit that there are a lot of ways to get free shipping and only one item out of four in my first order was specially priced for Prime members. Where the savings really kicked in was the Prime Pantry. Those annoying items no one likes to buy like paper towels and toilet paper can really add up here, even in the cheapest stores.

And with the promotion for free shipping when I selected certain items it was worth it to me to be a member. I only had to bring my box in today and open it up to get going.

The Box Wasn't Even Full

And I got a lot of needed staples for my house.
And I got a lot of needed staples for my house.

Isn't It a Luxury?

Yes, and no. On one hand humankind survived long before Prime came along and the annual price of 99 dollars can seem like a luxury item. But for the disabled or those who find it hard to shop for any reason it can mean no riding buses in the dead of winter and freezing along with every other soul at the bus stops. Of course if you get free bus, taxi or other fare and are on limited means, I understand it is a tough choice to make. For me to ride the bus every week, and honestly I could use, but can't afford, two trips to make it easier on me would be 208 dollars US. God willing and the creek don't rise, you know?

For me, the Prime Pantry items were indeed the same price, give or take a dollar in either direction as local stores depending on sales. But if you can't get to a store, if you are really stuck and need the deliveries, you can see the allure. And no one said we are locked in for a year. A winter subscription of several months would do many of us a great service.

Great Video Review!

Does It Save Money?

Yes and no. If you are like one woman I know, who apparently flunked economics she can find cheaper prices elsewhere and sometimes, item to exactly matching item, you can. But she neglects to tell you she drives miles out of her way, clips coupons and fights for every discount. My parents used to do the same thing which is where I picked up the terrible habit of shopping online then popping into a store for 'just one thing'.

You can save money anywhere, you can spend more anywhere too. Dollar stores are good for some items to save but the old adage, you get what you pay for, is sometimes true.

If you are careful, like any bricks and mortar store, you will save money. The hard part is making exact comparisons. If you can't even buy half of what you get on Amazon in stores, which is why I started shopping on Amazon ages ago, there is no comparison. I tried six local stores and couldn't find yeast flakes. I like to use them in cooking, and other items too that local stores just don't carry are almost always on Amazon.

And if you are going to compare Amazon to any club or store with a fee to be a member? Same difference unless you dream of buying in bulk and only in bulk. And truth be told Amazon does a fair job there too in Prime and off of it.

What They Do Great

For my first order alone I ordered a Loki mug, saving around ten dollars in price difference and shipping fees. Also a fluffy fox plush as these will be my Yule gifts, the plush was maybe the same price as some stores but add on five to ten dollars if I find it all the mall. Add on bus fare as it doesn't magically fall out of the sky which would have been eight dollars. And with around five dollars in price differences just on the items alone and not comparing to other Amazon sellers, I did make some of the yearly rate back.

Actually, the holidays are a great time to test this out as the longer you wait on certain items the more likely the only people to carry them will have higher prices. So even of we modestly said I only saved fifteen dollars (free two day shipping, remember?) it balances itself out if I make the rest within the years time in savings.

I'm also able to tell you the shipping really does take two days time even in the hectic holiday season with Thanksgiving less than two weeks away.

They Allow Prime Members to add add-on items to a Prime Pantry order. Currently Prime members have to make the same $25.00 US purchase as everyone else, but with a second Prime Pantry order I tried adding on an add-on item and it worked! So naturally I went a little crazy and swapped out all the Prime Pantry items I could for lower priced add-on items.

Yes, it works this fast!

Test Order

I ordered late in the evening on Sunday night and by 8:44 AM the next morning part of my order had already shipped. The household essentials, which is good. Two parts, the Yule gifts were listed as Shipping Now and said to be arriving for the same Wednesday delivery date.

They did indeed arrive at around 2:30 PM. Both boxes in perfect condition so there is something to be said for membership.

Quick Tips

Shop around. Yup, you have to scroll through several pages sometimes to find the best deal. It's no different than having to compare prices in a grocery store.

Know your sizes! If the human figure holding a product doesn't help much, double check your own product to check sizes, if, like me, you are really bad at figuring out how big the final product will be. Reviews can help, but one person's huge is another person's small.

Keep in mind there are still brick and mortar stores out there. You might find that, all things considered Prime doesn't fit your lifestyle. If you have no problem running from store to store and actually enjoy it, Prime won't give you the same experience.

Make a budget and stick to it. Just like with a regular grocery store. Make your budget and stick to it. That Prime Pantry box doesn't have to be bursting at the seams.

Plan Ahead! If you know your winters are bad (or any other season) plan on orders taking a bit longer. It really isn't Amazon's fault if the delivery can't make it through two feet of snow.

Sums It Up Nicely

Who Would Benefit?

Those who have a problem getting to the store for any reason.

Folks who have local grocery prices that match or are higher than Amazon prices.

People who don't need or want fuel perks or whatever else your go-to bricks and mortar store offers.

Shoppers looking for a hassle-free way to get items shipped right to their door.

Families or groups who can chip in towards a Prime Pantry box. Great idea if you want to use the service as a once-a-month treat.

Care packages, anyone?

What They Could Do Better

I'd love to see a dollar (or less) area for Prime members to help offset membership costs. Yes, you can search Amazon for items at that price, but a dedicated section with staple items like most dollar stores carry would be a godsend.

Customizable benefits. Maybe you don't want to stream music or free movies but would rather get one free quality film rental of your choice. Would make a great option.

Loyalty benefits. It would be great if you got loyalty benefits such as a discount in the fees. Just saying.

Letting you add to orders within a several hour window. Even a half hour would do in a pinch. I know they need to keep the lights on but darn if it wouldn't have made my day to throw in the garlic powder for cooking.

Let More Adults Share A Subscription. This seems to have changed from other reviews I read. But currently only two adults and up to three children can be in a Prime household account. Great for families, but what about friends and other folks? If five adults could go in on a subscription (obviously you have to pay and trust them to give you their part) it would take the sting out of shipping fees.

Will I Become A Member?

Right now, to be honest, I'm not sure. Yes, I saved the membership fee from my allergy meds savings. That said, there's no comparing Prime or Prime Pantry to your nearest and cheapest grocery store if you want perishable items like fresh veggies, milk, meat and so on.

And once Amazon stops the free shipping promotion there is the issue of $5.99 for a flat shipping fee of a Prime Pantry box, though it is true that Prime items still cary free two day shipping. If I used the free films and music I might be tempted, but to be honest that's what I use You Tube for.

And I have a DA account for photo storage so it is up in the air right now. In their defense it is four dollars to ride the bus and that doesn't magically fall out of thin air. So, as I've often done when shopping at the local gas stations in a pinch I have to keep that in mind.

A trip to the dollar store to get cheaper shampoo, for example, cost four dollars fare plus the shampoo. So that one dollar item just became five dollars. It's almost a game of wait and see, if Amazon continues to offer free shipping with reasonable purchases in the Prime Pantry it would be worth it. Without? Without I've got a long cold bus ride ahead or a trek to an overpriced gas station. Goody.

EDIT: By doing what my father the accountant would have done, I crunched the numbers. Recently grocery prices in my area have gone up but even with conservative numbers here is the bottom line. Amazon Prime can come out cheaper, provided I ship two boxes a month and I'm frugal the weeks in between with my gas station purchases, which I intend to be. So in my case it is a good deal.

For you? Crunch the numbers. Figure out what you spend on transportation to and from the store, being honest! Figure out what you really are spending each week, again, being honest, not wishful, and then compare to Amazon Prime. That membership breaks down to $8.25 US per week and shipping on Prime Pantry boxes is a flat $5.99. Prime items still ship for free as of this writing.

The Best Video On Prime Ever

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