Amazon Increases Price of Prime Membership

Jeff Bezos - Sunny Valley Tech Conference - Getty - H 2017
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The program will soon cost $20 more for new subscribers.

Amazon is increasing the price of Prime. 

The e-commerce giant will start charging $20 more for its membership program, which includes perks such as two-day shipping and access to video and music streaming libraries. The new price, $119, will go into effect May 11 for new subscribers, CFO Brian Olsavsky announced Thursday during the company's quarterly earnings call with investors. Existing members will be charged the higher price beginning June 16 as their accounts become eligible for renewal.

"The value of Prime to customers has never been greater," Olsavsky told investors. "And the cost is also high, as we pointed out especially with shipping options and digital benefits, we continue to see rises in costs." 

Amazon has charged $99 annually for Prime since 2014, when it upped the price from $79 a year. (It increased the price of its monthly Prime membership in January from $11 to $13, or the equivalent of $156 a year.)

In the years since Prime's last major price hike, Amazon has invested heavily to grow the benefits of the subscription, such as spending $4.5 billion on content last year — including producing such originals as Transparent and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and licensing programming from other networks. Amazon also recently spent $250 million for the rights to a Lord of the Rings television series, and on Thursday announced that it had renewed its deal with the NFL for the streaming rights to the Thursday Night Football programming package. 

Olsavsky noted the changes to Prime, including the growth in the number of products available for two-day and same-day delivery. Prime, he said, "is much different than it was in 2014." The exec also noted the global expansion of the membership program into regions such as India.

Amazon announced last week that it has 100 million Prime subscribers around the world. It did not break out how many of those people watch video or stream music.