Well, you can't say they didn't warn you.
Amazon has officially announced that the price of an Amazon Prime membership is going up. It's a $20 increase, meaning that an annual subscription to the service that offers free two-day shipping, streaming video via Prime Instant Video, and access to the Kindle Owners' Lending Library will now cost $99.
The increase will happen on your renewal date.
Amazon is also raising the price of Amazon Prime for students–from $39 to $49. Prime Fresh memberships will remain $299.
Like I said before, this shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. During Amazon's last earnings call, the company said that they were considering the price hike for Prime. At the time, they hinted that the price could rise anywhere from $20 to $40 a year–so at least we got the increase at the low end of the spectrum.
In January, Amazon cited rising costs for fuel and transportation, as well as increased usage among Prime members as the reason for a possible price change. Last year, Amazon upped the free shipping threshold for non-Prime members to orders of $35 or more–up from the $25 the company touted for years.
Folks in the U.S. aren't the only ones that are having to deal with a more expensive Prime service. Last month, Amazon raised the price of Prime £30 in the U.K. The only difference there is that Prime members got an extra perk for their troubles–free streaming video as Amazon repurposed LOVEFiLM UK into "Amazon Prime Instant Video" in the region.
There's no similar bonus attached to the price hike in the U.S. That could change, however, as reports indicate that Amazon is in talks with music labels to add a streaming music product to the list of Prime perks.
Still, many Amazon Prime users couldn't care less about Prime Instant Video (although it is getting original content now), or the Kindle Lenders' Library, or a possible music streaming service. For many users who simply use Amazon Prime as a free shipping ticket, the $20 price increase will have to be justified. Do I really buy enough from Amazon to warrant a Prime subscription? Do I save more that $100 a year on shipping costs by being a member?
This is the first time that Amazon has changed the cost of Prime in nine years.
Image via Stephen Woods, Flickr Creative Commons