Some Amazon Customers Will Now Have to Spend $35 to Qualify for Free Shipping

What happened

Amazon is raising the free shipping threshold for some non-Prime members from $25 to $35. The change will initially roll out to certain ZIP codes, but Amazon may decide to impose a $35 shipping minimum on all non-Prime members in time.

So what 

For some consumers, the $139 annual fee for Amazon Prime isn’t worth paying, especially since it’s possible to score free shipping by meeting a spending threshold. But now that that threshold is increasing, consumers might have a more difficult time meeting it. 

“We continually evaluate our offerings and make adjustments based on those assessments,” Amazon spokesperson Kristina Pressentin told CNN. “We’re currently testing a $35 minimum for non-Prime customers to qualify for free shipping. Prime members continue to enjoy free delivery on over 300 million items, with tens of millions of items available for free Same or One-Day Delivery.”

Now what

Many consumers sign up for Amazon Prime to receive unlimited free shipping on orders of any size. And now that Amazon is raising the threshold for free shipping, more consumers may opt to go this route. 

Amazon charges $3.99 shipping at a minimum for orders that incur a shipping cost, and more for heavier items. Assuming an average cost of $7 per item, which is reasonable based on Amazon’s fee schedule, it would take 20 orders a year to come out ahead financially by paying $139 a year for Prime. So if you place two Amazon orders per month, a Prime membership could be worth it.

To be clear, Amazon wants more customers to sign up for Prime. But a lot of people are still struggling with credit card debt on the heels of rampant inflation and can’t afford the $139 annual fee.

Then again, this change on Amazon’s part might have another ill effect on consumers — it might effectively force people to spend more on a per-order basis to avoid having to pay for shipping. That, too, is not a good thing at a time when money is tight and many people are dealing with depleted savings accounts.

That said, there are some strategies consumers can employ to work around Amazon’s new higher spending requirement. For one thing, non-Prime members can bundle non-urgent orders so they’re more likely to end up spending $35. For example, if you need to make a $25 purchase, you can add it to your cart, wait a week or so, and see if the need for another item worth $10 or more comes up before checking out.

Non-Prime members can also try grouping orders with family and neighbors to avoid shipping charges. And there’s also the option to sign up for a free 30-trial of Amazon Prime, during which time two-day shipping becomes available at no cost. That isn’t a permanent solution, but it’s a good way to see if getting a Prime membership makes sense, especially in light of this change.

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