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Amazon Offers Reduced Membership Fee

The online retailer is trying to gain low-income shoppers

Amazon Low Income Membership

Jeramey Lende/Alamy

Amazon is cutting its membership fee nearly in half for some.

Some shoppers who can’t afford $99 for an annual Amazon Prime membership have a new option. The online retail giant is offering a reduced membership price to low-income shoppers receiving government assistance.

Amazon’s discounted rate of $5.99 per month is nearly half off the full-price monthly membership of  $10.99. An estimated 20 percent of the U.S. population could take advantage of the reduced-price membership, according to MSN. 

“We designed this membership option for customers receiving government assistance to make our everyday selection and savings more accessible, including the many conveniences and entertainment benefits of Prime,” said Greg Greeley, vice president of Amazon Prime.

Amazon is tapping into a new market, competing with retails stores such as Walmart, which generated about $13 billion in sales last year from shoppers using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, also known as food stamps, MSN reported. Walmart has also worked to get more online retail customers by offering free shipping on orders over $35; no membership is necessary. The company also acquired low-cost online retailer last year.

These changes with online retailers come ahead of an overhaul of the food stamp grocery purchase systems. Testing underway would allow online payment with SNAP cards. 

How to sign up for low-cost Amazon Prime

  • Only customers who have a valid Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card qualify for the discounted membership at this time. The card will be used for proof of eligibility but cannot be used to pay for membership. 
  • Customers can qualify every 12 months, up to four times. 
  • Amazon plans to add other ways to qualify for customers participating in government assistance programs that do not utilize EBT cards.

Amazon’s Prime membership includes free two-day shipping on qualifying items, Prime Video, Prime Music and a selection of e-books. While the company offers a discount to full-price members signing up for an annual $99 membership, no additional discounts are available for people qualifying for the new plan.  

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