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7 Ways to Get Free Shipping Without Amazon Prime

Try these strategies to have online shopping orders delivered at no charge

stacked cardboard boxes imprinted with bold type: FREE SHIPPING
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Among the myriad ways that Amazon has forever changed the way we shop, its Amazon Prime subscription service has trained us to expect fast, free shipping on anything we order online. Of course, Amazon Prime isn’t really free — you pay upfront for the service, which includes two-day (or faster) shipping on all orders. And, like many other things in 2022, the price of Prime membership is going up.

For new Prime members, the price has already increased from $119 to $139 per year. Existing members will see the $20 price hike in annual renewals, starting March 25. For monthly subscribers to Prime, the cost jumps to $14.99 per month from $12.99. If you’re a heavy user of Prime’s other services, such as streaming television and movies, photo storage and discounts at Whole Foods, Prime might still be a good deal.

“You have to look at how much you used the free shipping benefit and whether you were using other Prime benefits to see whether it’s still worth it to you,” says Kristin McGrath, of RetailMeNot, a coupons and deals company.

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If, after such reflection, you decide to stop paying for Prime, that doesn’t mean you have to give up free shipping. There are plenty of other ways to get items delivered to your home without paying for freight. Here are seven methods to consider.

If you still want to order from Amazon…

It’s still possible to get free shipping on items you order from Amazon using the following tactics:

• Build an order worth at least $25

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You won’t get guaranteed two-day shipping, but Amazon does provide free shipping within five days on all eligible orders it fulfills that add up to more than $25. Look for free-shipping eligibility on items’ product pages. If the items you need don’t add up to $25, sites like CheapFiller.com or FillerChecker.com can suggest the fewest possible items to get you over that threshold.

Another tactic: “Preorder items that aren’t available yet,” says Michelle Madhok, CEO of the fashion news and deals site SheFinds.com. Why? Because they count toward your purchase total, Madhok explains. If you later change your mind on the preorder item, just cancel before it becomes available to avoid being charged.

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• Use ‘Subscribe and Save’

Even if you don’t have Amazon’s “Subscribe & Save” Prime, you can use this feature, which allows customers to receive automatic shipments of staples like pet food, toothpaste and toilet paper, typically at a discounted price, without having to remember to reorder. Non-Prime customers may face a shipping charge for the initial order on certain items, but subsequent auto-deliveries come with free standard shipping.​

One thing to keep in mind with this method, however, is that even with free shipping, you may be able to find better prices elsewhere, says Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews. “You’re paying for the convenient schedule and not having to remember to reorder,” she says.

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If you want free shipping from other online retailers…

Many retailers have a minimum order threshold, typically $25-$50, to waive shipping fees, but the following strategies can also help:

• Find promo codes. Many retailers offer free shipping codes right on their home page. If not, browser extensions like Honey or PriceBlink can automatically enter one for you at checkout.

• Be loyal. You can get free shipping from some retailers, like Zappos, Staples and J. Crew, simply by becoming a member of their free rewards programs.

• Shop near big retail holidays. Even retailers that don’t normally offer free shipping may do so near shopping holidays like Black Friday, Presidents’ Day or the Fourth of July. "A lot of retailers that don’t offer big, sitewide discounts for the holidays will offer free shipping,” says Kristen Gall, president of cash-back shopping company Rakuten Rewards.

• Join ShopRunner. ShopRunner partners with about 100 retailers, including Bloomingdale’s, the NBA Store and Kiehl’s, to offer free shipping and free returns. A ShopRunner membership costs $79, but it’s complimentary for Mastercard, American Express and Chase cardholders, as well as PayPal members. ​

• Ship to store: If there’s a nearby brick-and-mortar outlet of an online shop you like, check to see whether that retailer will let you pick it up in the store at no charge. “If you live near a hub, that’s easy to do,” Gall says. “And you can get a better price because they’re not factoring in the cost of shipping it to your home.”

Beth Braverman is a contributing writer who has covered shopping and personal finance for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in Consumer Reports, CNNMoney.com, CNBC.com and dozens of other publications.

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Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.