This past weekend, Amazon quietly put into place a very big change to the way it lets you use the free shipping benefit that comes along with buying a prime membership.
The old system
Amazon Prime, which has been around in the U.S. since 2005, quickly grew to become a key tool in the frugal online shopper’s tool bag. For just $99, you could get unlimited two-day shipping on thousands of the things Amazon sells. Order just a couple things a month and that membership pays for itself very quickly.
It wasn’t long before the savvy among us figured out how to make the deal even sweeter. You could invite up to three friends to be part of your account and all four of you could separately buy things on Amazon and have them shipped to your respective addresses.
You could do this out of the goodness of your own heart, of course, but splitting up the cost of the membership meant that each person could get Amazon Prime benefits for less than $25 per year!
The bad news about the new rule change
Alas, something so easy and lucrative to exploit was never going to last forever. With a rule change that went into effect on August 1, Amazon began its shift toward having its customers form Amazon Households by limiting new subscribers to sharing with only one other adult.
What’s more, in order to ensure that only real-life households share a prime account, that other adult will have access to your payment information.
Because I would not advise not sharing your payment information with someone outside of your immediate family, this rule sorta kills the deal.
The good news about holding onto your old Prime shipping
The silver lining here is that if you’ve already set up a Prime account and added non-household friends, your arrangement can be grandfathered in as long as you maintain an active Prime membership. My plan is to be extra careful about making sure I’m not late making my payment to renew Prime ever.
What’s more, I’ve anecdotally heard of people who, in the last few days, have removed a friend from Prime shipping and then tried to add them back and having it blocked out. So, if you’d like to hold on to your sweet deal, it looks like you’re stuck with the group of friends you have at this moment forever.
So with the new math, is Amazon Prime something you would still sign up for?