Even if you’re not an Amazon Prime subscriber, chances are you’ve contemplated becoming a member to take advantage of enticing benefits, including special discounts, free two-day shipping and video-streaming services — all for $119 per year. Amazon Prime aims to attract the company’s most loyal customers and would-be subscribers with attractive deals and a free return policy for eligible items, and has proven to be wildly popular with more than 100 million members.
However, if you’re a price-sensitive shopper, you may be wondering whether the $119 annual (or $12.99 per month) fee is worth the cost for Amazon Prime’s host of benefits, including two-day shipping (and in some cases, same-day delivery), video and music streaming and 5 percent cash back for members with an Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card.
To help you determine if an Amazon Prime alternative is worth your time and money, here are six programs that offer competitive pricing and generous promotions and perks.
Walmart.com. The online retailer sells electronics, appliances, baby supplies, books, personal care products, pet supplies and groceries. And with a free Walmart subscription, members can take advantage of generous perks, including free two-day shipping on qualifying merchandise with a minimum bill totaling $35 or more, and generally a 30-day return policy, though there are exceptions. For instance, items purchased between Oct. 28 and Dec. 25 often have a 90-day return window. Some other items, generally electronics and cellphones, have a 14-day return policy. Plus, if you have the Walmart Credit Card, which doesn’t have an annual fee, you can get 3 percent cash back on groceries and online purchases.
Plus, with Walmart’s brick-and-mortar stores, you can order online or through the Walmart app and enjoy same-day pickup at your local store.
Target.com. With Target.com’s free REDCard program, subscribers can snag deals on electronics, appliances, baby supplies, books, personal care products, pet supplies, groceries and more. Here’s how it works: After you sign up as a REDCard subscriber by either applying for a REDCard credit card or acquiring a REDCard debit card, you’ll receive additional exclusive perks, including free two-day deliveries for products ordered online when you use your REDCard or spend $35 or more. You’ll also receive a 5 percent discount on purchases online and in the store, though there are some exceptions, including exclusive discounts. Another benefit: You can typically return items within 90 days of purchase. Rules can vary, however, so check your receipt. With your REDCard purchases, you’ll receive an extra 30 days to return most items, but there are some exceptions, such as electronics and entertainment items, which must be returned within 30 days, and cellphones, which have a 14-day return window.
Jet.com. Jet.com, an e-commerce site owned by Walmart, specializes in pantry and household items, electronics, toys and clothes. Similar to Walmart and Target, Jet.com offers free membership and ships eligible items within two days for free, provided that the total comes to a minimum of $35 and you make the order by 2 p.m. in your time zone; larger items shipped as freight may take five or more days. If you spend less than $35, you’ll pay a $5.99 shipping fee. Plus, in most cases, you can return items for free, provided you return them within 30 days of the delivery date. You can opt out of “free returns” to score a lower price. The one snag: If you do return the item, you’ll be asked to pay a $5.99 fee, plus 5 percent of the item price.
Zazzle.com. Zazzle.com specializes in made-to-order customized products, such as T-shirts, pet supplies, yard signs, wedding invitations and cards, phone cases and other gifts. If you don’t want to pay for shipping costs, Zazzle offers a membership fee or annual subscription service (for $9.95 per year) called Zazzle Black. As a member, you can enjoy perks such as complimentary shipping, as well as special VIP discounts and early access to sales. You can make returns for a full refund within 30 days, with a receipt. As for delivery times, the production of a Zazzle item can take 24 hours to three days, causing deliver to generally take another several days.
Newegg.com. This major online retailer sells clothing, appliances, computer hardware and consumer electronics, among other products. With the Newegg Premier membership program (for $49.99 per year; $29.99 for six months; $19.99 for three months or $30 annually for students), you’ll receive three-day (or earlier) shipping and free 30-day returns and take advantage of no restocking fees. Similar to Amazon Prime, the Newegg Premier program allows subscribers to add up to four friends or family members to their account, so that they, too, can receive Newegg Premier benefits. You’ll also benefit from free rush processing, which gets your merchandise packed, shipped and on the road in the same day (a $3 to $4 value), and receive early access to the website’s sales as well as exclusive members-only discounts.
ShopRunner.com. ShopRunner.com sells a myriad of products, including clothes and jewelry from more than 100 companies. If you’re a PayPal member, or you’re a Mastercard World or World Elite cardholder or you’re an American Express U.S. consumer or small business cardholder, membership is free. Otherwise, you’ll pay $79 a year and get a free one-month trial membership. Top benefits of the program include two-day shipping with no minimum purchase at more than 100 stores. Plus, you can also return the items at any of these stores for free, but you’ll want to check each individual store policy. Keep in mind, for purchases made via ShopRunner.com, you’ll be following the return policy of the store you purchased the merchandise from, and you may need to account for restocking fees at select retailers.
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