Amazon Prime logo

Amazon Prime's logo

If you shop online, you likely have an Amazon Prime account. For $119 a year, the free two-day (and sometimes one-day and even two-hour) shipping will pay for itself pretty quickly, and with Amazon’s new 855,000 square foot fulfillment center located just west of Salt Lake International Airport, we’re sure to see an ever-increasing number of products eligible for same-day or sooner delivery.

But Prime isn’t just about free shipping. There are a number of additional services included in the membership that you may not have tried. Let’s go through the most useful ones to make sure you are getting the most value for your membership. And while we’re on the subject, I’ll talk about a couple of housekeeping tips to keep your account up-to-date and more secure.

With the demise of Flickr’s unlimited photo storage, Amazon Prime Photos could be the last free (I’m going to count all bonus benefits to shipping as free) unlimited photo storage service. Along with no cap on files, the service allows you to store photos at their original resolution, an important benefit for serious photographers. The photo account can be shared with up to five family members or friends who do not have to have a Prime account. Amazon’s photo search technology rivals that of Apple by letting you search for things like “sunset” or “Antelope Island” and your photos are organized automatically so it’s easy to find them. You can also download the iOS or Android app for your phone so the photos you take on your device will be automatically uploaded to your account.

Prime Reading is another member bonus that acts as a virtual library. Members can select up to 10 magazines and books to read from an inventory of around 1,000. Once you’ve finished a book, “return” it to open up a slot in your account for a new title. You can access Prime Reading on a Kindle, or use the free Kindle app to read on other devices — your phone, PC and Mac.

And then there’s Prime Music and Prime Video. With Prime Music, you can select from more than 2 million songs and 2,000 ready-made playlists and stations. Unlike rival Spotify (the free version), Prime Music is ad-free, allows unlimited skips and offline playback. Having said that, the playlist genres are a fraction of those on Spotify, so if you enjoy anything other than mainstream music and oldies, you’d be better off putting up with Spotify’s ads or upgrading to Amazon’s Unlimited Music for $7.99 a month.

Similar to Prime Reading, you will need to download a free app for a mobile device. There’s an app for your computer or you can choose to listen via Amazon’s website at https://music.amazon.com.

Prime Video is a worthy alternative to Netflix and Hulu with a surprising array of popular original shows such as “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Jack Ryan,” movies both old and new, as well as TV shows.

When you visit Prime Video to browse your choices, make sure to choose “Included with Prime” to avoid finding something you’d like to watch only to see you have to pay for it.

Finally, if you have a young adult living away from home who would appreciate some extras, you can use Amazon Allowance. It’s easy to set up. Enter the recipient’s email address tied to his or her Amazon account, select an amount and how often you’d like it funded — on a one-time, daily, weekly, monthly, or every-two-week basis. Amazon Allowance is added to the recipient’s Amazon.com Gift Card Balance and can be used instantly to shop on Amazon.com. No Prime membership necessary, all you need is a standard Amazon account.

Safety and security

You may have had your Amazon account for years. For security, it’s a good idea to deregister any old devices formerly associated with your account. Go to Your Account on Amazon and then select Your Devices and Content. Review your devices, click on any you no longer own and then use the Device Actions button to deregister them.

Similarly, you should delete any old credit cards you no longer use or want associated with your Amazon account. On your main account page, look for Payment options to access a list that stretches back to the time you created your account. Review the cards and delete any you don’t want to use for payment on Amazon.

To shrink your financial risk footprint, keep only one card, and do turn off One-click Delete all outdated cards and do turn off 1-click purchasing to avoid impulse buys.

Leslie Meredith has been writing about and reviewing personal technology for the past eight years. She has designed and manages several international websites and now runs the marketing for a global events company. As a mom of four, value, usefulness and online safety take priority. Have a question? Email Leslie at asklesliemeredith@gmail.com.

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