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Amazon Prime Household Sharing Changes

A well kept secret way to get a discount on Amazon Prime was to share your account with multiple individuals by using their household sharing program. Of course the program was intended to be share between family members (e.g. spouse, children, brother, uncle, etc.), but you could effectively share the service with up to 5 people and split the cost ($99/year, but it was $79/year for a long time) between everyone. This worked great for a while, but now Amazon has started to crack down on this “unintended discounting.”

Effective 7/31/2015 Amazon is now enforcing the following terms:

  • Each member of the household to authorize each other to use all credit cards associated with the household account. That means that everyone on your account can see yours and the other household member’s credit card information, and use them to make purchases on Amazon.
  • Households can contain 6 members (2 adults who can each have their own account, 4 children who don’t need to have their own Amazon account). I assume that the “children” can be like the old policy where a person over 25 years old could still be considered a child (wink, wink), but the intent of this policy is pretty clear. Although, what happens for families with more than 4 kids?

It appears that if you had already created a Prime household account and shared it with multiple individuals, then you are grandfathered in, and no changes will be made to your account unless you remove a member from your account. If you do remove someone, then you cannot add them back unless you convert to the new program.

Amazon Prime Benefits That Can Be Shared:

  • Free 2-day shipping (of course)
  • Prime Instant Video streaming
  • Kindle e-Book Lending Library

Tips

  • The credit card sharing policy can become very tricky especially if you have one-click buying turned on and have no idea what credit card is being used!
  • If you are already grandfathered in the old program, I would highly encourage you not to make any changes
  • For those starting a new Prime household account, I would advise against sharing your account with people you do not know well

Bottom Line

This is a dreadful change by Amazon, but not one that was unexpected. It seems that there were thousands of people or more abusing the system. However, I had heard that Amazon was aware of this, but did not do anything about it because they actually liked the fact that there was a niche of people who were sort of “in the know” about this hidden discount, and I’m guessing that a lot of these people would not have paid for Amazon Prime unless they were getting this discount. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how this impacts Prime membership. For many the value proposition is unchanged, but some of those on the fringe will likely not start paying $99 a year for this service.

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