Amazon’s New Discounted Prime Memberships Are a Game-Changer for Low-Income Families

Yesterday, Amazon made an announcement that has families everywhere cheering: It will now be offering a special discounted rate on monthly Prime subscriptions for food stamp and other government assistance recipients. Customers who have valid EBT cards are eligible to sign up for the low-cost rate of $5.99 per month for a year’s worth of Prime membership.

How incredibly awesome is that?

For families who are struggling financially, every little penny counts, and getting a lower rate on Amazon Prime might mean that more lower-income families out there will be able to take advantage of all Prime has to offer — including discounted items, convenient and speedy shipping, and the educational and enriching books and programming offered to kids through Amazon’s media programs.

“We know when people try Prime they love it, because they save time and money with low prices on millions of items, unlimited access to premium videos and music, and fast, convenient delivery,” explained Greg Greeley, Amazon Prime’s vice president in a press release. “We designed this membership option for customers receiving government assistance to make our everyday selection and savings more accessible, including the many conveniences and entertainment benefits of Prime.”

While EBT cards cannot be used to purchase the membership, they are all you need to quality (you input your EBT number and provide a pic of your card). EBT cards are also used by government assistance programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program (WIC), so this offer has the ability to bring in many American who could really use the financial break.

And while the discount isn’t humungous, it is almost half the current rate for Prime memberships ($99 per year, which comes out to about $8.25 a month). Plus, you can cancel anytime, and you don’t need to put forth that huge fee all at once. Unfortunately, AmazonFresh, Amazon’s delivery food service, is not included in Prime membership, and requires an additional fee. But customers can still take advantage of non-perishable Prime food items that can be bought in bulk and shipped right to your door.

And if all that isn’t enough to sway you, then let me tell you why I really think this program is amazing — and why I felt personally moved when I heard that Amazon was offering it. A few years ago, my family found itself in the unfortunate position of being in a pretty dire financial situation. It was in the late-2000’s, toward the tail-end of the recession, when my husband was suddenly laid off of work. I was pregnant with our second child at the time, and as the months ticked on and our savings were depleted, we realized that we needed help.

We signed up for food stamps, WIC, and our family was enrolled in Medicaid (which covered my younger son’s pediatrician visits, as well as the birth of my second son). I remember literally counting our pennies. Every single cent that we spend had to be carefully monitored, and we became expert discount shoppers.

During that year, I would have killed to have an Amazon Prime subscription. Living on a low income means that your life is extremely stressful, all-round. Amazon Prime not only offers really awesome deals on some of their products (seriously, compare some of their prices to in-store rates and you’ll be pleasantly surprised), but free, fast shipping is HUGE for all of us busy families — and can be a real godsend to families who are in the pits of financial strife.

Even just the gesture of a mega-company like Amazon going out of its way to help families who are struggling is really heartwarming to me, and actually kind of makes me choke up when I think back to our family’s year of financial strife.

There’s definitely an emotional aspect of living on a low income that runs deep, and doesn’t disappear overnight. You feel hurt and scared at times, and any amount of kindness or generosity you receive is both helpful and healing.

So, thank you Amazon, for doing your part to help out families in need. I’m hoping that more companies will take your lead.

If you, or anyone you know, might benefit from this program, you can sign up right here.

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