Amazon unveiled a new payment option for its Prime Student members on Tuesday, affecting those enrolled in two- or four-year colleges in the U.S., according to a company press release.
The $49 annual student membership is half the price of a regular Amazon Prime membership — and can now be paid in monthly installments of $5.49 without a full-year commitment. Paying the monthly fee adds up to $65.88 for a full year, however.
To join, college students need to provide a valid .edu email address. The announcement comes the same week that Amazon announced a new option for teenagers to place orders and stream content through their parents' Prime account with their own login.
This change to college students' Amazon Prime memberships is an increase to their annual fee, but it introduces a level of flexibility that may be valuable to them, considering that even those who attend school away from home aren’t usually there for a full year.
At many colleges across the U.S., those with Amazon Student membership can pick up orders at designated locations on campus. The convenience and the access to Prime perks like free two-day shipping, streaming content, Twitch Prime gaming deals and photo storage is a relative bargain for students, whose parents have to pony up $99 each year for the same benefits.
"Our new monthly payment option lets students enjoy the best of Amazon in a more flexible and simple way," Ellen Kinney, Amazon's director of Prime Student, said in a statement. "Whether it's getting their favorite products with free shipping or streaming thousands of popular movies and shows, Prime student members can experience all the benefits of Prime."
It’s smart for Amazon to forge ties with younger consumers, who could end up as lifelong Prime members after experiencing the perks and convenience of a Prime membership. It's also smart for Amazon to cultivate and grow its Prime members, who spend more annually with Amazon — about $1,300 per year, compared to about $700 per year for non-members, according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.
There’s a lot of speculation about the size of Amazon's Prime membership, as the company doesn't disclose those numbers itself. CIRP pegs it at 85 million U.S. members, though Moody’s Investors Service this summer called into question that oft-cited estimate, calling it "seriously overstated," "highly improbable" and made "in the absence of any real guidance from the company itself." Moody’s analysts, based on an evaluation of demographic data, think the figure for Prime members is closer to 50 million, well below Costco’s 86.7 million members.