Give the Gift of Amazon Prime

If you know someone who loves to buy books or streaming video online, here’s a great gift: Amazon Prime

Recently, introduced a new service called Amazon Prime — and though it can be difficult to give for technical reasons, it still makes a great present for someone fond of online purchases!

The deal’s simple: pay Amazon $79 a year, and your giftee gets access to a huge number of free services, from ebooks to video to free shipping. Intrigued? Let’s take a closer look.

A Bit of Everything

Amazon’s always been a great place for bargains, and they’ve worked hard to expand their offerings over the years. But shipping for physical items can be prohibitive, especially if you just need one or two things at a time.

With Amazon Prime, that’s no longer an issue for most products. Prime members receive unlimited free two-day shipping for literally millions of items, and one-day shipping for $3.99.

Other Offerings

Prime also offers free access to thousands of movies and TV shows (the Star Trek universe, for example, is heavily represented). Your recipient can enjoy instant streaming without commercials, delivered right to their computer, Internet-connected TV, or Kindle Fire.

And then there’s the Kindle Lending Library, where your giftee can borrow ebooks. This leg of the Amazon Prime stool is kind of shaky right now, though: the selection is limited (just thousands out of Amazon’s millions of ebooks) and you can check out just one book a month.

Not for Everyone!

There are limitations to keep in mind when buying someone a Prime membership. The deal doesn’t include Amazon Marketplace items, personalized gift cards, or magazine subscriptions.

Worse, Prime only applies to the continental United States. They’ve left out Alaska, Hawaii, and all U.S. territories, possessions, and protectorates, as well as international destinations. If your giftee lives in any of these locations, you’d better shift to your backup gift idea.

Giving the Gift

Your biggest problem with giving Prime will be finding a way to pay for it on your giftee’s behalf. You can always buy it yourself, then invite the giftee to share your account via the “Manage Prime Membership” link under Your Account on Amazon.

But that works only for shipping; they’ve disabled the other options for secondary account members. Worse, you can’t even use an Amazon gift card to buy the membership. Until Amazon fixes its oversights, here are two ways to handle a gift purchase of Prime:

1) Send your giftee a personal check earmarked for Prime.
2) Have them log into their account, and buy them the membership with your personal credit card.

It’s annoying to have to use a workaround, but I think your giftee will appreciate it. Amazon Prime makes a fine gift for the inveterate online shopper, and it’s surprisingly affordable for you!