Amazon offers Prime discount to those on government benefits

June 6, 2017 by Anne D'innocenzio
In this Tuesday, May 30, 2017, file photo, the Amazon logo is displayed at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square. Amazon is offering a discounted rate on its Prime membership for people who receive government assistance. The discounted rate is $5.99 per month. The regular annual membership is $99 per year, or $8.25 a month. But those who cannot afford to pay up front have to pay $10.99 a month for the same benefits. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Amazon is making a play for low-income shoppers.

The online leader is offering a discount on its pay-by-month Prime membership for people who receive government assistance.

The move, announced Tuesday, is seen by some analysts as an attempt to go after rival Walmart's lower-income shoppers. The world's largest retailer has revamped its shipping program and improved other services to drive online sales growth as it tries to narrow the gap with Amazon.

People who have a valid Electronic Benefits Transfer card, used for programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs, or food stamps, will pay $5.99 per month for the Amazon Prime benefits like free shipping and unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows.

The typical Prime membership is $99 a year, but those who cannot afford to pay up front also have a $10.99-a-month option.

Amazon designed this option to make its "selection and savings more accessible, including the many conveniences and entertainment benefits of Prime," Greg Greeley, vice president of Amazon Prime, said in a statement.

Walmart has gained momentum in its online business, seeing its e-commerce sales soar 63 percent in its first quarter, up from a 29 percent increase the previous period. It now offers free-two-day shipping for online orders of its most popular items with a purchase of $35. Online shoppers who collect their purchases at a store get extra discounts. And Walmart has dramatically expanded its online offerings—though it's still far behind the hundreds of millions of products at

Amazon's aim with the latest move is two-pronged, says Ken Perkins, president of research firm RetailMetrics.

"It is part of Amazon's overarching goal to inexorably move into every corner of retail," he said. "Secondly, it is a direct move to pull consumers away from its chief retail rival Walmart, which has been far more aggressive competing with Amazon on price, offerings, delivery and building out its formidable e-commerce operations."

Internet consultant Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali says Amazon's move "seems inevitable" because it's saturated a good part of the affluent and middle-class sector—but describes it as a "head scratcher."

"These consumers have always indexed lower in online transactions, and their living circumstances are often not well-suited to package delivery, and many of these consumers don't have vehicles to drive to a location pick up packages," she wrote in an email. "Of the long list of business that Amazon could target, this doesn't seem like the biggest one."

Explore further: Amazon boosts price of 'Prime' membership to $99 in US

Related Stories

Recommended for you

World's biggest battery in Australia to trump Musk's

March 16, 2018

British billionaire businessman Sanjeev Gupta will built the world's biggest battery in South Australia, officials said Friday, overtaking US star entrepreneur Elon Musk's project in the same state last year.

1 in 3 Michigan workers tested opened fake 'phishing' email

March 16, 2018

Michigan auditors who conducted a fake "phishing" attack on 5,000 randomly selected state employees said Friday that nearly one-third opened the email, a quarter clicked on the link and almost one-fifth entered their user ...

Origami-inspired self-locking foldable robotic arm

March 15, 2018

A research team of Seoul National University led by Professor Kyu-Jin Cho has developed an origami-inspired robotic arm that is foldable, self-assembling and also highly-rigid. (The researchers include Suk-Jun Kim, Dae-Young ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.