Amazon Prime gets another discount, this time for Medicaid recipients

In turn, Walmart is also vying for Amazon customers, as the retailer has been significantly improving its online store in recent years to better compete against Amazon. In June, Amazon first introduced this discounted price for shoppers who receive government assistance in the form of an Electronic Benefits Transfer card.

Last summer, Amazon began offering a discount rate of $5.99 per month for Prime memberships to customers receiving government assistance. The $5.99-a-month price compares to the regular $12.99 pay-by-month option and is almost $30 cheaper than the $99-annual-fee plan. As of 2016, roughly 44 million people got benefits from SNAP, the program formerly known as "food stamps".

Amazon is seemingly shopping for new customers given that many upper-income consumers have already subscribed to Prime in the past. Amazon does not report the number of prime members it now has.

To qualify for the discounted Prime membership, which normally costs $12.99, customers must have a valid EBT or Medicaid card.

An Amazon Prime membership includes perks such as two-day shipping on more than 100 million products, unlimited photo storage and free online streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows.

Inc. declined to say how many people signed up for Prime under the EBT card expansion, but Aaron Perrine, who oversees the program, says those that did sign up kept the service and were engaged Prime users. A Morgan Stanley survey found 40% of Amazon Prime members spend over $1,000 a year on Amazon compared to 8% of non-Prime customers.

Regardless of the larger retail battles being waged, are cheaper $5.99 Amazon memberships actually a good deal for poor people? The Prime promo price is only available to adult Medicaid cardholders.

"They are enabling people who otherwise would be priced out", said Greengart. He said Prime has helped save her time and money by helping her skip some of those errands.

  • Kara Saunders