Shopping memberships could offset savings by making you buy more

May 9, 2019

Forget the hassle of the in-store hunt. With a quick click, you’re done shopping, and your order is delivered to your door tomorrow.

Simplified shopping is just one perk of Amazon Prime, as is discounted groceries at Whole Foods.

Amazon Prime member Randi Odesser said that the free, expedited shipping, unlimited cloud storage for photos and access to loads of movies and music make the $119 annual membership fee worth it.

“Clearly, Amazon is onto something,” said Margot Gilman, Consumer Reports’ money editor. “More than 100 million Prime members likely make Amazon their first stop when they shop.”

Consumer Reports said that other retailers — including REI Co-op, AMC Theatres, Bed, Bath and Beyond and Restoration Hardware — now offer membership plans.

“The benefits sound great, but you have to make sure that the numbers add up,” Gilman said. “Restoration Hardware, for example, charges $100 for a year for a membership that entitles you to some discounts and design consultations. And that would be great if you have a lot of furniture in your future.”

But a membership could lead you to spend more.

“Amazon Prime members typically spend an average of $800 a year more than non-Prime members,” Gilman said.

So, do the math to make sure a membership makes sense for you.

Before you sign up for memberships, check cancellation policies. Some memberships renew automatically and are non-refundable.