Amazon wants to reach low-income households by offering its Prime service at a discounted price for those on government assistance programs, the company announced Tuesday.
Amazon Prime includes free two-day shipping, video and music streaming services, Prime Reading and unlimited photo storage with Prime Photos. All those benefits will be included in Amazon’s latest offer and will bring Prime’s price down from $10.99 a month to $5.99.
“We know when people try Prime they love it because they save time and money with low prices on millions of items, unlimited access to premium videos and music, and fast, convenient delivery,” Vice President of Amazon Prime Greg Greeley said in a statement. “We designed this membership option for customers receiving government assistance to make our everyday selection and savings more accessible, including the many conveniences and entertainment benefits of Prime.”
How To Qualify For Amazon Prime
The EBT card is used for government assistance programs including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants and Children Nutrition Program.
People who have an EBT card qualify for the discounted Prime membership, which they can cancel at any time. Those interested can sign up for a 30-day free trial. Customers can qualify every 12 months, as many as four times, Amazon said. The EBT card itself cannot be used to pay for the Prime membership.
The company added it will include other ways for people on government assistance programs to qualify in the future that doesn’t utilize the EBT cards.
Amazon’s move, which is a strike toward rival Wal-Mart, comes after the online retailer announced earlier this year it would begin accepting food stamps on grocery orders. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Amazon, FreshDirect and other online grocers will be included in a pilot program, which will run for two years for SNAP participants in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Washington and Iowa. As of last month, there were nearly 43 million Americans on SNAP, according to the USDA.
To reach low-income households, Amazon also launched Amazon Cash in April. The program helps those who lack a debit or credit card by allowing them to make purchases on Amazon by adding cash to an Amazon.com balance using a barcode at participating retailers. The cash is then sent to the customer’s online Amazon account. Retailers participating in the service include: CVS, Speedway, Sheetz, Kum & Go, D&W Fresh Market, Family Fare Supermarkets and VG's Grocery.
Amazon Cash also works for those who don’t have a smartphone. When customers are given a barcode, the can use it with a smartphone app or use the print-at-home option, which allows the barcode to be scanned at a participating store.