Is Amazon’s Prime discount for low-income families a boon or a bane?

Is Amazon's Prime discount for low-income families a boon or a bane?

Earlier this week, online retail giant Amazon announced they will be offering a discounted fee for their Prime service to low-income families that are on government food assistance. Prime is usually $99 per year, or $10.99 a month. With that service, Prime members receive unlimited free shipping, faster shipping, and access to Amazon’s streaming video library among other services. For those families who receive benefits through SNAP or EBT cards, they will have a monthly fee of $5.99 a month subtracted from their cards.

Now obviously, this is a pure business approach on Amazon’s part in their ongoing battle with Wal-Mart, but does it actually help low-income families or does it more to hurt them? In some ways it’s great. For those people who may not have access to a vehicle, they can get food and other much-needed goods delivered to their residence. In a lot of cases, what some may consider a short trip to the store can end up as a recurring expense if all the transportation they have access to is either a taxi or a ride share service. Also, items that are needed frequently can be ordered in bulk from Amazon. In other instances there are low-income families who may not be educated enough, or have the experience, on how to spend wisely. A wide open pipeline to Amazon like this could lead them to make purchases that aren’t financially sound for their budget.

Still, details are still a little sparse on this program. Hopefully, Amazon will add some type of documentation for these families on how to best use their service if they choose to.