As I was updating our list of the Best Amazon Subscribe and Save Deals last week (one of my favorite posts to work on, by the way!), I noticed that Amazon has made some changes to how their Subscribe and Save program works. If you regularly use Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program, you’ll definitely want to give this a read! Please note that this program can always change, without warning. This post was originally published on January 25, 2018, which means that some of what’s been shared here may be different. For the most up-to-date terms, please see Amazon.com.
Please note: Since these changes are relatively new, I’m still figuring them out along with all of you. If you have any further information or need something clarified, please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to respond.
Change #1: Save 5% On Your Initial Order (And It Ships Right Away)
The biggest change is this: When you order a particular product, you’ll save 5% on your initial order and it will ship right away, then any future shipments of that same product from the subscription you’ve set up will ship on your chosen monthly delivery date. Future subscriptions will be eligible for the additional savings of 15-20% when you receive 5 or more subscriptions in a single month.
(If this makes no sense to you, please read our post on How Amazon Subscribe and Save Works and that should clear things up.)
PRO: The item ships right away. No need to wait until your monthly delivery day if you’d like to receive an item more quickly.
CON: Any available coupons you can “clip” will only apply to the first subscription. While this is the way it’s always been, you used to be able to stack the coupons with the extra 15-20% off your initial order instead of just the 5%.
Of course, if you’re not a frequent Amazon Subscribe and Save user and don’t usually reach the 5+ subscription threshold, anyway, you won’t notice much a difference. 🙂
Change #2: Your Initial Order Ships Like a Normal Amazon Order
Another change: Your first shipment works like a normal Amazon order. This means that shipping restrictions apply…meaning Add-on items will only ship with orders of $25 or more (regardless of whether or not you’re a Prime member) and non-Prime members will either need to pay for shipping or wait until their cart holds $25 or more.
PRO: You can use Subscribe and Save items toward multiple purchase promotions (for example, “spend $30 on P&G products, save $5 instantly”). Since you used to have to sign up for subscriptions one at a time, these were pretty much impossible to take advantage of before if you wanted to subscribe to those particular items.
CON: Non-Prime members will not get free shipping on their first order unless their order is $25 or more (but this can include subscription and non-subscription items).
PRO: If you’re a Prime member, you can get No-Rush Shipping benefits on your first order. When you choose this option, your item may take a little longer to ship (instead of 2-day shipping), but Amazon may give you free digital credits, Prime Pantry credits, etc.
CON: Many great Subscribe and Save deals are on Add-on items and can go quickly…they’ll need to sit in your cart until you have enough to complete a transaction.
Let’s walk through how this works now, using these KIND Bars as an example. (Please note that this screenshot was taken on January 25, 2018. It is meant to illustrate a point only, and is not current pricing information.)
When you first visit the product page, you’ll see that these are normally priced at $14.49. You can “clip” the green Extra 15% Off Coupon and check out like normal, if you’d like. In fact, this is the default option now (Subscribe and Save items used to default to the Subscribe and Save option).
However, to set up a subscription, you’ll need to check the Subscribe & Save box and select your auto-delivery term (still the same: you can choose to receive your item every 1 to 6 months). Then you’ll click “Add to Cart.” Unlike before where you would immediately be taken to checkout, you now need to complete the transaction as you would a normal Amazon transaction (add-ons, Prime, etc.).
But Wait! Amazon Prime Members Might Have an Out
As I was looking at the KIND bars deal mentioned above, I noticed that when I was logged in to my Amazon account (I’m a Prime member), I was given the option to “Skip immediate delivery and just add subscription” (see above). When I tried that option, the transaction worked exactly like it used to…the coupon applied, the item was added to next month’s box, and I received a 15% discount since I have at least 5 items in next month’s box.
However, since I didn’t see this option until I was logged in, this workaround may only be available for Prime members. (If you’re not a Prime member and you see this option when you’re logged in to your account, can you please leave a comment and let me know?) I also don’t know if this is available for all items or just select products.
My Thoughts on These Changes
I think the rationale is pretty clear here: Amazon wants people to sign up for subscriptions and continue to receive items, hence the 5% discount on the first delivery and up to 15-20% on subsequent deliveries. If you’re already using Subscribe and Save to get regular shipments of paper towels, toilet paper, toothpaste, granola bars, whatever – great!
This also serves as a reminder that it’s important to know what you’re signing up for when you set up a subscription of any kind, not just Amazon’s. What are the terms? Will you automatically be charged? Does your initial rate continue or will it change?
I’ve found that Amazon does a good job of communicating with me about my Subscribe and Save orders. I always receive an email at least 2-3 days before my monthly Subscribe and Save order “locks” for the month (see above for a recent example). This gives me the opportunity to look over what I’ve currently signed up for, make any cancellations or changes, and note when my card will be charged.
If the workaround mentioned above really is universal to Prime members, this may be the time to consider signing up for a Prime membership if you’re a heavy Subscribe and Save user. The 15-20% discount on every order and not needing to worry about shipping thresholds, Add-on items, etc. (provided you choose the “Skip immediate delivery” option) might just be worth the cost of the membership. You can sign up for a free 30-day trial here.
Going forward, we here at The Coupon Project will continue to keep our Best Amazon Subscribe and Save Deals post updated with the 5% and 15-20% discounts noted in case the workaround mentioned above is available to you. Even with the changes, I still think that Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program is a good way to save on beauty, grocery, household, and other items you might need for yourself or your family.
I’m all ears…what questions or observations do you have about these changes?