Red cups are now at Starbucks and Christmas car commercials are starting to air, so it must be holiday shopping season. I’m here to help make your holiday gift planning a little easier by filling you in on some of the new Amazon perks (for both Prime and non-Prime members). Plus, other stress-relieving holiday shopping tips.

#1: Free Same Day Shipping for Prime Members on Over 3 Million Items

According to a press release, Amazon will offer free same-day shipping on three million times for Prime members. The offer starts today, with no end date given. Same-day shipping qualifies when an order is placed in the morning and arrives by night, seven days a week.


​Don’t have Prime? Sign up for a 30-day free trial here and get your holiday gifts delivered the same day for free before the holidays.

#2: Free Shipping on ALL Orders Before the Holidays

As per the same announcement, Amazon will offer free shipping on all orders regardless of your account status. Previously, users had to meet a $25 minimum for free shipping. Now, there is no minimum price requirement for the holiday season.

#3: Black Friday Deals Have Already Started

Did you know Amazon already has thousands of Black Friday deals live? You can shop here by department category.


​#4: Don’t Like Shopping Online? Amazon Is Launching Pop-Up Stores Nationwide

For those who prefer to shop at a physical store, head to an Amazon 4-Star, Amazon Pop-Up, or Amazon Books location. Amazon Pop-Ups will sell Amazon devices and will be in select Whole Foods, Kohl’s, and shopping malls. Learn more here.

#5: Curated Holiday Gift Ideas and More


Check out Amazon’s curated holiday gift guide page. And if you’re stuck on what to give, give the gift of a Prime Membership.

#6: Target’s Answer to Amazon Prime

Amazon isn’t the only one in the free-shipping game. Target also announcedthat it will offer free, two-day shipping on most items for all customers during the holiday season. The company removed its shipping minimum this month and says it will continue this offer thru December 22.

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JetBlue Affiliation


​Not only can JetBlue passengers stream Prime Video on most JetBlue flights, they can also earn TrueBlue points via Amazon purchases. Simply shop through your unique link (which can be found here) and start earning points. You can earn three points per eligible dollar spent; just make sure you understand which products are excluded from the offer—this includes things like subscription Kindle products and AmazonFresh.

Spirit Soars Above Other Carriers in October On-Time Performance Times

United Plans to Expand Flights to China from New York City Area

Prime Reading & Audible


​As an Amazon Prime member, you can read books like The Handmaid’s Tale and Harry Potter free with Prime Reading. The feature offers over a thousand free books and magazines to download on any device with a Prime membership. I think it’s one of the best unknown Amazon Prime perks out there, especially for frequent travelers. As a Fire Tablet user, I browse this section before any long flight and download at least one free book for my trip.


​Also be sure to check out Amazon’s Audible channels or audio books, which are free to Prime members.

Insider Tip: For Kindle users, a Prime membership grants you access to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, where you can borrow a book each month, along with one pre-released book per month with Amazon First Reads.

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10 Secret Amazon Prime Perks You Probably Aren’t Using

Princess Cruises revealed Monday that when its new ship, the Enchanted Princess, debuts in June 2020, it will sail its inaugural season in the Mediterranean.

Company officials also announced the vessel will be named in Southampton, England.


​The Enchanted Princess will feature Sky Suites, which are centrally located on the top deck of the vessel and boast the largest private balconies ever offered by the cruise line.

The Sky Suites’ balconies measure 700 square feet and provide passengers with a private vantage of the ship's Movies under the Stars screen. The two suites will also offer a 270-degree panorama and have a sleeping capacity for five guests, making them ideal for families.

Delta Enters Bidding for Alitalia

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New service to Cancún and the Caribbean is a great excuse to book a flight for spring break — even if you're no longer a student. There's also no reason to wait until March — the Farmers' Almanac is predicting a long, cold and snowy winter, and a warm-weather getaway could be just what the doctor ordered.

There will also be new nonstop service between Cleveland and Tampa, Cincinnati and Orlando, Dallas and West Palm Beach, Dallas and Harlingen, and Houston and Lubbock.

Flights for travel through April 7, 2019, are now available on Southwest's website.

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United Airlines announced it submitted a formal application to the U.S. Department of Transportation to increase service between Newark Liberty International Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport beginning in June 2020.

Once the additional service receives formal approval, United's second daily flight will help passengers conveniently connect to Shanghai from more than 90 U.S. and Canadian destinations served by the airline from the New Jersey airport.


​“Our application for a second daily flight between New York/Newark and Shanghai is in response to the demand for travel between each country's financial center, which has grown annually for the last several years,” United CEO Oscar Munoz said in a statement. “If approved, this additional flight will help facilitate the development of increased business and tourism, provide additional capacity for customers and further enhance United's position both as the airline of choice to China and our hub at Newark Liberty International Airport as the premier East Coast gateway to Asia.”


​The expanded schedule also strengthens the airline’s position as the only U.S. carrier serving mainland China and Hong Kong from the New York City area. United first launched flights to and from China in 1986.

The airline and Star Alliance partner Air China have a multi-year agreement that includes code-sharing on more than 100 routes and provides customers of both carriers with additional travel benefits, such as airport lounge access and frequent flyer program reciprocity.

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What Time of Day Should I Book My Flight?


​According to urban legend, you should buy on Tuesday mornings because airlines dump new fares and seat allocations on Monday nights. It’s also rumored that travelers shouldn’t buy on weekends, as consumers lap up the seats allocated to the lowest fare buckets on Saturdays and Sundays, leaving less low-priced inventory.

Here’s what George Hobica, founder of our sister site Airfarewatchdog, says: “No one can accurately predict where airfares are heading any more than we can predict the stock market.”

Hobica’s blog points to a quote from an airline revenue manager on the subject: “To say that there is one time of the day or one day of the week that is better than another is false. Plus, fares are so dynamic, since they are based on market conditions and the actual number of passengers who are currently booked on a specific flight, that they can change rapidly at any time.”


​But the manager goes on to contradict himself a little bit: “Many airlines tend to announce sales on a Monday, leading other airlines to match certain fares the following day, but this is not a hard and fast rule.”

Several sources publish data on the correlation between advance purchase period and airfares. The ideal time to buy a domestic ticket is 54 days in advance, says CheapAir, or seven weeks ahead, says Expedia, which are essentially the same findings. For international trips, the ideal period is 171 days ahead of departure, according to the same Expedia report. CheapAir refines the estimates: 96 days before trips to Europe and 96 days prior to Latin America trips. Both sources indicate that you can come close to the absolute lowest price over a wide range of dates: CheapAir’s “window” for good deals on domestic tickets is 27–114 days in advance; Expedia’s window is 50–100 days.

Avoid booking too early and too late. Too late is especially bad; you pay a huge premium for buying within a week or two of departure—even on airlines that nominally assess no advance-purchase limit.

Prime Music & Prime Video


​With Amazon Prime, you get unlimited, ad-free streaming on Prime Music. And while Prime Music has over two million songs, Prime members also get a discount with Amazon’s other music streaming service, Music Unlimited.

Another one of the lesser-known Amazon Prime perks is Prime Videostreaming, which grants you access to award-winning original movies and TV shows like Manchester by the Sea and The Man in the High Castle. Amazon also hosts other network TV shows like Mr. Robot and The Sopranos. Prime Video also has a library of popular shows and movies to rent and buy.

Insider Tip: You can add premium network subscriptions to your Prime membership via Amazon Channels. This allows you to watch channels like HBO, STARZ, and Showtime without having a cable or satellite account.

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Offline Downloads for Entertainment


​One of the best lesser-known Amazon Prime perks perfect for travelers is offline downloading for TV shows and movies. You can even search by this feature on the Amazon Video app. Just go to the Library icon, hit “Refine” and filter by the “On Device” option. All downloads will go to a download folder on the app, or you can watch directly from the show’s or movie’s page.

Princess Cruises Announces Initial Itinerary, Features for Enchanted Princess

Uber has launched a business management offering for its Uber Eats food delivery service as part of the Uber for Business platform. Uber Eats, a separate app that provides delivery service from participating restaurants, launched in 2014. It has grown to about 350 markets in 35 countries, Uber Eats head of product and senior director Stephen Chau said. Businesses also are using the business more; year to date, the orders expensed in SAP Concur have risen 700 percent year over year, he said.

As such, Uber has developed Uber Eats for Business, in which companies can set controls and get reporting around Uber Eats use. For example, program managers can set price caps for orders or determine which employees are allowed to make orders, Uber for Business lead Ronnie Gurion said.


​They also can set different parameters for different use cases, he said. For example, they could set up an after-hours food delivery program for employees who stay at work late, restricting orders to a certain geography and to certain hours. For employees who use Uber Eats to order food in a hotel while traveling, a company could set up a different program that does not have those restrictions.

Once the tool determines an order is in policy, Uber Eats for Business bills it centrally to the company, Gurion said. The service also provides its customers reporting on their spending.

Uber has been testing the service with about 100 customers and is now making it widely available, he said.

Amazon Credit Cards & Points


Making the most of every dollar you spend is another Amazon Prime perk. Prime members have exclusive access to certain credit cards: The Amazon Prime Store Card and Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card.

The Visa card is exclusive to those with a Prime membership and gives you five percent back on Amazon and two percent back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, with no annual fee. You can redeem your points for Amazon purchases; and the card also has travel benefits like no foreign transaction fees, baggage delay insurance, and travel accident insurance.

The Store card lets Prime members receive five percent back on Amazon purchases, also has no annual fee, and gives access to promotional financing.

Some credit card companies, like American Express, offer one year of an Amazon Prime membership with their cards, while others let you “Shop With Points” on Amazon, though you won’t get Prime benefits.

Russian carrier Aeroflot intends to increase its annual passenger volume from 50.1 million last year to between 90 million and 100 million in 2023, according to its new strategic plan.


A large part of that growth will come through Pobeda. Aeroflot expects the low-cost carrier to fly as many as 30 million passengers annually over the next five years. Aeroflot also aims to grow international transit traffic, particularly on Europe-Asia routes, from 5 million in 2017 to between 10 million and 15 million in 2023. In addition, Aeroflot plans to open regional hubs in Sochi, Ekaterinburg and Novosibirsk, which it expects will help triple regional traffic over the next five years.


It also plans an international hub in Krasnoyarsk. To meet its passenger goals, Aeroflot plans to double its current 250 aircraft to 520.

Dr. Osvaldo A. Perez, at your service!

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Food Delivery: Prime Pantry & AmazonFresh


Amazon Prime members also receive exclusive access to Prime Pantry. This service allows for convenient delivery for household items like toiletries, delivered straight to your door. Just make sure to add five qualifying products so the shipping is free. Prime members also receive coupons and discounts on hundreds of items through this service.

If you want to schedule a delivery at a vacation home rental or to have upon your return from vacation, check out Amazon’s grocery delivery service, AmazonFresh. Try AmazonFresh Free Trial , which is only available to Prime members.

Southwest announced Thursday that the airline's spring schedule for 2019 will include new international and nonstop routes. Travelers can expect new options for spring break and beyond from major U.S. cities.

Starting in March, the airline will add new and returning seasonal flights to Cancún from Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham and San Antonio; to Jamaica and the Dominican Republic from St. Louis; and to Cabo San Lucas from Baltimore. This is in addition to the airline's existing routes, which can be seen on Southwest's route map.


Spirit Airlines had the best on-time performance time among North American carriers in October, according to FlightStats. The last time the low-cost carrier came out on top was a year ago, a surprise for the typically lagging airline. Delta, which was top dog for the past two months, came in second. Alaska Airlines, which had the best on-time performance for six months of this year, fell to eighth place.

Airline Kicked Man Off Flight For Taking a Sleeping Pill

Aeroflot Aims to Double Passenger Volume Over Next Five Years

When Do Plane Tickets Go on Sale?


​The best time to buy an airline ticket is when it’s on sale; that means you have to stay on top of the airline marketplace. Airfare sales crop up at random times. Typically, the purchase window is short—sometimes just one day, often a few days to a week—but the sale fares are usually good for a month or more.

As Hobica puts it, “Pounce when there’s a deal.” And remember: With almost all U.S. airlines, you can cancel your ticket within 24 hours of booking at no charge. Even if you’ve already bought your fare, you can keep looking for a better offer within that 24-hour window.

Cheap Last-Minute Holiday Travel Is Available If You Stop Doing These No-no’s.

Many travel experts agree: The sweet spot to book holiday travel is generally in the summer, suggesting September as the latest month you should book. However, if you’ve already missed the booking window for the cheapest holiday travel, there are still several ways to secure flights for your holiday travel.


​Don’t Keep Postponing: CheapAir.com’s Holiday Cheap Flights Report for 2018’s tracks thousands of holiday fares daily and its easy-to-digest charts show that fares have steadily climbed since late September, and are expected to take a bigger leap in November. Holiday flights booked in October averaged $37 more than in September, yet $70 cheaper than the expected average rates for November. Book as soon as possible to avoid the price gouge.


Don’t Blindly Book a Flight: To get a sense of the going rate for your specific itinerary, sign up for free airfare alerts like SmarterTravel‘s or our sister site, Airfarewatchdog‘s. It’s important to remain realistic about what you expect to pay for a last-minute holiday flight. It will most definitely be higher than a regular trip back home. Additionally, and most importantly, be ready to pounce on the booking immediately if you do see a good price.


​​Don’t Travel on These Days: The Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after are the busiest travel days of the year. Whether by land or by air, travel on these days and you’ll be sure to experience airports and roads at max capacity.

According to CheapAir.com, you can net cheap Thanksgiving flights by delaying your return trip home: Nearly $100 if traveling the Monday after the holiday and $209 in savings if flying on Tuesday.

Extending or shortening your holiday vacation is a sound strategy for better savings, so keep that in mind when looking at your holiday schedule. Because Christmas falls on a Tuesday this year, expect the highest fares the weekend before the holiday on Friday, December 21 and Saturday, December 22. Other high-demand days to avoid are just after the holiday on December 26, and after a New Year’s on January 1 and 2. It might be counterintuitive, but traveling on the day of the actual holiday is one of the best ways to find the most affordable flights during the holiday season. If you’re okay with flying on Christmas Day, it could be the best way to save. December 18, December 31, and January 3 are also among the cheapest travel days this year.

Colorado resident Aubrey Lane is suing American Airlines for failing to protect her from a drunk passenger who raped her on a redeye flight from Phoenix to New York in 2017.

Lane filed the suit on October 31 in federal court in New York. It claims that American Airlines allowed a visibly drunk man to board the flight on June 16, 2017, and then continued to serve him as many as six more alcoholic drinks on the flight.


​The man has not yet been identified, but he was seated next to Lane and harassed her and another passenger throughout the flight, and then followed Lane to the plane’s bathroom and sexually assaulted her.

The lawsuit cites an eyewitness' statement who sat in a nearby seat. The eyewitness claimed that the sexual assaulter was in an “obvious intoxicated state, with glazed eyes and fumbling in the aisle trying to find his seat.”

After reaching his seat, the passenger allegedly ordered two vodkas, a coke, and a beer, followed by another identical order which American Airlines employees filled.


​“While Aubrey had been drinking, she clearly was not interested in pursuing this man in 12B, but over time he began to move closer to her, grab her face and kiss her, which she would push him off and say that ‘couldn’t happen,’” the witness statement says, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The witness claims that Lane only had one drink.


​The witness warned cabin crew members during the flight to move the intoxicated passenger, but the warnings were ignored.

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Access to Exclusive Products & Deals


​An Amazon Prime membership grants access to a variety of products and deals that can save you money on travel-related products and clothes. Prime members have early access to Lightning Deals (also called Prime Early Access Deals), Prime Exclusives, and a whole day dedicated to member shopping deals, Prime Day, which is typically in July.

Another one of the lesser-known Amazon Prime perks is a service called Amazon Elements. This Prime-exclusive line is limited right now (only baby wipes and vitamins so far), but the idea behind it—a dedicated store that uses customer feedback and reviews to create better products—has the potential to become an invaluable tool for travelers who only have enough suitcase space for high-performing products.

Prime Samples is also an incredibly useful perk for travelers; the sample-size products only available to Prime members are great for bargain-priced toiletries and snacks. Plus, you get reward cash for purchasing.


​Amazon is also providing discounts at Whole Foods for Prime members: An additional 10 percent off sale items and special deals on select items.

Insider Tip: If you order through Alexa-enabled voice shopping, you get access to even more deals and discounts as a Prime member.

For at least two decades, industry experts have been speculating about basic timing factors in finding the lowest airfares. The big question: When is the best time to buy plane tickets? So far, nobody has been able to come up with definitive answers that stand the test of time for very long. But that doesn’t stop them from trying. There are numbers-based guidelines touted by travel experts. And there are tools and data that can help you ascertain the right time to buy. Here’s the latest information on mastering the art of airfare booking.


How Far in Advance Should I Book My Flight?

Access to Exclusive Products & Deals


​With Amazon Prime, you get unlimited photo storage via Amazon Photos, which is perfect for backing up your vacation photos and storing your favorite memories. Photos are easily organized, you can share photos in a “Family Vault,” and you can even order prints directly from Amazon.

Prime members also get 5G of free storage for files, videos, and anything else you want to store on the cloud with Amazon Drive.

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How Do I Stay on Top of Fare Sales?


​Unless you enjoy the prospect of spending much of every day searching airline and OTA websites, the best way to keep on top of airfare sales is to subscribe to one or more airfare alerts. You have a range of choices. And we can help. Start with our own free fare alerts, our sister site BookingBuddy, and Airfarewatchdog’s famous fare alerts. In addition, many individual airlines, big OTAs, and metasearch systems offer airfare alerts or promotional bulletins.

Keep two important factors in mind when you search: First, Southwest fares are not available from any OTA or metasearch system; you can get these alerts from the SmarterTravel, BookingBuddy, and Airfarewatchdog links above or from Southwest directly. Second, any time a big airline announces a sale, competitors usually match it, at least where they compete directly, within 24 hours. So always take some time to shop around before you book.

A recent news story may make you rethink taking a sleeping pill on a flight.

Canadian Stephen Bennett was on his way to Cuba from British Columbia with his wife and son on October 13 but had a layover in Toronto, before boarding his last flight with WestJet.

His doctor had prescribed him a sleeping pill to take before the connecting flight, as Bennett had not slept on the overnight flight from the westernmost province in Canada.


Prior to boarding his WestJet flight to Cuba, Bennett took the sleeping pill and then quickly fell asleep after boarding the plane. Before take-off, a crew member tried to wake him, and the next thing he remembers is being awakened by his wife and the flight attendant telling him he had to deboard the plane because he was a “medical emergency.”

Paramedics were called and removed Bennett from the plane in a wheelchair, a move Bennett found humiliating. Once he was checked out by the paramedics, they let the WestJet crew know that he was able to fly, but WestJet denied him entry back on the flight.


​Bennett even got his doctor to e-mail a note that said he was healthy and capable of flying, but it didn’t help.

"It was so humiliating," he told BBC. "Basically, the stewardess became judge, jury and executioner."

In a statement to BBC, WestJet said, "We stand by our crew's decisions and believe that what we have offered to this guest is reasonable under the circumstances.”

WestJet offered Bennett and his family a place on the next flight – a week later – despite the fact that they had booked an all-inclusive vacation package under specific dates.


​The family declined WestJet's offer and booked a flight with another airline, lost two days of their family vacation, and had to pay an additional $1,525 for new tickets and a hotel in Toronto.

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What Are Some Other Ways to Get Fare Alerts?


​You can get fare alerts directly from your favorite carrier. Many airlines offer weekly or periodic email notifications of special sales and other useful information. It’s a good idea to set up alerts from an airline with which you frequently fly, especially if you collect miles.

Many OTAs and metasearch systems also offer regular airfare-deal bulletins, including the two giants, Expedia and Priceline.

Amazon’s New Prime Perk and 5 Other Expert Shopping Tips to Know Before Black Friday

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Delta has emerged among the latest round of bidders for Alitalia, and low-cost carrier EasyJet also remains interested in the Italian carrier, according to Bloomberg. Italian state-owned railroad company Ferrovie dello Stato has made an offer, as well.

Alitalia ownership could divide among the three, Delta assisting with long-haul service and EasyJet working with its short-haul operations, Bloomberg reported. Delta is a joint-venture partner of Alitalia—for now, at least—and has invested in several of its partners around the globe. A statement from Delta confirmed only that "we continue to explore ways to work with Alitalia and maintain our partnership in the future." EasyJet confirmed it has "submitted a revised expression of interest for a restructured Alitalia."

Alitalia began bankruptcy proceedings last year and is operating under an Italian government bridge loan as it weighs investor options. Lufthansa had expressed interest in the past, but chairman and CEO Carsten Spohr said this week on the carrier's earnings call that Lufthansa "will not be interested to be co-investors with the government in an airline."

When Should You Buy Your Flight?

Icelandair to Buy Rival Wow Air

Southwest Announces New International Flights for Spring 2019

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 This looks like a marriage of convenience for the carriers. Both are struggling, as is the wider Icelandic tourism industry. We’ll have to wait and see whether one is better than two.


​Icelandair Group is buying rival Wow Air in a major consolidation of the Icelandic aviation market.

The two airlines will continue to operate as separate brands and neither side has so far revealed a price or terms of the deal, which was announced Monday.

Together the pair will have around 3.8 percent of the transatlantic aviation market.


The deal is still subject to Icelandair shareholder approval and due diligence. It must also get sign off from Icelandic competition regulators.

FINANCIAL WOES

Consolidation within the Icelandic aviation sector comes during a difficult time for the wider tourism industry.

Travelers had flocked to the country in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis but the industry is cooling.


​Icelandair and Wow Air have also had their own problems. Icelandair’s CEO Björgólfur Jóhannsson resigned in August after the carrier slashed its profit outlook and it is still looking for a permanent successor.

Travelers know convenience often comes at a price. And while some services don’t pay for themselves, Amazon Prime and the included Amazon Prime perks, can be a worthwhile investment for tech-savvy and entertainment-driven travelers.

A membership now costs $119 annually (or $13 monthly); for that price, you get well-known benefits like free two-day shipping, access to exclusive deals, and Prime Video. But the real boon for travelers are the lesser known Amazon Prime perks that deliver trip-ready extras like entertainment, last-minute delivery, photo storage, and even frequent flyer points. I decided to see if I could use Amazon Prime perks to become a more prepared and happier traveler, and was impressed by the results.

Shipping Benefits: Prime Now


​Yes, most people know free two-day shipping comes with a Prime membership, but did you know about the Amazon Prime perk that offers free same-day delivery? This feature is available in 8,000 cities (you can check availability by zip code here), and it’s perfect for travelers. Whether you’re in a rush packing and need a specific item or forgot something and need it delivered to your hotel room, Prime Now is a great benefit for travelers. Prime Now also includes restaurant delivery in select cities within one hour and features local stores’ products in select cities.

Insider Tip: Did you know that you can earn rewards for future purchases with free, no-rush shipping? If you don’t need your Prime order right away, select No-Rush Shipping and receive a discount or reward for a future purchase.

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Discounted Memberships: Student & Family


If you’re ready to join Amazon Prime, look into some of the discounted membership services first to see if you qualify. Right now Amazon offers Amazon Family and Prime Student at discounted rates.

Amazon Family costs $99 per year with a free 30-day trial, but lets you create a household—meaning multiple users—for shared family benefits. Amazon Family also comes with FreeTime Unlimited—a subscription service for kids’ entertainment—as well as special discounts on household products and diapers.

Prime Student comes at the discounted rate of $59 per year with a six-month free trial to start and a special student page filtered for college-specific needs.