Last summer, Amazon offered the discounted membership price to customers on other government assistance programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program (WIC).
Amazon Prime subscribers get a host of benefits from the e-retail giant, including free two-day shipping on most Amazon orders, free unlimited streaming of video and music, and occasional special discounts not available to non-members.
Targeting low-income customers is a key part of the war between Amazon and Walmart.
To qualify for the discounted rate, customers must have a valid Medicaid card or Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. When the program launched previous year, it was open to customers with an EBT card. In turn, Walmart is also vying for Amazon customers, as the retailer has been significantly improving its online store in recent years to better compete against Amazon. Amazon already has a stranglehold on wealthy shoppers: More than 70% of upper-income households-with annual income over $112,000-had Amazon Prime memberships, according to one study.
The discounted membership price works out to about $72 for 12 months.
Industry analysts believe Amazon is maneuvering both to expand its Prime membership numbers, and to go after people whose first shopping destination may be Walmart.
"They are enabling people who otherwise would be priced out", said Greengart. Eligible shoppers need to reapply once a year and are eligible for up to four years. But Medicaid members will only have to pay $5.99 after a 30-day free trial period.
To qualify for for the discounted membership, customers can visit Amazon.com/qualify and upload an image of their EBT card or Medicaid card. He said Prime has helped save her time and money by helping her skip some of those errands.