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Amazon wants non-Prime members to pay even more for free shipping

REUTERS/Noah Berger
Amazon is going to make you pay more for online orders to qualify for free shipping.
By Chase Purdy
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Amazon has upped the order price that online shoppers must pay to earn free shipping. It’s a move that further distinguishes the perks that come with a $99-per-year Amazon Prime membership, chiefly free and fast delivery.

Under the price hike, effective now, the Seattle-based company requires non-Prime members to spend at least $49 (except on some book orders) before becoming eligible for free shipping. The previous threshold was $35.

The move is a play by Amazon to entice more people—particularly repeat shoppers—to join its Prime service.

“Prime membership payments provide an upfront cash flow that the company can use to invest however management sees fit,” explained David Meier, a wealth management manager with The Motley Fool, to Quartz. “This is very valuable to the company.”

The company still spends more than it makes in shipping. Amazon’s shipping costs were 4.8% of sales in the fourth quarter of 2014. In the fourth quarter of 2015, that increased to 5.5% of sales.

For a long time, a $25 order was the benchmark for free delivery. That changed in 2013 when the company bumped the number up to $35.

Bookworms can still enjoy lower order prices to attain free shipping. Per the company: Any order that includes at least $25 of books will ship for free.

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