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Amazon raising Prime subscription cost to $99 per year in US

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Amazon is raising the price of Amazon Prime to $99 per year in the U.S., the company announced today.

This is the first price increase for Amazon Prime since the service's debut in 2005; from then until now, Amazon has charged $79 per year, with a half-price discount available for students. The new subscription price will go into effect April 17, and the price of Amazon Student is also rising, by $10 to $49 per year. Existing subscribers whose memberships will expire before then can renew in order to lock in one final year at the $79 level. In an email to current subscribers, Amazon cited rising shipping costs — particularly for fuel and transportation — as well as the growing wealth of benefits included in a Prime membership, as reasons for the price hike.

In an email to current subscribers, Amazon cited rising shipping costs

Prime launched in 2005 with free two-day shipping on 1 million items and discounted one-day shipping; today, more than 20 million items are eligible for Prime shipping, and the service guarantees release-day delivery on pre-orders of video games and other media. Free access to Prime Instant Video, which allows Prime members to stream tens of thousands of movies and episodes of television shows to computers, game consoles, tablets and other devices, debuted in February 2011. And in November 2011, Amazon introduced the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, which allows Kindle users to borrow hundreds of thousands of books for free.

Amazon Prime is currently available in the U.S. as well as Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.K., although the benefits and cost differ by country.

Aside from being a major online retailer, and offering services like Instant Video and devices such as the Kindle Fire line of tablets, Amazon has gotten into the gaming industry over the past couple of years. Amazon Game Studios began making free-to-play social games in 2012, and acquired Killer Instinct and Strider developer Double Helix Games last month. Yesterday, Amazon made its AppStream service, which allows apps to be streamed from the cloud to devices, widely available.

You can see Amazon's full email to customers below.

Dear [customer],

We are writing to provide you advance notice that the price of your Prime membership will be increasing. The annual rate will be $99 when your membership renews on [renewal date].

Even as fuel and transportation costs have increased, the price of Prime has remained the same for nine years. Since 2005, the number of items eligible for unlimited free Two-Day Shipping has grown from one million to over 20 million. We also added unlimited access to over 40,000 movies and TV episodes with Prime Instant Video and a selection of over 500,000 books to borrow from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library.

For more information about your Prime membership, visit our Prime membership page.

Sincerely,

The Amazon Prime Team