I tried to live off of Amazon Prime for a week — here's what I learned

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I tried to live off of Amazon Prime for a week — here's what I learned

  • For a week, I used Amazon Prime for almost everything I needed.
  • Amazon covers the basics with food, clothing and entertainment.
  • There are other areas where it has room to grow.

Amazon recently raised the price of Amazon Prime from $99 to $119 per year, effective May 11. Prime offers a lot: Free two-day delivery, grocery delivery, on-demand music and TV shows and a store that lets you purchase almost anything you can think of.

So I decided to do a test: Is it possible to buy everything I needed to survive for one week using only Amazon Prime?

I thought it would be super easy.

My plan was to order my food and clothing from Amazon and use only Amazon's TV and music services for entertainment. If something broke around the house, or if I needed anything at all, I'd first have to get it through Amazon.

It turns out that living only with Amazon Prime, while possible, is way harder than I imagined.

What worked

Amazon Fresh cooler bags
Brendan McDermid | Reuters

I used Amazon Fresh for grocery delivery and it arrived fresh and in cooled packaging. I also ordered some work clothes — a couple of pairs of khakis and polo shirts — that arrived right on time for the start of my experiment. I even got a bunch of new toiletries, including toilet paper, shampoo, soap and toothpaste.

Most people could survive with these basic necessities. Food, clothing, and toiletries were all covered.

But I wanted to see if I could lead a normal life using only Amazon Prime. So I used Amazon Prime TV to watch movies and TV shows — only cheating to catch a Yankees game on cable and Westworld on HBO. I also used the Kindle to catch up on reading. In this sense, Amazon has entertainment pretty well covered, though I wish it offered its own live TV service like Sling TV or Hulu.

I switched to Amazon Music for listening to tunes at my desk and on my drives to and from work. It's good, and I especially like playing classical music in my house on an Echo. But when I asked it to play '90s hip-hop in the car, it kept replaying the same old playlist. I was sick of it by the end of the week.

It might sound like you can live exclusively using Amazon Prime really easily.

But some things didn't work.

What didn't work

A pharmacist prepares prescription pills for a customer.
Getty Images
A pharmacist prepares prescription pills for a customer.

I'm a terrible cook. I'm the type of guy who struggles to make scrambled eggs properly. I burn toast. While Amazon lets you order all sorts of groceries, it doesn't yet offer its on-demand restaurant delivery service "Amazon Restaurants" in my area. I relied on services including UberEats, GrubHub and DoorDash.

When I got home after a long day of work, I almost always cheated and just ordered food instead of cooking what I ordered from Amazon. I also cheated at work, since I couldn't get something from Amazon delivered and didn't always pack a lunch.

There were other areas where I had to cheat on Amazon. I needed a prescription refill and asked my doctor to call it into a local pharmacy. Amazon is considering selling online prescriptions, and this is a market I think would be super convenient for its customers.

Also, I had to buy gasoline for my commutes back and forth from work. Amazon doesn't sell gas, so I had to cheat there. Similarly, my wife and I wanted a bottle of wine for dinner over the weekend, and we couldn't get that delivered on demand. I don't think Amazon will ever sell gasoline or a big selection of alcohol.

There were other places where I realized Amazon had nothing to offer. Since giving up on the Fire Phone, Amazon no longer has a mapping service, so I used Google Maps in the car to get to and from work.

Finally, Amazon doesn't offer any sort of banking service. Again, that might change and is a clear opportunity for the company. I relied on my regular credit and debit cards and used Venmo to send money to a friend who I owed from a recent California vacation.

Final thoughts

Lennar is teaming up with Amazon to offer smart homes.
Source: Lennar
Lennar is teaming up with Amazon to offer smart homes.

Most people who cook and who don't leave the house often can probably get by pretty well using only Amazon services. You can get clothes, food and entertainment all from a single company, which is pretty wild. Who else offers that?

While there's plenty of room to expand, it's pretty amazing to see how far and wide an online bookseller has grown.