In a somewhat controversial move, Amazon announced today that eligible low income members can receive discounted monthly Prime memberships. These discounts will be provided to members who are eligible for certain types of government assistance (such as SNAP, TANF, and WIC). Qualifying families will receive a discounted rate of $5.99 per month for up to 48 months (annual re-qualification is required). Amazon Prime typically costs $99 per year for those who pay annually, or $10.99/month for those who choose to pay monthly (a savings of $27.12 per year for those who pay annually or $60 per year for those who pay monthly).
It was announced in January 2017 that the FNS (teamed with USDA) was working closely with online retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, and other online grocery retailers to create a pilot program which would allow for online food stamp redemption when using services such as Amazon Fresh and Prime Pantry. This program is set to begin in 2018.
While you cannot currently redeem food stamps online, the discounted memberships can help families that are struggling to purchase other items they need without the added expense of transportation and in-store markup.
Currently, 70% of all households with a combined income of $112,000 or higher have a Prime membership. These discounted memberships may help bridge the gap and allow lower income families to better manage their money.