After lingering at $35 and ranging as high as $49, Amazon’s free shipping threshold has returned to $25, a sign that the online retailer is prepared to defend its core business even as it branches out into digital subscriptions and a growing array of consumer electronics devices.
The lower threshold is a boon for casual Amazon shoppers who are not Prime members: They can add millions of eligible items to their shopping carts and enjoy free shipping on orders greater than $25.
Now that numerous other online retailers offer $35 free shipping thresholds, including Target and Jet.com, Amazon’s decision to lower its threshold to the original $25 might seem generous.
But before rushing to place orders that have languished while you searched for additional items to meet the former $35 threshold, consider that Amazon is no longer the king of free shipping online. That title now arguably belongs to Walmart, which recently introduced free two-day shipping on orders over $35. Amazon’s free shipping option, meanwhile, can take up to eight days if you aren’t a Prime member.
In fact, Amazon’s decision to raise its free shipping threshold to the high watermark of $49 in early 2016 was arguably a way to incentivize more people to sign up for the $99-per-year Prime membership, which offers free two-day shipping with no minimum orders on eligible items, in addition to numerous other benefits. It was also a way to keep rising shipping costs in check. Amazon later returned the threshold to $35, where it had been since the first $10 raise in October 2013.