Walmart Plus vs. Amazon Prime: Is grocery delivery or streaming more important?

Walmart Plus vs. Amazon Prime: Is grocery delivery or streaming more important?

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Online shopping for groceries and other goods has skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic, with Amazon and Walmart dominating our delivery needs. On Sept. 15, Walmart will launch Walmart Plus, a new fast delivery subscription service for groceries and other products you’d normally find in the big box store — positioning the retailer to more directly compete in the online shopping market with Amazon Prime. 

While both Walmart Plus and Amazon Prime are subscription delivery services, they have different perks to offer. Here’s a breakdown of what you get with each, and how the two compare. 

Amazon Prime and Walmart Plus, compared

Amazon Prime Walmart Plus
Availability Now Sept. 15
Yearly cost $119 $98
Monthly cost $12.99 $12.95
Free trial 30 days 15 days
Same-day delivery For orders $35 and up For orders $35 and up
Products available for same-day delivery 3 million 160,000
Grocery delivery Yes Yes
Streaming service and other media Yes No
Fuel discount No Yes

James Martin/CNET

You’re probably already familiar with Amazon Prime: Amazon’s membership program has been around for 15 years, and has more than 150 million paid subscribers. A Prime membership (which costs $119 a year, or $12.99 a month) includes free one-day shipping in the US, and free same-day delivery in certain areas. You’ll also get free release-date delivery on certain preorders. If you’ve never signed up before, you can get a 30-day Prime free trial. And if you’re a college student or you receive government assistance, you can also get a discounted membership. 

Amazon Prime’s biggest benefit is the wide variety of products available for free delivery within one to two days with no purchase minimum. You’ll find more than 10 million items available for free one-day shipping, and an additional 3 million for same-day shipping (but you’ll need to spend $35 minimum for the same-day option). 

One element of Amazon Prime that you won’t find with Walmart Plus is all of its streaming benefits. With your Prime subscription, you’ll get access to Prime Video, Prime Music and Prime Gaming (Prime Video is the biggest perk here, with its large catalog of new and old TV shows, movies and originals.) Prime Reading lets you borrow books and magazines for your Fire Tablet or Kindle e-reader or app. And Amazon First Reads gives you a free new book download each month. Prime Wardrobe also lets you try on some clothes on the site before you buy them. 

Read more: Amazon Prime: 21 benefits ever member gets

Prime members in certain cities get 2-hour delivery from Whole Foods Market, and those with an Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card also get 5% cash back on Whole Foods purchases. Prime members in certain areas also get free grocery delivery through Amazon Fresh, which fulfills orders through Amazon warehouses instead of Whole Foods or another grocery store. Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh do not have a grocery delivery minimum, unless you want free two-hour delivery, in which case your order will need to be at least $35, or you’ll have to pay a $4.99 delivery fee. 

Prime members also get extra discounts through the Subscribe & Save option on certain products, like regular household items. 

Walmart

Launching Sept. 15, a Walmart Plus membership will cost $98 a year or $12.95 a month. There will also be a 15-day free trial, but there’s still no word on any discounts for students or others. Walmart Plus builds on the retail giant’s original Delivery Unlimited option, offering “in-store prices” and “as fast as same-day” delivery on more than 160,000 items. In other words, a membership will send just about anything in-store to your door within a day, or even on the same day, with no additional fees — so long as you meet the $35 purchase minimum (which is the same for Amazon Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh deliveries). 

Walmart Plus offers some in-store benefits, too: Subscribers will get access to Scan & Go, a feature in the Walmart app that will let you scan items as you shop in the store, and check out using Walmart Pay, so you won’t have to stand in a checkout line. 

Read more: Compare Amazon’s price to Walmart and other stores with these 4 tools

Members will also save up to 5 cents per gallon on gasoline at nearly 2,000 Walmart, Murphy USA and Murphy Express gas stations nationwide. Sam’s Club stations will be added to that list of fuel stations soon, too.

Walmart doesn’t seem to specify how your proximity to a store will impact delivery time, but it’s probably safe to assume that the closer you are, the more likely it will be that you can take advantage of the same-day delivery offering. 

While Prime offers far more in terms of streaming and product range, Walmart still has the edge when it comes to groceries: The big box store is the largest grocer in the US, and its prices are typically a lot lower than those at Whole Foods.

Walmart hinted that more membership perks are on the way, but didn’t give any other clues as to what we can expect in the future. 

Which should you choose? 

While the two memberships have some things in common, they’re ultimately pretty different. Amazon Prime wins out in terms of the variety of products available, and the extra streaming and variety of other benefits. But Walmart Plus may be the better choice if you’re primarily looking for affordable grocery delivery and more convenient in-store shopping, too. 

As CNET’s Rick Broida pointed out, if you usually shop for groceries once a week and use Walmart Plus each time, it works out to $1.89 per week (based on the $98 annual rate) to get your groceries delivered — saving you time and lowering your risk of COVID-19 exposure. Walmart Plus’ yearly membership is also $21 cheaper than Amazon Prime’s, though the monthly costs are about the same.

It’s also worth noting that you can still take advantage of many of the Amazon Prime and Walmart Plus delivery services without subscribing. Walmart customers who aren’t Plus members currently get free two-day deliveries for millions of items on orders of $35 or more, and can sometimes get same-day delivery too, depending on where they live. And Amazon customers who aren’t Prime members can get free standard shipping on orders of $25 or more. 

For more, check out the CNET Deals page and the CNET Coupons page for the latest promo codes from Best Buy, Walmart, Amazon and more


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