Amazon is hiking the monthly cost of Prime by 18 percent

The move will hit the poorest members the hardest.

The Essentials

1. Amazon is expected to announce on Friday that the cost of Prime memberships for those that pay monthly is rising from $10.99 to $12.99.

2. This represents a rise of 18 percent and will mean a total cost of almost $156-a-year.

3. The yearly price of $99 is expected to remain unchanged, Recode reports. 

The Bigger Picture

Amazon introduced the monthly payment option two years ago, and while it was more expensive than the yearly subscription, the $10.99 monthly membership was designed for lower income Americans who couldn't afford to pay $99 in one go.

It proved popular, with Recode saying Prime membership has been strongest among households making less than $50,000 a year.

It'll come as a blow to them, then, that this monthly price will be going up.

It's a useful service particularly for people with limited access to transportation, with Prime membership qualifying customers for free two-day shipping.

The price is also going up for students, who will now pay $6.49-a-month instead of $5.49, USA Today reports.

The newspaper notes that the last time Amazon hiked its prices was in 2014, when the annual subscription rose from $79.99 to $99.99.

The company said that over the past few years the number of items it has sent via two-day shipping has increased from 20 million to 100 million a year, suggesting this was unsustainable without a price increase.

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