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Shhh, Amazon Has Raised Its Free-Shipping Minimum

Just ahead of the biggest shopping period of the year, has quietly raised the amount you have to spend to qualify for Free Super Saving Shipping, from $25 to $35.

The announcement, if you can call it that, is buried within the e-tailer’s Help & Customer Service section. Amazon justified the change by noting it’s been more than 10 years since the last minimum-order increase, and that the offer has since been extended to millions of items across all product categories.

Pundits are split on the implication of the action and its timing. Some suggest it portends widening losses when the company reports its third-quarter results on Thursday. Others see it as an inducement to sign up for its $79 a year Prime program, which provides two-day shipping on millions of SKUs and access to over 40,000 movies and TV shows, and 350,000 Kindle titles, at no additional charge.

Amazon noted that due to the program’s popularity, it began shipping more items via Prime last year than with free shipping, and it continues to entice customers with a free 30-day trial.

Analysts have argued that Amazon loses money on Prime, although others cited metrics suggesting that Prime members spend more than non-members.

Either way, the new shipping policy, and Thursday’s earnings report, will provide plenty of fodder for Amazon watchers.