(ABC NEWS) --- Amazon announced today that it is raising the price of its annual Amazon Prime membership to $99 from $79.
In an email to customers, Amazon indicated that the annual rate for free two-day shipping and other benefits would increase upon membership renewal.
"Even as fuel and transportation costs have increased, the price of Prime has remained the same for nine years," the company stated in the email.
The company said in a statement: "If you consider things like inflation and fuel costs, a Prime membership valued at $79 in 2005 would be worth more than $100 today."
Amazon's Prime membership for students will increase $10 to $49 a year, while Amazon Prime Fresh membership (same-day and early morning delivery) in Los Angeles and San Francisco remains unchanged at $299.
"Since 2005, the number of items eligible for unlimited free Two-Day Shipping has grown from one million to over 20 million," Amazon told customers in an email. "We also added unlimited access to over 40,000 movies and TV episodes with Prime Instant Video and a selection of over 500,000 books to borrow from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library."
"And we're not done," the company added in a statement to ABC News. "We are working to expand selection even further, as we develop additional fulfillment and transportation capacity to make the Prime program even more valuable to our members."
During its earnings conference call in January, the company said it could raise the price of Prime membership by up to $40.
On its homepage today, Amazon.com stated that the $79 annual price is available to new members until the change takes effect March 20.
"Beginning April 17, existing Prime members will pay the new fee on their subsequent annual renewal date," the company said in a statement.
Non-prime members typically have to pay for slower shipping that can be five to eight days or more for two-day shipping.
Two lawsuits have recently been filed against Amazon, alleging the company encourages vendors to inflate item prices to account for shipping costs.
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