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Pros and Cons of Retail Membership

When Randi Odesser shops at Whole Foods, she takes advantage of discounts available to her as a member of Amazon Prime's loyalty program.

The $119 annual membership fee not only gets her deals on groceries, but also, free, expedited shipping, unlimited cloud storage for photos and access to tons of movies and music.

"I am a loyal Amazon shopper to begin with and now having the added benefit of Whole Foods discounts makes it even better. Definitely a win-win," said Odesse.

"Clearly, Amazon is onto something. More than 100-million prime members likely make Amazon their first stop, when they shop," Consumer Reports money editor Margot Gilman said.

Consumer Reports said plenty of other retailers are also starting to see the benefits of membership programs.

REI Co-op, AMC theaters, Bed Bath and Beyond and Restoration Hardware are just a few of the companies now offering members perks including discounts, free shipping and priority services.

"The benefits sound great, but you have to make sure that the numbers add up. Restoration Hardware, for example, charges $100 for a year for a membership, that entitles you to some discounts and design consultations. And that would be great if you have a lot of furniture in your future," Gilman explained.

Just make sure that simply having the membership doesn't lead you to spend more.

"Amazon Prime members typically spend an average of 8-hundred dollars a year more than non-prime members," said Gilman.

And finally, be sure any membership is simple to cancel. You might not want to get stuck with a membership that renews automatically and is non-refundable.

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