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How Much Does Alexa Cost?

Amazon Alexa, or just Alexa as she’s more widely known, is the intelligent virtual AI assistant built into Amazon’s Echo devices, various third-party smart speakers, and the Amazon Alexa app.

Alexa can perform a wide array of handy tasks, including streaming music, setting alarms, providing news and weather updates, and even turning on or off your home’s lights, thanks to its home automation functionality.

A common question people often have is about how much Alexa costs, and that’s what we’ll be answering in this article.

Alexa is free through the Alexa smartphone app or via an Amazon Echo or third-party smart speaker that costs $40+. There are no ongoing monthly fees as standard. You can also boost Alexa’s functionality through premium services, e.g., Amazon Music Unlimited, Amazon Prime, Audible, and Spotify.

Read on to find out more about the various upfront costs for using Alexa depending on which device you choose to use, the features you can use free of charge, and how to get access to free music.

Alternatively, check out the video below for a quick summary of this article.

How Much Does Alexa Cost?

There are three main ways you can use Alexa, including using one of Amazon’s Echo speakers, using a third-party smart speaker, and downloading the Alexa smartphone app.

Here’s a summary and an overview of how much it costs to use Alexa for each option:

Using Amazon’s Range of Smart Speakers

One of the most common ways of using and communicating with Alexa is through Amazon’s range of Echo smart speakers.

On the more basic end, the Amazon Echo range consists of the following models that you can control with your voice:

  • Echo Dot
  • Echo
  • Echo Plus
  • Echo Studio

The Echo Dot is priced at around $40, making it a very inexpensive way to introduce Alexa’s powerful AI technology into your home, whereas the Echo Studio offers much better sound quality for around $200.

As shown below, Amazon has also developed the Echo Show, a smart speaker with a built-in display handy for visual feedback such as song lyrics, video, or weather widgets.

It’s worth mentioning that there is no monthly fee for using Alexa’s basic functionality on any of the Echo smart speakers.

The only cost is the upfront cost of the speaker itself, following which Alexa will be free to use going forward (provided you aren’t a premium service such as Amazon Prime, Amazon Music Unlimited, or Spotify Premium, for example).

Using a Third-Party Smart Speaker

Alexa doesn’t just work on Amazon-branded smart speakers, as there are now several third-party devices with Alexa built-in.

For example, the Sonos One, which is arguably one of the best smart speakers on the market, can integrate with Alexa seamlessly and costs upwards of $180 depending on the specific model you choose.

If you’re looking for something that packs a bigger punch, though, the Ultimate Ears Megablast portable smart speaker could be just the answer for around $200. Boasting a sleek design and expertly engineered sound technology, the Megablast joins Ultimate Ears’ extensive range of premium Bluetooth speakers, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Another popular wireless speaker is the Audio Pro Addon C5A which costs around $300 and can deliver crisp and dynamic sound around the whole room.

Using Alexa via the Smartphone App

You don’t need an Amazon Echo or third-party smart speaker to use Alexa.

A completely free alternative is to install the Amazon Alexa app on your iPhone or Android smartphone.

an image of the amazon alexa smartphone app icon


Installing the Alexa app will give you access to all of the features that you’d get on an Echo or third-party smart speaker, including the ability to make lists, play music, and control smart home devices.

You can give Alexa the same voice commands as you would through your smart speaker, with the bonus of the visual element of being able to scroll through your lists, read all your reminders in one go and quickly tweak your routine schedule.

Amazon has recently developed the Alexa Hands-Free function, allowing voice-enabled access to Alexa from a compatible smartphone device by saying the wake word.

By enabling the function within the Alexa app settings, your phone will respond every time you say ‘Alexa’, allowing hands-free access to all that Alexa has to offer within the app.

The only catch is your phone does have to be unlocked to access the Alexa Hands-Free function, which technically means it isn’t 100% hands-free and something to consider when deciding on what device you’ll need to get the most from Alexa.

Does Alexa Require a Monthly Fee?

There is no monthly fee or subscription required to use Alexa’s basic functions.

If you’re accessing Alexa through a smart speaker, the only indirect monthly fee is perhaps for WiFi, and this is needed for everything except the most basic functionality.

Here are some of the things that Alexa can help you with for free without a monthly fee:

  • Smart Home Automation – You can control household devices such as lighting, televisions and smart thermostats without even getting up from the couch.
  • Compiling Shopping Lists – For those moments when a last-minute item pops into your head, simply ask Alexa to add it to your shopping list, and it will automatically sync to the Alexa app on your smartphone for the next time you head to the shops.
  • Improving Productivity – From timers to reminders, Alexa can help you stay organized, so your day runs as smoothly as possible.
  • Listening to Radio & Podcasts – Alexa can keep you entertained by playing your favourite podcasts or radio stations on demand.
  • Using Alexa Skills – Using third party add-ons that you can incorporate into your Alexa profile including games, recipes, workouts and kids stories.
  • Providing Announcements – Drop in on other Alexa devices within the household to call the family to dinner or let the kids know their bedtime is swiftly approaching.
  • News Updates – Catch up on the latest headlines by saying, ‘Alexa, tell me the news’.
  • Making Calls & Sending Messages – Make calls or send messages to friends or family members who also have an Echo device or via Skype to those who don’t.
  • Answering Questions – Whether you want to know what the weather is like in New York City, the answer to a mathematical equation or language translations, Alexa is your one-stop-shop for any questions you may have.

While there is no monthly subscription fee for Alexa, some features will require premium accounts to unlock them.

For example, to access unlimited ad-free music, you can link a Spotify premium account to Alexa, which costs $9.99 per month. It is possible to access music via a Spotify free plan, but this does mean there will be adverts and a limited number of skips per day.

You can also listen to your favourite audiobooks by signing up for an Audible account.

Audible is an online audiobook and podcast service owned by Amazon, which allows you to purchase and stream audiobooks from a smart speaker, smartphone or compatible device. An Audible subscription costs between $7.95 and $22.95 per month, but there is no additional cost to sync it with your Alexa device.

In addition to those we’ve already mentioned, there are other accessories available that will upgrade Alexa’s features and functionality, such as the Echo Glow smart lamp for kids, or the Ring Mailbox Sensor Starter Kit.

Do I Need an Amazon Prime Account to Use Alexa?

Prime is Amazon’s paid subscription service that gives customers access to additional features and benefits over standard customers, including faster shipping, exclusive deals, and access to video and music streaming.

an image showing the prime packaging on an amazon parcel shipment


You don’t need an Amazon Prime account to use Alexa on any of the Echo devices, on smart speakers made by companies other than Amazon, or on the Amazon Alexa smartphone app.

You will, however, need a basic free Amazon account that requires an email address to set up.

After you’ve set up your Amazon account and configured your Echo device, third-party speaker, or Alexa app, you’ll be able to enjoy stand-out features such as the smart home, shopping list, productivity, radio, news, and messaging services.

Even third-party Alexa Skills (add-on features that bring a whole host of additional capabilities to Alexa, including celebrity voices and the ability to order a Dominos pizza) don’t require a Prime account and are available with a basic free Amazon account only.

Alexa Features That You Can Only Access via an Amazon Prime Account

We’ve mentioned that you don’t need an Amazon Prime account to use Alexa, but there are some premium features that you’ll miss out on if you opt to use Alexa with a free Amazon account only.

Firstly, an Amazon Prime membership comes with Amazon Music Prime, meaning Prime members can stream their favorite tunes through their Alexa-enabled device without annoying adverts.

You can also ask Alexa what the latest Prime deals are available, helping you make some fantastic savings on some top products and extending the functionality of the Alexa shopping function.

Prime members are also awarded two free titles from Audible’s premium section when you sign up for a free trial, and they can listen to them on their Alexa devices.

If you’re still weighing up the pros and cons of signing up to an Amazon Prime account, the total investment will be the cost of whichever Alexa-enabled device you choose to purchase, plus $119 per year or $12.99 per month.

Do You Have to Pay For Alexa?

No, you do not need to pay for Alexa.

There is no monthly fee for using Alexa’s basic functionality, and you do not need an Amazon Prime subscription to use it. A free, basic Amazon account will suffice when it comes to using Alexa.

You will, however, need to buy a smart speaker such as one from Amazon’s Echo range or a third-party manufacturer if you opt to use one of these instead of downloading the free Alexa app for your smartphone.

A Prime subscription will provide enhanced functionality to your Alexa device or smartphone, including faster shipping, exclusive deals, and the ability to stream and listen to music ad-free.

A Prime subscription costs $12.99 per month or $119 per year, but this is optional, and you can still use the majority of Alexa’s free features without it.

There are also premium add-on services available for Alexa at an additional cost outside of a Prime subscription, including Spotify premium (a music streaming alternative to Amazon Music), Audible (Amazon’s audiobook marketplace), and some in-skill upgrades that you can purchase for various Alexa Skills.

Does Alexa Come With Amazon Music?

There are three main tiers of Amazon Music that are accessible through an Alexa device.

A free version is available with no upfront cost and zero monthly fees, along with three premium versions (Amazon Music Prime, Amazon Music Unlimited, and Amazon Music HD).

an image showing the amazon music app icon


Here’s a basic overview of each:

Amazon Music Free
  • Does not require a Prime membership.
  • It’s free to listen to playlists and thousands of different radio stations.
  • Features significantly fewer songs (2 million +) than Amazon Music Unlimited (75 million +).
  • Features adverts that are not skippable.
  • You can’t choose individual songs to listen to, just playlists.
  • You can’t download and listen to music offline.
  • No access to HD music.
  • You can only stream to one device at a time.
Amazon Music Prime
  • There are no adverts.
  • You can listen to individual songs, not just particular playlists.
  • You can download and listen to music offline.
  • Requires a Prime membership.
  • Features significantly fewer songs (2 million +) than Amazon Music Unlimited (75 million +).
  • No access to HD music.
  • You can only stream to one device at a time.
Amazon Music Unlimited
  • There is significantly more music available (75+ million songs versus Amazon Music Prime’s 2+ million).
  • There are no adverts.
  • You can listen to individual songs, not just particular playlists.
  • You can download and listen to music offline.
  • You can stream to more than one device on certain plans.
  • It requires a separate subscription to Prime (you don’t need a Prime subscription for Amazon Music Unlimited, however).
  • No access to HD music.
Amazon Music HD
  • Provides access to HD and ultra-HD music.
  • There is significantly more music available (75+ million songs in HD, and millions in ultra-HD).
  • There are no adverts.
  • You can listen to individual songs, not just particular playlists.
  • You can download and listen to music offline.
  • You can stream to more than one device on certain plans.
  • It requires a separate subscription to Prime (you don’t need a Prime subscription for Amazon Music HD, however).

Can You Listen to Music for Free on Alexa?

Yes, you can listen to music for free on Alexa.

One way is to use Amazon Music Free that comes with Alexa as standard, and this has no upfront costs and no monthly subscription fees.

As mentioned above, however, you will have to listen to adverts, which can be a bit of a pain.

Another major constraint of Amazon Music’s free plan is that you’ll only be able to choose between playlists, not individual songs. So, you might have to sit through several tracks before being able to listen to the one you want.

Other constraints with Amazon Music Free include not being able to download and listen to music offline and not being able to stream to more than one device.

Another option for accessing free music through Alexa is to sign-up for a free Spotify account, which you’ll then be able to access and stream via Alexa.

Unfortunately, Spotify Free will have many of the same constraints as Amazon Music Free, and a Spotify Premium membership will be required to overcome these restrictions.

Finally, you can also listen to free music stations through Alexa (although you obviously won’t be able to choose the tracks you listen to) or listen to the music from your smartphone by connecting it to your Alexa-enabled device via Bluetooth.

Do Alexa Skills Cost Money?

Alexa Skills are similar to apps that you download for your smartphone, and their primary purpose is to provide additional functionality to whatever device you’re using Alexa on.

For example, Alexa Guard turns your smart speaker into a security device that listens out for suspicious activity, while the Fitbit skill lets you connect your Fitbit fitness tracker to let Alexa update you on various things like how many steps you’ve taken that day.

All Alexa Skills are free to download.

You might, however, need to purchase additional third-party equipment (for example, a Fitbit tracker to use the Fitbit Skill) for a specific Skill to work.

Many of these Skills also offer in-skill purchases to provide additional functionality, with this being charged to whichever credit or debit card you have registered to your Amazon account.

In Summary

It’s possible to use Alexa entirely free of charge by signing up for a free Amazon account and downloading the Alexa app to your smartphone.

If you want the full Alexa experience, however, you’ll need to purchase one of Amazon’s Echo devices or an alternative smart speaker from another manufacturer, and these can cost as little as $40 for specific models.

It’s worth noting that the cost for a smart speaker will be an upfront cost and that you can continue to use Alexa with no monthly membership fees after that if you wish.

Depending on your needs, you can then take Alexa up a notch by signing up to various premium services that will unlock more features that aren’t available with a basic, free Amazon account.

For example, a Prime membership will provide faster shipping and exclusive deals to Alexa’s shopping functionality, Amazon Music Unlimited will provide superior music streaming capabilities, and an Audible subscription will provide access to premium audiobook titles that you can then stream through Alexa.

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Author: Tamsin Bright
Writer, ToolCrowd
Tamsin Bright regularly writes about architecture and home design topics and is the editor for the Smart Home and Home Tech sections of ToolCrowd. Tamsin holds a bachelor’s degree in Architecture and loves nothing more than helping people see the potential in their homes and making their lives easier through great design. When she’s not writing for ToolCrowd, you can find Tamsin indulging her passions for graphic design, cooking, gardening, and all things tech. Contact Tamsinarrow_right_alt