Entertainment

Where to Score Cheap Movie Rentals and Discounts: The 5 Best Options

Ben Stegner Updated 09-06-2020

While it’s very convenient to buy or rent movies online, if you’re not careful, it can become an expensive habit.

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If you’re used to digital rentals, the thought of getting movies offline might seem like a return to the bad old days when there was a Blockbuster on every corner. However, if you’re looking for the most cost-efficient ways to watch movies, offline is the way to go.

So, in this article, we list the various ways to buy or rent movies cheaply offline. Allowing you to save money.

Why Buying Movies Offline Is Cheaper

There are many ways to get movies for cheap without being stuck with digital copies:

  • On online auction sites like eBay, people sell entire collections of DVDs for dirt cheap.
  • At offline real-world sales, you can often find movie collections for next to nothing.
  • Libraries offer free movies with your free membership.
  • You can often buy movies at retail stores cheaper than you can rent them online.

Note that by “offline movies,” we mean renting or purchasing the movies on DVD or Blu-ray. While you might purchase the movies online, the difference is that you aren’t buying a digital copy that you stream over the internet—the movie is watchable offline.

Let’s look at various options to help you build your movie collection on the cheap.

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1. Buy Movies From Bargain Bins

store-discounts

Even though video rental stores are (mostly) gone, plenty of physical businesses still sell movies. Stores like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy all sell DVDs and Blu-rays. While you’ll find the latest releases at full price, most of them have discount bins full of movies that are on sale for just a few dollars each.

In these bins, you can often buy a movie for less than the price of the digital rental. That represents a large savings if you decide to watch the movie again down the road, plus you can easily bring it to a friend’s house or let them borrow it.

The benefits of buying discounted discs include:

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  • Instead of renting, you actually own the movie and can watch as often as you like.
  • There are lots of stores in every town that have a steady supply of movies for sale.
  • The quality of discounted physical movies is often better than discounted movies from digital sources.
  • You might find a new favorite “so bad it’s good” movie in the bin.

2. Borrow Movies From the Library

Rack of movies at the library
Image Credit: Radu Bercan/Shutterstock

Of course, free is even better than cheap. If you’re in search of a no-cost movie rental, your local library is worth a visit.

Most libraries have a collection of movies, ranging from children’s movies and documentaries to classics and blockbusters. Libraries receive donations all the time, so the selection often changes. Stop by your local library and you might be able to grab a few titles on your watchlist for free.

The benefits of borrowing from a library:

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  • You can usually keep several movies for a few weeks at a time.
  • The offerings are varied, making it a great option if you’re not picky about what you want to watch.
  • If you’re out of town, some libraries allow you to pay a small fee to get a library card there.

3. Rent Movies From Redbox

Redbox Online DVD Ordering

While Redbox now offers on-demand movie streaming, the company got its start with offline rentals and still supports them. In the US, you’ll find Redbox rental kiosks outside grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, and similar locations.

Simply browse through the list of movies, choose one you’d like to rent, and grab the disc from the machine. It costs $1.80/night for a DVD or $2/night for a Blu-ray, with some 4K Blu-ray discs available as well.

As long as you return it to any Redbox location before 9pm the next day, you’ll only pay for one day’s rental. If you need it for longer, simply drop it off when you’re able to. Using the Redbox website, you can browse the available movies and then “reserve” one in a local kiosk so you can pick it up even faster.

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If you’re diligent about returning the movie right away, Redbox is the cheapest way to watch new releases without having to pay a fortune for the privilege.

The benefits of renting from Redbox:

  • Get the latest releases at the cheapest price.
  • No membership fees required.
  • A broad selection that updates frequently.
  • Blu-ray quality doesn’t cost much more.

As an alternative, DVD Netflix represents good value for money 9 Solid Reasons to Subscribe to DVD Netflix If you subscribe to Netflix, we bet you only ever stream movies. However, DVD Netflix still exists, and is still worth using! Read More too if you don’t want to go out to rent the movies yourself.

4. Buy Cheap Movie Bundles on eBay

eBay Lot of DVDs

People often sell huge lots of movies on eBay after having a spring clean or wanting to downsize a DVD collection. Because of this, it’s easy to find huge boxes of assorted movies at a low cost per movie.

Whether you want to participate in an auction or just buy it now, buying movies in bulk like this is a great way to add to your collection.

Of course, this method isn’t perfect. Big lots might have duplicates, ancient movies, or strange titles you don’t care about. However, aside from a few stinkers, most bundles should provide you with a ton of movies to watch at a lower price than renting online.

When shopping for box lots of DVDs on eBay, always zoom into the photo and scan the titles included. Make sure you’re interested in at least some and there aren’t too many duplicates. Keep an eye on shipping costs, which can make the purchase less of a bargain.

And if you can’t afford to buy hundreds of movies at once, look for some smaller DVD lots. You can usually find a few dozen movies in a bundle and still get a good deal.

The benefits of buying on eBay:

  • Buying in bulk results in a low cost per movie.
  • You might find some rare or hidden gem movies included in a collection.
  • Enjoy the fun of the “grab bag” as you sort through the bundle.

5. Visit Auctions and Yard Sales

yard-sale
Image Credit: Paul McKinnon/Shutterstock

Of course, instead of waiting for people to sell their movie collections on eBay, you could always get the same (or better) deals at psychical auctions or yard sales.

AuctionZip is a great site to find local estate auctions near you in the US or Canada. You’ll also probably find listings in your local newspaper or in regional Facebook groups.

Auctions aren’t just for rich people. Most auctions near you will likely be reasonably priced estate sales, where you’ll find the entire contents of a household going up for sale in boxed lots.

The auction listing usually lists the kind of items available. For movies, you’ll want to search ads that contain words like “entertainment” or “media.” Alternatively, you can just show up on the day of the auction and browse through the boxes during the “preview” part.

There’s no obligation for you to stay and buy anything. If you see a big box of DVDs, buy a bidder card, wait until the box comes up, and start bidding! The odds are pretty good that you’ll get the box of movies for cheap.

Yard sales are another great way to buy movies in person. When the weather is nice, you’ll probably find dozens of yard sales going on in your community, and DVDs are a common item for people to sell in yard sales.

These movies are often far cheaper than you could find at an auction or on eBay. Usually the folks running the yard sale are getting rid of the movies because they’ve already watched them and want to make room for more. You may be able to barter on a whole box of them for less than a dollar per DVD.

Whether you just want to grab a couple of individual movies that catch your eye, or boost your physical collection by picking up a huge haul, yard sales are a great resource.

The benefits of buying at auctions or yard sales:

  • Enjoy the fun of the hunt.
  • Get large collections of movies at a low cost.
  • You’re giving the money to someone in your local community instead of a giant retailer.
  • Enjoy talking about the movies with their former owners.

It’s Cheaper to Buy or Rent Movies Offline

We’ve looked at some of the cheapest places to rent or buy movies. As long as you still have a DVD or Blu-ray player, these methods (plus a little patience) allow you to watch tons of films at a far lower cost than renting or buying digitally. And in most cases, they’re yours to keep and watch as many times as you want.

Of course, compared to all these options, renting movies online is extremely convenient. It’s up to your preferences whether spending $5+ on an easy movie rental is better than bothering with the trip to Redbox or hunting on eBay.

If you decide to stick with digital rentals, have a look at the best places to rent movies online to find the best value. And if you don’t want to spend any money at all, here are the best free movie streaming sites The Best Free Movie Streaming Sites Are you looking for the best free online movie streaming sites? Here's where you can watch free and legal movies at any time. Read More to check out.

Image Credit: Pavel L Photo and Video/Shutterstock

Related topics: Blu-ray, Buying Tips, eBay, Movie Rentals, Save Money.

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  1. Squalle
    June 15, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    I realize I'm a little late to this party. But as was mentioned earlier in the comments, Redbox is always sending codes for discounted movies. Sign up for their txt option and they send many that way. PLUS, now, for every 10 you rent, you get a free night's rental. My town has 4 (Walmart, Kroger, CVS and Turkey Hill, which is basically a Kroger gas station).

    One of the coolest things is, when you travel, you'll often find that Redboxes (or Redboxs?) have different selections, depending on who returned there, because you can return them to ANY Redbox. So when my daughter and I go 20 miles away every Tuesday to get allergy shots, we can check out what they have down there. Then just return them to the local box (1 block away!)

    And it's nice to be able to reserve them with the app, so as soon as the new titles are available (usually around midnight), you can reserve them and you have until 9pm the next night, I believe, to pick them up!

    One more thing to note... You have to watch out for some of the titles. Some movies at Redbox are 2-5 years old, and are seriously bad. B-movies would probably be giving them too much credit. Personally, I love those titles, but many people don't. (Child Eater, MSF, Pitchfork, to name a few).

  2. Luz
    July 17, 2016 at 12:45 am

    Still $2.99 on Amazon. They just hide it in the "More purchase items" link.

  3. Tom
    June 4, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    We used to be a HUGE Amazon family--ordering everything from textbooks to auto parts via the online giant. And we were among the first US customers to become Prime subscribers. But after finding we were paying MORE for Prime items with "free" shipping than we'd have paid with shipping through other sellers on Amazon--and that Prime searches when we were logged into our Amazon account turned up the more expensive "free" shipping items preferentially--relative to what the same search would return when were logged OUT of Prime/Amazon, our family reevaluated our relationship with Amazon. One of the first things to go was Prime, including Prime instant streaming. Now we buy at most a single season of a show per year, and find everything else via physical discs, from which we've built our own library.

    I don't know if Amazon had to hike its prices to remain even marginally profitable, but the "free shipping" duplicity of Prime turned our family off--and we're very glad. Instead of paying what is NOW (just looked, Saturday, June 4th) $5.99 for new releases, we pay less than a third that to rent the same movies via DVD. And we now have a small but tailored DVD library to get us through any lapses in Internet connectivity or those dry spells of quality (subjective) new releases.

  4. Anonymous
    February 16, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    I have a store near me that has a $1 DVD bargain bin.

  5. Bob
    February 16, 2016 at 9:20 am

    Duh! Who is still using DVD or Blu-ray player this day?

    • Steve
      February 17, 2016 at 9:38 pm

      You could play them on your computer, which can be linked to your TV.

    • Mike Z
      January 5, 2018 at 3:49 am

      Physical media still trumps online for special features, behind-the-scenes, etc. all in one 'place'. Being a horror fan, many titles, old and new, have a plethora of 'extras' on the Blu-ray that you can't get on the standard disc. Also, I have a 3-D hi-def TV, and 3-D isn't currently being broadcast via cable TV (although I DID see some titles on-demand that way, but not recently). And I know plenty of people who never even upgraded to Blu-Ray from DVD!

  6. Bill Kracke
    February 15, 2016 at 9:50 pm

    I'm not sure that sinking money into a fading format is the answer for me. The only place I can watch a DVD these days is on my XBOX ... my computer hasn't had an optical drive for years. My mobile devices never did. Converting the average DVD to a digital format yourself often takes more time and resources than makes sense for the amount of money you save.

    If you are only watching movies on a television set with an attached player, these solutions are decent. Just be aware that you look just like the people who bought piles of VHS tapes when blockbusters closed down. Pennies on the dollar for a technology that is dying may not be a savings.

    Additionally, if you are moving a lot, carting physical media around is a nightmare.

    I hate that I am 'renting' the movies I own from Amazon (or Apple, or whomever) -- they could cut me off at any time, but this is FAR outweighed by the issues of device playback, portability, etc. for me.

    "It’s smart to take a step back and reconsider whether it’s worth wasting twice as much money on a 24-hour rental, when you could buy twice as many movies offline for the same price, and own them forever." is a loaded closing statement. I could easily flip it and say "It's smart to pay a small premium for the ability to watch the movie on all of your devices, bring your whole movie catalog with you everywhere you go, and save yourself the hassle of storing and moving all those discs. Would you pay an extra dollar to avoid the headache?"

    • Ks
      December 9, 2017 at 4:29 pm

      Except for God forbid loss of Internet connectivity. Then you'd be up crap creek

  7. Karen
    February 15, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    Redbox has coupons codes all the time for free or almost free movies. Also our library has book sales a few times a year which also has movie dvds for next to nothing.

  8. Kusaiashi
    February 15, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    Not sure how this one was missed, but VidAngel is a superior alternative to any of the rental methods listed in this article. Rentals are $1. Filter out any content you don't want to see. Probably worth mentioning.

    • Eric
      February 17, 2016 at 3:27 am

      I agree. I was just going to post the same. Excellent service and I love having the option to cut out F words and such if kids are around.

  9. Anonymous
    February 15, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    We're mentioning Redbox but somehow forgetting that Netflix has been a discs-by-mail service since the late 90s? I was a member in 1999 and I might've joined in 1998. The concept has been around for a while.

    Video stores haven't completely died out. I'd have to drive for about 20 minutes to get to the one nearest my home, but they're actually relatively common in less populated parts of the USA.