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DVD Online Rental

Find out about DVD online rental options and compare DVD online rental programs.

Shopping for DVD's online saves saves time. [© Jupter Images, 2009]
© Jupter Images, 2009
Shopping for DVD's online saves saves time.

A welcome development for movie lovers over the past few years has been DVD online rental Web sites because of the convenience and cost-savings they offer. These Web sites offer unlimited rentals sent through the mail at a fraction of the cost of in-store rentals -- with the added bonus of no due dates or late fees. The movie choices for some DVD online rental sites number 100,000 or more, which is a far more expansive selection than any video rental store can offer.

What is DVD online rental and how does it work?

Most DVD online rental sites require a monthly subscription to their service in order for consumers to obtain DVDs by mail. Once they establish an account, consumers can begin ordering DVDs by browsing an extensive library of DVDs for movies and television series, obtaining plot summaries and details about movies or shows.

Members then add DVD titles they would like to receive to their queue, arranging the DVDs with the number one position containing the DVD they would like to receive in the mail next. Once subscribers watch a DVD, they can rate it on the Web site so that other subscribers get a better idea of how good or bad it is.

The first DVD on the account holder's list is sent out shortly after it is added to the queue or reaches the member's number-one spot. Depending on the subscription with the Web site, account holders may receive multiple DVDs at once or one at a time. After renters finish viewing the movie or show, they use the return envelope provided by the company and send the DVD back. When the DVD online rental company receives the returned DVD, the next DVD in the account holder's queue is sent.

Some DVD online rental services also offer no-return, time-limited DVDs. These DVDs last for a certain amount of time and are then no longer viewable. Once the DVD reaches that point, the account holder simply recycles it, rather than returning it to the rental company. Instead of a monthly subscription, these services charge a flat rate per DVD.

Netflix DVD Online Rental Options

Netflix is the top-rated DVD online rental service available. It has 100,000 DVD titles to choose from, including new releases, classics and television shows. Netflix also has more than 12,000 titles that subscribers can watch on their home computer instantly. Netflix maintains nearly 100 shipping warehouses across the country. These multiple distribution centers allow shipment to nearly every subscriber within one business day.

In 2009, the least expensive plan offered by Netflix is $4.99 a month for one DVD at a time and up to two DVDs per month. This plan also comes with two hours of time to watch movies on a computer. Netflix's most popular subscription is $16.99 per month and includes renting three DVDs at a time and unlimited DVDs per month, as well as unlimited movies on a PC.

Blockbuster Online

Blockbuster Online offers over 85,000 DVD titles and video games to choose from. Additionally, Blockbuster Total Access allows the subscriber to exchange rentals in Blockbuster stores rather than waiting for the next DVD to arrive in the mail. For subscribers who have no interest in exchanging DVDs in-store, there is Blockbuster-by-Mail, which provides the rental service by mail only.

Blockbuster's lowest DVD online rental plan is $9.99 per month for one DVD at a time, a maximum of two DVDs per month and two in-store exchanges per month. For $19.99 per month, subscribers can receive three DVDs at a time, an unlimited number of DVDs per month and a maximum of five DVD in-store exchanges. There are a couple of other subscription options, including unlimited in-store exchange. All of the plans come with a two-week free trial.

Blockbuster Online also offers Blockbuster OnDemand. With this service, users can rent or buy movie downloads to watch on their home computer. Rentals have a 30-day storage period, and once renters start the movie, they have a 24-hour window for viewing. The cost for downloadable rentals or purchases varies by title.

If subscribers have a problem with a DVD, such as it is too damaged to play correctly or the DVD is lost in the mail and never arrives, Blockbuster will send a replacement DVD within one business day (Netflix also offers this service).

Other DVD Online Rental Services

FlexPlay is a DVD online rental service that uses no-return, time-limited DVDs. Once a renter removes a FlexPlay DVD from its sealed packaging, the DVD will last for two days before it is no longer viewable. The DVD can be played an unlimited number of times during this two-day period. It is not a subscription service - renters simply pay $4.99 per DVD - and renters are not restricted to renting one movie at a time. Using this service means that there will be no scratches or damage to the DVD when it is received. Plus, the renter does not have to return the DVD to the rental company and the DVDs are recyclable.

Other DVD online rental services include DVD Avenue, with plans starting at $9.99, and Cafédvd, a service that prides itself on having hard-to-find DVDs.

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