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Rent Movies Online

Want to eliminate pesky movie store late fees? Rent movies online instead.

Online movie services offer a wide range of movie selections to suit each member of a family. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Online movie services offer a wide range of movie selections to suit each member of a family.

Many families are researching services that let them rent movies online. Though the cost of a movie rental is nominal, many video store patrons get frustrated with late fees that ultimately increase the rental cost. According to the International Herald Tribune, in 2004 Americans shelled out $1.3 billion in late fees. Cheaper rental prices combined with no late fees make online movie rentals more alluring, not to mention the fact that picking up and turning in the movies simply requires a short walk to the mailbox.

Online movie rentals work by delivering requested movies through the mail. Online rental sites like Netflix and Blockbuster offer different movie plans. These plans range from $4.99 to about $14.00, depending on how many movies a person wants to have at one time. Within different price plans, users can choose to rent only one movie at a time or up to three. Depending on the company, some rental retailers add special perks with membership, such as a certain number of hours available for movie downloads.

Renters utilize the service by signing up for a selected service and filling up a movie queue through the company's Web site, so a consumer must have access to the Web in order to take advantage of this way of renting DVDs. The movie queue is where a user can list movies in a desired order for delivery. Once a watched movie returns to the rental retailer, the next queued movie ships out. This process ensures that a renter has a continuous flow of movies coming by mail.

How to Choose a Movie Rental Service

Not all companies use the same process to rent movies online. It's important to look at the fine details before signing up with a service. Using a rental service comparison site like Top Ten Reviews can help narrow down the search.

There are a few basic details to go over before signing up. The first is the amount of the plan compared to the service provided. Plans that go for as little as $4.99 are a good deal for people who only want a couple movies a month, since these plans usually only allow for two rentals a month. Families who rent movies every weekend would benefit from a higher-priced plan that allows for unlimited rentals -- one, two or three movies at a time.

Other important factors include movie selection, movie delivery time, movie search functions and movie information. Some rental places offer a movie selection of 5,000 titles, while others offer a selection of more than 90,000 titles. The more movie titles a company offers, the better the chances are of finding an older movie title not available at the local video store. The movie delivery time is the time it takes from the point of sending a movie back to receiving the next movie. If a facility has one distribution center, then delivery times will take longer than with a facility that offers multiple distribution centers. The ability to search and read about movies is also an important factor. The best online rental service sites have up-to-date information on new releases, along with movie synopses.

Another option for online movie rentals is downloading movies to systems able to play movies. One system is the gaming console Xbox 360, using the Xbox Live platform. According to PC World, people with Xbox Live accounts can download movies from Disney, Miramax and Touchstone Pictures.

The Benefits of Renting Movies Online

So what are the benefits of renting movies online? For starters, most companies don't charge late fees or have return deadlines. This means a renter can keep a movie for a few days or a few weeks, with no worries about late fees. Once a renter pops the movie in the mailbox and the company receives it, a new movie will ship out. The convenience of not having to travel anywhere to rent or return movies is an additional benefit. Every part of the transaction happens either online or right at the mailbox.

Depending on the online rental service, some companies offer an in-store exchange option, such as Blockbuster. This service usually costs more than a mail-only option, but lets renters take a movie back to a store location for an immediate exchange. This is useful if a mailed DVD won't play due to scratches, or if the user doesn't want to wait for the DVD to arrive at the service provider. With many services offering a large selection of titles, chances of finding an older movie not carried at the local video store are greater. This makes online movie rentals preferable to in-store rentals. Customers also have access to a large DVD selection of television shows, concerts and more on that they can choose to have delivered.

How to Get Started With Online Rental Services

Signing up to rent movies online is easy and quick. Since online movie services compete with each other, most offer free trials for new members. These free trials require credit card information, but using secure servers keeps important information safe. Both Netflix and Blockbuster offer two-week free trials. With credit card information already on file, subscription service isn't interrupted unless the renter cancels the service after the free trial. Free trials let anyone experience the thrill of renting movies online and without any risk.

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