Does Renting Textbooks Really Save You Money?

Renting textbooks can likely save you money, as most suppliers and retailers offer cheaper prices for renting rather than purchasing the book outright. However, students will need to engage in some research on their part, in order to find out the policies and costs of renting textbooks.

textbook rental savings

To Rent or To Buy: Things to Consider

What if a struggling student could rent a required textbook for just $40 instead of buying a used one for $80, or a new one for $100? It may sound too good to be true, but in certain circumstances, renting can offer students big savings.

There are circumstances, however, where renting is not the most frugal choice. Certain things must be considered when choosing to rent or buy. Is the rental price that much better than the used price when you factor in money from selling back the used book? Are there additional fees with renting? How long are rental periods? What if a book is lost or damaged? Can students opt to buy a book instead of returning it?

Rental Costs vs. Buying Costs

Students renting textbooks can save off the original price. Actual savings, however, vary from school to school and website to website. Certainly, it can be much cheaper to rent a textbook, rather than purchasing it.

College Bookstores

Some school bookstores that have adopted a rental service incorporate the cost into students' tuition. Other schools have direct rental programs.

Online Rental Services

There are many online rental services available to students and the general public. Students have to do some comparison shopping, though, to get the best deals. Three websites to consider are Chegg.com, Textbookrentals.com, and Bookrenter.com. Prices will vary by book, as there are many different textbooks per subject and area of study. Also, students have the option of renting for different lengths of time, and there will most likely be eTextbook referrals, as well. Choices for renting include 60, 90 and 125-day rental periods.

Shipping Costs

Another cost to factor into renting textbooks is the shipping fee. This, like the rental fee, varies. For example, Bookrenter.com offers free standard shipping and express shipping ranging from $9.99-$19.99 for the first item. A secondary fee is mandatory for each addition item for express and express plus shipping, at half the shipping cost of the first item. The website also offers free return shipping.

Check-Out Periods, Late Return Fees and Lost Books

When hunting for the best rental deals, students should pay attention to check-out periods. Some school bookstores and online providers are more lenient than others about this. Students should make sure that the rental period end date will accommodate their needs.

Also, renting students should be clear on the fees for late returns. And don't forget loss and damage fees; usually there are additional processing fees as well.

The Final Analysis

So, while renting can save students money, it can require a bit of research and comparison shopping. Renting can offer savings up front, but in some cases, it may be cheaper to buy used and then sell back. And finally, students who need to keep a book over several semesters or wish to keep it for their personal library shouldn't rent.

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