While it’s very convenient to buy or rent movies online, if you’re not careful, it can become an expensive habit.
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.
1. Buy Movies From Bargain Bins
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:
- 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
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:
- 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
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.
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
too if you don’t want to go out to rent the movies yourself.
4. Buy Cheap Movie Bundles on eBay
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
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
to check out.
Image Credit: Pavel L Photo and Video/Shutterstock