Starting on Monday, October 31, Redbox is raising its DVD rental prices from $1 to $1.20 per day. While a 20% increase is significant, we’re only talking about a price hike of a mere two dimes daily. Still, wouldn’t you rather keep that 20¢?
The trick, if you want to call it that, to getting Redbox rentals for $1 is actually spelled out at the Redbox Web page explaining the price increase:
… if you’re interested in renting DVDs for a discounted price of $1 for the first day at Redbox, you still can when you reserve your rentals online! From 10/31 to 11/30, go to Redbox.com to reserve any DVD (even new releases) for $1 for the first day. Additional rental days will be $1.20.
With a minimal amount of prep work, it’s pretty easy to keep getting $1 DVD rentals—at least over the next two months, that is. Just reserve online in advance.
That’s not how most Redbox rentals happen right now. For most customers, a Redbox rental is something of an impulse buy: As you walk by the kiosk in a supermarket or outside a drugstore, you’re tempted to see what’s in stock, and wind up with a movie for the evening. Redbox hopes to get customers also into the habit of reserving DVDs in advance by offering a continued $1 rental price for online reservations. The advance-reservation discount might also be viewed as a way for Redbox to cushion the blow of the price increase. But be warned, as Redbox states when a customer is about to reserve online:
You’re billed as soon as your online reservation is complete. That means that if you don’t pick up your rentals tonight, you’ll still be charged.
And again, once you pick up a rental, if you don’t return it the next day, you’ll be charged $1.20, not $1, on the second and all subsequent nights.
After the $1 online reservation period has ended—or even before then, really—there are other ways to get discounted Redbox rentals. Namely, through the use of promo codes: Customers who register to receive e-mails or texts from Redbox routinely get special codes for discounted rentals (50¢ off, third rental free, and the like). Sites such as RetailMeNot also list the latest promo codes for discounts.
Since the potential savings from any of these promotions aren’t that big, are they worth pursuing at all? That’s a judgment call. With nearly every discount, some step must be taken, some hoop must be jumped through. Perhaps, when the effort only requires mere seconds, it’s worth it even if the savings only amounts to a paltry 20¢.
In any event, even though Redbox’s price hike caused the stock price for its parent company, Coinstar, to fall, the consensus seems to be that because Redbox’s changes were as drastic as Netflix’s that the DVD rental kiosk business won’t be hurt badly. One expert offered his opinion to MainStreet:
“My feeling is that you’re not going to see any noticeable drop-off,” says Rafi Mohammed, a pricing expert and author of The 1% Windfall. “Going from $1 to $1.20, in terms of percentage, is high, but in absolute terms it’s not much.”