Redbox Online Store: The Last Great Movie Rental Chain
Written: Aug 3, 2011
You would have to be living under a rock not to know what Redbox is these days. With the combination of Netflix sending movies by mail and Redbox spitting out movies from kiosks across the country, brick and mortar video stores have become antiquated dinosaurs that are all but extinct. Gone are the days of going to the local Blockbuster, picking out a movie, going home and watching it, inevitably forgetting about it and returning it 19 days later with massive amounts of late fees (or was that just me?). Now, everything is about instant access and availability, and Redbox has been one of the trailblazers in this brave new world.
What is Redbox?
Admittedly, you can’t get into the Redbox Online Store without understanding what Redbox is all about. Redbox is a nationwide company that rents movies out of vending machines. Founded in 2003, I can remember seeing my first Redbox sometime in the 2003/2004 timeframe outside a McDonalds off Lee Highway in Arlington, VA. While it was an intriguing premise, I refused to rent from the machine due to its limited selections and location I’d have to return it to (going to the McDonalds parking lot whenever I wanted new movies didn’t appeal to me at the time). Flash forward a few years later, and Redbox now has over 28,000 kiosks nationwide.
The beauty of Redbox is its simplicity. You are able to rent DVDs, Blu-Rays and (now) video games for $1 to $2 a night, all the while not being required to return the items to the same kiosk you originally rented from. That is of particular interest to me, as I commute over an hour to work every day, and I like to have the flexibility to pick up and return items anywhere along the way that might be convenient to me at the time. The one flaw in the Redbox system is that you never know if what you are looking for will be in stock at the kiosk you are at until you get there. You might find yourself hopping from kiosk to kiosk down the road (which is easy, since they are legitimately everywhere) looking for that one movie you desperately desire. If only there was somewhere you could go to find what you were looking for without having to run to the kiosk to find out…
This is where Redbox.com comes into play. Redbox.com is the national site for Redbox, giving you a variety of options pertaining to both viewing movie selections, as well as reserving movies before you actually have to run to the machine. There is even an option to help you find the nearest Redbox to your location, a convenient tool when you are out of town and still want to rent a movie. I bring a personal DVD player on all my vacations, and have used Redbox on several occasions away from home, so it definitely helps out.
When you come to the site, you are given the option of creating an account or signing in near the top right corner of the main page. Admittedly, you do not need to create an account (ever) to use Redbox, and you are perfectly capable of using the search functions without signing into anything if you so desire. One of the things some people enjoy about Redbox is the fact you don’t even have to get a membership to use it. As long as you have a credit card, you are able to pick up your item, no questions asked. Still, for some of the best benefits of the online Redbox store, I’d definitely recommend becoming a member.
Once you are signed up and signed in, you are given the option at the top of the screen of searching for either movies or video games. While you are able to just type your selection into the search bar if you know exactly what you are looking for, you also have the option of perusing the site for movies that are available. Admittedly, it isn’t Blockbuster, so it doesn’t take a whole lot of time to see the whole inventory of films available. You’ll be able to break down what you are looking for be popularity, genre, as well as version of media (DVD or Blu-Ray for movies, Xbox 360/Wii/PS3 for video games). Once you have decided what you want to rent, you are able to type in your address or zip code to find the nearest Redbox location that carries your title. If you didn’t sign up for a membership, take the address and run to the store quickly, hoping no one gets there before you do.
For those who took the time to create a membership, now is where the site really shines. Not only are you able to get a location where you know your item is, you also have the option of reserving the movie/game so you can pick it up at your own convenience. Put in the credit card that you are planning on using to pay for the item and that movie or game isn’t able to be picked up by anyone else till 9PM the next night. Presumably, you haven’t wasted your dollar or two and will go pick the film up yourself, but the machine will hold on to it until you would have needed to return it, even if it is the next day. When you get to the machine, you don’t need to type anything special in. Just press the online reservation button, swipe the card you used to reserve your items, and they come popping out in mere moments. It is that simple.
By the way, as an added bonus for signing up for a membership, you are routinely sent free movie codes that can be redeemed at the kiosks. Some people knock the fact that you can’t reserve movies online using the codes, but I have no problem going to a kiosk and getting whatever is available when it doesn’t cost me anything. You get your first free rental when you make your first online reservation, and receive a minimum of one free rental a month (usually on the 1st of the month in my experience).
Is it worth it?
Redbox might be the best deal in the movie rental business. While I’m a huge fan of Netflix and its overall value, it can’t compete with Redbox when it comes to the instant satisfaction of picking up a new release. Plus, for people who don’t regularly rent films, it’s a much better value, as you are only paying per film, per night. For $1.50, you can get the newest Blu-Ray releases for a night, or grab that new video game for $2. I can’t think of a scenario where it isn’t a good deal (other than for people looking for a wider selection or older films or games…Netflix or Gamefly are your only real options then).
Overall, I think the site is top notch. The search options are convenient, and site is almost always running quickly (only times I’ve ever had a search delay was at work, and I attribute it more to their internet than the Redbox site). Once an item is reserved, I’ve never had an issue with picking it up. I have an occasion run into a bad Redbox machine not working properly, but have never been directed to one by the website or after making a reservation. All in all, I give Redbox the highest recommendations possible.