It’s a well-established fact that going to college is expensive. 

Even if you’re lucky enough to receive generous scholarships, grants, and other kinds of awards to finance your education, you’re still going to have to pay for textbooks  - and those don’t come cheap, to say the least.

In fact, the College Board estimates that the average student will spend up to $1,200 per year on textbooks alone. Most students study a minimum of four years - so those costs really add up over time. 

Rather than buying textbooks outright (you’re never going to read them again anyway!) consider using a textbook rental site. Here are some of the best textbook rental sites to consider - and a few reasons why you’ll want to do so next semester.

The Advantages Of Renting Textbooks vs. Buying

There are several reasons why you might want to rent versus buy a textbook. 

For starters, renting is always going to be cheaper than buying. You might pay less than half the cost of the textbook. Now, the savings won’t be quite as noticeable if you’re used to buying used textbooks and then reselling them - but it’s important to realize that when you buy books outright, even with the intent to sell, you do so with the risk that you might not be able to sell them afterward.

With renting, you eliminate that hassle and the need to “sit on inventory.” You’ll be able to get your textbooks long before the semester starts and you won’t have to worry about used books arriving to you in disheveled, damaged conditions, either. 

What To Look For In A Textbook Rental Site

Learning Style And Career Goals

Before you decide to rent, make sure this option works well with your unique learning preferences. For example, some students like to be able to go back to a textbook to reference information they covered in previous semesters - while others are satisfied with a quick Google search on the topic. 

If you plan on returning to your books several years from now, a textbook rental may not be your best bet - but the reality is that most students allow those old textbooks to gather dust on their bookshelves and rarely pay them a second glance.

In some professions, too, it might make sense for you to hang on to textbooks to reference them while you are at work. In that case, renting might not be the best choice for you.

Rental Length

Check to see how long your textbook rental site will loan you a book. Some courses may require you to use the same book in multiple or subsequent semesters. Will your textbook rental service allow that, or will you need to send the book back as soon as the semester ends?

Fine Print

Check the fine print at your rental site of choice. Are you going to be charged shipping fees? Are there late fees if you forget to send the book back in time - or damage and loss fees? Make sure you take the time to read the fine print. 

Other Options

Some textbook rental sites offer additional value-added services. Of course, these aren’t always necessary, but they can often sweeten the deal when it comes to choosing a textbook rental site. You might be able to get a replacement book if the one that is sent to you is missing any pages - or you might be able to get access to extra online study materials or CDs for no additional charge. 

Best Textbook Rental Sites

1. Amazon

Best Textbook Rental Sites-Amazon

When you’re shopping with Amazon, you know what to expect. After all, the textbook rental service through Amazon has the same stellar reputation as Amazon’s other services, like Prime Shipping, Pantry, and Video. Sign up for Amazon Student, and shipping will always be free. Plus, you’ll be able to save up to 90% on selected textbook rentals, too.

The eTextbook feature is one that is particularly handy for digitally-inclined students. You can rent out all kinds of electronic books and then access them on your iPhone, iPad, Kindle, or Fire Tablet. You don’t even have to have your school’s required list of textbooks handy  -Amazon offers a School List so you can look up your college by zip code and get a list that makes it easy to find what you need. 

There are some rules and restrictions that apply to textbook rentals with Amazon. For example, you could be charged for excessive highlighting and you might not always be able to get supplemental materials. There are deadlines for returning books, too. Otherwise, this rental site hits a home run each and every time. 

  • Quality: 5
  • Cost: 4
  • Comparison to Alternatives: 5
  • Ease of Use: 5
Click Here To Get Started

2. Chegg

Best Textbook Rental Site-Chegg

Chegg is another well-known textbook rental site. You’ll enjoy discounts of up to 90%. One of the nicest features of renting books through Chegg is that you can get free online access to the eBook version of your textbook for up to a week while you’re waiting for your book to be shipped to you. Last minute procrastinators, this feature is perfect for you!

Free shipping is available for orders over $50. You can keep the book if you decide you’d like to hang on to it - all you have to do is purchase the rental before the rental period expires. You’ll get a prepaid shipping label to send back your books, and you don’t have to worry about being charged extra for highlighting your books. 

Chegg even offers free study services on its website, making it a great option for busy, multitasking learners. The only complaint you’ll find about Chegg is that the returns process can be a bit disorganized, leading to some students being charged twice despite having submitted their returns.

  • Quality: 4
  • Cost: 5
  • Comparison to Alternatives: 4
  • Ease of Use: 5
Click Here To Get Started

3. Campus Book Rentals

Best Textbook Rental Site-CampusBooks

Although the name might not be as well known to you as that of some of these other textbook rental services, Campus Book Rentals is nonetheless one of the oldest textbook rental companies around. In fact, this site has been on the scene since 2007! 

Campus Book Rentals offers some of the best customer service. If you need any help navigating the website or aren’t sure which rental will be right for you, Campus Book Rentals can connect you with live customer support. You can highlight in any of your books and you’ll enjoy free shipping both ways. 

Most books are quite affordable, with savings of 50 to 90%. 

  • Quality: 4 
  • Cost: 4
  • Comparison to Alternatives: 4
  • Ease of Use: 5
Click Here To Get Started

4. Valore Books 

Best Textbook Rental Site-Valore Books

Valore Books is another rental service that caters directly to busy students. You can track your order (and initiate a return) by filling out a quick box on the website. You’ll also be able to compare prices from multiple rental providers so you can get the best price for your book.

Plus, all books qualify for a 30-day money-back guarantee and free rental return shipping. 

You may have to wait a bit longer to receive your book from ValoreBooks, so don’t wait until the last minute to sign up for a rental. Otherwise, shipping is just $3.95 per rental with free return shipping back. 

  • Quality: 3
  • Cost: 3
  • Comparison to Alternatives: 3
  • Ease of Use: 4
Click Here To Get Started

5. eCampus

Best Textbook Rental Site-eCampus

eCampus has a pretty memorable tagline - it’s easy, fast, and cheap. And if you’re looking for textbooks, you really can’t beat that promise!

You’ll enjoy free shipping both ways for orders above $35. Plus, you can join the eWards reward system. This is a great option for college freshmen who are just beginning their textbook rental journeys. You’ll not only get points that can be redeemed for discounts later on, but you’ll only pay $3 per shipment, too. 

You can choose to rent by the semester, quarter, or short-term. This gives you more flexibility in how long you want to rent - plus, you can specify the condition of the book, too. 

eCampus offers international shipping and offers payment via PayPal and PayPal credit. It's only downside is that its website can be a bit clunky and challenging to navigate. 

  • Quality: 4
  • Cost: 5
  • Comparison to Alternatives: 3
  • Ease of Use: 2
Click Here To Get Started

Tips For Using A Textbook Rental Site

Which one of these textbook rental sites is the best? Ultimately, that’s a decision that only you can make. However, there are lots of services out there so you shouldn’t have trouble finding one that checks off all of your boxes.

When you’re trying to find your book, keep in mind that textbooks often have several editions. You’ll want to search the ISBN number of the book instead of just the title when you’re trying to find a textbook to rent - this can save you time and energy later on. You will also want to determine ahead of time if you need any supplemental materials, like CDs or online access codes - some textbook rental sites charge extra for this. 

Keep in mind that textbook rentals are used books, so you aren’t going to get bookstore-quality pages when you rent. However, you don’t have to stick to just one textbook rental site when you’re planning for the upcoming semester. You can easily save money by mixing and matching to find the best textbook rental site for your needs!

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