Getting textbooks shouldn’t be one of the hardest things to check off your list before class. But often, it is.
You wince at the idea of shelling out hundreds of dollars for one book, since you’re already living off ramen and peanut butter sandwiches. Your campus library should be able to help, but someone else has already checked it out. Even your local rental bookstore offers nothing more than a helpless shrug from the clerk—they don’t have it in stock. If you don’t have your textbook, you’ll bring your professor’s wrath down upon your head.
Fortunately, textbook rental sites are here to help your wallet (and your head!) These companies allow students to rent a book for a certain period of time, at a highly discounted rate. But as more and more of these companies pop up, it can be harder and harder to know which one to trust. Will they ship my book in time? Are they reliable? Which textbook rental site is best?
While every site has their strengths, Chegg Books is a strong textbook rental site, with a wide selection for students. Let’s see if it’s right for you in this Chegg Books review!
What Is Chegg Books?
Chegg is a multi-faceted site for students, ranging from tutoring to learning aids—but it began with textbook rentals. Founded in 2011, they advertise that they can save students up to 90% on their textbooks. With the byline of “a Smarter Way to Student,” they’re seeking ways to help your everyday student further their learning in creative—and cheap—ways.
How Chegg Books Works
You glance through your syllabus, and see an ever-extending list of books that you need. Fortunately, Chegg has you covered. When you got to their site, you can look for your book using either the title, author, or ISBN number
Once you find and select your title, you’ll be taken to a page where you can choose from several different purchase options. You can rent, or buy your textbook new or used—and sign up for a free trial of Chegg Study as well.
You can pay for your rental using a credit card or PayPal—and if your order is over $25, shipping is free. Once your order is complete, Chegg will send you an e-book version of your textbook for seven days, allowing you to begin studying while you wait for your package arrives. Shipping usually takes 1-2 days, can take up to 2-5 days during busier periods. There may be more than just books in your package though—Chegg has been known to include “special surprises” in their packages, samples of things that students might enjoy.
Once your class is finished, returning your rental is simple—simply print off the shipping label Chegg provides for free on their site, pack it in any box, and drop it off at your local UPS store.
Is Chegg Books Legitimate?
Chegg has been in the textbook rental world for a long time, and has the history to prove that they are legitimate. They’re trusted enough to be partnered with student loan companies like Sallie Mae, and have cemented their place as a reputable company. They also have a Better Business Bureau rating of A—though there was a recent date breach which allowed hackers access to email and shipping address, though no monetary information.
Chegg does have some reoccurring issues with its customer service department—while there are phone office hours posted on their site, there is no phone number posted along with it. However, Chegg does have an extensive FAQ section for most issues you may run into, and has their social media open to answer questions as well. Furthermore, most of the complaints against Chegg have to do with their subscriptions, not textbook rentals.
Is Chegg Books Reliable?
The worst feeling in the world is to be completely prepared, ordering all your textbooks early—and then those books never show up. You need to be sure your books will arrive on time for your class.
At Chegg, if you order before 10AM, your books are shipped the same day. If any of your books are not in stock, you will get an email notifying you of the delay, along with the option to cancel the order for those specific books if you wish.
Chegg also offers a 21-day “for any reason” return for their physical textbooks, and a 14-day one for their e-textbooks. While there is no guarantee that supplemental materials of CDs or worksheets will be included, that matches industry standards—and occasionally you’ll get lucky and your textbook will still have those materials.
Is Chegg Books Cheap?
Chegg’s pricing runs a bit higher than average—Amazon or eCampus may occasionally have lower prices, though Chegg does appear to usually have lower prices for new books. Here’s a comparison of their prices:
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Chegg’s return policy does make it easy to get your money back, and when you return your rentals, their free shipping will save you a couple of dollars as well. Chegg also hosts its own coupon page, where they gather any deals they may have found.
While it won’t necessarily save you money, they often include a “surprise” in their packages—often a little product sample included for free. These can range from your favorite coffee drinks or subscriptions to movie-streaming services, and they’re a great mood-booster for when you first open your delivery.
Chegg no longer offers a buy-back program for textbooks you have already purchased, so there’s no opportunity there to make some cash.
Some Cautions For Chegg Books
Chegg Books offers the option of a free 4-month subscription to Chegg Study with your first order, which is a great resource—but keep an eye on when that free trial ends. One of the biggest customer complaints about Chegg is the difficulty of ending your subscription to the service, and if you don’t need it, you’ll simply be wasting money. You can sidestep these difficulties by simply opting out of the free trial when you check out.
Also, be careful not to write in your rental textbooks. While highlighting is allowed, any writing is not. If you do write in your rental, you’ll be charged full retail price for your book, which is often several hundred more—so be sure to keep your notes to a separate notebook.
Chegg Books vs Amazon
Amazon often offers lower prices for rentals—but that price comes with other difficulties. Chegg allows you to rent your physical textbook for a semester or a quarter, and e-textbooks for 90, 120, or 180 days. Amazon, however, only allows rentals for an entire semester, which can be a downside if you’re only using your book for part of a class. Chegg also offers 1-2 day shipping options, while Amazon currently is estimating 8-10 days for items to ship.
Chegg also offers a free e-textbook with some items for the first 7 days after your purchase, boosting it above Amazon, where you have to wait for your book to arrive to begin studying. Amazon also has a fairly vague standard on highlighting, only allowing a subjective 10%, while Chegg’s only requirement is that you be considerate of other students and avoid writing in your rental textbooks.
Chegg Books vs eCampus
eCampus is another textbook rental company, that offers competitive prices to Chegg. However, if you’re using e-textbooks, eCampus does not offer any refunds or returns on these editions—as compared to Chegg’s 14-day return window.
However, eCampus does offer a buy-back program for textbooks you have purchased, which is a good way to make a couple extra dollars at the end of the semester. Also, eCampus allows students to not only highlight in their books, but also take notes in the rental books themselves.
Which site has the lowest price will vary from book to book—so take time to investigate both, weighing shipping and return options to see which one is best.
Conclusions For Chegg Books
Chegg Books is one of the top textbook rental sites—and that’s for a reason. They have consistently delivered books at reduced price, allowing students to save money as they go through college. While Chegg does have some of the customer service issues that arise from being such a large company, the surprises and samples they include in their packages is a nice personal touch. Chegg is a great way to rent textbooks, and be ready for your semester.