Blockbuster vs Netflix: Online DVD Rentals For Less

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2009-11-2416

Are you looking for ways to cut back on your entertainment costs? If so, then here are some options to get entertained for less.

With the nation coming out of a recession and into a jobless recovery, Americans are cutting back across the board. Unless you’re starring on “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” chances are good that your family’s spending habits are in the midst of an overhaul. In such times, the first budget category to typically take a hit is entertainment.

A while ago, we published a post that addressed how you could save money on cable television and TV services. We’ve also covered some free ways to watch television online. This time, we’d like to take a look at some popular online DVD rental services and what they offer:

Blockbuster vs Netflix? Online DVD Rental Plans For Less

1. Netflix

Netflix was the first of the online DVD rental services to really gain attention, and we’re happily using it! Actually, we’ve been satisfied customers of Netflix since 2005.

It’s easy to use. After signing up with Netflix, you just log in to the service and add movies that you want to see to your queue. The movies will be delivered to your mailbox via the USPS in a day or two, with the number of DVDs received depending on your membership level. Keep the movies as long as you want, as there are no late fees. As you finish a DVD, mail it back in the prepaid mailer and the next movie in your queue will be sent. Shipping is free both ways. Some movies are also available for viewing by instant streaming.

What’s the Cost? There are four Netflix plans available ranging in cost from $4.99 per month for one DVD at a time with two hours per month of online viewing, to $34.98 per month for several DVDs at a time with unlimited online viewing and unlimited streaming. You can start out with a 1 month free trial membership.

Check out the Netflix free trial offer here. And for more details, you can take a look at our Netflix review.

2. Blockbuster Online

When video store giant Blockbuster realized that Netflix was taking a chunk out of its business, they decided to offer a similar service.

How Does It Work? The Blockbuster Online program is set up similarly to Netflix. Choose your DVDs online and receive them in the mail. Send the DVDs back when you are finished, and the next ones on your list will be sent to you. Shipping is free. The twist in Blockbuster’s program is that it has a few options available: you can pick a plan that will allow you to have one, two or three movies at a time, with or without store exchanges. If you opt for Blockbuster by mail with 5 in-store exchanges allowed, then you’ll pay a slightly higher charge per month than if you go with the plan that’s mail-in only.

What’s the Cost? There are six different membership options available for Blockbuster Online, ranging in cost from $9.99 per month to $19.99 per month. But you can always start out by signing up for a 30 day free trial which you can cancel at any time. Also, there are no due dates or late fees with these plans.

3. RedBox

A relative newcomer to the realm of online DVD rentals, RedBox’s red boxes are springing up at retailers nationwide.

How Does It Work? After signing up for this service, you simply visit their website at to pick the DVDs that you want to see and reserve them at your local kiosk. When you visit the RedBox location, swipe the credit card that you used for the reservation. When you’re finished with the DVD, return it to any RedBox location nationwide.

What’s the Cost? RedBox charges $1 plus tax per night for each DVD rental. Keep the movie as long as you like. There are no late fees; you will simply be charged the nightly rental fee for each night that the movie is kept.

So, Which Program Is The Best?

That will really depend on your family’s DVD viewing habits. If you intend to watch a LOT of movies and want the convenience of being able to exchange them at your convenience, one of the Blockbuster programs may be preferable. If you watch several each month, but don’t mind waiting for them to show up, then good old Netflix may be perfect for you. On the other hand, if you rent only a few flicks per month and have a RedBox location in the path of your commute, perhaps RedBox is the way to go. Regardless of which online DVD rental program you choose, don’t forget the popcorn!

Copyright © 2009 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael November 25, 2009 at 7:43 am

I believe that with redbox you can’t reserve ahead of time and you are limited to the selection in the kiosks in your area.

That will ensure that you can get from your house to the redbox kiosk without swiping the movie you want, but you get limited selection. It also means that you could have to visit a different redbox than the one closest to you if your movie is not available in the desired kiosk.

Diasdiem November 25, 2009 at 8:04 am

Netflix all the way. With the proper setup, you get the best value, as an $8.99 1-DVD-at-a-time plan is the minimum for unlimited online viewing, and there’s a huge selection of online movies available. No waiting, and no driving to a store, no extra cost.

John DeFlumeri Jr November 25, 2009 at 10:45 am

I think it’s time for us to try Netflix. Thanks for the helpful review!

John DeFlumeri Jr

Silicon Valley Blogger November 25, 2009 at 12:45 pm

With the cold season upon us, I’m certain that Netflix will be used much more heavily in our household over the next few months. 🙂 We’ve actually subscribed to the $13.99 Netflix program and have had it for a while now.

Tammy November 28, 2009 at 12:34 am

The Blockbuster Ingredients.

Whichever plan you choose =

on top of everything else you get = 1 FREE movie in-store coupon every week.

youngandthrifty December 1, 2009 at 12:25 am

I think I read in a recent issue of Time magazine that Blockbuster may be on the verge of bankruptcy! They’re being overshadowed by less costly operations like Netflix.

me in millions December 2, 2009 at 9:43 pm

Redbox has free coupon codes all the time. You get a free rental for a day. I only use Redbox when I find one of those codes advertised. I’ve found their selection to be pretty decent. It’s certainly not as extensive as Netflix’s, but it works… especially when you can get it for free 🙂

Jake December 11, 2009 at 1:26 pm

I’ve used redbox and Netflix many times. I like both services and would recommend them to anyone.

Eric January 8, 2010 at 3:57 am

Personally, I prefer Blockbuster…

Blockbuster guarantees most new releases to be in stock. You may likely have to wait up to a few weeks to receive a new release using Netflix.

Some people complain about driving to the Blockbuster store, but really you don’t have to. You still receive your movies in the mail, plus if you want a movie today, most of us drive past a Blockbuster store on our daily travels anyway.

No extra cost for movie exchanges at Blockbuster stores on select plans, other plans offer discounted rentals. And still, no due dates. Netflix offers no immediate-exchanges.

Then comes that fabulous online viewing of movies that Netflix offers… Oh yeah, and Blockbuster has that, too. Watch it on your computer or stream it to your TV.

Blockbuster simply offers everything that Netflix does… Only more!

(Note, I have not used Redbox before. Therefore, my review is limited to Blockbuster and Netflix, both of which I have-had accounts with)

Satellite TV Guru January 14, 2010 at 11:16 am

I love netflix. Its so simple to use and convenient.

Jim March 5, 2010 at 7:56 am

I too had an unpleasant experience with Blockbuster Online. A DVD movie arrived cracked. I returned the disk and reported the problem to Blockbuster. About ten days later I received another disk of the same movie. It too was cracked. I again returned the disk to Blockbuster and again reported the problem. Blockbuster then advised me they would not send me another DVD of the movie “due to the unusual number of problems reported on my account.” Apparently Blockbuster decided to solve its problem simply by telling me that it was my problem. I couldn’t switch to Netflix fast enough. [Netflix vs. Blockbuster]

Dave November 10, 2010 at 5:12 pm

We don’t have Netflix in Australia yet. It’s so annoying.

Bob November 29, 2010 at 9:07 pm

Someone please email me with who gets DVD’s first after release and makes them available for the DVD mail rental program, Blockbuster or Netflix.

Ben December 2, 2010 at 9:37 am

I still like the option of going to a physical place to browse the movie selection and buy theater style popcorn if I want. Blockbuster offers more options and quicker releases of new movies. Blockbuster all the way.

Bruce October 8, 2011 at 8:05 pm

I am disappointed with Blockbuster DVDs by mail. In my 30-day trial period, I ordered the Blu-ray of “Ben Hur” and the indication was it was available. Not until I got an email a day later was I made aware that it was NOT available and that I would be sent my second choice, “The Ten Commandments”, from Miami which would take 5 days to receive. When I called customer service to check, I discovered they are offshore in the Phillipines where spoken English is BARELY a second language.

As a long-time Netflix customer, I have to say that they are far quicker by mail and have local, English-speaking agents that are more easily understood. There is never a shipping delay and you can rent more DVDs within your month-long rental period due to their efficiency. I choose Netlix by a mile!

MoneyNing October 9, 2012 at 10:18 am

This information is a bit outdated since it is several years old. So I would like to update the info on Redbox and Netflix.

Netflix does allow unlimited streaming for $8 now. They have separated the streaming and the DVD service. The DVD service still exists but you have to pay for it separately for an additional $8 for DVD and even more for more movie.

Redbox – You can reserve movies for pickup so people cannot take it before you get there. All you have to do is create an account with Redbox and reserve the movie online. Then you go to the Rebox and enter your e-mail and pick up your reserved movie. Using an app makes this even easier.

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