The cost of college textbooks can be a significant expense. Even used books at the campus bookstore can be prohibitively expensive, and the resale value on all textbooks can be low. Luckily, there are other options: Instead of buying, you can rent textbooks. Here’s some info on college textbook rental, as well as the pros and cons of renting versus buying.
It’s a good idea to comparison-shop if you intend to rent college textbooks, as the prices and terms can vary from company to company. Here are some options you can consider for college textbook rentals.
- Amazon: The online shopping behemoth has a robust textbook rental section, offering both hard copy and e-books in all educational topics. You can also access test prep and study guides. Amazon says you can save up to 90% on textbook rentals, and up to 80% off the print list price when you rent eTextbooks.You will need to have a Kindle, or download the Kindle app, in order to take advantage of the eTextbook service. If you join Prime Student, you can get free two-day shipping. In some states, students may be eligible for textbook tax exemptions and refunds. Make sure to keep track of your rental period, as Amazon states it may automatically extend it — and likely charge you — if your textbook is not returned by the due date.
- BigWords: BigWords compares textbook sales and rental prices from multiple companies at once, which might make researching your options easier. Because they pull from several different companies, they may find rentals for even obscure textbooks.The website claims it can save users up to 90% by displaying the best combination of stores where you can get your books. This site may work best for buying, rather than renting books, but they do offer rentals as part of their services on the website.
- Campus Book Rentals: On its website, Campus Book Rentals claims “thousands and thousands of students served” with over $116 million in savings. Unlike several other textbook rental services, Campus Book Rentals also says you can “highlight like you own it!” although they do note you should be respectful of how the highlighting will appear to other students who rent the book.They also state that you can write inside the book, which is also unusual compared to other rental services. The company says it only ships U.S. edition books, the same as those you would find in your own campus bookstore. Campus Book Rentals states that, generally, renting textbooks can save you up to 80% versus purchasing a new textbook.
- Chegg: Noting on its site that “a new semester should never mean bankruptcy,” Chegg claims it can save students up to 90% through renting textbooks. Chegg says it’s OK for students to highlight sections of their rented textbook rental (but no writing). If you drop a class, you have a 21-day risk-free window to return the book.If you need a book longer, you can extend, and you can always decide to ultimately purchase your rental. The company also offers Chegg Study, which it touts as “the ideal homework companion for your toughest studies.” This service includes an expert Q&A feature, through which you can take a picture of your homework and get an answer to your question from subject experts in as little as a half-hour. You can test this service out with a free four-week trial.
- eCampus: Along with its traditional textbook rental service, eCampus offers a rewards program. You can earn three points per book rented, and ultimately earn up to $20 off textbooks — plus, they also offer coupons for more savings. There is free economy shipping on all orders over $35, and all return shipping is free. There are several rental time options, depending on how long you will need the book.
- Knet: Knet offers flexible due dates and short-term, quarter and full-semester rentals. The website claims it has served over 500,000 students who have collectively saved over $60 million from renting textbooks from them.Like several other textbook rental services, Knet notes on its site that you can highlight your rentals a bit, but excessive highlighting is discouraged. You should not make notes in the margins; Knet states that this can be distracting to other students. Be sure to avoid textbook damage, and understand that you’ll be responsible for paying for the textbook if it’s stolen.
- Textbookrentals.com: Textbookrentals.com, like BigWords, compares many other textbook rental sites to find the cheapest offers. They also allow for three different rental periods: session-long (90 days), quarter-long (90 to 119 days) and semester-long (120-plus days). You can get eTextbook comparisons as well.
- ValoreBooks: ValoreBooks offers a price-match guarantee: If you find a book at a lower rental cost at Chegg.com, Bookrenter.com or eCampus.com, they’ll match the price. The company also pledges that if you rent a textbook from them and find a cheaper offer within seven days, they will refund you the difference.You can also use ValoreBook coupon codes and promotions to save more. You can choose the length of your rental term — one quarter or one semester. Valore also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, no questions asked. The site claims that it can save students up to $500 a year on their textbook costs.
This is a sampling of the textbook rental services available. New textbook rental companies will often pop up, and some may be more reliable than others. Before renting a textbook, make sure you check reviews of the company and understand all of their policies regarding late fees, shipping, returns and damage to books.
It depends. In some cases, you may be able to save more than in others, depending on the book and the deals available. It’s possible that there are some instances in which you would not save that much, if anything. However, there are plenty of opportunities for savings.
Consider this example: You might pay $113.26 for a hard copy of “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5®)” at Barnes & Noble, or $98.96 for a used version (prices accurate at time of writing). (Barnes and Noble used to offer textbook rental, but no longer does.) On Knet, you can rent the book for an entire semester for just $69.99.
If you rented all your textbooks, you might be able to save hundreds each year. This strategy can help reduce the amount of money you need to borrow for college expenses.
- Renting textbooks can save you money: Renting your textbooks can be a money-saver compared to buying them. It can also be tough to get back what you paid for your textbook when you try to sell it back to your campus bookstore or elsewhere, and renting eliminates that concern.
- There is a clear time limit: Some students love seeing their stack of textbooks grow year after year. However, those books often go completely unused after the class is over, gathering dust over time. When you rent your books, you’ll know there is a time limit on keeping them, and the dust-gathering will never be an issue.
- The options are flexible: The flexibility offered by many textbook rental companies can also be a benefit, as you can often rent for a short time, for cheaper, rather than for an entire semester.
Although there are many benefits to renting, there are some potential disadvantages to keep in mind:
- Late fees: Every book you rent will have a return due date. If you miss the deadline, the rental company might charge you late fees.
- Damage penalties: If you rent a print edition and you’re clumsy, you might spill a drink or smudge chocolate on the pages (understandable during finals week). Those accidents can cost you; some companies require you to pay for a replacement if you damage the original.
- No resale value: If you buy new textbooks, you might be able to recoup some of your expenses by reselling them online or to your college bookstore. By renting, you pay a fraction of the purchase price, but you can’t resell the books later on. That said, as noted above, it can be difficult to recoup what you paid for your textbook in the first place.
- Temporary use: If a textbook is valuable and useful beyond a single course, renting might not be a good option. You’d have to return the book after a semester, so you’ll lose out on a reference resource if you take a similar course later.
The cost of paying for college continues to rise, so you have to save money where you can. Although textbooks can be a major financial burden, deciding to rent college textbooks rather than buying may save you a substantial amount of cash. You also might enjoy the flexibility and ease of renting rather than buying.
If you’re looking for other ways to save money while in school, here’s how you can create a college budget.
Rebecca Stropoli contributed to this report
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 9 lenders of 2022!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.74% – 8.70%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.74% – 7.99%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.74% – 7.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.74% – 7.99%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.05% – 5.25%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.86% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
|N/A7||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 8.38%8||Undergrad & Graduate|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of May 4, 2022.
2 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.
Student Loan Refinance Interest Rate Disclosure Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 2.99% APR to 8.24% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.99% APR to 8.24% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. The maximum rate for your loan is 8.95% if your loan term is 10 years or less. For loan terms of more than 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95%. Please note, we are not able to offer variable rate loans in AK, IL, MN, NH, OH, TN, and TX. Let us know if you have any questions and feel free to reach out directly to our team.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
Fixed rates range from 3.49% APR to 7.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates from 1.74% APR to 7.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates on 5-, 7-, and 10-year terms are capped at 8.95% APR; 15- and 20-year terms are capped at 9.95% APR. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
5 Important Disclosures for Navient.
6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 5/17/2022 student loan refinancing rates range from 2.05% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.49% APR – 7.93% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
7 Important Disclosures for PenFed.
Fixed Rate Loan Terms: 5 years/60 monthly payments, 8 years/96 monthly payments, 12 years/144 monthly payments or 15 years/180 monthly payments. Annual Percentage Rate is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed rates range from 3.29% to 5.43% APR. Rates are subject to change without notice. Fixed APR: Fixed rates will not change during the term. This rate is expressed as an APR. Since there are no fees associated with this loan offer, the APR is the same percentage as the actual interest rate of the loan. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
8 Important Disclosures for Citizens.
Education Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.99%-8.38% (1.99%-8.38% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 2.99%-8.63% (2.99%-8.63% APR).
IS Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable Rates advertised are based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of December 1, 2021, the one-month LIBOR rate is 0.09%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. Your final variable rate may be based upon the 30-day average SOFR index, as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The maximum variable rate is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%.
ERL Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates are based on the 30-day average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) index, as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. As of May 1, 2022, the 30-day average SOFR index is 0.29%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the SOFR index, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable interest rate is the greater of 21.00% or the prime rate plus 9.00%.
Fixed Rate Disclosure: Fixed rate ranges are based on applicable terms, level of degree, and presence of a co-signer.
Lowest Rate Disclosure: Lowest rates are only available for the most creditworthy applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, immediate repayment, a graduate or medical degree (where applicable), and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer. Borrowers should carefully review federal benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are considering possible loan forgiveness options, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision on our website including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.