Coming from New York, the main place to grab the latest DVD release was at Blockbuster. To beat their high prices, I became a Rewards member so that I may enjoy a little relief when renting. I was a member for two years before I moved to Michigan. It was there that I discovered a mecca for movie lovers by the name of Family Video.
Their prices were rather decent for both new releases and older titles. I was also pleased that they offered a discount card. The fee for obtaining a Blockbuster Rewards card is $9.99/year, whereas the Family Video Discount Card is $9.99/month. Weighing the prices and benefits, in the end, which card is the better deal?
Who Are We Comparing?
Blockbuster is one of the largest suppliers of VHS, video game and DVD rentals throughout North and South America, as well as Europe. The stores are located within 29 countries, including Ireland, Brazil, Italy and Taiwan. Family Video is the largest privately owned movie and game retailer in the United States. There are more than 400 Family Videos across 11 states, primarily in the Midwest.
Movie Rental Prices Before Special Membership
Blockbuster: New releases are $3.99 for a 2-day rental. Depending on the store, older rentals called Blockbuster Favorites can be rented for a less expensive fee, sometimes between $1 -$3.29.
Family Video: New releases can be rented for the price of approximately $2.80/night, while newer titles that have been on the shelf for a month are available for 2-5 nights for the price of $2.10. After 6-12 months after their release date, rentals are $1. Older flicks can be rented 2-for-$1 and kept for a week .
Signing Up For a Regular Card
Blockbuster: Show your driver’s license or state ID and you will soon own the signature, blue and white Blockbuster membership card. To rent a video, all you have to do is present your Blockbuster card and sometimes ID.
Family Video: Most Family Video chains do not require a membership card. For me, I filled out a form and they had to call my home phone number to verify that I indeed lived where I claimed. I was then placed into the computer. When renting videos, they will ask for your home phone number. Just of recent, they have been asking for a form of ID to verify addresses and renters since the whole family rents from the same phone number.
Store Set-Up & Movie Selection
Blockbuster (mostly by genre)
Blockbuster arranges all of their new releases along the wall of the store. In the center, you will find the “older” titles, as well as video games. Candy, popcorn and magazines are situated in the front of the store, surrounding the checkout. The new releases are alphabetically categorized, whereas older titles are sectioned off by genre, including Martial Arts, Drama, Horror, Foreign, Kids and Comedy.
Family Video (alphabetically)
Family Video arranges their new releases along the wall of the store in alphabetical order. Older titles can be found in the center of the store, arranged in alphabetical order. The checkout is in the front of the store, flanked by candy. There are a few section-specific shelves, such as the 80s, Classics, Favorites and Children Videos.
Blockbuster Rewards Card
Pay a yearly fee of $9.95 and you can become a Blockbuster Rewards member, which offers free rentals. Under Blockbuster Rewards, for every paid Monday through Wednesday rental, you will be able to rent a non-New Release movie. With this promotion, there are no limitations to the number of movies you may receive. Once a month, Blockbuster Rewards members receive a coupon for the rental of a non-New Release movie.
If a Blockbuster Rewards member pays for five rentals within one month, they will receive one free rental that can be used for any rentable item in the store, including new releases and video games. This offer is limited to only twice a month. My Personal Experience: Since you’re paying Blockbuster’s full price for rentals, it’s like dealing with a really expensive monster. Once you’ve earned your first free rental for the month, you’ve spent over $20. Sometimes I’ve waited around to rent from Blockbuster when they hold deals like: 3 rentals for $9.99, but that’s still a high price to pay for movie rentals.
Family Video Discount Card
A “discount card” can be purchased from Family Video for between $10-$15, which lasts for a month and takes 50% off of any rental within that month. “Discount card” is in quotations because you don’t actually receive an actual card, but in the computer system, you are noted as having 50% off privileges. This means for a whole month, you will get any movie rental and video game for half the price. There is also no limit to the amount of movies that you can rent out at a time.
Family Video also offers rent one video from the New Release wall and get an older one for free. This can be enjoyed from Tuesday to Thursday and you don’t even have to have own a discount card. My Personal Experience: I’ve been getting the 50% deal for about a year now. I rent all the latest movies, as well as lesser-known straight-to-video releases. When I’ve exhausted all of the worthy possibilities for the month, I start to rent the classics, like popular flicks from the 80s. The deal is perfect for someone like me, who may visit the video store 3 times in one week.
Breaking Down the Costs
1) Let’s say you rent an average of 5 movies per month on a yearly basis.
Blockbuster Rewards: $9.99 yearly fee + 5 rentals @ full price ($240) = $250/yr BUT you also get 24 free older-title rentals throughout the year for an added savings of $72.
Family Video Discount: ($9.99×12 months) + 5 rentals@50%/month ($7) = $204/yr BUT you actually lose money with the discount plan because renting 5 movies per month at regular price only costs $178/year.
So in this case, Blockbuster Rewards is a more appealing offer.
2) Let’s say you rent an average of 15 movies per month on a yearly basis.
Blockbuster Rewards: $9.99 yearly fee +15 rentals @ full price ($720) = $730 (That’s more than 2 car payments!) BUT you also get 36 free older-title rentals throughout the year for an added savings of $108.
Family Video Discount: ($9.99×12 months) + 5 rentals@50%/month ($21) = $372/yr
In this instance, it’s clear to see the Family Video Discount Card is a much better choice for those who rent many rentals throughout the year.
The Bottom Line: Blockbuster Rewards program is a decent selection for someone who occasionally rents movies. They will enjoy the free monthly rental coupons, as well as the rent 1 and get 1 free older rental deal (if they choose their occasional rentals from Monday to Wednesday). The Family Video Discount Card is a great deal for those who rent many, many movies, as well as video games (which Blockbuster does not allow under their plan). If you rent a certain number of movies per month, you will easily recoup the monthly $9.99 charge. You can also cut your yearly costs by purchasing the Discount Card only when a particular month is booming with a lot of movies you wish to see.