Wednesday, May 18

Renting a movie online is as simple as a few clicks — here’s a full breakdown of all the major rental services


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  • There are a number of online services that let you rent movies to stream at home.
  • Popular video rental services include Prime Video, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu, and FandangoNow.
  • Movie rentals typically last 48 hours after you start watching a film.

Remember when renting a movie meant going to a store? Times have changed for the movie industry. With video rental chains a relic of the past, online streaming has become the new standard for renting movies to watch at home.

With multiple services to choose from — including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Vudu, Google Play, and FandangoNow — it’s never been easier to find a film worth renting on a smart TV, media player, or mobile device. These platforms all allow you to browse through a huge catalog of digital films, enabling you to pay for rentals individually rather than as part of a subscription.

To help make your next movie night at home more enjoyable, we’ve broken down some of the basics of renting streaming films from a variety of services. So, put a bag of popcorn in your microwave and pick up your controller or tablet — there are a lot of great movies out there waiting to be discovered.

What services can you rent streaming movies from?

Services like Vudu, Google Play Movies, Apple TV, and FandangoNow all offer a comprehensive assortment of movies that you can rent individually without a subscription. Amazon Prime Video, meanwhile, actually offers individual rentals in addition to its subscription service for Prime members.

Once you’ve created an account with any of the above services and added your payment details, renting a title is as simple as a few clicks. In most cases, you can simply browse through the platform’s website or download the service’s app. After finding the title you want, you simply click on the movie and complete the instructions to confirm your rental.

How much do streaming movies cost to rent?

Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, Apple TV, FandangoNow, and Google Play all let you rent movies for as little as $3, though most newer releases top out at $8 depending on the quality you choose. Brand-new movies that are still playing in theaters can cost a bit more, however, with some in-theater titles going for as much as $20 to rent.

How long can you stream movies after you rent them?

You typically get 30 days to start watching a title once you rent it. After you press play, you usually have 48 hours before your rental expires.

Can you buy streaming movies to keep permanently?

In many cases you can choose to buy a digital movie instead of just renting it. This will allow you to stream it whenever you want for as long as you want. Digital movie purchases typically range in price from $5 to $30 depending on how new a film is.

4K
Ultra HD versions of movies are sometimes more expensive than high definition (HD) or standard definition (SD) versions.

It should be noted, however, that digital purchases aren’t quite as permanent as buying a DVD or Blu-ray. When you make a digital movie purchase, you’re essentially buying the license to keep streaming that title from the service you’ ve selected. But, if that service somehow goes out of business or loses the rights to the title you bought, it’s possible that you’ll lose access to your digital copy.

Can you rent brand-new movies still playing in theaters?

In response to theater closures during the pandemic, studios have allowed people to stream many brand-new movies that would otherwise be exclusive to theaters.

Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Vudu, FandangoNow, and Google Play all offer these “in-theater” titles. Disney Plus also releases select in-theater movies via “Premier Access,” which requires an extra fee in addition to your regular subscription. Depending on the studio, some titles might only be available to rent , while others are only available to buy.

Prices for in-theater rentals can be as high as $30 per title. This may seem expensive if you’re planning to watch “Spiral: From The Book of Saw” on your own, but if you’re a parent with kids who would have otherwise spent a small fortune to see “Raya and the Last Dragon” in a theater — this is a steal. Rental prices are also reduced over time — “Raya,” for instance, is now just $6 to rent through VOD, or free to stream with a Disney Plus subscription.

cruella emma stone hq 1

Emma Stone in “Cruella.”

Laurie Sparham/Disney


Some notable’in-theater movies’ currently available to rent or own include:

Since the movie selection is about the same no matter which rental service you choose, picking a platform to use really comes down to choosing the app that works best on the devices you own. Below, we’ve broken down some key details for all of the major digital movie retailers to help you choose which one is right for you.



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