Rent DVD Movies for $1 with The New Release and Redbox

$1 DVD Movie Rentals

This past weekend I had a few extra hours to kill so I thought I would catch up on some movies.  At the suggestion of a wise and frugal friend I decided to try one of the $1 rental machines you can find at McDonalds or your local super market.

Only Bad Movies?

I’ve seen these machines for a few years now, but wasn’t interested because of what I thought was a limited selection of bad movies.  Am I wrong in thinking that in the past these machines only offered up failed box offered efforts (i.e. movies with a fresh-o-meter below 50%)? Can you say Daddy Day Camp?

Blockbuster In-Store and Online (I’m done-zo!)

In the past I’ve used Blockbuster to rent movies because of their proximity to my house and large selection.  I even tried their online version, Blockbuster Online.  However, life has slowly crept into my quality movie watching time and so I don’t watch as many movies in the theater as I used to.  Therefore, there are now plenty of movies in the generic new release sections that have their appeal.  This is why I thought the $1 machines might now apply to me.  Another way of saying “this movie snob isn’t ‘above’ the $1 machines anymore.”

The New Release: My Experience

So, I ended up going to Kroger (my local supermarket) and using a machine labeled “The New Release!” (also known as Moviecube).  I was honestly impressed by the selection and quality of the movies inside.  There were several Oscar winners within a collection of about 100 titles.  About half of the movies were unavailable though.  I suspect this was due to the holiday weekend.  I rented two movies: Good Luck Chuck and Eastern Promises.

The New Release

These machines only take credit card, so I swiped my Capital One 360 Checking debit/credit card, grabbed the DVDs, and headed home to “watch them up”.  The machine informs you that your card will be billed $1+tax for each movie when you return the movies.

The next day I returned the movies to the same machine at Kroger.  I had to swipe my credit card again and follow the prompts to complete the return.  The machine doesn’t issue you a receipt which I thought was strange.  Also, it didn’t charge me for one of the movies (my total charge was $1.08).  I guess they figured Good Luck Chuck wasn’t worth a dollar anyway.  🙂

Some questions I had after my experience I was able to answer by checking out FAQ:

Q: Does the kiosk issue receipts?
A: At this time, the kiosk does not issue receipts. If you have a dispute, would like to review your account or if you would simply like a receipt issued to you, please contact customer service at 800-518-1574.

Q. What is the deadline for returns?
A: You have up to 14 days to return your movie. If you do not return the movie, the credit card that you rented the movie with will be automatically charged a “no return fee” of $21 plus the 14 days of rental and tax.

Q: How many movies can I have out at the same time?
A: You can rent up to 3 DVDs at the same time on one credit card.

I called the customer service line and (after a 20 min hold) they said that on some kiosks you get your first rental for free.  Nice.  If the machine does not automatically give you a free rental use this code: USFNF

Redbox: A Better Option?

A similar product is Redbox.  I’ve seen these outside of most McDonalds for the past few years.  They look about the same as The New Release machines in terms of quality and selection.  However, I haven’t used one so don’t hold me to that.


A few unique features of redbox according to the website:

1. Rent Online and Pick Up is Guaranteed at the Kiosk. …that’s cool.
2. Return to any Red Box.  …very convenient.
3. Multiple FREE Coupon Codes to Use.  I found this site:, which appears to have plenty of codes to use for free rentals.  My friend Peter at Bible Money Matters uses these all the time apparently. Additionally, Sean from keeps an updated list of the active codes that you can check out.

From the FAQ:

Q: What if I lose the DVD or DVD case?
A: Oh boy. Now you’ve done it. Just call our Customer Service Group at 1.866.REDBOX3 for instructions to return DVD’s without a case.  For lost DVDs, your credit or debit card will automatically be charged $25.00 + tax after 25 days. We’re all adults here.

Final Thoughts

Used properly, these machines look to be a legit way to save some time and money on your normal movie renting routine.  I’m sure they are taking a big bite out of Blockbuster and Netflix profits.  Just be sure you are the type that is disciplined enough to bring the movies back within a day or two.

Also, Redbox appears to have some features that give it the edge.  However, I haven’t checked the selection at the actual machines, so that may be the difference keeping The New Release machines in business.

Have you used these machines?  What are your thoughts?

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About Philip Taylor, CPA

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, blogger, podcaster, husband, and father of three. PT is also the founder and CEO of the personal finance industry conference and trade show, FinCon. He created this website back in 2007 to share his advice on money, hold himself accountable (while paying off over $75k in debt), and to meet others passionate about moving toward financial independence. He uses Personal Capital to track his wealth. All the content on this blog is original and created or edited by PT.


  1. I live in hemet ca and i have personally had no problems with red box. properly programming these boxes will eliminate some of these problems. keep track of what you rent and your bank account because like everything else their are dishonest people every where. your bank will help you if you had fraudulent charges. z.r.

  2. Marko yeah i says

    I yeah rent movies at the red box .. I try it twice but the second time I have a bad experience … I rent it 3 movies. I went back to the kiosk next day n what do I find the kiosk is out of order … It has a number to call customer service .. I call n they don’t answer I call like 20 times n im still calling now for a day n no one answers .. the thing is that in. pretty sure they are going to charge my card for this extra days I have the movies … I don’t drive n that’s the only red box by my house
    … I will not rent in those kiosk again in my life I should had known better than to rent at a kiosk specially a movie that is going to cost me about 50 dollars … I don’t recommend this kiosk to no one

  3. I’ve used both Redbox and NewRelease many many times. Redbox has been great, esp with their many promos. NewRelease are swindlers! I’ve been overcharged several times by NewRelease (didn’t realized it originally, but went back and found it on my credit card) and so far calls to customer service have been limited in effectiveness. And emails to customer service have gone into a black hole. Geesh. Stay away; it’s not worth the hassle if you have any issues!

  4. I too have been ripped off by the New Release Movie Cube! I suggest everyone file with the Huston Better Business Bureau.

    This company is a scam!

  5. I have just started using the Redbox here. I’ve only had one problem…they didn’t send me a receipt for a returned movie. I got the receipt for the second one I returned that day, so I immediately emailed customer service. They quickly emailed a reply with the return receipt for the first movie. Other than that, Redbox has been wonderful!

  6. Don’t do it. I’m disputing a $35.00 charge now with Red Box. They said I returned the movies to the wrong box??? There is only one redbox near where I live, but they received the movies and still charged me. I’m done using them.

  7. Well I’m trying to return 3 movies I rented but unable to, this sucks. I e-mailed them asking about it.

  8. RedBox rip me of for $50.00. Saying I did not return 2 movies even though I did.Be careful and make sure you get a email saying the movie was returned if not call them.I did not think anything of it and now got charge for the 2 movies.I called and they said they will look into it. But what I found online I do not think I will more red box for me.

  9. Kroger Movie Rental is a con! I’ve been ripped off by them not once but twice now! A total of 74.90! THANKS J CONTRERAS FOR YOUR ADVICE ABOUT THE BANK! I will try that today. The customer service definitely hasn’t helped. I am telling everyone I know not to use this rental system.

  10. Sal Costello says

    I’ve used them dozens of times over the past year, and I NEVER had a problem. No issues.

    I think the people trying to work people up and scare them are video store fronts trying to start a movement or something.

    Move your prices down!~

  11. Jesus Contreras says

    I got ripped off too. Same story customer service didnt help. HERE IS HOW TO GET YOUR MONEY BACK: call you bank as soon as the charge is completed, ask for their fraud department. The bank will issue a full credit on the transaction and will dispute the charge with MovieCube directly. Here is the great thing: the bank also will block your card from getting charged by Movie cube again.
    Hope this helps.. Jesus C. Also try filiing a complain with BBB, im going to try that right now..

  12. Update to my earlier post. I tried taking a DVD that I rented from one Safeway store MovieCube back to another Safeway store (closer), the machine kept saying “Not Recognized”, contact Customer Service. I took it to Safeway CS, she called MovieCube CS, gave them all the info. Was given a number she gave me and was told drop the DVD in a slot in the back of the MovieCube. Will let you know how this turns out. If MovieCube has to be returned to the same machine it’s rented from. . .what kind of moron came up with this system? Duh!! If you’re an active user like I am in a week I’d have no idea which movie came from what machine. RedBox and DVDPlay let me return rentals to any of thier locations. If MovieCube doesn’t allow this. . .it will die a slow death. JMHO

  13. I use them all. Wifey works graveyard security watch, can watch DVD or whatever all she wants. 4 or 5 DVD’s one night a week. Anyway, far as I’m concerned RedBox is top of my list. Why? Online reservation. Can’t use codes with it, but you know the movie you want is there when you get there. My area RedBox is in McDonalds & Walmart. Safeway stores have DVDPlay and King’s Soopers have MovieCube. Last 3 days my closest MovieCube hasn’t been working. Feel sorry for folks that rent then find the machine down when they try to return. I just went to the next closest Safeway store. But I can imagine a hastle if their isn’t another machine close to you. I Emailed um, told them keep the damn things up and running. If your gonna have a 24 hour business, seems you’ed have remedy for machine failures instantly. I use Netflix/Roku for alot of my watchin, the boxes are mostly for new releases. JMHO

  14. I have my card stolen, and I couldn’t return the movies… Now I got charged 37$$ per movie, I called customer service and they had me on hold for more than 30minutes no lies. I been waitting for them for more than 30
    minutes… This service is absolutly poor… and they don’t want to refund me some of the money… I’m disputing with the bank

  15. I agree…Don’t do it! I have been ripped off not once but twice using the Kroger Movie Cube. I would go to return movies only to find the machine out of order. If you had the movie for week and it is out of order for another, there goes 40 bucks on a movie you might not have even enjoyed! I am pretty sure this is a con and will never use this again.

    Now I have had no problems with red Box and feel that mcDonalds has a reputation to uphold, and hopefully would not support it if it were a rip off. I guess I will see!

  16. DON’T DO IT….these machines are a total rip off and their customer service is a joke.
    On 4/13/08 I went to the movie box located inside a Kroger grocery store. I was going to return 3 movies, however the movie box was out of order. I was instructed to call customer service, which I did. I spoke with a CSR who told me to place the movies inside the box on the right of the machine with the incident number she provided. I did so and kept a record of the conversation.

    When I checked my bank statement on 4/28/08 I realized I had been charged $1.07 for one movie (the correct price) and then charged $74.90 for the other two(obviously incorrect). At this time I called customer service for the second time and spoke with another customer service rep. who told me that this would be corrected and that I would be charged $2.14 for the two movies (the correct price) and that I would receive a refund for the $72.76 overcharge.

    04/29/08, I look at my bank account and I have been charged $74.90 with no refund and my bank account has incurred overdraft charges in the amount of $65.00. I called “The New Release” customer service center for again and Chris Borner is the supervisor that I spoke to in trying to correct this. He asked me to fax a bank statement and a written statement and he would get back to me in 24-48 hours. I disagree with the time-frame Chris gave me but I decided to fax the information and check back with him later in the day to confirm receipt. (when I called back, Chris was “in a meeting”)

    After sending this fax and receiving no phone calls from Chris or any other supervisor I called back to the customer service department where I was hung up on and then when I called back I was lied to and then hung up on (I obviously have a super power that allows me to call whenever the “supervisor handling my complaint” is out to lunch, in a meeting, or out of the office). I called several more times and after escalating slowly up the ranks in the company I came to speak to Nathan Gilbert (“the supervisor handling my complaint”) who, by the way, should be fired. Nathan was supposed to have called me on several occasions and each time I ended up having to call him because he apparantly does not have time in his busy schedule to make the phone calls he has promised to make.

    When I FINALLY spoke to Nathan on 5/2/08 I was informed that the “New Release” had issued a credit to me in the amount of $65 and that it would take 2-5 business days to process. So, I confirmed that I should receive my refund by Wednesday 05/07/08 and Nathan said yes.

    TODAY IS THURSDAY 05/08/09 I still have received no credit to my account and upon calling the customer service department AGAIN I was told that the credit was issued on 05/06/08. I supposed I should be shocked but since I have not encountered anyone with this company who can be honest I expected this to happen. Now, one would beg the question ‘why would Nathan tell me something had been processed on Friday that was not yet processed until Tuesday?’ I however can answer that question myself….Nathan thought he would get rid of me and have me stop calling by lying, but when I am trying to recover money that was essentially STOLEN from me I am not going to trust someone who has repeatedly lied to me. At this point I am so angry that I want to tell everyone NOT to use these boxes. I want to warn consumers about giving their personal information to a company who has no regard for their customers and their money. It is much cheaper to visit a local video store or digitally rent a move…..these movies cost much more than ONE DOLLAR….BEWARE!!!

  17. @yvette – thanks for the heads up. gotta hate when that happens.

  18. woa! I got screwed by NEW RELEASE in the HEB supermarket in my area. I returned 2 movies on time and they claim they were never returned. so I got charged $37.86 for each movie.
    They said they have no proof of return and they do not give you receipts.
    I am going to dispute with them.

  19. Jan, San Francisco, CA says

    I really like Redbox and DVDPlay kiosks since I have not yet had to pay for one rental. The online free code sites keep me in free movies every week.

  20. just a quick warning, redbox recently stated that some of their machines have been hit with credit card skimmers – which steal your credit card information. click on the link in my name to check out how to avoid being scammed at my blog.

  21. @danandmarsh – no problem. thanks for stopping by.

    @pete – no, thank you. i wouldn’t have known about if it weren’t for you. going to try it out soon.

    @daniel – great summary of the pros and cons. i actually think the pricing on late is the opposite…either way i agree that redbox appears to be the better service.

    @1stopmom – let us know how it goes.

    @tight fisted miser – to yur point, i wonder how interrelated redbox and mcdonalds are? I’m sure they have to pay McD much moola to be there.

  22. Tight Fisted Miser says

    I use Redbox pretty often and never pay for a rental. There are always free rental codes to use and each code is good for each credit/debit card you have. That makes it easy to get free movies. They probably come out okay though since I often get some food while I’m there.

  23. Hmm, you are the second person to bring this up in the past few days. I might have to give that a try. My brother and his girlfriend really like it.

  24. I’ve recently used both of these services and much preferred redbox. The simple fact that if you provide them with your e-mail address they’ll send you a receipt gives them the edge. In my area, redbox seems to have a better selection, seems to get way more use (read: I have to wait in line to rent which means other people like it) and is more fair if you lose a movie (Movie Cube can cost you $39 to “keep” a DVD you lose, redbox is only $25).

  25. Thanks for the mention. I’m very happy with Redbox’s selection -they come out with new releases every tuesday, and the movie selection is very good. It’s easy to check and see if the redbox near you has a movie in stock, and if it doesn’t you can check the others near you for that same movie. We have 3-4 redboxes within a couple of miles, so we can almost always find a movie we’re looking for.

    As you mentioned, just check out that site, and you can almost always get your movie rentals for free.

  26. danandmarsh says

    no we haven’t used these as of yet, although here lately we have been contiplating trying them out!! Thanks for sharing your experience.