Although all 12 of the DVD rental by post companies have a bewildering array of tariffs and options, almost all use the same the same four-step process:
||1. Selection: First you pick the DVDs you want to rent, in order of preference, from an online library, with the top companies boasting over 60,000+ film titles. New releases or obscure titles are often unavailable, so instead of getting your number 1 choice, you may get lower-ranked ones instead. This is why the DVD rental by post companies suggest having preference lists at least 10-20 titles long, so they can always supply something you want.
||2. Dispatch: The DVD rental company will mail your DVDs by first class post. The discs usually arrive within one or two days in individual envelopes containing small round plastic "caddy" cases (much smaller than a rectangular retail DVD box, just the size of the disc itself).
||3. Enjoy: Keep the films as long as you like--none of the companies listed on UK-DVD-Rental-Guide.com charge late fees.
|| 4. Return: When you're finished, simply re use the caddy/envelope and post it back free-post. When the DVD rental company receives the disc, they post out another one straight to your door from your preference list, and so on.
DVD Rental by Post Packages: DVD rental companies offer packages of one to five discs at home at a time, with three as the industry standard. These discs come individually packaged and you can send them back as you watch them, in theory allowing you to have new DVDs all the time as they recycle through the post. Assuming an average £15 monthly charge for a three DVD service, if you watched a modest three DVDs a week, you'd be paying about 1.20p each for them. This is about a third of a typical high street rental charge (not to mention late fees, which account for about a quarter of video store profits). So unless you only rent a few DVDs per month, you'll save a substantial amount of money by using unlimited DVD rental by post services. In addition to value, you also get a much better range; for perspective, the market leaders with 60,000+ titles carry twenty times as many films as an average video store, encompassing nearly every DVD available in the UK. The top DVD rental by post companies like Blockbuster and Lovefilm often stock 1,000 copies of popular new releases.
Free Trials: The best thing is, most of these companies offer a free trial period, usually 2 weeks--so feel free to look around and sample several DVD rental companies before settling down on one you like. If you were cheeky, you could migrate from company to company on the list, enjoying free rentals for four months. If you chose the 3 DVDs at a time option and watched a modest three films per week, that would be 50+ free DVD rentals. Plus, we list the companies that offer half price on the first month deals, which would allow you to get half price DVDs for a further five months. It would be a hassle, as you absolutely must cancel the subscription online before the trial period is up--in some cases several days before--or they automatically start charging your credit card as if you'd subscribed. This is perfectly legitimate, as you may want to try various services before you buy; if you're interested in this option see our convenient Top Free Trials list which guides you through a list of eligible companies.
Advice On Choosing the Right DVD Rental by Post Company
Film Range: The overall catalogue size really doesn't matter that much if all you're into is mainstream films--almost every service will cover these well. Catalogue size is important if you're a fan of obscure genres. For instance, we find Cinema Paradiso and Lovefilm cater best for World/Arthouse films. If you have a high definition Blu-ray player, you'll want to check out our Blu-ray ranking table.
Price: The costs for these DVD rental by post services are so similar (and you're already getting such a discount over the high street stores) that we don't think price should be the critical factor. We'd much rather pay an extra quid for a much better service than be stuck with the frustration of one of the many clunker sites out there, but it's entirely a matter of personal taste to balance these various factors.
Phone Support: Not all of UK DVD rental by post companies offer phone support, and it can be very frustrating trying to contact them by email if you have problems. We've heard horror stories of waiting for days to respond, even calling phone companies to try to ferret them out.
Game Rentals: You may also be interested in renting games under the same DVD rental by post program--with game titles often £40+ to buy, this can be a very attractive combination if you are a gamer or have one in the family. See our list of Top DVD and Game Sites, or if you want to only rent games and not DVDs, see our new Top Game Rental Sites. Of course, the great thing is you can keep the game until you finish it--best with say a three disc subscription so you can use two slots for movies, and one for the game you're currently playing.
Adult Film Rentals: Some DVD rental by post companies do adult films and some don't--several state in their policies they are family sites and do not wish to offer adult films as children often select the online DVDs. As this may be a concern, we indicate whether the companies reviewed list adult films. Lovefilm stocks over 2,300+ adult titles, while companies like Tesco stock no adult films. See our Top Adult Films and Top Family sites lists for further details.
For more information see our DVD rental industry commentary, or if you're looking for a DVD player, see our DVD Player Buyer Guide.
Frequently Asked Questions on DVD Rental by Post
Do I pay for sending DVD rentals back by post? No, all the DVD rental by post sites we review include free post, first class envelopes to return the DVDs.
What if the DVD gets lost in the post? Despite the legalese in their Terms and Conditions, most companies won't try to charge you for lost DVDs. Instead, they'll probably wait a few days and pursue a claim with the Post Office, possibly requiring you to fill out a form. This may take up one of your DVD rental slots for a while until it's sorted, but you probably won't be charged, especially with one of the larger companies. We have heard a couple horror stories of a couple smaller DVD rental companies charging for lost discs, but if you stick with the higher ranked companies, you should be fine. In the site administrator's personal experience of over a year of high-volume renting hundreds of DVDs with many companies, not a single DVD has gone missing in the post for us yet.
How long do DVD rentals take to arrive via post? They're sent by first class post, so it really depends on the Royal Mail's postal service to your area. Most people should get them the day after dispatch, possibly two days. Of course, when you return your DVD, you have to allow time for the disc to be received and a new one sent, which often adds another day to the cycle.
Do I need to post back my DVD before getting my next DVD? Yes, only when the DVD rental company has acknowledged receipt of the disc will they send the next title out. The better companies will email you when your next disc is dispatched, so you'll know what to expect in the post a day or two later.
How long will it take to get my top choices? This is the main limitation with DVD rental by post and the primary source of complaints; as with any library-type system, if a very popular choice is all rented out, you'll have to wait until it becomes available. For instance, there was a massive online rental demand for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but the distributor only released a relatively small number of rental copies, and all UK DVD rental companies struggled to meet demand from their customers. That said, the larger companies order 1,000+ copies of new releases to try to meet demand; Blockbuster is particularly good at this, with better availability for new releases.