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By Carol Church

In parts 1 and 2 of this series, we talked about why renting consumer goods is gaining a broader appeal, what to consider when renting, and poor and good candidates for rental. In this last section, we’ll talk about some of the surprising rental options.

Note that consumers should do their own research on all of these options, and be aware that purchasing the rented item, while often an option, is typically not a good deal. And as described in our last installment, rent-to-own stores should almost always be avoided.


In school and seeing red over the crazy price of books? Consider renting textbooks from sites like Chegg though you may want to compare with the cost of used books first.

Dresses and formalwear
Man in gray suit

malcolm garret/, CC0

Got a fancy wedding to go to and nothing in the closet? Try Rent the Runway or The Black Tux, or where you can rent a fabulous designer gown, suits or tuxes for a tiny fraction of the cost. These days, you can even rent a wedding dress from Borrowing Magnolia—and the bridesmaids can rent their looks, too, from Union Station.

Video games

Anyone who enjoys these games knows they cost a lot and that you’re not always sure what you like until you try them. Consider trying and saying goodbye to lots of games with a service like GameFly, rather than purchasing expensive games outright.

Outdoor gear

If on-base equipment rental can’t provide, stores like REI or Mountainside Gear Rental offer many options.

Fancy jewelry

Need a nice piece of jewelry for a once-in-lifetime occasion, but Grandma somehow neglected to will you a diamond necklace? Adorn offers a lot of options. (Yes, they’re real.)


Home Depot, Lowe’s, and your local equipment rental source should be able to connect you with high-cost, rarely used items like sanders, pressure washers, chainsaws, and so on. But did you know that some libraries also now offer “lending libraries” of tools or other household items that you can check out, use, and return, free of charge? Check out Local Tools to see if there’s a tool lending library near you.


Bikes are often another item that can be rented at equipment checkout services, but services like Rentabikenow are another option. This site works with local bike stores and can also rent equipment like a bike rack. And in larger cities, bike sharing can be a viable option for those who don’t want to “own their own.”


Today’s parents know what it’s like to acquire loads of toys that get used for a short while and then no longer. Sites like Green Pintata Toys allow parents to pay a monthly “subscription” fee and receive fun new toys in the mail that get sent back when children are done with them. (This could also be a great way to “try out” that expensive toy your kids been begging for.) This option looks especially appealing to military families!

And for those willing to take it further:

Could you purchase a smaller, more fuel-efficient car and occasionally rent a larger one? How often do you really need the passenger and load capacity of your larger vehicle? Why not drive the smaller, far less costly car year-round and rent a large car for a weekend here and there? Could you give up one of your family cars and use car shares like Zipcar daily rental instead?

It may sound crazy, but it can save you a bundle. Regular car rental companies or car sharing services like Zipcar and make it easy for some, especially those who live in cities, to “downsize” this item and just rent a car for a day (or an hour) when needed.

Could you even rent out your own house to others, and rent a smaller place elsewhere? Sound a little crazy? It’s been done as a way to save money, very effectively.


Yeager, J. (2015). 10 things you should rent instead of buy. Retrieved from

Bruce, K. (n.d.) 5 Things You Should Rent Instead of Buy (And 10 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Rent). Retrieved from