Best Textbook Rental Websites for College Students

When I was a freshman in college, I made the mistake of actually buying my textbooks new during my first semester. I was young. I was naive!

I was also broke.

best textbook rental websites for college studentsBut that was before I realized there are cheaper and smarter ways to do things. Should I really be spending thousands of dollars on new books each semester with my hard-earned (wink wink) loan money?

College textbooks are a rip-off. Professors often ask their students to buy new textbooks, but the newer versions are 95% the same as the prior version! Like college isn’t expensive enough as it is, already…

The internet isn’t perfect (hello consumer privacy issues!), but it deserves credit where it’s due. The internet has expanded the competitive marketplace and made it easier for people to purchase items at the click of a button for a fair price.

Enter textbook exchange websites.

By the time my second semester rolled around, I wasn’t buying new textbooks – I finally wised-up after everybody laughed at how I got ripped off my first semester. In the end, using rental websites like the ones listed below probably helped me save around $10k during college.

If you’re in the business of saving some dough, here are the best sites to rent textbooks from.

I won’t let you make the mistakes I did, freshman!

3 Best Textbook Rental Websites for College Students

Campus Book Rentals

If you want flexibility and simplicity, you can’t go wrong with Campus Book Rentals. Not only do they give you free shipping for returns, you can set a specific date that you want to return the book. Not bad, right?

The end of any given semester can get pretty hectic and planning when you’re going to return your textbooks probably isn’t priority numero uno. That’s why their 15-day grace period for late returns is such a huge selling point over their top competitors.


  • Free shipping for returns
  • Flexible rental periods (can use standard periods or select your own date)
  • Live customer support
  • It’s encouraged to highlight/write in books
  • 15-day grace period for late returns
  • 21-day window to return books for a full refund


  • No e-books
  • Customers complain they sell books that are out of stock


If you’re on a tight deadline and need a book immediately, Chegg is the way to go. After you buy or rent a textbook, you get instant access to the e-book. While this feature isn’t available for all textbooks, it’s still a great value-add for students who don’t want to fall behind while they wait for their order.

On the flip side, their competitors give you more flexibility for returning books. You’re automatically charged if you miss the return date, and the options for return dates leave much to be desired.


  • Instant access to e-book after purchase
  • Also provides tutoring, scholarships, test prep
  • 21-day return period
  • Free shipping on orders over $50


  • Must rent for a period (not specific date)
  • Automatically charged if you miss the return date
  • Standard semester-long rental periods


Here’s one you’ve probably never heard of. Amazon is the preeminent online marketplace, so it’s only natural that they deliver quality textbook purchases and rentals. I mean, they did start their business on this sort of thing… remember that?

While Amazon does combine a longer return period with more pricing options, they do charge a 15% commission on books and have a platform that’s a little tougher to navigate than other textbook-dedicated sites. Amazon’s capabilities and long-term outlook keep them firmly in the mix for the best textbook rental websites for college students.


  • Can buy or rent
  • Preview feature on some books gives you a glimpse of the text
  • Frequently the cheapest option
  • Many choices of sellers gives confidence in price
  • 30-day returns with full refund


  • Charge 15% commission
  • More difficult to browse than other sites that are dedicated to selling books
  • Automatically charged if you miss the return date
  • Standard semester-long rental periods

Like anything else, each of these websites carry some risk for leaving you dissatisfied, especially given the nature of what they do. To get a sense for what can go wrong, it’s always wise to look up some customer reviews. Just remember that probably 95% of people who leave reviews for textbook rentals were driven to do so by a negative experience. Will those reviews prevent you from potentially saving thousands of dollars?

That’s for you to decide.

I no longer lay in bed at night, lamenting the extra grand I spent on my college textbooks that fateful freshman semester. I do, however, regret not getting internships or starting my job search early enough. College is tough. Put those textbooks to work and then use these websites to get your career going.


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All opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of Home at 30 and are in no way affiliated with any other organization or institution. The purpose of this blog is to give general education and information about investing, wealth, careers, and college; It is not intended to be professional advice.

Author: Josh Ramos

Josh attended Wake Forest University and paid a fortune for it. Since then, he’s realized the obstacles that Americans face in moving up on the ladder of wealth. By founding Home at 30, he wants to help students learn the skills necessary for taking the next step on their journey to building wealth.

Best Textbook Rental Websites for College Students was last modified: August 1st, 2018 by Josh Ramos

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