The cost of housing can take up a significant amount of anyone’s budget. The general rule of thumb is to keep housing costs around 30%. But what about the cost of filling your home with the items you need?
Aside from the cost of your housing payment, it’s can also be expensive to fill your home with furniture, appliances and other things that you may need or want for comfort.
We’ve recently been in the market for a new couch and a stainless steel stove. Both some pretty expensive purchases. These weren’t really emergency items. So, I felt no need to dig into the emergency fund and tried to cash flow them instead.
The idea of quoting prices from our local Rent a Center did sound like an option as well. We all know I’m not a fan of financing furniture, but I knew Rent a Center has a ‘6 months same as cash’ program. BIG mistake.
After doing some research on this company and its offers, I realized Rent a Center was doing some serious scamming and more people needed to understand how this place operates. In this post, I’m going to explain why Rent a Center is a rip off to the average person.
Table of Contents
Pay as You Go?
What attracts people most about Rent a Center is the option to purchase that big-ticket item like a furniture set or an appliance without really paying for it in full.
Can’t afford a new couch? Come to Rent a Center and get on a plan so you can take it home today with little money down and pay as you go to settle your balance.
Rent a Center sells everything from TVs, living room furniture, and bedroom sets to kitchen appliances, computers and smartphones. They carry big brands and don’t have credit check requirements for their payment plans.
This means, as long as you have an income and make a down payment, you can likely get on a plan to pay your item off in weekly, bi-weekly and monthly payments. Of course, you’ll pay more overall if you use their long-term payment plans because you’ll get charged interest.
However, Rent a Center has a 6-month ‘same as cash’ program. This program ensures that you won’t pay extra so long as you pay off your purchase in 6 months. If you’re looking to save money on interest, this 6 months same as cash option may sound promising, but don’t fall for it!
You’re Not Building Credit
When I financed my first couch back in college (something I’d never ever do again BTW), I did it under Ashley Furniture’s credit building program. This means my payments were reported to all three credit bureaus. Paying off the couch helped me build some positive credit history.
Rent a Center doesn’t check credit when you apply. This means they have no intention of reporting your payment to the credit bureaus – and they don’t. Still, you’re getting charged interest and a general up-charge on your purchases anyway. There are much better ways to build your credit aside from financing furniture, but I’m just trying to make a point.
Related:I Raised My Credit Score By 150 Points, Here’s How
Your payments are simply lining the pockets of Rent a Center. Meanwhile you’re stuck making overpriced weekly and monthly payments. The items Rent a Center sells don’t appreciate in value so it makes more sense to just buy them in cash on your own.
I mentioned earlier how I did some browsing on their site as I was considering the 6-month same as cash offer. I looked up a stove along with some furniture since I was also in search of a leather couch. Having a dog really summed up why we need to switch to leather furniture from now on.
I was really shocked to see Rent a Center’s prices for a single piece of furniture. Then it hit me. The prices are severely marked up regardless of how soon you pay the item off.
If anyone would do a quick Google search to compare prices, they’d see that Rent a Center is overcharging customers. Sure, they carry good brands but you can honestly find a better deal by going straight to that brand and buying the furniture or appliance you need.
As you can see, this sofa and loveseat set is $160.31 per month at Rent a Center. You’re required to make payments for almost 2 years….in other words, $3,687.13!!!
If you decide to pay the set off in 6 months, you’d still pay $2,404.35. Ouch.
You may find it interesting that Amazon is selling the exact same loveseat for $476 and the sofa for $509. If you avoid those marked-up prices, you could score this set for under $1,000.
This Whirlpool 5-burner gas range stove is $138.64 per month at Rent a Center. It takes 16 months of payments to own it and you’d end up spending $2,218.24. The 6-month ‘same as cash’ price is $1,596.46.
A similar stainless steel gas oven from Lowes costs around $900. Other brands like General Electric only cost around $600 to $700 depending on the type.
Sketchy Contract Terms
Rent a Center’s contract is a legally binding agreement stating the terms of the transaction including payments, taxes, fees, the number of payments, cost to acquire ownership, late fees, and more. If customers don’t follow the terms of the agreement, they could get their items revoked.
After making all those overpriced payments, imagine falling on hard times and getting your furniture repossessed so you now have nothing to show for it.
One of the most interesting things about Rent a Center’s contract is how it states that you do not build any equity toward the merchandise as it remains the property of Rent a Center until you pay the agreed amount to own it. This company’s contracts are super sketchy. Many people have shared that they really didn’t understand the nature of the terms and how much the fees were initially involved.
There are thousands of people who have complained about being trapped in a contract with Rent a Center and got scammed out of a ton of money. It sucks to hear about how some people have been harassed over the phone and in person by payment collectors. Nerd Wallet published an article to lend some tips to frustrated customers longing to get out of their Rent a Center contracts.
In it, they suggested that you avoid the biggest markup and added fees by paying off your merchandise within 90 days of the lease agreement. If you really want out of the contract, you may need to return your stuff altogether.
Fees on Top of Fees
I searched high and low for a breakdown of Rent a Center’s fees but that information seems locked and sealed for some reason. Luckily, Nerd Wallet completed an in-depth study in 2017 about their fees and outrageous interest rates.
Their APR rates can be comparable to payday loans and in the triple digits on average.
Source – Nerd Wallet
The company also offers options fees that can add on to what you’d have to pay.
Their loss-damage wavier can be up to 10% of the total cost of the lease in some states. If you enroll in RAC Benefits Plus, this can provide you with some coupons and discounts. However, you may not use them and it adds around $13 per month to your lease agreement.
Don’t forget about state and local taxes. It’s no secret that you will have to pay them for lease the item but Rent a Center customers also pay additional for the extra ‘services’ as well.
The Trouble With Instant Gratification
Truth be told, stores like Rent a Center and their other counterparts wouldn’t exist if people weren’t so tempted to give in to instant gratification. This company seeks to benefit from the fact that our society is praising unhealthy convenience factors and fast transactions.
Why wait to pay for furniture in cash when you could put $10 down and get a week free of payments – only to be stuck overpaying for your item by thousands of dollars over the next year or two…
When you look at it this way, the math certainly doesn’t add up. We paid about $460 for our leather couch in cash which was much cheaper than what Rent a Center was charging.
We paid $644 for our new stainless steel gas range oven when Rent a Center would charge us $1,400+ for something similar. The main difference? You have to be willing to be patient, weigh other options, and practice delayed gratification.
My husband and I waited to get a new oven and used an electric skillet (that was a wedding gift) to cook our meals for a few weeks. In the meantime, we both hustled hard to come up with half of the cost. He drove some extra hours for Uber and I picked up additional client work. We both came to the table with $322 each to put down to buy the oven in cash.
Delaying your gratification can save you so much money in the long run and also allow you to truly appreciate and cherish the things you have. I’m grateful for that fact that no one can come knock on my door and take my furniture or appliances away because I own them outright.
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Some Alternatives to Leasing Furniture and Other Stuff
Although it’s clear that Rent a Center is a rip-off, they’re not the only store scamming people out of their hard-earned cash. Other similar furniture leasing stores are basically doing the same thing.
So what’s an alternative if you want to buy some furniture, expensive electronics, or big household items?
This is our top option. When we bought our house, of course I wanted to furnish and decorate it. I also didn’t want to finance a bunch of stuff and be buried in monthly payments. So I waited.
We bought one small sectional practically new off the Facebook Marketplace and I used my old couch (from our apartment) for our family room. Slowly, we saved up money and came across deals to add furnishings and other decor to our home. Sure, it wasn’t the quickest solution, but I’m glad that I own everything in my home and don’t have to be bogged down by all the payments.
We actually bought our stove for a steal thanks to a 4th of July sale. Whether you’re looking to buy furniture or household appliances, you can count on holiday sales to help you save anywhere from $100 – $200 on the item.
I took advantage of an online Black Friday deal at Best Buy to get my Macbook Pro for several hundred dollars less than it was normally listed for.
There are tons of discount sites you can use to buy your furniture and other items for less. I like sites likes Wayfair, Brad’s Deals, and Overstock can be great places to score deals on quality furniture.
Don’t forget to use Rakuten (Ebates) when shopping online to earn cash back.
You can also bid for items on eBay and see what Amazon has to offer.
Related:Rakuten (Ebates ) Review: Earn Cashback For Everyday Shopping
The small sectional I bought when we first moved into our house was gently used and from the Facebook marketplace. I also got our kitchen table from the marketplace as well and saved hundreds of dollars on both purchases combined.
Our glass table sits 6 and the chairs were recently upholstered so it looked just like new. You can check out resale shops and other sites for gently used options if it helps you avoid getting scammed by Rent a Center.
Related:How to Start Saving Money on Furniture (New and Used)
0% APR Credit Card
I present this option with caution because I’m not really a fan of people racking up debt on a credit card, even if there’s no interest. However, if you need to make an urgent purchase, this is a much better option than doing rent-to-own with Rent a Center.
You’ll need good credit in the first place to qualify for a 0% interest credit card but this is how I paid for my Macbook Pro. I really needed a reliable computer for my business – it couldn’t wait because how else would I be able to make money since this is my full-time job?
These laptops are so expensive and even with the sale price, I didn’t want to drain my savings so I used Best Buy’s 0% APR option. So I put $200 down and paid $100 per month until the end of the year.
With this option, the key is to avoid going overboard with the purchase price of the item to ensure you can actually pay it off during the o% APR promotional period. Avoid making other purchases on the card while you’re paying back the balance to make it easier.
Related:6 Healthy Habits That Lead To a Better Credit Score
Summary – Is Rent a Center a Rip Off?
I hope this didn’t come off as an ‘I hate Rent a Center’ article, but I just really don’t like when I see companies take advantage of other people who are looking for a solution that provides some financial relief.
A scam is defined as a dishonest scheme. A rip off is defined as cheating someone out of money financially. I believe Rent-a-Center is doing both.
Just because people sign an agreement doesn’t mean they fully understand the terms and can’t see past the marketing and claims to “buy now and pay $10 a week later”. Rent-a-Center should do a better job at explaining their contract because from the looks of all their complaints online, people did not fully understand or support the terms of the agreement.
The truth is, if you can’t afford to buy furniture, household appliances and other items, you shouldn’t even consider going to a store like Rent a Center in the first place. They prey on people who need certain items but can’t afford them. They entice customers with the idea of flexible, low-cost payments but this ends up locking you into a long-term contract with ridiculous fees and interest.
Instead, play the waiting game and really ask yourself if you need to purchase the item at this time. Can you put it off and save up instead or wait for a good deal? If so, you probably won’t regret it waiting a few weeks or even a few months to potentially save over a thousand dollars.
What are your thoughts on leasing furniture?
When I got my first apartment in college and looked at my empty living room, I felt bad. I caved and financed furniture but looking back, I wasn’t going to die or be scarred for life had I went a few months without that stuff and saved up. Have you ever done business with Rent a Center or a similar store?
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Does Rent-A-Center build credit? Rent-A-Center lease-purchase agreements do not report to credit bureaus and can neither help nor hurt your credit history.Why do people use Rent-A-Center? ›
You can get the products you need as soon as you want them. Plus, you don't have to wait for your credit score to be any higher than it is right now. At Rent-A-Center, you can bring home all of the furniture, appliances, and electronics you want, often on the same day with free same-day delivery.Is Rent-A-Center losing money? ›
Full Year Consolidated Results
Adjusted EBITDA for the full year 2022 decreased 28.2% year-over-year on a reported basis and 32.0% on a pro-forma(1) basis to $453.5 million , primarily due to lower revenues and higher loss rates in the Rent-A-Center Business and Acima segments, compared to 2021.
Although rent-to-own agreements are leases, not loans, and don't accrue interest, NerdWallet and Raycom calculated an equivalent annual percentage rate. The analysis found APRs at Rent-A-Center ranging from 43% to 468%, with the exception of New Jersey, where state law imposes a 30% cap.Does paying rent improve your credit score? ›
Does paying rent build credit? Simply paying your rent will not help you build credit. But reporting your rent payments can help you build credit — especially if you are new to credit or do not have a lot of experience using it.Does credit really matter when renting an apartment? ›
Your credit scores can be important when you're looking to rent an apartment. That's because the landlord or property manager may pull your credit as part of the screening process. Your credit history can show them how you've managed money in the past and help them determine whether you might be a responsible tenant.Does Rent-A-Center verify employment? ›
Verify Rent-A-Center Employees
The process is simple and automated, and most employees are verified within 24 hours.
If you are asking what are the typical requirements for rent-to-own purchases at rent-a-center, they are typically: A verifiable source of income (they do contact the employer you list on your application, not sure if they require paystubs, but I believe they did.)What does Rent-A-Center do with returned items? ›
At Rent-A-Center, each refurbished item is restored to the best possible condition. We do the work, so you can enjoy the savings. Used laptops, computers, and electronics go through a factory reset process to restore the memory and remove all previous customer information. The rental items are thoroughly cleaned.What was Rent-A-Center breakup fee? ›
Under the terms of the settlement, Vintage will pay $92.5 million in cash instead of the original merger's break-up fee of $126.5 million. Rent-A-Center said it expects to receive pre-tax amount of about $80 million after expenses.
Under the terms of the proposed settlement, Rent-A-Center will provide between $100 and $1,000 to close to 100,000 Class Members. The amount each person receives will be based on 25 percent of the total value of each transaction.Will a recession make rent cheaper? ›
Just because there's a recession doesn't necessarily mean rent prices go down. In fact, during the 2008 recession, it was the exact opposite. In the current rental market, we have seen the rate of increase in rental prices come down, but this only translates to lower rent prices if you're in select markets.How does Rent-A-Center make money? ›
Rent-a-Center generates float and makes money by selling electronics, furniture, and other items on the installment plan. However, Rent-a-Center calls its installment payments “rent” and charges them on a weekly basis. Moreover, Rent-a-Center allows customers to return items any time.Can Rent-A-Center lock my phone? ›
At the heart of the DPP is RAC's ability to lock a phone once the software is installed on a smartphone and it is rented. Locking scenarios include: If a smartphone customer is seven-plus days late on his or her payment, AP receives a notice from internal reports and automatically locks the device.How can I build my credit with bad credit? ›
- Pay on time. Pay bills and any existing lines of credit on time if you possibly can. ...
- Try to keep most of your credit limit available. ...
- Get a secured credit card. ...
- Get a credit-builder loan or secured loan. ...
- Become an authorized user. ...
- Get a co-signer.
For a score with a range between 300 and 850, a credit score of 700 or above is generally considered good. A score of 800 or above on the same range is considered to be excellent. Most consumers have credit scores that fall between 600 and 750. In 2022, the average FICO® Score☉ in the U.S. reached 714.How much should your credit score be to rent? ›
When you apply to rent an apartment, you can expect nearly all landlords to run a credit check. As a general rule, you'll want a credit score of 620 or higher to secure a rental.What is the average credit score? ›
The average credit score in the United States is 698, based on VantageScore® data from February 2021. It's a myth that you only have one credit score. In fact, you have many credit scores. It's a good idea to check your credit scores regularly.What is the lowest credit score to rent a house? ›
Generally, most landlords require applicants to have a credit score of at least 620 to be considered for rental housing. This means that if your FICO score is lower than 620, you may be denied an application or asked for additional security deposits or co-signers before being approved.How accurate is credit karma? ›
Here's the short answer: The credit scores and reports you see on Credit Karma come directly from TransUnion and Equifax, two of the three major consumer credit bureaus. The credit scores and reports you see on Credit Karma should accurately reflect your credit information as reported by those bureaus.
It will take about six months of credit activity to establish enough history for a FICO credit score, which is used in 90% of lending decisions. 1 FICO credit scores range from 300 to 850, and a score of over 700 is considered a good credit score.Does Rent-A-Center verify income? ›
We may check past transactional history, but no established FICO score or credit history is necessary. Rental agreement requires, at minimum, verification of residence, income and four personal references.Do Rent-A-Center employees get commission? ›
No, employees do not make commission.Does Aaron's check your credit? ›
Aaron's may check credit history and creditworthiness, but no established credit history is necessary. Some restrictions apply. If you need assistance, please call your local store.What do you say when calling about renting an apartment? ›
“Hi, I'm calling about the two-bedroom, two-bath rental on Maple Street,” is a good way to start. “Is it still available?” Some owners have more than one vacancy, and droning on about the details of the wrong unit wastes everyone's time. Verify the rental amount and ask when the unit is available for move-in.What are the four principles of interaction at Rent-A-Center? ›
All Coworkers are responsible for following these guiding principles: Be honest and fair – Never manipulate or misrepresent. Treat people with dignity and respect in all circumstances. Be responsible for your conduct – Read and understand the Code of Conduct and the policies and procedures that apply to your job.Which metrics does the top gun use to determine top performers? ›
For those of you not familiar with Top Guns…
We rank the managers across various metrics such as return, risk, r-squared, and information ratio to determine the Top Gun award recipients as well as naming Manager of the Decade.
Here's how we do that. Our experts start out by thoroughly inspecting and cleaning furniture pieces with detergents and fabric cleaners that are designed for the type of fabric in question. Couch cushions and sofas are vacuumed and brushed. Dents on hard surfaces are sanded down and polished.What happens with returned items? ›
revealed those products are often thrown out or destroyed. (This isn't anything new; it happens at other retailers, too.) While there are instances where new and sealed products can be resold, oftentimes it's not sanitary to put these items back out on shelves.What is Rent-A-Center customer service number? ›
Debt settlement is a practice that allows you to pay a lump sum that's typically less than the amount you owe to resolve, or “settle,” your debt. It's a service that's typically offered by third-party companies that claim to reduce your debt by negotiating a settlement with your creditor.How long has Rent-A-Center been in business? ›
|Traded as||Nasdaq: RCII S&P 600 component|
|Industry||Home furnishings Rent-to-own|
|Founded||1973 1986 (incorporated) Wichita, Kansas, U.S.|
|Headquarters||Plano, Texas , U.S.|
No, only the police or prosecutors can charge anyone.How many employees does Rent-A-Center have? ›
Rent-A-Center has 14,500 employees.What is the RAC settlement in California? ›
The settlement resolves allegations that Rent-A-Center violated consumer protection laws in its kiosk business called Preferred Lease, RAC Acceptance, or AcceptanceNOW by charging an inflated "cash price" that was 15% over the true retail price, and other violations.Is a recession coming in 2023? ›
A majority of economists forecast a recession for the U.S. in 2023 – 58 percent, according to a survey from the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) released earlier this week on March 27.Is it better to own a house or rent in a recession? ›
Real estate is a great asset to own when the economy is in freefall. A rental property typically acts as a natural hedge in a volatile market. People lose their jobs, earnings, and sometimes their homes when a great recession happens.
In general, buying a home during a recession will get you a better deal. The number of foreclosures or owners who have to sell to stay afloat increases, typically leading to more homes available on the market and lower home prices.Why do people buy from Rent-A-Center? ›
You can get the products you need as soon as you want them. Plus, you don't have to wait for your credit score to be any higher than it is right now. At Rent-A-Center, you can bring home all of the furniture, appliances, and electronics you want, often on the same day with free same-day delivery.What is the return policy for Rent-A-Center? ›
Return your item at any time and we'll pause your payments at no penalty. When you're ready, get the product back (or comparable item), and pick up where you left off. You don't lose the money you already paid.
Rent-A-Center | 2022 Fortune 500 | Fortune.Can the police lock your phone? ›
Currently, police officers have the authority to demand that you unlock your mobile phone using face recognition and fingerprint identification. When unlocking your phone, police officers have no right to demand that you disclose your passcode or pattern.Can you keep your phone in your back pocket? ›
If you're a younger, healthy adult, you'll want to stop carrying your wallet or phone in your back pocket. It's a bad habit and it will most likely only make things worse for your lower back health, spine health, and overall physical health in those areas of the body.Do cell phone companies still lock phones? ›
wireless phone companies must unlock handsets upon request, without fee, when a consumer comes to the end of their contract, or at any time thereafter.Can I get a credit card with a 500 credit score? ›
Can I get a credit card with a 500 credit score? Yes, you can get a credit card with a 500 credit score, though your options will be limited to secured credit cards and unsecured credit cards for bad credit. The best credit card for a 500 credit score is the Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card.How fast can you build a 500 credit score? ›
The good news is that when your score is low, each positive change you make is likely to have a significant impact. For instance, going from a poor credit score of around 500 to a fair credit score (in the 580-669 range) takes around 12 to 18 months of responsible credit use.How long does it take to build credit from 500 to 700? ›
The credit-building journey is different for each person, but prudent money management can get you from a 500 credit score to 700 within 6-18 months. It can take multiple years to go from a 500 credit score to an excellent score, but most loans become available before you reach a 700 credit score.