I love online shopping. I can spend hours buying everything from clothes to school supplies on my laptop, and I would much rather shop from my bed than drive to a store. It has its perks too! You have a store’s entire inventory in your hands, and finding a sale is as easy as navigating to the sale page. So, it’s no surprise that I rent my textbooks exclusively online.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I’m a huge fan of Amazon Prime Student. Yes, this is a sponsored post, but I genuinely use Amazon all the time and have been taking advantage of Prime benefits for over two years!
At the beginning of last semester I wrote a post on my favorite school supplies, the majority of which I got on Amazon. Why? Free two-day shipping is LITERALLY a life-saver and living in a city like Austin means having a pack of pencils delivered to my door is way more convenient than driving to Target.
The same goes for textbooks, which are an inevitable purchase for college students at the beginning of every semester. During my freshman year I made so many costly mistakes like renting directly from my university’s textbook store and even buying a textbook, which is almost never the most cost-friendly option. Then I discovered the joy that is renting textbooks online.
For the past two years, I’ve rented my textbooks almost exclusively through Amazon. Their savings of up to 80% off rentals between 30 and 360 days is one of many ways this strategy has saved me money, and I absolutely love being able to throw my textbooks in a box and ship them away for free at the end of the semester. Aside from that, there are several steps you should take to save the most money possible on your rentals!
1. Before doing anything, make sure you need the textbook!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rented a textbook only to leave it under my bed for the entire semester. I don’t understand why professors do this, but so many of mine have required that I get a textbook only to never actually reference the textbook. So your first step to saving money is not renting a textbook if you don’t have to!
Start by asking students who have already taken the class with your professor. They’ll easily be able to tell you if the textbook is actually required, and maybe even point you to a free online version. Ask a few just to be sure!
If you don’t know anyone who’s taken your class, Facebook is your next best option. At my university, there’s a Facebook page for students in my engineering department, which is always filled with textbook questions at the beginning of the semester. It’s the perfect place to ask about a class and textbook requirements, and most likely, someone else has the same question as you!
I wouldn’t recommend emailing your professor, because if the syllabus says the textbook is required, then they’ll most likely tell you it’s still required and now you’re on their bad list before classes even start. It’s less risky to ask if an older version of a textbook is okay (they’re usually much cheaper), but I would still try the previous two strategies before resorting to asking your professor!
2. Wait until classes start to buy anything.
For some reason professors like to make textbook shopping as complicated as possible, so sometimes they’ll change the textbook requirement on you during the first week of school, after releasing the syllabus online. Or they’ll say you can get an older version of a textbook, even though the syllabus says the newest version is required. Basically, don’t buy anything until you’ve heard it directly from your professor!
I used to always rent my textbooks a week before classes start because I didn’t want to fall behind, but then all of the above happened to me. That’s where Amazon Prime’s free two-day shipping comes in handy! Most professors don’t assign work from the textbook until the second week of classes, so if you order by the end of the first week, you should have your textbooks just in time.
3. Search for promo deals.
While most textbooks on Amazon are already marked at some sort of discount, they run promos throughout the year that can save you even more. For example, as I’m writing this they’re offering $15 off $100 of textbook purchases, so you never know what you’ll find! I usually check their social media (Instagram | Twitter | Facebook) to see if they’ve posted about any deals.
4. Sign up for Amazon Prime Student.
This one is important, because it’s how you’ll get that free two-day shipping! When you sign up, there’s no cost for the first six months courtesy of Sprint and you can cancel at any time. After that, students get 50% off of the regular Amazon Prime Membership at $49 per year, which I’ve found to be completely worth it given all the savings on shipping alone! You can read more about all that here.
5. Get shopping.
Did y’all know Amazon has an entire store dedicated to buying, renting, and even selling textbooks? I’ve never had a problem with not finding a textbook here, and I’ve had a lot of weird textbooks written by my own professors that they insisted would only be available on some special site for like $200. No thanks.
Once you find your textbook, you’ll see a lot of options for purchasing it. I always choose the hardcover version and rent it through the end of finals week, just so I’m not rushed to return it. Occasionally it’ll be cheaper to actually buy the book, but most of the time, renting is your cheapest option!
After you’ve added all your textbooks to your cart, just select that Prime shipping if it’s available, checkout, and throw yourself a little party to celebrate how much money you just saved. 🎉
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.