I was intrigued the other day when I heard an ad with Troy Aikman and Hulk Hogan for Rent-A-Center suggesting that renting may be a better financial move than buying on credit. The ad pointed out that there are no interest charges and no credit check. When I heard the ad asserting that renting through Rent-A-Center was a smart financial move, that really got my attention. This was the first time I had heard this particular pitch. So I thought, time for a tag-team match; Jim Paris vs. Hulk Hogan and Troy Aikman (let's see if these guys can compete in the financial arena). Having never been in one of these stores, I decided to go on a reconnaissance mission.
My Visit To Rent-A-Center
I visited my local Rent-A-Center just to see for myself how great the deals might be. Here is a sampling of my findings:
Desktop computer w/ monitor $30 a week (final rent to own cost $2,069)
Laptop computer $40 a week (final rent to own cost $2,700)
42” TV $30 a week (final rent to own cost $2,300)
I did not expect to discover that renting was a wise financial option, but I have to say that I was shocked at the prices they are charging. It appears that renting to own an item will cost you four times the fair market retail price. Yes, there are no interest charges but paying four times retail is far worse than paying interest. In fact, according to my calculations the amount of equivalent interest that would equal their mark up is more than 100 percent. What makes matters worse, you may be renting to own a used item.
Hulk Hogan is not short on other financial advice, check out his ad for debt counseling
I have seen a lot of scams and bad deals over the last couple of decades as a financial writer, but Rent-A-Center may have just made the top of my list as the absolute worst. I am especially disturbed that they are now advertising this within the context of saving money since there are no interest charges. How Aikman and Hogan can make this pitch and sleep at night is beyond me. What this company is doing appears to be completely legal but is it ethical? Please submit your comments below; I am very interested in your thoughts, especially if you have ever been a rent-to-own customer.
Helping you make the most of God’s money!