Stretching Your Dollar: Renting to own can be costly

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Rent to own businesses are booming in this economy.  For some people they are the perfect way to have the latest in electronics without having to shell out big money up front.

But the real cost of renting may actually be much worse for your wallet in the long run.

You see the ads, $39.99 a week, or $29.99 a week for a nice flat screen TV.  Seems like a decent deal.

But credit counselor Jessica Cecere says watch out. "It really turns out to be a huge expense," she said.

She says signs that promise to help improve your home at a low cost is attractive to a lot of people who are struggling financially.

"It seems more affordable to anybody because it's just a little bit at a time as oppose to saving that money or making a large payment," Cecere explains.

But after crunching the numbers you could end up paying 300 percent more than the actual cost of the item.

Take for instance a deal at a Rent-A-Center in Florida.

They were advertising a 50 inch Panasonic plasma TV for @29.99 a week.  After 100 payments, the TV could be yours at a total cost of almost 3 thousand dollars.  But at a Best Buy in the same Florida city, the same television was on sale for just $630 dollars!

Cecere says while she understands why so many people are renting, less cash out up front.  But her advice to clients is, save up until you can pay for the item outright.

"You're really out a whole lot of money then if you just saved," she says.

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