I absolutely love movies. It’s a great way to spend 2 hours where you can laugh, cry and find enjoyment outside of our busy lives. Having an active 3 year old, my wife and I just don’t have the time to get to the theater as much as we’d like. So for us, renting movies is our way to enjoy the magic of cinema. In our neighborhood, there are no shortage of Redbox kiosks. They don’t offer a back catalog, instead focusing on newer releases. At times, they will feature an older movie if there is a tie-in with a sequel or specific actor. This month, you can find “Out of Sight”, a great movie with Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney. Being our primary source of movies, I’ve gotten very good at getting the best from my Redbox experience. Here are my tips and app suggestions for improving your Redbox movie rental experience using your iPhone. If you’re new to Redbox or a regular renter, there are tips that should prove helpful.

Redbox movies

Why Redbox Rocks

Remember the old days, where you would wander Blockbuster Video, only to find shelves filled with empty boxes. It represented everything that’s wrong with video rentals. Rentals were overpriced and your chances of finding a good movie on a weekend, were slim at best. Even the bad movies were a hot commodity, provided they were a new release.

Blockbuster Video

Blockbuster ended up putting smaller video stores out of business. Years later, the shoe was on the other foot, with Blockbuster being replaced by small red kiosks. Redbox, which dominates this market, succeeded for a number of reasons. They are conveniently located, often outside a convenience store or in a grocery store. Most are open 24 hours, so you can rent or return at any hour of the day. What’s more, you aren’t tied to renting or returning at a specific location. You can rent a movie in one town and return in another. And when it comes to cost, renting movies is cheap compared to Blockbuster. DVDs can be rented for $1.50 a day and Blu-Ray discs are $2, a small price to pay for 1080p.

Nothing beats the convenience of renting from home. Whether it’s through the Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku or some other service, the cost of a rental is significantly more. Let’s take the action movie John Wick, an awesome movie that I rented last week. Redbox charged me $2. Gas is a negligible cost, since it’s right around the corner from me and gas prices have been on the decline. Compare that to iTunes, which charges $5.99. That’s three times the amount I pay at my local kiosk.

Rent movie iTunes

Grab the Redbox App and Setup An Account

The Redbox app (free) is available for download in the App Store. It’s the linchpin of improving your rental experience. It allows you to search based on a number of criteria. You can filter by format (DVD/Blu-Ray), Genre, Rating or by alphabetical order. Now by default, Redbox browses all locations. It’s not looking throughout the entire US. Using the location data from your iPhone, it’ll show locations within a 3-4 mile radius. You can refine your search to a specific location. If you’re absolutely opposed to using more than one location, this option is for you. The app will display only movies available at that location.

If you’re like me, you’re interested in getting a specific movie. The best option here is to keep your browsing set to all locations. Browse and find your movie. Let’s use John Wick as an example. Select the movie and tap on ‘Hold for Pickup’. The app will show you the locations near you that have the movie in stock. If you were to jump in the car and make your way to that kiosk, there’s a chance someone could swipe it before you arrive. In order to hold your movies, you’ll need an account.

Movies near you

Redbox lets you create an account, either online or directly through the app by navigating to Menu > Account > Create an Account. You’ll need to enter your address and a credit card. By setting up an account, it makes it dead simple to hold and reserve your movies.

Finding The Best Reviewed Movies

Though the method of procurement has changed drastically, the Redbox app and kiosk offer little in the way of information on the quality of a movie. You can view the trailer and read the synopsis, but reviews are non-existent through the app. This is surprising, considering the website offers a very different experience. It offers an extensive number of user reviews that you can read and view the average rating based on a score of 0-5 stars. If you find user ratings as a valid indicator, the website offers all of the functionality of the app, plus reviews.

There are a few third-party apps that are incredibly useful for finding relevant ratings. It can mean the difference between finding a truly enjoyable film and a clunker. Ratebox is a free app that looks similar to the official Redbox app. It too uses your location and will let you select movies based on one location or browsing all. It strips many of the features like checkout. What Ratebox does is fills the review void. When you tap on a movie, it’ll show you two key ratings. Rotten Tomatoes provides a number between 0-100, based on the consensus of movie critics. This can include hundreds of published options and is often thought of as a trusted measurement. The second score is an Audience Score. That’s the percentage of users who rate a movie.

Movie ratings

Ratebox lets you know what critics and movie-goers think about a movie and does it fast.


Along these same lines is Reviews for Redbox (Free). Let me start off by saying this app looks like it hit every branch on the ugly tree on its way to the App Store. It looks as if it hasn’t been updated in forever, but don’t let that fool you. It brings both Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB scores. Better yet, you can refine your search based on these scores. Using a filter, you can slide to your preferred scores. With this app, you can narrow your search, finding movies at a specific location with a Rotten Tomatoes score over 85 and an IMDB over 8.

Reviews for Redbox

These apps help fill that informational void of needing reviews, but that’s all they do. You’ll still need to jump back into the official app to hold your movies. The difference being, now you’re armed with the consensus reviews from hundreds of users and movie critics. That’s powerful.

Make Some Popcorn, But Make It Pefect

Now that you’ve located, refined and rented your movies, it’s time to make some popcorn. We want our movie night to be awesome, so let’s make the absolute best popcorn, or at least the best that can come from a microwave. We’re going to use Pop Secret’s Perfect Pop app. You don’t have to use Pop Secret popcorn. Any brand will do. Once you turn on the microwave, tap the big start button. At the same time, keep the microphone positioned about three feet from the microwave door. The app will listen to the sounds of popping corn and alert you when it’s ready. No more burned popcorn.

Perfect Popcorn

Movie rentals have come a long a way, especially if you’re from the generation that wandered the aisles of Blockbuster and rushed a clerk at the sight of a new release. Redbox is cheaper and more convenient. With your iPhone, and the tips outlined, you’re guaranteed to find and rent better movies. For under $5, renting a movie and enjoying some good popcorn is the best value in entertainment, made better thanks to your iPhone.