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TracFone Enters Rent-To-Own Retail Segment

PLANO, TEXAS – MVNO TracFone rolled outs its Net10, Simple Mobile and Telcel no-contract cellular plans and smartphones to rental chain Rent-ACenter, making the chain the only national rent-to-own chain to offer cellular.

The only other national rental chain, Aaron’s, offer neither phones nor service, and regional rental chains offer only phones but not service. “To our knowledge, even regional chains only offer phones; none offer the plans,” a spokesman said. “We felt that was not the best customer experience for our customers.”

Rent-A-Center, based here, began rolling out no-deposit, no-contract phones in July to its more than 2,800 stores and was on target to complete the rollout by the end of July. The chain, which is the nation’s largest rental chain, launched a pilot program last summer.

The chain began selling feature phones more than 10 years ago but dropped out of the market several years ago, the spokesman noted.

Rent-A-Center has designated a mobile expert in each store to sell the smartphones, which consist of the Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, S5, Note 2, Note 3 and Relay. The phones are sold with the MVNO’s standard service plans.

Phone-rental rates range from $14.99/week to $34.99/week with 52 to 78 weekly payments. Consumers can also pay off the phone in 90 days or exercise an early-purchase option to save 40 percent or more off the remaining total rental amount, a spokesman said.

Phones are rented without credit check, deposit or long-term contract. Rent-A-Center said its offer “compares favorably to traditional no-contract plans since the cash outlay to acquire a smartphone through a rent-to-own agreement is minimal; customers need not purchase a new phone in order to upgrade, and warranty and service are included at no additional cost.”

The rollout also “breaks ground” by giving consumers the flexibility to activate a no-contract plan with the purchase of a phone or without. The company is also breaking new ground by offering multiple airtime brands. Consumers can also activate a plan for a phone not rented through Rent-A-Center. The stores also reload airtime plans regardless of carrier, the company said.

The chain also rents new and previously rented tablets.