Report: Best Buy to Pilot Rent-to-Own Program

The Richfield-based electronics retailer is reportedly ready to test a program through which customers can enter rent-to-own agreements.

Best Buy Company, Inc., is reportedly preparing a pilot program through which it will offer electronics products to customers through a unit of Plano, Texas-based rent-to-own company Rent-A-Center, Inc.

According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, which cites information from Rent-A-Center employees and analysts, Rent-A-Center plans to set up kiosks in Best Buy stores in order to offer products to customers who don't meet the Richfield-based electronic retailer's credit standards or who want to avoid additional debt.

The first kiosks are reportedly set to open in Best Buy stores in California, possibly within a matter of weeks.

The Wall Street Journal reported that if the arrangement resembles others run by Rent-A-Center's RAC Acceptance program, Best Buy would sell merchandise to RAC, and RAC would mark up the cost of each item by about two or three times. Customers could then enter a rent-to-own agreement that doesn't require a down payment. Customers could also return the item at any time or pay off the remaining cost to own the item.

Rent-A-Center reportedly launched the RAC Acceptance program to extend its existing rent-to-own offerings, and it operates in roughly 160 Ashley Furniture stores, as well as other furniture outlets.

Best Buy is Minnesota's third-largest public company based on revenue, which totaled $49.7 billion for the fiscal year that ended in February 2010. The company reported $50.3 billion in revenue during its most recently completed fiscal year.

Best Buy recently announced that it has expanded its own kiosk business-which offers a wide range of products, including computer accessories, digital cameras, storage devices, and headphones-by opening 150 locations within the past three years, and it plans to open 100 more.