Although the name might suggest otherwise, this is not a place that has "Centers" that you can rent. Rather, it is a chain of stores that allow people to rent furniture, appliances, electronics, and other items on a weekly basis. When the customer has rented an item for enough time, he/she will own it.

At least, that's the way it works on paper. So-called "rent-to-own" stores appeal to the working class, or people who have very poor credit records. As a result, the consumers tend to be less educated, and do not notice that they will often pay 200-300% interest on these items. Because you do not need to actually rent the item for the full duration, the stores do not have to advertise it as being a loan. Rent-to-own stores have been found to violate usury laws in many states.

In early 2001, veteran football commentator John Madden started shilling for Rent-A-Center, the latest in a long line of commercial endorsement deals.