Taking Advantage of Rebates

taking advantage of rebatesI used to be the kind of person who would immediately dismiss and throw away mail in rebates. I doubted whether they would actually send me a check in the mail. I also didn’t want to have to wait 6-12 weeks to get the rebate check…should it ever come. They seemed like a waste of time, even the larger ones.

I wish I knew back then what I know now. I don’t know how many hundreds of dollars I threw straight into the trash because it didn’t seem right. Thankfully, I came to realize that you actually do get that check in the mail—as long as your rebate is valid. Yeah, you might have to wait 6 to 12 weeks to get that nice little check, but in the end, you still get money back.

After I started couponing, I decided to try doing my first mail-in-rebate. I don’t remember what it was for, but I was buying the item anyway. I double checked it like fifty times before I finally sent it off, just to be sure everything was in order. Then I forgot about it as soon as I mailed it off; I think I still doubted that I would actually get a check in the mail.

About 2 months later, I got my check in the mail and I was shocked! It actually came; it wasn’t some kind of scam. I remember being really excited because the item was purchased on sale, with a coupon and with the rebate (even with the cost of them stamp), I actually got paid to buy their product. Awesome! Things don’t always work out that way, but by sending in those mail-in-rebates, you can still get back some of your money. I’m not really sure as to whether doing rebates is considered earning money or saving money, I’m sensing a gray area.

Jen’s tips for doing mail-in-rebates:

  • Read the entire rebate form twice; yes…the fine print too. Doing this helps ensure that you don’t miss something that could cost you your rebate check.
  • Send it in as soon as possible. If it’s done and ready to go, why wait? The sooner you send it off, the sooner they’ll send your rebate check. Also, it keeps you from missing the deadline and/or forgetting about it.
  • Make sure that you are purchasing the item/s within their purchasing dates. Even being 1 day off can cost you a check. Most rebates will specify the dates they want the receipt dated between. For example in the list of things they want you to send:

The original retail store and product(s) identified cash register receipt dated between 11/17/12 – 11/29/12 with price(s) circled.

  • If they ask you (on the rebate form) to circle the items, don’t forget to do it. If you forget to circle the items as they state, you could miss out on your rebate check—even something that simple can make or break it.
  • Personally, I scan everything for the rebate before I seal the envelope. The rebate form, receipts, upc’s, whatever they need to determine if I get the rebate is scanned and saved, just in case. This gives me the contact information if I need to get a hold of them, and proof that I followed the instructions. I’ve never needed it, but it’s good to have if something should arise. If you don’t want to scan everything, you could take a photocopy or just write down all the information.
  • If the rebate is close to the price of a stamp, then it’s probably not worth sending in. Some people might not care, but personally I’d let it go.
  • Double check that everything is in order before you seal the envelope.
  • Be patient while waiting for your rebate, it might take a while, but it will eventually come (if you did everything correctly).
  • Don’t get all rebate crazy and go buying stuff you don’t need/want just to get a rebate check. That won’t really save you money in the long haul.

Where you can find rebates:

  • Product packages
  • Manufacturer websites
  • Sunday coupon inserts
  • Coupon and deal blogs


Do you send in mail-in-rebates, or do you toss them?

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/qviri/3588187672/

About Jen Perkins

Likes: saving money, being debt free (aside from our house), zombies, travel, getting money, blogging and dogs. Dislikes: debt, being broke, bunnies, wasting money, not having enough money to travel the world and paying interest. Facebook  ♥  Twitter  ♥  Google+  ♥  RSS


Taking Advantage of Rebates — 18 Comments

    • They are really easy to forget about, I like to keep them on my whiteboard above my desk (that way I’m looking at them every day). :-)

  1. I always wonder why retailers use rebates. It must cost them more to administer them than it would to just take the amount off at the register, except for those who forget about them (like me).

    • It would be easier for them to just discount the item, but I think they actually save money by doing it as a rebate. They benefit from the people who:

      * don’t even notice there is a rebate
      * think rebates aren’t real and/or don’t want to take the time to do it
      * forget
      * don’t do everything correct and miss out on the rebate check

      Pretty sneaky of them. :-)

    • Most people do not send in rebates so it cost the retailers less than a straight discount.
      Even if everything is done right, sometime the handler company goes out of business and the consumer does not have any recourse…
      Usually, I get my rebates. I only had one that didn’t come through due to the whole going out of business thing.

  2. I pretty much go out of my way to avoid buying things with rebates tied to them. It’s too easy for you to forget to send it in or to forget to notice if it never shows up, or for a company to deny your claim for reasons that are arbitrarily up to them.

  3. I haven’t done that many rebates — just a few a year. However, my mother was the queen of rebates for several years when I was growing up. She had two filing cabinets where she kept her labels and receipts. She would save up all of the goodies that she earned and would give them to us at Christmas. We would usually get a large box full of stuff — tshirts, tote bags, hats, books, etc. She was really good at keeping it all organized. I think I would just have a closet full of labels!

    • Your mom really does sound like she used to be the ‘queen of rebates’. There’s no way I’d be able to keep up with that many. Saving them up for Christmas is a great idea, I do that with stuff I earn from rewards programs and get for free (or really cheap) during the year. :-)

    • It’s so easy to forget them, especially with all the stuff we have going on everyday. If you ever decide to do one again, you could put it up somewhere that you’ll see every day, or put a reminder in your planner or online. :-)

  4. Sometimes I avoid rebate items for the hassle, haha. When the deal is just too good I’ll definitely go for it… of course.

    Sometimes you need to babysit the rebate a bit… I’ve had to email rebate companies to ask them where my rebate is. A common response? “It’s in progress”… then a few days later I get it. Coincidence?

    • That’s pretty funny, they probably sent it right after you got off the phone. So far, I haven’t had to check in on my rebates, but it’s nice to keep their contact info. just in case. :-)

  5. Great article Jen. I do send in rebates, but I don’t buy items specifically because they are rebated. You are right that it takes discipline to follow through, but it is not that difficult to do.

    • Thanks Thad. Yep, thankfully it doesn’t actually take much time to do one. Also, I’ve noticed that it gets quicker each time because you know what you’re looking for. :-)

  6. I never used to do rebates, I would usually set them aside them completely forget about them. Now I actually hunt for rebates. My favorites are “try me free” rebates and No Beer Purchase Required Rebaes from the beer company. Last year I made several hundred dollars just doing the NBPR rebates.

    • It’s crazy how many rebates are out there for us. I love the ‘try me free’ ones too, but so far I have seen any NBPR, guess I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled. :-)