Rebates are a great way to make the most of your spending money. But like many things that can help you save money, they also take some time.
Here are a few tips to make sure your rebate transactions go smoothly:
If you find a rebate you might want, print it or save it on your computer immediately. Sometimes companies will change their offers with little or no warning. You don’t want to buy a product with the intention of getting money back only to find that the form has disappeared.
Read the fine print before you shop. Make sure you know exactly what product you need to purchase and in what quantity to qualify for the rebate. Many rebates require that a purchase be made in a certain time frame and postmarked by a particular date, so check the dates to make sure the rebates are still available.
Use coupons to make rebate deals even sweeter. Some rebate offers base their rebate on the original purchase price – and don’t take into account any coupons you may have used. Some rebate deals can actually be money-makers for you. Just be sure to read the fine print!
Plan your shopping trip. If you’re planning to take advantage of more than one rebate offer, be sure to make those purchases into separate transactions so that you will have the original register receipts for each deal. Most companies will not accept copies; they want the original receipts. Some stores may give you a second printed receipt if you ask for one, but I’d recommend multiple transactions just in case they can’t (or won’t) do that.
Stay organized. I like to fill out my rebate forms as soon as I get home from a shopping trip, so that I don’t forget to do it. I make sure to put the UPCs and original register receipt in an envelope right away. Do what works best for you. Some folks like to keep a file folder for all of their rebate forms and just process them once every couple of weeks. Just make sure you make a note of the deadlines in your calendar or you’ll end up throwing away free money.
Make a copy of everything. If you’re planning to do a lot of rebating (I do at least 2-3 a month), I would invest in a copier (I have an all-in-one printer). You can also use a computer scanner to scan the forms in and then print them. You should always make copies of your completed form, cash register receipt and proof-of-purchase in case there are any problems with processing your rebate.
Don’t buy things just because there is a rebate. Buy them because you want them and need them. Sending in rebate forms costs time – not just the time to fill out the forms, but in the time it takes to actually receive the rebate. You should make sure that spending the money out of pocket now won’t cause financial hardship while you’re waiting 6-8 weeks (or sometimes longer!) for your rebate check to arrive.