I’m a big fan of shopping around and with some recent purchases, I’ve been especially keen on taking advantage of any rebates I can qualify for. One special that stores seem to be running is rebates. Rebates can put money in your pocket if you play your cards right.

My favorite rebate of course is the instant one. When we were picking up new phones last year we used the instant rebate at Best Buy to grab our phones for more than half off.

Why Offer Rebates?

With some of the steep discounts you can get with rebates, you might wonder why manufacturers and stores offer them. Retailers use rebates to gather information on their customers. While they do forfeit some profits, they know the fast majority of people don’t send in the rebate or fail to follow the conditions. It’s really a small cost to them to have more sales and more information.

The Federal Trade Commission has a list of why manufacturers offer rebates. Besides the ones already mentioned, it also includes:

  • Demand Generation
  • Product line introduction/extension
  • Competitive Response
  • Grow the Brand

I think you may be able to use competitive response as a way to get a discount. If company X is offering $50 rebate, could another store price match it without the rebate? It never hurts to ask and you can save both time and money.

Tips on Making the Most of Your Rebates

  • Don’t buy it just for the rebate. I’ve actually heard people buy some items just because they had a coupon for it. It’s not a deal for them and it won’t be a deal for you if you buy something just for the rebate. The money you receive back should be the bonus, not the reason.
  • Check the rebate rules before you buy. If you want your money, make sure you follow all the instructions.
  • Scan and save your rebate paperwork. If you have evernote, you can upload that into your account and have it ready to resubmit if the company claims not to receive it.
  • Send it early. Don’t wait until the last week to send out the rebate information. Keep record of when you sent it.
  • If it’s a big claim, have delivery confirmation. if the company disputes the timing of your submission, having delivery confirmation can be helpful.

If you have problems and the company is not working with you, consider contacting the Federal Trade Commission. They may be able to get the company to give you your money due.

Your Thoughts on Using Rebates

How often do you use rebates for your purchases? Do they influence you buying a product?