3 Ways to Shop Right With Rebates

I used to think rebates were too much work. When I first began trying to live a frugal life, I didn’t even bother with rebates. If I couldn’t save money by simply handing over a coupon or shopping the clearance racks where I got instant savings, it was too much. Since then, my opinion on rebates has changes, and I’ll even seek out specific items because they have rebates attached.

A multitude of items come with rebates, including big ticket items such as computers and electronics. It’s not uncommon to save $100 or more on big screen TVs and the like. You just have to keep your eyes open and pay attention to the requirements for each rebate, and you could save yourself hundreds of dollars each year.

How do Rebates Work?

Rebates are similar to coupons in that they give an added discount when you buy the item. The difference is, rebates have to be sent in through the mail, require paperwork, and you have to wait weeks or even months to get your money back. I know this sounds like a lot of work, but unlike a coupon that saves you 50 cents, a rebate often yields much higher savings. Here are three things you can do to make rebate shopping the most beneficial.

1. Check and re-check expiration dates. It’s not uncommon for a product to sit on the shelves much longer than the expiration date listed on the rebate. Always check the expiration date on it before checking out of the store so there are no surprises when you get home.

2. Acquire all forms and documentation before leaving the store. Most rebates require the original store receipt, the UPC code from the product itself, and a form to be filled out by the customer. If you do not have everything required, you will not receive your rebate. If you don’t plan on sending the rebate in right away, make sure you put the documents in a safe place so nothing gets lost.

3. Keep copies for your records. Things get lost in the mail all the time. For this reason, it’s important that you make copies of everything (including the UPC bar code) just in case there’s an issue. This may not seem like a big deal when you’re only looking at a few bucks, but when your rebate for $100 gets lost or there’s a discrepancy, you’ll be glad you have something to back up your claim.

Photo credit: Thinkstock