Rebating is a great way to try new products and to stretch your budget. If you're just starting out, these are the steps that you need to take to be a successful rebater:
When you're new to rebating, knowing where to look for rebates is often the first challenge to overcome. Here are some places to look:
- Sunday coupon inserts
- Store displays
- Manufacturer websites
- Store ads
- Product packaging
- Store websites
I also recommend finding a couple deal bloggers to follow. They'll let you know when they spot a rebate offer, so you don't have to do the leg work yourself. And if there are special things you need to know to submit your rebate successfully, they'll tell you that, too.
Shop for rebates
Rebate offers are usually very specific about the products that you have to buy in order to qualify for a refund, and this makes careful shopping a must for any rebater. Review any rebate offer before you go to the store to ensure that you understand all of the rebate requirements. Then, bring a copy of the offer with you, and use it as your shopping list. Every item you buy needs to match the rebate exactly in size, scent, flavor, etc. This is another reason it's smart to follow a deal blogger. They'll usually have photos of the eligible products, so you can match them up, and be confident you're buying the right thing.
Fill out the rebate form
Attention to detail is also very important when it comes to filling out the rebate form. Before you write anything on the form, read through the rebate offer again, and look for any instructions that apply to the way the form has to be filled out. For example, most rebates will specify that you print all information. Here are several other points to consider:
- Does the offer need to be filled out in pen?
- Does it require a street address, or will a PO Box work?
- Does it have to be written in all caps?
- Does it require you to include an e-mail address or telephone number?
Note: If there's an option to submit your rebate online or via your cellphone, do that instead. Any mistakes that you make will be flagged when you try to submit the form, giving you a chance to fix your errors. Since rebates submitted by cellphone usually require a photo of the receipt, it's important to make sure you take a good picture. If they can't read the receipt, your rebate will be rejected.
Prepare supporting materials
For your rebate to be accepted, you’ll need to submit proof of purchase. This will usually includes the cash register receipt with the item circled, but may also include UPCs or other items. Here are several details to look for within the rebate terms:
- Are there things that need to be circled or written on the receipt?
- Can you send a copy of the receipt, or is the original required?
- Do you need to cut out UPCs labels, or can you just write the numbers down on the receipt or the rebate form?
Finalize your submission
To ensure that your rebate doesn’t get rejected, it’s important to give your submission a final check before sending it off. Here are several questions to ask yourself:
- Does the rebate call for a certain envelope size?
- Does the envelope need to be addressed by hand?
- Have you written the address correctly?
- If you're using a P.O. Box as your mailing address, will the company accept that?
- Have all of the required items made it into the envelope?
- Have you completed every line on the rebate form?
- Is everything legible?
- Are you submitting prior to the deadline?
Submit your rebate
Unfortunately, submitting your rebate isn’t as simple as dropping it in the mailbox or hitting "submit"– at least not if you’re serious about getting your refund. To protect yourself against lost mail and other potential complications, make a copy of all of your submission materials, including the envelope.
Track your rebate
If you plan to do a lot of rebating, it’s important to develop a system for keeping track of your submissions. This could be as simple as a folder where you store rebate copies and information, or it could be something more involved like a computer spread sheet that tracks everything from submission dates to your year-to-date rebate savings.