Updated Sep. 25, 2015.
Here are some basic tips for having the best rebate experience. If you have a specific question, please check the FAQ, or contact us. If you have other suggestions, please add them to the comments below.
- Follow the Terms and Conditions. Many rebates are not honored because customers do not follow the terms and conditions. Any small variation is grounds for rejecting a rebate, and you will be stuck paying more than you wanted for something you probably would have never bought. Hey, don’t get mad, these are the big leagues of rebating, so if you can’t follow the rules, don’t play the game. Before buying, know what you need to claim the rebate – rebate form, the kind of receipt (don’t confuse a purchase order with an invoice), the kind of proof of purchase, and any other documentation. Know the purchase and submission deadlines. Know the rebate limitations (quantity, geography, etc). Sign and date the form.
- Stay Organized. When buying online, there is a lag time between when you make the purchase, and when you receive the product. During the lag, you may forget about the rebate, lose forms and receipts. I always print and fill out the rebate form the day I buy the product. I keep the the form, addressed envelop, and order confirmation paper clipped together in a file folder. When the product arrives, all I need to do is read the terms and conditions one more time, cut the proof of purchase from the package, and stamp the envelope,
- Scan Your Submission. Scan your papers before you send it in. I scan everything, including the stamped envelop. If you later need to prove you submitted a rebate, you can email a copy of the materials. Sometimes I didn’t follow the directions, and I can go back to my pdf and see that the mistake was mine – fair enough. Name the pdfs consistently – e.g., “YYYY-MM-DD Rebate [Retailer] [Product].pdf.” Also, save the pdf’s in a folder marked “Sent Rebates”
- Mail in the Rebate. This is obvious, but many customers never mail in the rebate. The rebate marketing industry calls this “breakage.”
- Stay Organized. Keep a notebook of the rebates you submitted, the date you mailed the rebate and expected redemption time, and rebate processor contact information. Members of F.A.R.// can keep track of everything through this website. Have supplies on hand, such as envelops, printer paper, glue, tape and scissors (most of which you can get free after rebate from Staples or other supply stores).
- Follow Up. If the rebate is not honored within the stated time, check if other customers have received their rebates. Contact the company if you don’t receive the rebate to see what the hold up is.
- Cash the Checks. The rebate marketing industry also counts on customers to not redeem their rebates. This is called “slippage.” Sometimes checks are mailed that look like post cards or other junk mail. When checks come in, cash them right away – hopefully you can use your bank’s mobile app.
- Use Up Debit Cards. Companies will often send debit cards in lieu of checks. Cards in larger amounts can be useful because you can use them to take advantage of more Free After Rebate offers. Use them quickly, as many will either expire or begin charging fees after a few months. Supermarkets and restaurants are usually good places to max out cards. If having too many cards is a hassle, or the balance is low, you can convert the debit card into Amazon credit by buying a gift card in any amount of $0.50 or more. When a card is used up, either cut it up or mark it as used with a broad-tipped sharpie.
- Avoiding Subscription Charges. Rebates that require you to subscribe to a service with a credit card can be really expensive if you don’t cancel before the renewal date. The charge might occur annually, and there might be a trial period during which you are not allowed to cancel, so it is easy to forget. Keep track in your notebook of when the subscription can be canceled and when you will be charged. Members of F.A.R.// can keep track of the the subscriptions that need to be terminated through the website. Sometimes, you can avoid the risk by using a rebate debit card or a one-time use credit card number when you subscribe.
Use a prepaid debit card with no annual fees to keep track of your rebate expenditures over the course of a year. Load a “seed deposit” of $250 to $500, and conduct all your transactions through the debit card – including your stamp purchases. At the end of the year, you will know exactly whether you are a Rebate Winner. Also, this way, if any financial information is compromised through a website hack, the damage will be quarantined.