The Hidden Truth Behind Rebates: You Won’t Save Unless You Do This

By Jackie Beck   Updated 05/10/2021 at 8:18 am

We’ve probably all been swayed by an appealing rebate. They’re especially common with cell phones and other electronics — and they can save you a bundle if you were going to buy the item anyway.

But there’s a catch: unless you submit the rebate in a timely and accurate manner, that potential savings will evaporate. The truth is, they’re only useful if you use them correctly and claim them.

Here’s how to actually get the rebates that you qualify for.

Plan ahead.

If you’ve bought an item that offers a rebate, keep your receipt and all product packaging and paperwork until after you’ve submitted the rebate form. You never know what you might need to include.

Read and follow the rebate submission instructions carefully.

In my experience as a former piece-work rebate processor, the number one reason a rebate submission was rejected was because the person did not include everything the instructions called for.

Be sure your receipt is in order.

If the instructions say to send the original sales receipt, you must send the original receipt and not a copy. If you’ve bought many unrelated items, it helps to circle the line that shows the name and amount of the item that qualifies for the rebate.

Don’t skimp when cutting out UPC symbols.

UPC symbols are from the packaging of the item you bought — the little bars all in a row with some numbers underneath them. When you cut out the symbol, include the numbers. A person will be looking at your submission, not a machine. They have to be able to read the numbers to tell if you’ve included the correct UPC or not. (Unless you can submit the rebate online of course. Definitely do that if possible!)

Double-check your submission for completeness.

Look at the submission form, and take note. Actually check off each item you need to include as you put it in the envelope you’re going to send off.

Keep a copy of everything you’re submitting.

If you don’t get the rebate you’re expecting within the time allotted for processing (usually 6-8 weeks), you can contact the company about it and provide backup documentation. You may also need a copy of your receipt for other reasons, such as if the product turns out to be defective. This is especially important for large rebates and big-ticket items.

Print clearly when filling out the form!

And I do mean print — ideally in all caps.  A lack of clearly readable information on the form is the number two reason I had to reject rebate submissions. (Even if all the required items were there.) That’s because I couldn’t enter the person’s name and address into the computer if I couldn’t read it! If you want to go one step further or have bad writing, stick an address label in with your submission to be safe.

Last but not least, submit your form on time.

Many rebates are never claimed, which means that there’s a lot of savings left on the table. If you’ve bought something based on the discounted “after rebate” price, go ahead and fill out the rebate immediately in order to realize your savings. It’s an easy way to save money on something you’ve already bought.

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Rebates can save you a bundle if you were planning to buy the item anyway. Make sure you actually GET your money back with these tips.

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