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Are Rebates a Good Deal?

Expert Advice

Rebates, rebates, rebates! If the price is really $500, why not just charge $500 rather than $600? The consumer is expected to mail in receipts and proofs of purchase to get a $100 rebate. Many consumers see the $500 price as a great deal. But, they drop the ball somewhere along the way and really end up paying $600 because the rebate request is never sent.

I once wrote a similar article about the importance of filing medical claims and flexible spending reimbursements. As a society, we leave millions of dollars on the table. Whether you are buying a computer, washer, dryer, MP3 player or refrigerator, the retailer is hoping the price after rebate will entice you to buy while the manufacturer is betting a lot of folks will never follow through on the offer.

So, what can you do to gain hundreds of dollars in savings?

  • Do not delay. Send in the rebate form immediately or the “out of sight, out of mind” adage may apply.
  • Keep records. Make photocopies of the receipt and rebate form, should you need to follow-up on the transaction.
  • Read the fine print. All offers have expiration dates. If the rebate is a factor in your buying decision, make sure you comply with the dates.

The idea for this article hit me when my wife and I recently went through the home-buying process. Our choices on appliances made it clear that rebates are frequently applied to these household necessities, but your ways to save on them do not stop there.

Once you determine what brand and model you want in an appliance, shop around. Get written quotes from major retailers and local shops. Many retailers will match quotes or match a quote plus give an extra discount. You could save money at the time of purchase plus get a rebate!

Go the extra mile. With rebates, we’re not talking small change. Use these tips to get the most out of your next large purchase!

Dion Williams, MBA, CFP®
VP, Financial Services

As printed in aim, Local Government Federal Credit Union’s monthly member magazine.