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Mail in Rebates Can Help to Penny Pinch

written by: Kantha Wijeratne•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 1/9/2011

Mail in rebates help us to save money by getting a partial refund of the price we pay to buy products. Rebates offered by product manufacturers are usually valid only for a specific period. This article explains how to penny pinch by using mail in rebates.

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    Penny pinching involves smart shopping while buying more and paying less. Stores and manufacturers offer discounts as incentives to buy certain products. They can take the form of coupons or rebates. The savings offered on a coupon are available to the shopper at the time of purchase. Rebates work differently. When done carefully, rebates can help you to save money each month on everyday products.

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    How Rebates Work

    A customer buying a product with a mail in rebate pays the full price for it at the time of purchase. To qualify for the rebate, the customer has to mail in a form with supporting documents to a designated address. The form is provided by the store or included in the manufacturer’s product package. The supporting documentation includes the original sales receipt, the Universal Product Code (UPC) for the purchased item, the customer’s name, address and phone number. Once the request is processed, the customer receives a check in the mail for the rebate offered. The refund or saving is usually received within 30 days of mailing or as specified by the manufacturer.

    A mail in rebate for a product is usually tied in with a sales promotion for that item. As such, there are two important deadlines that need to be observed to qualify for a rebate. They are the purchase date and the mail in date. If either of these dates is missed, the opportunity to save money from a rebate is lost. It is the customer’s responsibility to ensure that the advertised rebate is valid at the time of purchase and to mail in the request form before the validity period expires to qualify for the saving.

    If buying a product online with an offer of a rebate, read the instructions carefully to check how it is processed. Most vendors require the customer to download and complete a form to qualify for the saving, before the sales transaction is completed. This form has to be mailed to the address specified in the vendor’s website. For advice on how mail in rebates work for purchases made through click here.

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    Final Tips: Avoiding Scams

    As with any penny pinching decision, take care when applying for a mail in rebate. There are many scams and delaying tactics concerning rebates. Are you buying from a well established manufacturer? Retain a photocopied or scanned set of all documents submitted. It will come in handy if your rebate is refused or delayed by the rebate processing center. An issue related to a mail in rebate can usually be resolved by referring it either to the store you made the purchase from or directly to the manufacturer. If you feel that you have been treated unfairly, file a complaint with the Consumer affairs division of the State where the manufacturer is located or with the Federal Trade Commission by phoning 1-877-382-4357 or on line at

    Mail in rebates can save money on purchases similar to coupons. However, the onus of using the rebate is on the customer. Whether buying from a store or online, be confident that you are purchasing from a well established vendor. Make sure you understand and comply with the terms and deadlines relating to the rebate offered. Your penny pinching efforts will be rewarded when you receive that refund.