I once read years ago that if you had a rebate and it was going to pay more than the stamp to send it, then do it. I have never forgotten that and have always used that as the basis of factoring in the true profit of the rebate. I have only been “rebating” for a little over two years now. I wouldn’t call myself a “professional rebater” but as a professional shopper it sure helps in the grand scheme of things.
What’s amazing to me is the multitude of rebates that are out there. By far, my favorite are the “beer rebates”, put out by Coors, Budweiser, Michelob, etc that say NBPN (No beer purchase necessary). I live in Arkansas where almost every beer rebate does NOT require me to buy beer, even though in some other states a beer purchase IS required. What the logic is in that, I’m not sure.
My favorite place to look for rebates in in the FSOT (For sale or trade) forum here on AFC. People will post rebate forms they have for sale or trade and you also get a chance to see what is actually out there. For some reason here in Arkansas we don’t have wine-tags/beer rebates and I don’t think I’ve EVER seen a rebate form in a store. Occasionally I will see a TMF (Try me Free) tag on a bottle of shampoo or something.
What makes the rebate even better is when you have a coupon to go with the item that you are doing the rebate on, for example, the Olay Quench rebate that was just out. P & G had a coupon out for “Buy one Olay body wash, get one Olay lotion FREE”. Since this was such an opportunist coupon, with no size or price restrictions, I was getting the smallest Olay body wash, which price matched/comped at Walgreen’s was $2.99 and getting the Olay body lotion which was priced at $7.77 or more. Because of the coupon I had used, I got the lotion for FREE and then I did the rebate which would let you do two per address so when I get my rebate check it will be for $15.54, which is a MONEY MAKER. Got the lotion free AND am getting the full price of the lotions back in the form of a check to use to “buy” other products!
I also save EVERY receipt I get because you never know when you will get the opportunity to use one of those receipts on a rebate. I keep all the receipts in a small clear Rubbermaid in my kitchen pantry. I then will go on AFC or even Ebay and look for rebates for things that I have bought. For most rebates, there is a pretty good time frame, such as “must be purchased between 11-1 and 12-31″ so even if I haven’t met the complete price qualification, then I know I only have to purchase ______ more and can mail the rebate off.
I also have a small notebook where I keep track of my rebates and a 3-ring binder where I make copies of all the rebate forms and the receipts which I am sending in. Only on a few occasions have I not gotten a rebate and instead received a letter saying that I didn’t qualify. After talking to them and faxing all my information in again, I then received the rebate.
For 2009 I got back $386.00 in rebates for things such as shrimp, fresh flowers, contacts, pizza, pasta, meat, spices, Olay, etc. There a still a few out (like the Olay Quench) that didn’t make it back in time for 2009 to be counted in that total. Sometimes instead of a rebate check that you have to go cash, they will send you a Pre-paid Visa card that you can use anywhere. I find these especially nice since I live in a small rural town, I can just go down to my local gas station a mile away and get gas, soda, etc.