Keep Packaging & Receipts for Rebate Savvy

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

In this digital world, why do we still have to save receipts at all?  We save receipts for a couple of reasons. One is so that we can return a defective product or we may change our mind about the purchase.  Another reason is proof of purchase for rebates. A rebate is cash given to the consumer as an incentive to buy a particular model, make or brand of product.

Many people are turned off by rebates because of bad experiences of not
receiving the promised rebate or because it’s too much of a hassle.  But savvy shoppers know many of the best deals involve sending in rebate forms.  Rebates can be very beneficial to both the consumer and vendor.

When claiming a rebate, it is important to read and follow the directions carefully to ensure you meet the terms of the agreement and to avoid disqualification.

  • Make sure you have everything you need to properly redeem the rebate before leaving the store, and don’t throw anything away once you get home.
  • Keep all receipts for items you will submit for rebates.  Many companies require an original receipt or a proof of purchase.  Read the fine print of the rebate terms carefully.
  • Save the box.  A rebate application may require the UPC code off of the
  • packaging that the product came in.
  • Follow the instructions on the rebate form, enclosing all the required documentation, such as UPC codes or receipts in the same envelope unless asked to submit each one separately.
  • Make a copy of all paperwork to be mailed when applying for a rebate.  It’s the only record you have if something goes wrong.  
  • If you consider the rebate value high enough, mail it certified, return receipt requested (and keep the certified mail receipt when it is sent to you).
  • Do not delay. All offers have expiration dates.  Many companies have a very short period for consumers to send in their documentation.  Send in the rebate form immediately or the “out of sight, out of mind” adage may apply.
  • Note the time period when you are expecting to receive your check on your calendar.  Contact the company if the rebate doesn’t arrive with the time promised.  Most companies have Web sites and 800 numbers.
  • Record the date you sent in the rebate and the dates of any subsequent communications with the rebate provider.

Rebates can be a great way for you to save money, especially on major purchases.  But you don’t get the savings if you don’t keep packaging and receipts to submit to the company.

Eleanor Summers 
Extension Agent
Family & Consumer Sciences