3 Steps to Stress-Free Rebates

Do you do rebates?  I’ve done a few this past year.  The process is sometimes tolerable, other times it’s a complete beating.  For example, right now I dealing with a Dish Network (via Dish Pronto) reward rebate that I signed up for last April.  I’m supposed to be getting a “companion free airline ticket” in the mail in 12 business days or less.  I’m not holding my breath though.  I’ve mailed vouchers and statements more than once, been on the phone several times with them, and still have no rebate.  I’ve had some successful rebates this past year though.  Two of the biggest:

  • $100 back for a printer purchased along with my Mac Book Pro (effectively making the printer free)
  • $250 from Bank of America’s Best Value Guarantee

What’s so bad about typical rebates is that you don’t get the rebate at the time of purchase.  You’ve got to mail a bunch of stuff in and pay close attention to the fine print.  For most people this ends up being too much work.  Also, the whole rebate process is usually outsourced by a company other than they one you bought from.  You end up dealing with a shady someone from who knows where who’s interest, it seems, is NOT to give you your money.

So, what’s a frugal guy or gal to do?  To stop you from sounding like a grumpy old man like me, I’ve put together some steps you can take to avoid the stress of doing rebates:

#1 – Don’t Do Rebates

If the rebate isn’t worth it, don’t do it.  Some rebates aren’t worth the hassle.  Mail-in rebates less than $10 fall into this category for me.  In addition, if you really don’t want to deal with the stress, simply avoid them all together and don’t buy products that have rebates.  But then again, you wouldn’t be very frugal if you avoided big savings would you?

#2 – Do Some Research Ahead of Time

Before making your purchase, read the rebate information carefully and make sure it’s something you think you’ll be able to complete without too much trouble.  If it looks like too many hoops to jump through, then maybe the deal isn’t for you.  Secondly, if you’re considering buying something with a rebate, odds are someone else has too.  Do a quick search online for any complaints about the rebate or any negative information about the company you are buying from.

#3 – Get Organized

Finally, if you’ve researched your rebate and your ready to pull the trigger then I suggest you do these things to make sure it’s done right:

  • Complete the rebate form and send it in immediately
  • Make copies of everything you mail in (even the envelope) and/or consider scanning them into your computer
  • Mail it certified, return receipt requested
  • Set up a reminder in your calendar for when the rebate should arrive
  • If you call them, take detailed notes of conversations (included dates and names of Reps)
  • If you are doing more than one at a time consider using a spreadsheet to track your rebates

Hopefully taking those three steps into account you’ll be able to avoid some of the typical stress involved with rebates.  What’s the biggest rebate check you’ve ever received?  Leave your comments below.

Other info on rebates from around the web:

One Frugal Girl
Consumer Affairs
Free Money Finance
The Digerati Life

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About Philip Taylor, CPA

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, blogger, podcaster, husband, and father of three. PT is also the founder and CEO of the personal finance industry conference and trade show, FinCon. He created this website back in 2007 to share his advice on money, hold himself accountable (while paying off over $75k in debt), and to meet others passionate about moving toward financial independence. He uses Personal Capital to track his wealth. All the content on this blog is original and created or edited by PT.


  1. @ DL – I agree. Such a pain to deal with these companies.

  2. The Digerati Life says

    AAArgh. I hate rebates! 🙂 You just reminded me I have some outstanding ones I need to work on and it makes me bristle because I hate dealing with this pain in the you-know-what! Anyway, great post! Your points are spot on.