smart spending

5 times when you can rake in rebates

Take the time to get cash back
Take the time to get cash back © Pixsooz/

A good rebate can spur sales, encouraging you to choose one brand over another -- or even make an unplanned purchase. Parago, a rebate fulfillment company, estimates that the typical U.S. household averages $150 yearly in rebates. According to their survey, 47 percent of consumers submitted a rebate within 12 months prior to February 2011.

Why are they so effective? "(Stores) can advertise a lower price, but not 100 percent of the people respond," says Hal Stinchfield, CEO and founder of Promotional Marketing Insights. "If they want to give everyone a discount, that lowers the value of the brand. Rebates are an efficient tool for the manufacturer to give discounts only to those who choose to go through the extra steps."

Knowing how to find the best rebates and submit them properly makes for a savvy shopper. Look for more rebates toward the end of the calendar year, says Stinchfield, though timing varies on the company's promotional plans. Here are five times where you can maximize your rebates.

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Who can't use a rebate?

It has been estimated that the typical US household gets $150 a year in rebates. And nearly half of all consumers submitted a rebate in the course of a year.

One area where rebates are common involves household appliances. These rebates can range from $25 to $1,000 dollars each. Better to do a little homework online about manufacturer, utility or government rebates before heading to the store. Installation of solar panels, while potentially costly, is another area where rebates, combined with tax benefits, may also brighten your financial life.

Cash back rebates on credit cards can pay off too, particularly if you travel. Keep an eye out for stiff annual fees and try to avoid them if you can. Rebate forms, while sometimes daunting, do require that you send them in. Better off to submit them as soon as possible, to avoid forgetting.



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