How to Save More With Mail-in Rebates

By Amy Edmiston

Among the countless ways to save money these days, the mail-in rebate is a potentially lucrative, but oft forgotten, option. Mail-in rebates may seem a bit old-fashioned, and certainly require time and effort, but if you play by the rules, you could save yourself some real money and might even score some products for free. The use of mail-in rebates has spread throughout the consumer products market, reaching from groceries all the way to big-ticket items like kitchen appliances and more. In fact, studies show that rebate redemption increased by 10 percentage points in 2010 over 2009.

With the end of the year quickly approaching, many rebate offers are about to expire -- if you're holding on to any, now's your moment. Moreover, many rebates are available for holiday-worthy gifts. So, consider jumping on one of these mail-in rebate offers (click through to the rebate forms).

Here are some tips for taking advantage of mail-in rebates.

1) Make sure your purchase qualifies. Read the rebate form before you purchase to make sure the item you're buying qualifies for the money-back offer. Also be sure that you don't have to purchase the item at a particular store to qualify.

2) Keep receipts. Receipts are proof that you purchased the product and are usually the No. 1 item requested on a rebate form.

3) Follow the directions. Redemption instructions for each rebate offer are different, and you must adhere to them carefully. For example, you may be asked to provide documentation for the purchase and to circle the product, price, and/or purchase date on the receipt. One incorrect step could result in a rejection of your rebate request.

4) Make copies. Always make copies of your receipt, rebate form, and other supporting documents and file them away in a safe place. Copies will be helpful if something gets lost in the mail or turns up missing at the company.

5) Actually submit the rebate. This is the single most important tip for getting your rebate check. Don't go through all the hassle and forget to send in your form.

6) Keep a log of submitted rebates. This is a good way to keep track of the rebates you've sent out. Most rebate forms include mention of a turnaround time. If you haven't heard back or received your rebate check within that timeframe, contact the company by phone, email, snail mail, or through the website to find out if your rebate was accepted.

From the moment of purchase to the arrival of the rebate check, rebates take time and effort. However, with a little bit of patience and determination, you can save money. Check the forums at Slickdeals and RetailMeNot to find more current rebates.

Amy Edmiston helps her readers save at Savingwithamy.com