Rebates are often used by manufacturers to lure customers to buy, especially during the holiday season. Traditional rebates can be tricky and labor intensive when filling out forms, cutting bar codes and mailing to the manufacturer. In efforts to make a smoother, simpler process, rebates are now becoming more popular in the form of prepaid cards.
Typically, a rebate that is mailed back to you as a purchaser can take several weeks assuming that you are one of the few people that actually take the time and effort to register online, fill out the forms or actually mail it in.
According to Hal Stinchfield, CEO of Promotional Marketing Insights in Minneapolis:
“That’s because even in the best case scenarios, only about half of eligible consumers bother redeeming rebates.”
It really depends on if the purchaser actually perceives the value of a traditional rebate once he or she delves into the minutiae. A $1 rebate on a $100 purchase will hardly seem worth the effort. Even when one jumps through all of the rebate hoops, they may not even cash a check through absent-mindedness or inadvertently throwing away something that resembled junk mail.
Rebate offers have a twofold benefit for businesses to mobilize shoppers to buy and not necessarily having to give everyone the advertised discount. Many retailers are attempting to enhance the customer experience by providing prepaid rebate cards at the register. The instant benefits of purchasing power of card in hand and psychological benefits of rebate pricing seem attractive to many consumers although there are a whole new set of issues to be concerned about.
If you’re considering a rebate offer, here are some points to consider (prepaid card or not):
- If a steep rebate offer catches your eye, it’s worth shopping around before you act.
- Retailers like Best Buy and Target don’t offer rebates but may still have competitive prices.
- A manufacturer may still offer a rebate even if a retailer doesn’t.
- Ask what form the refund will come in. Stores like to offer gift cards for return purchases.
- Is the card a Visa, MasterCard or American Express and can it be used anywhere?
- Are the protections the same as other cards? Many are not.
- How soon do you have to inform issuer of lost or stolen card? Some can be as little as 24 hours.
- Are there fees for inactivity on the card? Rebate card regulations aren’t the same as gift cards.
- Is there an expiration date on the card? Some may expire in a year or less.
- Is there a cost to replace the card?
- Rebate card terms can vary, so carefully read any accompanying materials.
- Some rebate cards have cash value and can be deposited into a checking account. Check to make sure.
- There is always the possibility that unspent value may be left on a card tucked away and forgotten.
Tough economic times require manufacturers and retailers alike to do all that is necessary to compete for your hard earned dollar. Rebates can be a valuable means of accomplishing that. Whether mailing in a rebate, submitting a rebate online or using a prepaid card, take some time to decide what might be best for you.