Manufacturers frequently publicize new or competing products by offering cash incentive rebates. While redeeming these offers generally requires a bit of extra work, such as filling out specific forms and providing UPC codes and cash register receipts dated within the promotional period, the rewards can easily offset the effort. Offers can vary tremendously, but there are strategies that astute bargain hunters can use to maximize savings.

1. Cash Back Rebates: These offers typically range from a few dollars off on a large item, to the latest trend of a larger rebate for multiple purchases. Traditionally rebates have been based on purchase of a specific quantity, at whatever price the consumer received at their local markets. More recently, however, an increasing number of offers require purchasing a specific dollar amount of items, such as $10 back on a $20 purchase. Consumers still receive the best savings by shopping sales and using coupons, while the manufacturer reaps the benefit of increased sales.

Another trend in cash back rebates is requiring all items for a specific rebate to be purchased at the same time. This creates a more significant challenge for shoppers because sales prices and coupons are rarely available on all items in the same week or during a single shopping trip. Even so, it's worth reading the requirements carefully as it may be possible to meet the rebate requirements by purchasing multiple identical items on sale rather than “one of each item”.

2. Try Me Free Rebates: Traditional “Try Me Free” (TMF) offers provide consumers incentives to check out new products. The increased sales provide stores incentives to stock the products, which is a critical factor in the never ending competition for shelf space. In return, manufacturers receive customer data for market analysis and preparation of mailing lists for future promotions and coupons. Submission of specific forms is almost always required: check newspapers, packaging, and supermarket shelf promotion boxes. Again, follow the stated requirements exactly, since rebates can (and often are) denied without notice if all of the specific requirements are not met.

If the manufacturer is offering money back whether or not you like a product, submit the form and receive the cash rewards. You can then go one step further: follow up with the manufacturer with compliments or complaints directly by telephone, email, or writing. Consumers often receive additional coupons, including free products, for their direct feedback to the manufacturer. Note that you should never include your feed back with a rebate form. Rebates are generally issued through rebate processing centers that only deal with offer fulfillments, and it is unlikely that any comments you make will be addressed.

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