Did you say rebate? How to use great rebate deals.

By Barbara Braunstein, a guest blogger

With the Holiday season approaching and retailers and manufacturers fighting for your dollars, many will offer rebates. Rebates are a great way to buy virtually anything for less.  Before you spend your hard earned money counting on the rebate remember to make sure that you will reap the rebate benefits.

Make sure you understand the rebate terms.

EXPIRATION DATE: A rebate may have expired prior to your purchase or will expire soon. Make sure you check both the date range that a purchase must be made within as well as the postmark date for the submission.

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS: Once you confirm that the dates are valid be careful to gather all documentation required. It may be the original receipt along with the UPC  or proof of purchase cut from the box. Sometimes the purchase of an additional item is required on the same receipt or the rebate only applies if you are purchasing an upgrade of an existing product. If it is an upgrade you will be required to show proof of prior purchase as well. There are many different terms and requirements so make sure you understand them all prior to your purchase.

Also consider if the purchase will be a gift and who the gift will be for. Do you really want to give a gift with the UPC or proof of purchase cut from the box? Many companies will allow you submit your rebate electronically and send a confirmation of receipt immediately. Not only will this speed up the entire process but also will not require that you submit bar codes or other proof of purchase form the package leaving it intact for gift giving.

Copy Copy Copy: Be sure make a copy of the complete submission and  follow up on your rebate. This way if the rebate is denied or the clearing house says it was never received you can resubmit a copy of everything.