Sunday, October 25, 2009

Savvy How To: Rebate Savings (Part 1)

 Savvy How To: 
The Rewards of Rebates (Part 1)

Ahh, rebates and rewards - we love them and hate them all at the same time! It's oh so tempting to buy an advertised product when there is a rebate or reward incentive included in the price. And, while the theory of rebates is relatively simple: buy a product and in return get some of your out-of-pocket expense back, it's often trickier than it may appear. So how do you make rebates and rewards work for you and get the most money from your purchase?

In order to truly save money playing the rebate game, you'll need to understand the various types of rebates and rewards available. One form of rebate-style rewards can be found at the checkout counter. These reward programs like Catalinas and Register Rewards can often be lucrative in savings and even get you FREE products.

What is a Catalina? Yes, it is a kind of salad dressing, but it's also a form of an unadvertised checkout “reward rebate” coupon available at select grocers and retailers. These are typically manufacturer coupons that print out from a Catalina machine by the checkout register near the end of or after your purchase. When you buy a predetermined product or combination of products, the Catalina is triggered and prints out coupons. This predetermination is made by either manufacturers wanting you to buy their product or by the stores, tracking past purchases.

For example, if you always buy a specific brand of baby formula, a formula company competitor may offer a high value coupon in the hopes you would switch to their brand. Likewise, the store where you buy your formula might offer you a store brand coupon for the same reason. Catalina coupons are also associated with a wide variety of everyday products as an additional incentive for shoppers to purchase and save!

Many shoppers tend to throw all forms of Catalina coupons in the trash as soon as they print or just simply leave them at the register. Don't do it! These seemingly worthless scraps of paper are actually worth significantly more than you might assume.

Catalina Coupons Can Be:

1. A manufacturer's coupon similar to a coupon you would find in the Sunday newspaper. Using these coupons can greatly increase your purchase savings. Remember, these coupons can only typically be used at the store where the coupon actually printed. And, don't confuse these coupons with store coupons, as they cannot be used in combination with a Sunday insert coupon. Stores limit shoppers to one manufacturer coupon per product.

2. A cash coupon - for example a $5 coupon, good on your next shopping order - used just like cash. These coupons can be used on your next purchase of almost anything you want to buy (some exclusions may apply). Most Catalina cash coupons expire within two to four weeks of being issued.

3. A preview of a reward coupon that is up coming. This coupon gives dates, dollar amounts and product purchase specifics for an upcoming Catalina coupon promotion.

What are Register Rewards?: Register Rewards, a Walgreens rewards program, are very similar in relationship to Catalina Coupons. These coupon offers are not issued because of in-store savings card purchase tracking, but are similarly printed out when you buy a required number of pre-selected products. 

So how do you really make your rewards rewarding? Catalina and rewards type savings are good for use on future purchases. To fully extend your savings, those reward dollars should be stacked with additional "on sale" savings promotions. You're not really saving money if you use these cash coupons to buy items at regular retail prices. Significant savings are common with this type of in-store promotion if you spend your rewards wisely. Learning individual store redemption policies is also a must before jumping on these savings. Rewards can truly be rewarding in greatly extending your grocery budget when you make these programs work to their full potential.

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