Retailer rebates

Retailer or manufacturer rebates offer either a partial discount or a refund when you buy a product or service.

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How retailer rebates work

Retailers or manufacturers may offer an instant rebate at the time of purchase. Other promotions, such as mail-in or online rebates, are sent to you later if you apply for them.

Sales promotions in the form of gift cards or credits, to be used towards future purchases, are not considered retailer rebates.

Instant retailer rebates

Before you buy, read the rebate terms and conditions. Check whether:

  • You are required to buy another product
  • There is a limit on the number of rebates per household
  • The rebate is only valid if the purchase is made at certain retailers
  • The taxes will be calculated on the full amount or the after-rebate price
  • There are any other limitations that might affect whether you qualify or will likely apply for the rebate

Mail-in or online retailer rebates

Remember that, although most consumers believe they will apply for a rebate after leaving the store, many do not. These people end up paying the regular price.

To receive your mail-in or online rebate, make sure to:

  • have all required documents, at the time of purchase, to be able to apply
  • follow instructions, including any applicable deadlines, and send all required documentation (i.e., claim form, contact information, proof of purchase (sales receipt) and Universal Product Code (UPC))
  • apply before the deadline
  • be aware of any restrictions as to the eligibility of certain mailing addresses
  • make a copy of everything that you provide in case the rebate is delayed or unpaid

Resolving issues during the retailer rebate process

If the retailer rebate you have applied for is not paid on time, or if you encounter any other issues, contact the vendor.

For advice on how to approach the vendor to resolve a complaint with the retailer rebate process, consult The Complaint Roadmap.

If you believe that a retailer or manufacturer has misled you about a retailer rebate promotion, or if you come across questionable retailer rebate promotions, contact the Competition Bureau Information Centre.

Cash-back rebate websites

Certain websites offer consumers the chance to earn cash back from purchases they make online. Members earn cash back when they begin their online shopping on these rebate websites, and click through to one of the partner retail sites to complete their purchase. Not only can you earn cash back, but you can also get access to special coupons and discounts.

These websites operate by getting a commission from the retailer whenever their customers make a purchase. These sites then pass along a portion of that commission back to their members in the form of a cash-back rebate, which can usually be paid out through gift cards or online money transfers.

Note that partner retailers vary from website to website. As with any website, do your research to ensure it’s a legitimate and trusted source.