Thursday, May 1, 2008

Will Paper Rebate Checks go to Spending?

Paper checks for tax rebates start hitting the mailboxes May 9. And retailers are doing their part to ensure that your check goes back into the economy just as the Government intended.

Here's a short list of what's being offered:

  • Supervalu parent company of Jewel-Osco and Cub Foods--redeem your check for store gift cards in $300 increments and get an extra $30 (up to 10 percent) added to each card. The offer is available May 2 through July 3.

  • Sears Holdings Corp, owner of Sears, Kmart and Lands End, will cash in rebates checks for a gift card in the amount of the check plus 10 percent. The gift cards carry no expiration dates or fees.

  • Staples purchases of more than $499 with a Staples credit card, will receive no interest and require no payments for six months.

  • Holiday Inn Sunspree's Vacation on the Government Package is $1,200 for a five-night stay for two in Virginia Beach, Va., including breakfast and dinner, a savings of up to $60 per couple per night. (oh, whoo hoo)

  • Walmart announced they will cash out checks for free. They’ve also said that they hope to increase sales and pass savings to customers with further price cuts to “key grocery and consumable items” which are listed as shampoo, juice and sports drinks. Funny, when I think of key grocery items I picture bread, milk and rice, which also happen to be the very things that are soaring in price everywhere.

photo by ratterrell

Meanwhile at MSN Money, Liz Pulliam Weston has some interesting arguments against exchanging your rebate for cards. Besides the obvious dislike of gift cards and spending she points out these offers are only from national retailers. Locally run stores can afford such programs and can’t compete for your rebate. Yet they’re being hit hardest right now by numerous economic strains.

Earlier in the year we (and everyone else) polled readers regarding their plans for the tax rebate. Majority said they would use it to paydown debt. But one reader commented with a prediction that big screen TVs would go flying off the shelves. You know I think this reader is right, particularly for the people who chose to take a check over direct deposit.

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