Rebates start arriving today (revised delivery schedule here), and retailers are making a concerted effort to get you to spend your tax cash.
The latest lure: Several retailers will give taxpayers extra spending money if they'll put their full rebate amount on a store gift card. The typical percentage add-on is 10 percent of the rebate amount.
Pat Conroy of the consulting firm Deloitte & Touche told USAToday that linking the rebates to gift cards is a smart tactic because shoppers typically spend more than the value of a gift card when they use one. "The trick will be to convince the consumer that the rebate check is bigger than it is," said Conroy.
Supervalu (parent company of Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, Shop 'n Save and other grocery chains): Shoppers will be able to exchange tax-rebate checks for store gift cards, with an extra $30 added for every $300. The offer is valid through July 31.
Sears (for shoppers at Sears, Kmart or Lands' End stores): From May 14 to July 19, customers can cash in the rebates for a gift card in the amount of the check plus 10 percent.
Kroger grocery stores: 10 percent will be added to the value of rebate checks when customers use them in $300 increments to buy gift cards. A rebate check worth more than $300 but less than $600 would net a $330 gift card, with the customer getting the rest of the rebate money back.
Staples office supplies: Until May 4, the chain's stores are offering $50 off purchases of $500 or more and $150 off furniture costing at least $1,000. Through June 30, for purchases of more than $499 with a Staples credit card, the store will charge no interest and require no payments for six months.
Home Depot mega-hardware store: Discounts available through July on compact fluorescent light bulbs and Energy Star appliances. That helps "take a short-term stimulus and turn it into a long-term investment," says spokeswoman Jean Niemi.
Where's your rebate money going? A little (or lot) of unexpected cash is always fun to get. But the hard part is deciding just how to spend it. Take our poll and tell us how you plan to use your rebate money.
at this archive page.
The spend or save debate: Barbara Whelehan, who pens Boomer Bucks, looks at some of the rebate decision trade offs in her latest column. Barbara mentions an H&R Block survey, blogged here, that indicates most folks will use rebate money to pay off debts rather than splurging.
William Perez says in his Tax Planning Blog that he plans to stash his rebate check in his savings account for a while then send it back to the IRS to pay his second quarter estimated taxes. "Other friends, clients, and business colleagues have said they will use the rebate either to pay their taxes or pay down their credit cards," says William, noting that those replies echo results of an About Financial Planning rebate poll.
And fellow personal finance blogger nickel has some suggestions, whether your tax cash is from a regular refund or the stimulus rebate, in Ten Things to Do With Your Tax Refund over at fivecentnickel.com.