Tag Archive | "rebates"

Rebate Rejections: How to Avoid Them

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You filled out all the paperwork, mailed it in, but never received your $100 rebate from the cell phone company. What happened? You know you filled everything out…or did you?

If you didn’t photocopy the rebate form, upc’s, receipts and other required paperwork, including a contact phone number or e-mail address, you may be out of the rebate. Companies have been offering generous rebate offers lately, but they don’t expect consumers to cash in on them. For those who do fill in the forms, cut off the upc’s and jump through the hoops, it can be a struggle to get paid.

So what can you do to insure that your rebate form will wind up in the accounting department, instead of in the trash? Here are some tips:

Tip 1: Fill out everything

Companies would love to find one flaw in your rebate form, just so they don’t have to pay up. Don’t give them the chance to reject your rebate! Fill out all the required information and be sure to photocopy it, so you have a copy for your records.

Tip 2: Attach the required documentation

Some rebates require specific proofs of purchase, receipts with purchase prices circled and other requirements. Read over the rules very carefully before gathering together the paperwork.

Tip 3: Mind the deadline

While some companies have generous deadlines for sending in rebate forms, others require a very short time frame for sending in rebate forms. Pay attention to the deadline!

Tip 4: Send it certified

In general, if your rebate amount is over $20, or whatever amount you decide on, send it certified, with delivery confirmation. This way, you’ll know for sure if and when they received it.

Tip 5: Package it securely

If you have a ton of paperwork to send, be sure the envelope is big enough and sealed securely. Also, be sure there is enough postage on the envelope and your return address is written clearly.

Tip 6: Keep your rebates organized

Even if you’ve passed the test and mailed your rebate in on time, the company will hope you have a very short memory. Typically, rebate checks take 6-8 weeks to arrive, sometimes longer. To remember what was sent in and when, create an Excel worksheet with the name of the rebate, the address, the phone number, the amount owed to you, when it was sent and if it was sent certified. If your rebate doesn’t show up, you’ll know how to contact them.

Tip 7: Persistence pays

If you find yourself in dispute with the company over a rebate, be persistent and provide every form of proof you can that you sent in everything correctly. Companies don’t want to lose customers and would rather work with you, than refuse to honor the rebate.

Financing Your Dream Car

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If you’re looking to purchase a new car, most finance experts will simply tell you: “don’t.” No matter how you look at it, a car is not a profitable investment. Your newly purchased vehicle starts to depreciate the moment you drive it off the dealership’s lot.

But, from a quality of life perspective, a new car can often be a sound buy, especially if you’re wise about paying for it. First, determine if you can realistically budget a new car (along with all the added expenditures – insurance, gas, maintenance – that go along with it). Then, make sure you arrange a payment schedule that won’t be a crippling economic burden. This is where financing comes in. Your financing plan should correlate directly with your budget. Remember that you will be paying for the total price of your car (minus any rebates), associated taxes, and the interest rate on your loan.

Go into the financing process with this in mind: If you’ve negotiated a great deal, and gotten a decent price for your trade-in, why would you want to give back a good portion of it in high interest rates?

Most dealerships can arrange financing for you, but you’re often likely to get a better deal if you walk into the dealership to make your final arrangements with a financing plan already in hand.Even if the dealership offers you a killer price — and some do — you’ll only know that if you’ve done your homework ahead of time.

Sources of Financing

There are several ways to fund your vehicular purchase:

  • Banks.

    Banks tend to offer lower interest rates than car dealers, particularly if you are already a customer. Typically, the more money you put down, the better your financing rate will be. This is because the bank will generally use the down payment as a “hedge” against the depreciation of the car. The necessary down payment can be anywhere from 10-20%.

  • Credit Unions.

    Because credit unions have lower overhead costs than banks, they are more likely to be able to provide a lower financing rate, which is often at least a full percentage point lower than that of a bank.

  • Home Equity Loans.

    This is an increasingly popular way of financing a car purchase (provided, of course, you actually own a home). In essence, you use your home as collateral on the car loan. If you have enough equity — based on the net worth of your home (how much it’s worth minus how much you owe on it) — then it’s an entirely feasible method through which to finance your dream vehicle. Even better, the interest on a home equity loan is tax-deductible — a rarity among loans. The important thing to remember here is that you’re using your home as collateral. So make sure you can afford that car payment, or you may be sleeping on a park bench.

  • The Internet.

    What comprehensive search would be complete without Asking Jeeves to conduct all that pesky research for you? Actually, online applications usually offer a quick turn-around, providing you with various willing lenders sometimes within hours of your request. Some of the more reliable online sites are: Eloan, LendingTree.com, and CapitalOne Auto Finance.

  • The Dealership.

    The rate at the dealership will often be higher than other available rates simply because financing makes up a considerable portion of the profit for the business. That being said, it’s not impossible to get a good deal if you go through the car manufacturer’s own finance company. Some car companies offer special deals, around the 2.9% rate for example, generally towards the end of the model year. The real advantage of dealership financing is convenience — but only if you’ve done your homework ahead of time.

The Final Steps

After you finish all that exhausting research, you should end up with about three financing options from which to choose from. They should all be plans you can live with for at least the next four to six years. Compare the rates and check them against the current national average — which in early 2001 was about 8.85% — and narrow down your search by finding the one that best suits your needs and your budget. If you’re in good credit standing and you’ve done your homework, you won’t have to barter off any of your relatives to find a financing option you can live with.

College Rebate Programs

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With school loans, rent and other bills to pay just when you’ve started to earn real money, you may be wary of affording a new car. However, if you need a new set of wheels, now is one of the best times to approach car companies because many offer special deals that are only available to recent grads.

The most eye-catching deals are rebates — they offer an immediate cash discount on your purchase. Ford, GM, Hyundai and Mazda offer a generous $400 rebate on a variety of vehicles. To take advantage of these deals, you need only to have graduated from an undergraduate or graduate program within the last couple of years.

Not all dealerships offer these rebates or incentives, however, so once you’ve narrowed down your model choices, it’s a good idea to log on to a car manufacturer’s home page to find your nearest participating dealer. Once you find a dealer, you must be able to prove that you are a graduate (or soon–to–be graduate) of an accredited program (a copy of your diploma or transcript should suffice).

The next step is to consider your various financing options and determine if you qualify. Some car manufacturers, for example, offer financing and leasing eligibility to those who have graduated within 120 days of purchase or can prove they can still swing a car payment after rent, student loans, etc.

Finally, consider the benefits of a “no down payment” offer. Combined with a rebate, this option can free up some cash and make those first couple of monthly payments easier.

If you’re still confused, cars4grads.com is a great website that has compiled information on all the college rebate programs offered by car companies.

Remember, don’t be intimidated — car companies want your business and are eager to make your first purchase a pleasant experience. Just think carefully about what you can afford and you’ll soon be driving off in that dream car with your financial security still intact!

Cars4Grads.com

Cars4grads.com is a service created just for graduates and makes the process of searching for car rebates and special offers fast and painless. It’s like a personal search engine for the various rebate programs available to college graduates and, best of all, it’s free.

If you are about to graduate or have recently graduated and are thinking about buying a new car, you may be eligible to receive up to $750 in cash rebates, just for being a college grad! However, figuring out which car manufacturers have these offers and other discounts can be a time consuming and tedious process.

All you have to do is tell cars4grads.com a little bit about yourself and the cars you’re interested in, and they’ll match you up with deals that you’re eligible for. The process only takes a few minutes and you could save a lot of money.

Car Math

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Even if you failed algebra in high school, don’t worry. There are no unknown variables here, and we’ve even provided you with a handy calculator to help you determine your monthly car payments.

To estimate how much you’re going to owe per month on your new car, take several factors into consideration: the total price of the vehicle, the sales tax in your state, the amount of your down payment, the interest rate of your financing options, and the duration of your financing plan. (Financing can be arranged either through the dealer or through a separate lending agency).

For example, if you decide to purchase a $20,000 car with no down payment, a state sales tax of 5% and a 9.05% interest rate, and pay it off in four years, your monthly payment will be about $525. (Check out our loan calculator to figure out how much you’d have to pay for the car of your choice). Based on your estimated monthly payment, ask yourself if you can budget this successfully given your current income and still afford gas and monthly insurance payments (not to mention rent).

It seems like a lot to consider when all you want to do is to ride your new car out of the dealer’s parking lot. However, if you keep these key terms in mind, you won’t be caught by surprise when it’s time to negotiate the payment terms on your new car:

  • The total price of the car. This is the negotiated price of your vehicle plus tax, minus any dealer’s rebates. This isn’t the total amount you ultimately pay for your vehicle; however, it is the base from which dealers calculate the tax and interest rate on a car.
  • Down payment. In essence, the down payment is a portion of the total price of the car that the buyer “puts down” in order to be able to drive the car away from the dealership. Traditionally, by laying down a significant amount of money, you signify your intent to continue paying for the vehicle; however, “money down” isn’t always necessary. Remember, while putting no money down might be advantageous in the short-term, it will increase your monthly payments in the long-term.
  • Interest Rate. This is one of the most important numbers you’ll have to deal with when financing a car, so pay attention. Basically, this is the price the lender charges for making you a loan. For each year of your term, you are charged on the remaining amount that you owe. This means that you’re charged interest yearly, but pay it on a monthly basis. Interest rates vary by state and sometimes by city. The national average is about 9%; however, rates can range up to about 13%. These make a huge difference in what you owe: take a look at our example above. Given the terms stated, you’d end up paying just over $5,000 in interest. If the interest rate were 13%, the total would rise to almost $7000. Make sure the interest rate is one you can afford comfortably.
  • Term. This refers to the duration of your financing plan. Generally, you can pay your car off in monthly installments for either 24 or 48 months, although this period is negotiable with the dealer. This number is closely tied to the interest rate because the longer you take to pay off the car, the more you’ll be paying in interest. The quicker you pay off the car, the less extra money you’ll shell out in interest.

Keep these basis concepts in mind, and you can walk into the dealership confident in your knowledge of all things finance – and start worrying about different kinds of car math, like how many bags you can fit in your trunk for a weekend trip to your summer share.