The Checkout

Retailers Want Your Rebate!

Ylan Mui

Retailers are feeling very Jerry Maguire these days. All they seem to be saying is "SHOW ME THE MONEY!"

That money would be your rebate check, or in government parlance, your "economic stimulus payment." The IRS announced last week that it had begun depositing money in taxpayers' bank accounts and expected to continue the payments through mid-July. The agency has posted a schedule for the rebates on its Web site, along with a calculator to help you figure out how much you're going to get.

Retailers, of course, are wasting no time in helping you figure out how to spend it. They're rolling out special incentives to lure you into their stores -- even offering to cash your check. So today, The Checkout brings you a roundup of some of the deals we've seen. Feel free to add your own in the comments section or share how you plan to spend your stimulus check.

Wal-Mart: The world's largest retailer will cash your rebate check for free and also cut prices on items from sports drinks to shampoos.

Sears and Kmart: The two chains will offer a 10 percent bonus when rebate checks are converted into store gift cards.

Safeway: Starting May 14, the stores will cash stimulus checks for free and give Club Card customers a 10 percent discount certificate good on their purchases that day or the following day. The program runs through July 19.

Circuit City: The nation's second-largest electronics retailer will accept stimulus checks as a form of payment. Any remaining balance will be returned to shoppers as Circuit City gift cards. It also discounted several categories of electronics.

Shoppers Food & Pharmacy: The company will convert the rebate checks into store gift cards worth up to $300, adding $30 on each card. The promotion runs through July 31.

Office Depot: It launched an office equipment leasing program from small businesses called SmartWayLeasing.

By Ylan Mui |  May 5, 2008; 7:00 AM ET Consumer News , Consumer Tips , Marketing , Ylan Mui
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To paraphrase Michelle Singletary, if your Emergency Fund and Life Happens Fund are fully funded and you have no debt whatsoever, except maybe mortgage, than by all means go out and spend, but at a time where Americans are billion dollars in debt, mostly credit card, have negative savings, with gas prices are averaging $3.62/gallon and food prices have increased significantly in the past year, the last thing most of us should be doing is spending on non-necessities. Mine will go to pay for a new windshield for my car (keeps me from having to use my savings) and to pay my mortgage shortage, the rest is going into my savings.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 5, 2008 9:19 AM

Does anyone know why they are dragging out these free checks for three months? Are they using old FBI Hoover era printers?

Posted by: Bartolo | May 5, 2008 12:56 PM

Bartolo, check the website, it will tell you when you should receive your stimulus package.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 5, 2008 1:20 PM

I agree with the first poster above. As for me - our daughter is in 9th grade, so the bulk of our check will go into her 529 (college savings) account with the rest going towards paying off the "convenience check" we had to use to pay our 2007 taxes! (Fortunately, it was a "no interest for 4 months" check.)

Posted by: just me | May 5, 2008 4:11 PM

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