How to turn an $1800 stimulus check into $1980.

By Paul Michael on 29 April 2008 (Updated 16 November 2011) 30 comments
Photo: Guano

It seems the retail giants are serious in their quest to get hold of your economic stimulus check. One of the biggest, Sears, is offering to multiply your check if you spend it there. And others are following suit.

A report in the UK Guardian today (why are they covering US rebates?) stated that Sears will add 10% to the rebate check if you turn it into a Sears Gift Card. That would turn $600 into $660, and $1800 into $1980. Now, that's not ideal for most, but if you were planning to spend it on appliances, furniture, or anything else that Sears stocks, you get a lot more bang for you buck. And you can also spend it at KMart (groceries anyone?) and Land's End.

Other stores have rebate check offers as well:

  • Kroger, Albertsons and SuperValu are offering 10% bonuses (check your local store for info).
  • Wal-Mart (boooo) will cash your rebate check for free, saving you $3. No purchase necessary.
  • Staples has launched the Economic Stimulus Center.
  • RadioShack is offering 10% deductions on purchases of $50 or more.

Don't take this as my advice to spend your check. By all means, save it or pay down some debt. But, if you were dead set on spending it anyway, this may help you stretch that dollar a little more.

 

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Guest's picture
Just Me

We will be paying down debt, but I bet Sears will sell a lot more HDTV's than other stores this week.

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

My husband already spent his part of the check on a PS3.  Now he's always saying, "come on Xin, lets go stimulate the economy!"

Guest's picture
JBB

A local used car dealer is offering to double your stimulus check if used to purchase an in-stock car. There're better deals around than +10%.

Guest's picture
Guest

Duh!
No car dealer gives anything for free!

Paul Michael's picture

Post them here. I can't be everywhere in the US, so I can only give you the national deals I've heard of. Where is your local used car dealer JBB? People in your area may want to check it out.

Guest's picture
JBB

http://www.rothrockchevy.com/ in the Philadelphia, PA region is offering to double your money if you spend your economic stimulus check on an in-stock pre-owned car.

Guest's picture
JBB

http://www.rothrockchevy.com/ in the Philadelphia, PA region is offering to double your money if you spend your economic stimulus check on an in-stock pre-owned car.

Guest's picture
JBB

http://www.rothrockchevy.com/ in the Philadelphia, PA region is offering to double your money if you spend your economic stimulus check on an in-stock pre-owned car.

Guest's picture
Guest

A recent reader of Wise Bread, I've enjoyed many of the tips and found some I used right away.

My husband and I are still deciding what to do with our check. We thought of splitting it and buying what we want. The Meijer deal is intriguing as we always need groceries (and they sell clothing and other general merchandise, too). Also, if we buy the gift cards on our credit card we get points on our credit card. We're still negotiating.

Similar to Sears, Meijer had this on the back of their weekly ad this week:

Government Rebate Booster at Meijer

In case the link has changed, here is the text:

Government Rebate Booster at Meijer
Turn your economic stimulus payment into even more money.
Get $30, $60, $90 or $120 in additional rewards!
For every $300 in Meijer Gift Cards that you buy, we'll kick in a coupon for $30 off your next General Merchandise and Apparel purchase.
Maximum $120 reward.
Gift Cards must be purchased iwth credit or debit card, cash or personal check.
Offer valid 5/2-5/31/08.

Guest's picture
Guest

Walmart boooo? What makes Kroger, Staples, Albertsons and SuperValu non-booo?

Guest's picture
Guest

"...but if you were planning to spend it on appliances, furniture, or anything else that Sears stocks, you get a lot more bang for you buck."

Provided that Sears' prices aren't 10% higher to begin with.

Guest's picture
Sean O

"By all means, save it or pay down some debt."

Ugh. What bad advice. There's a reason it's called the "Economic Stimulus" Package. Savings & debt payoffs do nothing to spark the economy.

This money is to be spent. Best to just leave out that last paragraph :)

Paul Michael's picture

to do whatever they want with that money. Most people will probably spend it, but the reason we're in this mess is because of spending money we don't have. This just seems to reward bad spending behaviour with more money.

Guest's picture
Guest

Bravo! Well said. I like what one person compared government initiatives like the economic stimulus payments to--an unmeployed man who spends with his credit cards, giving the appearance of wealth (but effecting the very opposite).

Guest's picture
Rachel

It's called "Wise" bread, not "Waste" bread! Most of us read PF blogs because we've wasted our bread in the past. Believe me, the economy has had more than enough stimulation from me! I'm using this baby to pay down some debt and stimulate my own economy!

Guest's picture
SussLW

Like Rachel says, paying down debt stimulates people's personal economies. This could then allow them perhaps to use the money they're saving on that interest rate to buy things in the broad economy. Of course, this isn't quite the same. There is a reason it's "trickle" down economics, not "flood" down!

Our rebate is already accounted for in our kitchen renovation budget, so I guess we're in the "spend" camp. Sigh.

Guest's picture
Guest

The "stimulus package" is $600 for individual and $1200 for a married couple. Where do you get $1800 from?

Paul Michael's picture

I have two children, an additional $300 per child.

Guest's picture

All my finances are in order, so I'm using the money to help pay my upcoming wedding in Mexico. I guess I'm stimulating the wrong economy.

Guest's picture
Guest

Jewel/Osco stores (in Chicago, at least) are offering a 10% bonus for every $300 of your check spent there.

Guest's picture

Thanks because most news broadcasts outside the USA tend to give world news... the USA however seems to like to cover itself in its news and not much more. Yes I do realise some channels are different but when I was out there for a few months I still found myself having to go to www.bbc.co.uk/news to get some real world news.

Guest's picture

'Thanks' should = 'That's'

Paul Michael's picture

...as a Brit living in America, I can't imagine why the UK readers would need to know anything other than the status of the rebate. It's like me telling you that in the UK right now, there's a great clearance sale on at ASDA or Tesco. It's not realy much use.

Guest's picture
CLW

My husband and I are already planning on spending our check on bills and trying to get out of debt that the crappy economy (Can anyone say Recession?) that and our own poor choices put us in! This check is great, but $1500 dollars doesn't cut it for us.

Like most middle class citizens, we look at this as quite a bit of cash; but at the same time after all the taxes we pay don't you think it should be more? I live in MN and we have some of the highest tax rates (obvisously behind CA), so this check seems to be a bit lacking in the zeros!

Maybe it's just a PR distraction from the war?

Guest's picture
Guest

Just beware that this "Stimulus" is actually a LOAN from next years tax refund.

The way that I understand this thing working is such:

If you will get more than $600 (I am single) on your federal return next year - lets say $800 refund, you will infact only recieve $200. Because you were Loaned the $600 this year.

The Benefit - is that if you were to recieve $200 return next year, then you get to keep the $400 as a bonus - But I am pretty darn sure that Uncle Sam will classify that is Income on the following year.

So - if you are like me - I claim no deductions, and therefore put a fair chunk of change away each month (not a smart thing to do - I know) but I always get $800'ish returned. I will only recieve $200 next year. So I will be getting with my Payroll department, and adding some deductions, that way - They take less money - but not too much - just enough to make it so that I claim the extra $$.

Oh well - they'll get you coming or going.

Guest's picture
Guest

It is NOT a loan from next years taxes. This is a big misconception:

From

"It's not taxable, and it won't reduce your 2007 or 2008 refund or increase the amount you owe when you file your 2008 return."

That's because it's technically an advance for a one time tax credit for 2008 taxes. You don't need to visit your payroll dept.

Guest's picture
Guest

So far (2008 May 11) it seems that several stores or chains offer a ten percent bump if you buy their prepay card. A couple of used car dealers offer a 100% bump -- but when was the last time you knew the true value of something from one of them?

I do appreciate 10%, and work hard to achieve that kind of gain, but I think I'll hold out for a bit and see if a better deal materializes.

BTW I am not in financial difficulty, just parsimonious.

Guest's picture
Macinac

If you buy a prepay card with the stimulus check, you now have more money than you started with. Is that a taxable event?

I work very hard to get a safe ten percent gain in the stock market, but when I do it's taxable.

Guest's picture
Guest

That last comment was directed at Paul Michael for what he said about people spending too much of money they don't have.

As for the payments being a "loan" from a credit on 2008 tax returns, that's not entirely true. Yes, the payment you receive in 2008 may very well affect your 2008 tax credit for this program, however, any money that you receive in excess of your eligible credit amount will NOT have to be repaid, and as far as I know, it will not be considered taxable income (although of this particular fact I am not absolutely certain). I am a tax professional, so I can say that if you have a question about ANYTHING related to taxes, you should rely on the straight dope from a qualified tax preparer or the IRS itself, NOT what friends and neighbors think might be the case (as well-meaning as they may be).

Guest's picture
Guest

P.S. If you always end up getting a refund of tax paid (not counting credits over and above tax liability), you're basically giving the government an interest-free loan for a year. A person doesn't need to cheat himself out of a larger portion of his paycheck up-front simply out of a fear of owing tax money to the IRS. It's not always perfect, but a balance can be struck between owing and receiving a large refund when it comes to Form W-4.