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Would You Take Less Money to Get a Faster Rebate?

I was given an interesting offer after my latest Black Friday purchase. I bought an external hard drive and was submitting my $20 rebate when they gave me two options for receiving my payment

  • Receive $20 and wait 8-10 weeks for my rebate.
  • Receive $18 and expedite the payment and receive it in 1 week.

This decision is not a big deal, but it presents and interesting question. At what point would I rather have the money early? $2 isn’t a lot of money, but saving 7-9 weeks is a decent amount of time. But in this situation, time doesn’t matter to me at all.

As Lauren put it when I asked which one she’d rather have, “We’re not living hand to mouth, just wait a few more weeks.” It’s true, what’s the difference between waiting a week and waiting 8 weeks? For me, not much. Once I send out that rebate form, I don’t think about it until I hear back. So whether it’s 1 week, 8 weeks, or 3 months, it’s out of my mind until I get the money from them.

However, there is a point where I would rather take the money instead of waiting for it. If they could give me the money instantaneously, for example, I would gladly give up $2. Knowing that I have the money in my pocket and not having to wait for it, hoping my rebate goes through is worth it to me.

What if they offered either a $20 gift card to Starbucks instead of $18 on a pre-paid VISA card? I think in that case I would prefer the Starbucks card because, while I don’t drink coffee, I occasionally go to Starbucks to get an iced tea, so it would go to good use at some point.

What would you do in each of the situations? At what point would you start giving up money to have it sooner?



  1. Those were two interesting options. I haven’t seen rebates offering options. I figured the rebate was the option to entice you to buy the product.

  2. hmmm If you were a retailer you could have a lot of interesting A/B data testing. I would take significantly less if it were no wait, but for $2 I am with you.

  3. You did the opposite of what people normally do — there’s a study that says most people prefer $50 now to $100 later.

  4. In the situation that you have given, I would just probably take the lesser amount since the difference is very minimal. However, if there is a huge difference from the full rebate amount, I don’t mind waiting.

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