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Want a free magazine with that purchase?

Online retailers are offering a choice of free subscription or rebate at checkout. We offer tips on when to sign up.

By Karen Datko Mar 23, 2010 12:19PM

This Deal of the Day comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site SmartMoney.


Have you noticed that online retailers have been offering free magazine subscriptions-with-purchase deals at checkout? Don’t just click by, assuming you don’t need another magazine. Sometimes the offers include a $10 to $15 rebate on your purchase., for example, is currently offering a six-issue subscription of Taste of Home or another magazine of your choice to shoppers who make a purchase of $20 or more. The fine print notes that recipients can choose to mail in the order confirmation and a short form to receive instead $9.99 (the subscription’s estimated value). and both recently offered similar deals.


Retailers have offered such rebates on and off over the years, but they’ve become more popular as consumers shy away from the hassle of mail-in rebates in favor of upfront discounts and gifts-with-purchase, says Larry Chiagouris, a marketing professor at Pace University in New York City. Also pushing the trend is the fact that the retailer gets to offer a bonus without spending much of its own funds. The magazine publisher or reseller gains at least a short-term reader and possibly a long-term subscriber. And the consumer presumably gets something he wants -- a magazine or an extra discount on his purchase.


No matter which option you choose, keep an eye on your e-mail. Most retailers send a separate confirmation a day or two after your order, providing details to claim the deal. Miss it, and you’re out of luck entirely.


Want the subscription? Crunch the numbers. “You can sometimes get back more money than the magazine [subscription] costs,” says Dan de Grandpre, chief executive of sale tracker Sites such as and routinely offer annual subscriptions on sale for less than $10, as well as coupon codes that can knock the price as low as $5.

Make sure there’s nothing in the offer language that automatically signs you up for a paid subscription after your trial offer ends, says Edgar Dworsky, founder of consumer advocacy site Amazon, for example, offers a choice of fixed term or auto-renewal.


Want the rebate? Unlike other mail-in rebates, these offers tend to be hassle-free because they’re run by magazine publishers or resellers who want your business, de Grandpre says. The forms are typically simple, asking for little more than your name, address and a copy of the order confirmation that made you eligible for the offer. “Keep copies of everything you send,” Dworsky says. That way, you can check in or resubmit if there is a problem.


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