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Wheeeeeeeeeeee! I bought some large ticket items for the new house last year using my REI credit card (namely my washer & dryer), so I received a pretty hefty (by my standards) dividend this year – a whopping $136.71!!

To all those who have no idea what I’m talking about: REI members receive a 10% member refund on all full-price REI merchandise. REI credit card holders receive an additional 5% refund on ALL REI purchases (both sale and full-price), and a 1% refund on everyday non-REI purchases.  You only have to pay a one-time fee of $20 to be a lifetime REI member. One of the best perks of being an REI member is being able to return any merchandise at any time for a full refund. This means you can try an item out, and if you don’t like it, you can return it! I LOVE this feature. Last year I tried out green Superfeet insoles in my hiking boots, while training for my Rim to Rim to Rim hike. I had read many rave reviews online, and figured I’d give them a try since I could always return them if they didn’t work out. Unfortunately, they tore my feet up during a 30+ mile training hike and made my feet actually blister WORSE. (I think they’re made more for people who need arch support and I’m not one of them??) Anyhow, they were rather pricey, and they require you actually trimming the insole down to the size of your boot, but REI gladly encourages you to take them, try them out, and return them if you don’t like them. Moral of the story: Sometimes you’ll pay a slightly higher premium to buy items from REI, but after you take into account the 10% dividend and lifetime return policy, you’re actually getting a very good deal. And when it comes to outdoor gear, I prefer a long-lasting, quality guarantee over cheap-o substitutes.

I knew the 20% member coupon comes out at the same time as the dividend, and I was waiting to combine the coupon with my dividend to score THIS SEKSY BEASTOh yeah, baby. Rainy, dreary weekend keeping you indoors? Who cares.  All the exercise machines taken at the gym? Who cares.  Working late and don’t have any daylight left? Who cares. I’ve got my new bike trainer, baby!

Do you have an REI dividend burning a hole in your pocket? Here are some tips on how to maximize your REI refund:

  1. Shop online through Mr. Rebates (3% cash back and $5 sign up bonus). You can get even higher cash back at REI if you shop through BigCrumbs (4% cash back, but no sign up bonus). UPDATE: Good news! I just confirmed that if you go through Mr. Rebates, the 3% cash back is calculated on the total purchase AFTER 20% coupon, including dividend and gift cards!  See my example below.
  2. Enter MEMBER20 when you check out for a 20% member discount. This code is good one time per member account.
  3. For orders over $75, REI members now get FREE shipping. For orders less than $75, choose “pick up at your local REI store” to avoid shipping fees. Also, for larger items (like a bike trainer), you can ship to your local store to avoid the $15 oversized charge.
  4. Don’t forget to check the box to use your dividends toward the purchase!
  5. Use your REI credit card to pay the balance, and earn 5% cash back. (New cardholders get a $40 REI gift card if they apply before 6/30 and make a purchase by 7/31. If you want to enter a referral REI account #, mine is 08026715).

Here are my results using cash back + coupon + REI card:

  • $339 purchase – 20% member discount ($67.81) – $136.71 REI dividend +  taxes – $25 gift card from a previous return =  $130.66 OOP.
  • 3% cash back at Mr Rebates (3% of 271.19 = $8.14)
  • 5% cash back on my REI card (5% of 130.66 = $6.53)
  • Shipped to the store to avoid $15 oversized shipping charge
  • ==>  for a total purchase price of $115.19!!

I ended up only paying ~34% of the original purchase price out of my pocket. Not bad!

Okay, I’m curious, what does everyone else plan on buying with their REI dividends?

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