Don't Assume That Rebate Will Be Redeemable For Cash

Companies love rebates because they are difficult to redeem and easy to forget. But you clever shoppers are getting too good at their game, so instead of paying out your rebate in cash, you’ll get something different altogether. Take, for example, Buy.com’s supposed “$26 mail in rebate…”


It doesn’t give you cash. No, it gives you a prepaid Visa debit card.

Use it within six months or start losing it.

The prepaid debit card is the reward for surviving a patented system designed to “maintain breakage.” Still, we know there are rebate partisans out there, and if you’re one of them, carefully read our tips for redeeming rebates before sending in your claim form, including:

  • Read the offer carefully before you buy.
  • Fill out paperwork promptly.
  • Enclose all required documentation.
  • Make copies of all paperwork to be mailed, including forms, receipts, and UPC codes.
  • Consider notarizing your receipts.
  • Send your form via certified mail and request a return receipt as proof that the company received your request.
  • Watch for rebate checks or prepaid cards disguised as junk mail.

Software Rebates: Don’t Assume It’s Cash [Mouse Print]

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  1. gatewaytoheaven says:

    This has been going around for a while and I don’t see any proble with this except waiting (and searching) through the mail to get your card. A savvy consumer, depending on how much free time they have, can easily use this debit card to redeem cash.

  2. gatewaytoheaven says:

    problem*

  3. downwithmonstercable says:

    Losing out on the balance of your card should be illegal. There is no f’ing way it costs them $5 a month to “maintain your card balance” or whatever it is they say. In Washington state they passed a law where stores can’t deduct from your gift cards due to inactivity, but for whatever reason the law doesn’t cover prepaid credit cards.

    One other scammy thing about some of these prepaid debit cards (not the credit cards) is that they charge you a transaction fee just to use the card. So in this case your $26 gift card could be worth a lot less if it comes with a $1.95 fee per transaction like a lot of these do.

  4. shorty63136 says:

    I don’t see the problem w/ the prepaid VISA either.

    1 – You don’t have to go to the bank to deposit/cash it.
    2 – You can use it just like your own debit card from your bank. Spends just like cash.

    • dweebster says:

      @undefined: Actually, it does NOT spend “just like cash.”

      1) You can only use it where they accept VISA
      2) Every purchase is reported to the rebate company
      3) If used at a restaurant and other places, the establishment puts a “hold” on MORE than you spend, and it may take weeks to actually become available to you again.
      4) It’s harder to look at the card and know how much “money” you have.
      5) Money doesn’t “expire” or charge you a “fee” for not using it up within a certain (short) period of time.

      On and on, it’s a major pain in the ass to deal with these cards, they are nowhere near a cash equivalent. When I get them I dump them into my gas tank, hopefully they are less than my tank holds so that they’re in the garbage with one purchase. Problem with buying gas is that you need to know exactly how much you will charge BEFORE you gas up…

      • thelushie says:

        @dweebster: Some of the problems you mention are a problem with an debit card. Namely, #1, 3, and 4 (for some). Even #5 is similar to banks charging a fee or interest on a credit card. Notice, I said similar, not exact. I have received them and have had absolutely no problem.

        #2 I am skeptical about. I have never read that in any terms and conditions. And I am the type to read those sort of things. Could you provide a link to back that up.

        I don’t know why anyone would hang onto a gift card for years and then decide out of the blue that they are going to use it.

        I don’t understand your statement “Problem with buying gas is that you need to know exactly how much you will charge BEFORE you gas up…”. I have used them at the pump and the cashier doesn’t come running out of the store wanting to know how much I am going to pump.

        Keep in mind that are you dealing with a marketing scheme. They HOPE you don’t use is because then they don’t lose the money. Coupons are the same. They are put out there in hopes that you won’t use them.

        Anyway, you want to fight it: Use the card in the allotted amount of time.

        • bairdwallace says:

          @undefined: I got a gift card to Gallyans sports store for $100. They had a big climbing wall they would usually let people try for free, and a ton of climbing gear. They were promptly sold to Dickies, who doesn’t deal with climbing gear, so, even thought they had a huge wall, they didn’t sell any climbing gear. I was getting into climbing at the time, so I didn’t buy anything, and then I moved to the West Coast, and I have this useless card 3 years later. I shouldn’t lose my $100 because I haven’t had a chance to spend it.

    • TechnoDestructo says:

      @undefined:

      If you can’t buy sex or drugs off the street with it, it don’t spend like cash.

      • RedwoodFlyer says:

        @TechnoDestructo:

        Well…most hookers come with a credit card slider…that’s what it’s for, right?

        And I guess you could use the card as a razor like the ones they use in movies for coke lines

  5. Rebates are worthless for me. Even with copies and certified mail and blah blah blah I’ve NEVER received one back. It’s always “we didn’t receive it” “You’ll have to send it again, and no we can’t accept copies” or some other lame excuse. I never purchase on the base of a rebate.

    • Mr_Human says:

      @JamieSueAustin: Wow, that could be a run of bad luck. I’ve done quite a number of rebates over the years, and have _always_ gotten them.

    • Corbin123 says:

      @JamieSueAustin:

      “It’s always “we didn’t receive it” “You’ll have to send it again, and no we can’t accept copies””

      lol, I’ve never heard that one before. That’s ridiculous (and I guess another reason to use certified mail, return receipt requested).

      • dweebster says:

        @Corbin123: Another trick when rebate companies pull that crap is to call up the corporate HQ and tell them that you have all documentation and expect them cut you a check if their rebate proxy doesn’t. If you have held up your end of the bargain, *refuse* to be victimized by these a-holes. They are taking your money under false pretenses of rebating back your money, and enough pressure properly placed will ALWAYS get your money back.

    • thelushie says:

      @JamieSueAustin: I have never had a problem getting a rebate. I don’t send it certified mail either. But I am very careful about documentation and making sure all of my ts are crossed.

    • thelushie says:

      @JamieSueAustin: And if you do send it certified mail, you should have some sort of proof that it was received.

    • lukobe says:

      @JamieSueAustin: I too have never not received a rebate I’ve requested.

      • Zulujines says:

        @lukobe: Well, I don’t think she’s lying about not having received them. My experience has been hit or miss–sometimes I receive them, sometimes I don’t. It can be a pain in the ass to try and get it if they’re intent on scamming you, so I never buy anything just for the rebate either. But if I’m going to purchase something anyway and it has a rebate, it doesn’t hurt to send it in.

        • thelushie says:

          @Zulujines: No one is accusing her of lying. But this whole “I didn’t get it, they must be scamming me!” crap needs to stop. Probably about 90% of the time, the instructions were not read carefully enough. There are many other reasons that people don’t get rebates other than those “theiving companies”.

          Do you have an open mailbox? Could it have been stolen? What types of people are your mail carriers? Could it have gotten lost in junk mail and accidentally been thrown away? There is a possibility that it was lost in the mail.

          Like I said, I have never not gotten one back. But I am very meticulous about documentation. I have a mailbox on the street but I use a P.O. Box because people do drive by and steal stuff out of mailboxes.

  6. I recently got one from T-Mobile. Problem is that it now has a $2 balance and I’m not sure how to use that…can’t really imagine any cashier being happy with me asking to put $2 of my transaction on a card, and using (cash or something else) for the rest. Minor annoyance.

    • PølάrβǽЯ says:

      @watchwhathappens: I do that all the time. It’s quite simple, really.

    • castlecraver says:

      @undefined: Bingo. As the two prepaid Visa rebates I’ve personally received have come as “branded” cards bearing the logo of the company that issued the rebate (like the Norton one above), I suspect the company gets a return on a percentage of the fees and the balances that go unused.

      People forget small balances, and don’t want the hassle of using two payment types. I’m sure that in addition to “maintaining breakage,” this is another strategy they employ to keep customers from taking full advantage of rebates.

      I paid a couple of my bills online with them. Payment systems that let you select “another amount” are probably the best way to utilize these prepaid cards.

    • ajlei says:

      @watchwhathappens: I wouldn’t worry one bit about it. People use them allllllll the time at my work; as long as I get the amount of money owed, doesn’t really matter what form it comes in.

    • humphrmi says:

      @watchwhathappens: What they said. I’ve done this a few times with nary a glance from the cashier. Micro-spend with impunity!

    • johnnya2 says:

      @watchwhathappens: You mean they would be annoyed to take payment? If I go to a drive thru I have all my pennies in a container in my car. I pay the penny amount with those pennies and the rest with a card. It’s easier than rolling pennies, and over time can add up. Not enough to make me rich, but I dont need the pennies anyway

    • dweebster says:

      @watchwhathappens: $2 bucks in gas. Fun to just see how quick that goes anyhow.

    • Ajh says:

      @watchwhathappens: you can use the card to pay for $2 of your transaction and cash for the rest. Cashiers are used to people doing this.

  7. CMU_Bueller says:

    Does that first picture from buy.com say “does not apply to products sold on our site?”

  8. harumph says:

    I think the answer is to forget about any purchase that has a rebate that is not instant. That is what I do after having been screwed out of more than a few over the years. If people just stop buying the crap they hawk with shady rebates companies will stop viewing them as a viable sales tool.

  9. bobhope2112 says:

    Don’t worry about the cashier’s happiness. Use it up.

  10. EricLecarde says:

    When I’ve done this through ATT, I’ve always recieved my rebates in a timely fashion. With that said, I always use my rebate card at gas stations as my way of paying for either gas or snacks for the road.

    • DragonflyLotus says:

      @EricLecarde: Strangely enough, the card I got from ATT would not work to pay my ATT bill.

      • EricLecarde says:

        @dragonflylotus: I think my wife said the same thing. You’re not my wife are you???

        Seriously though, I think thats probably why I actually got mine from her as opposed to her using it on the bill.

      • dweebster says:

        @dragonflylotus: I think the cards only work at *reputable* businesses.

      • Karyn says:

        @dragonflylotus: Wow, I wonder why not… I bought 2 cell phones in recent months from ATT that had rebates, and I followed their instructions to the letter when sending each rebate form in (in separate envelopes too, no less; the rep even made sure she stressed doing so or they’d deny it). Pain in the butt jumping thru such hoops, and I sent them receipted mail plus followed up on the rebate site, BUT… my 2 rebate cards did come, and much as spending them on assorted goodies, I paid off my entire bill that month less about $6.

        Nope, so not cool putting up all those obstacles AND often denying the rebates for no “good” reason. If you haven’t yet and are still within a reasonable window, it might be worth it for you to pursue exactly what the problem was (especially if it was on their end).

        Good luck. :)

        • Karyn says:

          @Karyn: and much as spending them on assorted goodies

          Make that: much as I wanted to go out and spend them on assorted goodies

          ♥ Consumerist ♥, I love what you’re trying to do for us on the site, thank you for persevering. :) If you’re not tearing your hair out in frustration over the wants and hates and ‘meh’ comments, I’d love to add my voice for the desire of an edit feature–even if it’s only open for a tiny window of opportunity? :)

    • MrEvil says:

      @EricLecarde: I got one through a different promo that specifically DID NOT work at gas pumps. So watch for that too.

    • Tankueray says:

      @EricLecarde: My AT&T account is in my mom’s name, but I pay my part of the bill. So when a rebate comes for a phone I purchased, it’s in her name. I can’t use the card with her name on it except at gas stations, and the last three that I’ve had still have less than a dollar on them because I can’t use a card for that amount anywhere.

  11. ameyer says:

    My favorite is the home improvement chain *cough*Menards*cough* that does all their rebates as store credit.

    • bbb111 says:

      I got one of these debit cards for opening a new checking account – the card didn’t seem to work, but I found out that the cashiers were trying to enter it as a credit card instead of a debit card.

      As someone mentioned, I just used it to at the grocery store so it was fast an easy (except for the cashier mistake, but I don’t blame the card for that.)

      I’ll use rebates, but I consider the hassle factor vs. value in the purchase decision. (hassle and chance of rejection varies a lot with brands and merchants)

    • TPS Reporter says:

      @ameyer: I hate that about Menards because some of their deals are pretty good but then you have to spend the savings in their store.

  12. Skipweasel says:

    A simple change to the pricing rules would make this die out. If retailers had to display the cash-at-till price in print twice the size of the rebate price it’d fall flat in months.

    Luckily we don’t get this sort of nonsense in the UK, because our rules mean you pay the price on the shelf-edge.

    • humphrmi says:

      @Skipweasel: I’m pretty sure the shelf-edge price still has to be the register price in the US too. However most consumers don’t notice the shelf price when there’s a big huge sign on the shelf touting the rebate price.

      • dweebster says:

        @humphrmi: That’s why at least one state has laws that state the price they advertise is the price they must sell it for. With the level of fraud happening by the rebate fulfillment houses lately (I’ve watched them slip and slip over the years into outright attempted theft), I think the days of mail-in rebates has to come to a close soon.

  13. Hawk07 says:

    Those prepaid cards are usually good for grocery stores. All of us have to buy groceries and all the stores around me are good about using multiple cards per transaction.

    I.e. Hypothetically I could charge $10 to every credit and debit card I have if I wanted to.

    So, while I agreed with you all that I’d much rather have cash over a prepaid debit card, they can be used up fairly quickly. Also, I’d reccomend purchasing stuff you know you won’t be taking back (like food) versus electronics that may break and what not because then it becomes a question of you’re prepaid debit card is expired, how will they refund you on an expired card?

  14. madanthony says:

    I don’t really have a problem with the prepaid cards as long as they make it clear that you are getting that instead of a check. Then I can decide if it’s worth the hassle.

    Last year, I had a bunch of rebates with compusa which gave you a choice of cash or card. I selected cash, they sent me cards anyway. But considering this is when they were going out of business, I was just thankful to get anything.

    As far as using them, I’ve found the easiest ways to get rid of them are either:

    1)use them at Target to buy a gift card of equal value. Target’s system makes it easy to split transactions between their gift cards and other payment, and I am always shopping at Target anyway

    2) use them to make a “one-time” payment on eBay for my seller fees.

    • @madanthony: Wow, I like that idea. Save up all your mail in rebate prepaid cards, go to your favorite store, and buy 1 card there!

      Genius, in my mind. And another perk to that idea, would be that you wouldn’t have no “6 months, use it or lose it” crap associated with these cards. Most companies give you at LEAST a year or more, and some don’t have ANY restrictions on time.

      Absolutely fucking GENIUS.

  15. Blueskylaw says:

    My $50 rebate card from Verizon (which I have not received yet) says that they are not responsible for cards lost in the mail. Can anybody guess how many cards will start being lost in the mail?

    • SabreDC says:

      @Blueskylaw: I hate when companies use “not responsible for…” as an excuse, especially when they are clearly responsible.

      What’s next, McDonald’s and Burger King saying “Not responsible for the delivery of your food”? Your power company saying “Not responsible for providing power”? Corporations, just because you SAY you’re not responsible doesn’t mean you’re actually not.

    • dweebster says:

      @Blueskylaw: In the same breath they also are refusing to mail to Post Office Boxes which CUT DOWN on “lost in the mail” problems. Really, they speak with forked tongues – they want to send these postcard-checks to street addresses where they are easily removed, then claim to have no liability when they are “lost” in the mail. See you rebate-f’ers in court then..

      • econobiker says:

        @dweebster: They are probably against PO Boxes for two reasons: Rebate “duplication” – two rebates to the same household (which they consider fraud), and being able to harvest/cross reference/data mine the rebate info against your physical location for marketing purposes.

    • Ajh says:

      @Blueskylaw: at&t delivered our cards just fine though.

    • Hawk07 says:

      @Blueskylaw:

      When I read that, it’s more a of legal term so that you can’t sue them.

      One or two rebates out of hundreds that I’ve done has truly been lost in the mail and the companies had no problems issuing another one.

  16. DePaulBlueDemon says:

    Rebates are sooo lame. I never assume I’m going to get anything back.

  17. bigroblee says:

    Hello;

    As with all Visa prepaid cards you have the following option. Go to a bank with a Visa logo and your state issued photo I.D. You have to sign a verification form and they give you the cash and can even destroy the card for you. It isn’t required to have an account at the same bank but it makes it a little faster. I have been doing this for about 4 years and have never had any problem at any bank. I learned this when I worked at Cingular Wireless.

    Thanks, and enjoy.

  18. Echomatrix says:

    menards has been doing this for years. But atleast they give you 2% on CC’s

    • rellog says:

      @Echomatrix: Menards is even worse, since their rebates are only good in Menards. Add to that when they have the “no mail in rebates” if your return something, they minus the “rebate” amount instead of simply negating the rebate. Shady if you ask me…

  19. azntg says:

    Thanks for the heads up Carey.

    Many of us playing the rebate game are very well aware of the fact that many rebates are now issued as debit cards rather than as paper checks.

    I personally dislike rebates as debit cards. However, I’m not one to pass it over if the net price I pay will amount to a great deal.

    My reasons for the dislike include (all have been discussed before by others):

    1) Almost all of them are not redeemable as cash (no PIN number is given; only signature transactions are allowed)

    2) Almost all of them have fees attached for just about everything, but for signature-based purchases.

    3) I dislike the fact that the rebate fulfillment company and the issuing bank will be earning interchange fees AFTER they intentionally (and legally through fine print clauses) hold onto what would be MY rebate money for a long time.

    I just happen to hate double dippers with a passion.

    I do not let those debit-card issuing companies them get away with residual balances. I usually try to use the entire balance of the card in one shot.

    Supermarket shopping? I’m not afraid to do split tenders. I still would’ve bought what I bought in the supermarket anyway, with or without the rebate card.

    Gas stations? I’ll authorize the entire amount inside and fill up. I’d still have to fill up my car from time to time anyway.

    If I do not use the entire amount in one go, I usually like to go to a Metrocard Vending Machines (in New York City) and purchase/refill a pay-per-ride card with the residual balance.

    Not letting ANY of those companies triple dip, if I can help it ;-)

    • dweebster says:

      @azntg: Vending machines take these cards? Thought that was one of the many restrictions. To buy gas I had to walk in and tell the clerk exactly how much to charge ahead of time – when the card was more than a tank of gas for my weeniemobile….

      • azntg says:

        @dweebster: Yes and No.

        At a gas station, if the debit card is low denomination, it would not work at pay-at-the-pump. That’s why I said “I’ll authorize the entire amount inside and fill up.”

        On the other hand, at Metrocard vending machines (for New York City Subway and Buses), all you have to do is to select the proper amount and pay. Hasn’t failed me yet.

  20. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    i rarely bother with rebates, only when it’s REALLY going to be worth it and i can be sure i will be able to get the rebate or not be too upset if something goes wrong [in other words, buy an item i have a need for anyway]

    at least when i used the one for leasing an apartment i found through rent.com, it says right up front on the website that you are going to get a prepaid visa card.

    and if i have to use one that is going to give me store credit i look around the store first and pick out a couple of things to keep in mind to spend it on so i don’t end up not using it when it arrives.

    for example: linens n things offered a $20 rebate in store credit on a $19.99 black and decker coffee maker. it was only redeemable on another black and decker product at linens n things. fortunately, the $19.99 black and decker blender was still in stock when i got the rebate card.

    although my favorite rebate redemption ever was a double. tiger direct offered a $9 rebate on a $28.99 flash drive. the manufacturer offered a $30 rebate if you signed up for a free trial month of their security program. the tricky part was calling to cancel the security program after i made sure my rebate form had been received and was in process but before my free month ran out. in the end, i made a profit of around $8 after the cost of the stamp and sales tax.

    but you have to be really careful with programs you have to sign up for. it still would have been a good deal if i had screwed it up because a month of the security service was $13 so i would have only been out a few bucks before cancelling.

    it helps to go with a company like tiger direct where you can check your rebate status online through their website.

    • dweebster says:

      @catastrophegirl: Tiger Direct used to be one of the *worst* rebate scammers for years. One very common ploy of them was to delay shipping the “in stock” product until a day before the rebate form was due to be postmarked by you. Instant profit for them and/or their collaborators.

      I think the law was on to them and they claim to have cleaned up their act, at least somewhat. But after seeing the busted machines and other garbage they shipped to people I just stick with New Egg and other ethical vendors.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        @dweebster: oh, i never used it to buy from them online. i live in a town with a tiger direct retail store. lucky me. i’m in agreement, i won’t use a rebate when it involves waiting on the purchase to ship

  21. highmodulus says:

    Rebates are a sucker’s game at this point. Why bother? Given Amazon, Newegg et al, you usually you can find just as good a good deal without a sleazy rebate company trying to scam you.

    Is your time worthless- because that’s what playing the rebate game requires.

    Pass.

  22. missdona says:

    Anytime I get one of these prepaid cards, I just dump the balance on my cell phone bill. Done and done.

  23. Rukes says:

    I got a similar card with my Sandisk rebate. I was trying to figure out a good way to use all of it (since it states you can’t charge more than the card is worth on a transaction) without having to hassle a person to use two cards and spend over the rebate amount.

    Solution?

    Online gift card! I went on my Amazon account and bought myself an online gift card in the exact same amount that was on then card. Then I applied the gift card to a pre-order I had at Amazon! Voila!

  24. I got one of these from Symantec. The problem I had with it was the number of places it would not work!. It should work as a VISA card, period. But instead, POS terminals would confusedly demand a PIN, or claim it was expired, invalid, or occasionally turn into a confused flowerpot.

    I’m not kidding.

    However, I will say that Symantec was pretty fair about the whole thing. When I let the card sit idle for a long time, they started debiting “fees” from it (assholes) and disabled it. When I contacted them, they instantly reversed the fees and reactivted it without any argument.

    OTOH, I do have inside contacts at Symantec that I can personally pummel so I don’t worry about it much…

    • jeebussez says:

      @Jeff the Riffer:
      At my old place of work people used to use these things all the time to buy stuff, and then later when they returned them (I worked at a clothes retailer) the refund amount would inevitably get refunded to the card that the customer had disposed of (since they used the whole amount). Then we had to void the whole thing but sometimes you can’t reverse a refund (the system wasn’t too smart) which resulted in headaches all around and very angry customers.

      long story short, use these things as fast as you can on things you know you won’t return, for example, gift cards or bills.

      I’m surprised they refunded the fees for you. Usually these are considered debit cards for what are essentially checking accounts (hence the requesting pins); as a result they can charge fees on them (unlike gifts cards in some states which have inactivity-fee-bashing laws).

  25. digitalgimpus says:

    I’ve got an easy way to deal with this. I use them to by metrocards. Gets the full value (down to the penny) onto a metrocard, which is good for a while. Good as cash. Technically if I didn’t need them I could sell for full value.

    Works like a charm.

  26. katbur2 says:

    I’ve gotten a couple of these and had just been annoyed. Then I started to use them as partial payments for things like my cellphone. So great to open the bill one day and have my bill be smaller than usual instead of larger.

  27. quail says:

    What I hate the most are those “sale” signs that draw you to an item on the shelf, and that turn out to be a price after rebate. Usually the item is a bit more than a comparable one next to it.

    In the end my buying decisions don’t rest on the fact that there’s a rebate. That said, Staples with their online rebates are the only ones I ever bother with. I’ve never had an issue with them.

  28. forgottenpassword says:

    I wont buy anything from buy.com. I have heard too many bad things.

  29. dragonfire81 says:

    Of course the best strategy of all is to AVOID buying anything with REBATES!

  30. eskimo81 says:

    I’ve been wait I would consider defrauded by one of these before.

    It was at an ebGames, and I was buying a game. The have a strict no return policy, exchange only. On their shelf they’re advertising this game as $39.99 after $10 mail in rebate (after rebate it would be $5 cheaper than everywhere else).

    I buy the game, and then get handed the rebate form. While installing the game, I’m inspecting the rebate form, and I find that it’s not a $10 rebate, but a form to get a $10 gift certificate for ebGames. Meanwhile I’m already installing the game, so it’s now opened and unreturnable.

    I haven’t purchased anything there since, and won’t go back.

  31. elislider says:

    i was pleasantly surprised to find that i got one of these instead of an actual rebate check a few months ago. I had bought a creative xfi sound card with a $50 rebate, and months later i got the $50 in visa gift card form, which turned out to be a huge hassle because you cant use it at gas stations

  32. Limekiller says:

    Generally I avoid rebates, but discovered an Office Depot/Staples hack that got me a rebated price with no need to mail anything in. I was helping a family member buy a new all-in-one printer which was in stock at both Office Depot and Staples. Staples had the printer offered for $50 less after a Staples (not mfgr) mail-in rebate. I happened to mention the rebate around the Office Depot salesman and he said they could match the rebated price. We got the cheaper price with no mail-in BS or waiting for reimbursement.

  33. sofasleeper says:

    Better yet, refuse to buy the item and tell them why. No matter how vigilant you are with these things, they’ll screw you eventually.

  34. Marshfield says:

    I believe I prefer the card to a check. The check I have to deposit before I can spend it. The card I can start spending right away.

  35. Justinh6 says:

    Seems to be the norm.

    Lowe’s gave me a lowes branded debit card for a rebate from ordering home appliances with them.

    I took it right back to their store, and spent it on more of their products.

    So their scheme worked on me..

    • thelushie says:

      @Justinh6: So it was essentially a Lowes gift card. Not a Visa with Lowes on it. A visa you can use elsewhere, not just at Lowes.

      But if it is a gift card then,yeah, you are stuck shopping at Lowes.

      I don’t understand what seems to be the “norm”.

  36. MsClear says:

    I’ll take a rebate card if I can get it. You just have to pay attention and know they are trying to be shady. For instance, I got a $15 prepaid card from Staples this summer on the purchase of a shredder. It had all the usual shady fees and stuff. Solution? Put it next to grocery list. Split tender. Rebate used completely within three days of receipt.

    Can’t relate to those who say they never get rebates back. I always do. Rite Aid and Walgreens have online filing systems, as do most companies these days. Just got my September 08 Walgreens Easy Saver check (got a water pitcher filter for nothing but the sales tax) and have a $3 rebate on shampoo on the way. The nice thing about Walgreens and Rite Aid is that you still get a cash check. My new policy is to save all those little amounts.

  37. TVarmy says:

    At least it isn’t store credit. Oh crap, did I just give them an idea?

  38. RedwoodFlyer says:

    Here’s how I got cash from a Staples gift card: Bought an iPod Nano at Wal-Mart with it + a few dollars of normal cash to cover tax….

    Returned it up-opened 10 minutes later by saying “whoops, wrong color, I meant to get the striped zebra color scheme, can I exchange it? You don’t have it? Aww man, I guess I’ll have to get a refund then” and before you know it, the cash is in your hand!

  39. mike says:

    Mail-in rebates are, without a doubt, an invention created by Satan.

    Hyperbole aside, the more I see these stories, the more I’m convinced that these mail-in rebates should be illegal. Provide coupons or take the rebate at the register.

    I know that circumvents the whole “People will forget” part of the plan, but if you’re going to provide a rebate, make it a real rebate. Rebate amount would probably decrease, but at least the consumer won’t get screwed.

  40. mike says:

    Also, it may be best to use the gift cards at places that take multiple gift cards. I took my gift card to Home Depot and had them take the $30 from the gift debit card and I paid the rest on my credit card.

    For added protection, make sure that your purchase is at least twice the gift card amount so that when you make a return, it doesn’t accidently get put onto the gift debit card.

  41. jesuismoi says:

    We have recieved a few of these in the last couple years. I’ve started buying my husband an Amazon.com gift card for whatever amount is on the card.

    It is, sometimes, tricky to figure out what the NAME should be on the transcation. “GIFT CARD OWNER” in one case.

    I’m surprised, actually, that the cards don’t come blocked for “security” reasons from internet purchases.

  42. econobiker says:

    prepaid Visa debit card:

    you have to typically use the debit cards for amounts less than the value left on the card- ie if you get a card for $50 it won’t let you buy a $55.82 item as it will say you don’t have enough money. You have to pay the $5.82 first and then have the clerk process the prepaid debit card for the $50.00.

    Kind of funny buying a 32¢ pack of gum and paying 4¢ in order to recover the 28¢ we had left on a card…