Comcastic Rebate Card Has Catches Attached

Jonathan says Comcast disappointed him by giving him a rebate in the form of a Comcast-branded Visa debit card pockmarked with a maintenance fee for inactivity.

He writes:

I got my Comcast cable internet hookup rebate, and it’s in the form of a $75 Citibank pre-paid Visa debit card that expires 2/2011.

I’m wondering, what’s the catch?

One big one that was easy to see: A $3/month account maintenance fee, charged if you haven’t 1) added funds to the account in the last 3 months, or 2) made a purchase in the last 3 months, or 3) if the balance is not $0. The accumulated fee for months 1-12 is applied at the end of the 12 months. Nice way to lose half your rebate, even after you went through the trouble of getting it.

I’m thinking the common scenario is a card that either isn’t used, or that is used early but not taken down exactly to $0.

Also, the ‘agreement’ says that if you go below $0, you can be charged a fee per the schedule of fees, but the schedule of fees lists no relevant fees.

So, what’s my best strategy on how to use this? What traps and pitfalls are there?

It’s kinda sh**** that, rather than sending a check, they send you this card with all sorts of legal entanglements.

These rebate cards are becoming all the rage. Consumerists, what do you do to squeeze every last penny out of such tricky minxes?