Retailers have discovered that most consumers want a rebate on the items they purchase.  Furthermore, they have decided the best way to offer these rebates is through mail in claim forms. 

Prepaid cards

Most of these rebates now come in the form of a prepaid rebate card.  One reason this is good for retailers is that they get the advertisement and business they want without always having to pay the amount on the card.

In the first place some will not mail in the forms.  Others will receive the card and then lose it or forget to use it.  Even if they use it, they could come up short.


Gift cards

State laws and the Credit Card Act of 2009 protect gift cards, therefore gift cards retain their value for a long time.  However, rebate cards are not covered.  Because of this, the buyer must be aware of various problems with these cards.

Always read the fine print. 

Some of these will lose value the longer you hold onto the card.  If you wait a month, the $50 card may only be worth $40.  If you wait three months or longer, it may lose all of its value and be completely worthless.

In addition, there may be fees which will also reduce the spending value of the card.  Some cards can be used at any retail store, while others are restricted to specific brands or outlets.

A combination of all this makes it very rewarding for the issuer, because many of the rebates are never claimed or are paid out at lesser values.

The most frustrating condition I have found comes with rebate cards which cannot be used for an amount larger than the card amount.  In other words, if the card is for $50 you cannot make a $75 purchase and pay the cashier the difference between the card amount and the total price.

After making a small purchase, the change is left on the card.   To spend this you must now find an even smaller purchase.  If you can’t find the smaller purchase, you lose whatever is left on the card.



I have found a solution.  When I get a $50 rebate card I immediately go to the grocery store and buy a gift card for the same amount of $50.  There is no tax so you get the full $50 to spend without all the rules.  You will have to pick a merchant you like, but with all the possibilities that shouldn’t be hard.  This way I get the full rebate and don’t feel cheated.