The Trouble with Rebate Cards

by Kay Lynn

A couple of months ago I took advantage of a back to school sale at Staples and bought some photo paper that was ridiculously cheap after rebate.  I’ve received rebates for years from Staples and have found the process to be easy, reasonably quick and reliable. 

The rebates for the photo paper (I bought two packs) was given in the form of a pre-loaded Visa card.  How the heck am I supposed to put that in my savings account?  I didn’t even try to make that happen. 

Instead I decided to use  the card on textbooks for my son in Paramedic school.  He needs lots of books and I offered to buy some as an early Christmas present.  I bought them online and found competitive pricing at along with free shipping.  I used some of my awards from survey sites, my prepaid Visa card and the rest from my checking account.

If your balance is more than the amount on the card there is no way to indicate it during the sale.  Instead, I got a card declined email.  What I ended up doing was removing one of the books from the cart so the amount due was less than the card balance.  That worked, but I still have about $12. on the card.  I plan to spend that (if possible) reloading my Starbucks card at 

I’m still annoyed at Staples. I think they offer the cards instead of a check because a certain percent of recipients won’t go to all the trouble involved with spending it.    Next time, I’ll read the rebate information carefully before I buy. 

Have you had a good experience with prepaid credit cards? 

Photo by Nebrot.    Creative Commons Attribution 3.0.

Content © Bucksomeboomer  2009. All Rights Reserved.

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{ 1 comment }

SD Kevin November 6, 2009 at 12:48 pm

I’m with you. That’s not a rebate. That’s an incentive to spend more money whether it’s at their store or another store. Plus, the hoops you’re having to go through to use it – buy books, get declined, remove a book, figure out where else to apply the balance, etc. – is almost more time than it’s worth. I get having an “immediate” rebate since waiting 10 – 12 weeks for delivery is annoying, but still this system of pre-loaded debit cards just doesn’t really work well.

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