Don't Waste Your Money: Rebate prepaid cards may have expiration - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

Don't Waste Your Money: Rebate prepaid cards may expire

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(Toledo News Now) - In the past, when you bought a product with a mail-in rebate, you received a check in the mail. In most cases now, you get a prepaid debit card, but there is a big downside to them.

More and more cell phones come with mail-in rebates these days. Buy a phone for $200 and get $100 back. Sounds great. But there's a little secret to these rebates that companies would rather you not know.

Rebate Now Comes On Card

We've all seen signs and commercials advertising deep discounts on new cell phones "after mail-in rebate." They rarely give a rebate on the spot.

The rebate now usually comes on a Visa or MasterCard.

Susan Arnold found a great deal.

"There was a $100 rebate on the phone, which they sent to me in the form of a rebate card," she said. "They sent it to me on the first of April."

She decided to wait and use the card on her upcoming vacation. Bad idea. What happened when she went to use the card?

"The card was expired," Arnold said. "The card expired in June."

Turns out the card was valid for just three months.

Dirty Little Secret

That's the dirty little secret of many rebate cards. They are valid for just three to six months, as they don't fall under gift card laws that would require them to be valid longer.

Good news: After contacting the provider, a spokeswoman agreed to reissue Arnold's card.

But you can be sure thousands of these expire before they are used.

Remember: Any time you get a rebate or gift card, leave it on the kitchen counter, next to the phone, or somewhere you will see it every day. Never tuck it away or it may expire before you get to it.

As always, don't waste your money.

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