How to turn restricted rebate debit cards into cash

debit cardsIf you've purchased any high priced item with a rebate in the last year, like a cell phone, you've likely received your rebate in the form of a rebate card. While these cards often carry a Visa or MasterCard logo and can be used much like a debit or credit card, they don't carry the same protections as pre-paid credit cards or gift cards. The hassles and potential for wasted money is high, but you can turn most of these cards into cash in one stop.

The biggest problem that consumers run into with these types of rebate cards is that they assume they fall under a state gift card regulations or even consumer protections built into the Credit CARD Act of 2009. But as BankRate warns cardholders -- they don't. The reason these cards are exempt from charging inactivity, and other miscellaneous, fees is because these cards represent free money, from which any fees are deducted.
BankRate offers these steps to stay ahead of fees on rebate cards:
  • Use the card immediately.
  • Identify the fees you can control.
  • Take advantage of technology.
  • Act fast if the card is lost.
If you plan to use your card as a debit card these tips will make it easier to use all of your "free money" and get the rebate you were promised. You should also destroy the card when you are done using it since someone could still possibly use it to rack up charges well over the initial limit -- leaving you stuck with the bill.
The best thing you can do with one of these cards, or even a Visa gift card, is to turn it into cash or a store gift card with more protections. If your rebate card has a Visa or MasterCard logo you should be able to take it into your bank and ask them to turn it into cash for you.

This hidden trick is buried in the fine print and is one I have used with every Verizon Wireless Visa rebate card I've received. The process takes about two minutes and you have cash that can't be taken away with fees.

If your card can't be turned into cash, then I suggest you head to your local grocery store and purchase a gift card for the full amount. This way you can use it up quickly and clerks will be more adept at handling that last $3.56 that is left on the card.

Whatever you do, don't let that card sit around and go to waste! Have a tip or trick for making sure you get the most of your rebate cards? Let us know in the comments below.
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