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How to use a rebate debit card

Companies are always trying to find ways of minimizing the number of people who actually cash in their rebates. Especially popular these days is issuing rebate debit cards instead of checks. If you don't use all the money at once, it's a pain to properly use up. You might have to ask the cashier to put $X on this card and the rest in cash or on another card... and you had better know exactly how much is left on the card! To add insult to injury, the one I just got has an expiration date of 9/09. I only have 3 months to use it all up, or it expires!

So ideally, you'd use it all up right away, paying exactly the amount on the card. But how? One idea I saw was to buy a gift certificate (which usually has more lenient expiration dates, at least), but that still requires you to go somewhere and remember to do it, and it forces you to buy more stuff at that store. Here's my preferred solution:

Use it to pay your cell phone bill online. Even if you just paid for the month, cell phone companies typically let you overpay and get some credit (useful when going on long vacations), so you can just dump the full exact amount of your rebate debit card in, and pay that much less on your next bill! The money you save is as good as cash-in-hand.* Also, you can do this immediately upon receiving the card, minimizing your chances of forgetting to use it. Finally, your cell phone bill is something you were already planning to pay anyway, so you're not forced to buy more stuff that you didn't really need.

*One caveat is that you still won't get any rewards or rebates when you use one of these cards that you could have with your regular credit card, but that's a difference of only a buck or two with most rebates anyway.

Comments (3)

That's exactly what I did. Paid AT&T wireless phone bill with AT&T rebate card.

Awesome tip! Just did this, thanks!

Awesome idea, exactly what I did too.

Thanks for making a PITA really easy.

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LEAVE THIS FIELD BLANK. IT IS HERE TO TRAP ROBOTS.

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