I’ve mentioned before that sometimes I live under a rock. This rock was a happy place, where rebates arrived as normal paper checks that had to be cashed or deposited within 90 days and all would be right with the world. Although it has apparently been a trend for some time, last month was the first time I ever received a prepaid debit card instead of a check for a rebate.
I’m not liking it. These prepaid debit cards are almost as annoying as gift cards, and have few of the same protections that gift cards have under the law. Gift cards don’t have expiration dates or maintenance fees, but debit cards do.
This particular debit card was issued by a large bank that many of us love to hate. What I should have done was cash in the card immediately at one of their ATMs, since that could have been done without incurring a fee. Or I could have even cashed it in at my own bank’s ATM, since my bank will pick up other banks’ ATM fees for up to five transactions a month. But it would have cost me $5 to go into the large bank we love to hate to cash it in at a teller’s window. Boo to that.
Now that the card has less than $20 balance remaining, I have to keep track of the exact amount available, and make sure to spend it on a larger purchase at a store where at least one of the cashiers is capable of handling a split tender transaction, where part of the transaction will be paid with the balance remaining on the rebate card, and the rest will be paid with cash or another debit or credit card. I am pretty sure of which stores in my area do not have someone who can comprehend this. I’m just annoyed that I have to waste time thinking about it at all.
Keeping track of the exact amount available is easier said than done. It’s actually easier to keep a running total on paper, even though I am supposed to be able to get a balance at no charge on the web or on the phone. Considering I’ve been able to log on successfully to that website exactly once, and that one is allowed only four free phone calls… “supposed to” is kind of stretching it.
The money reverts to the issuing company (or in my case, municipality, as this is a city tax rebate) if it is not used within a year. No way am I going to let the city have one single penny of my money. You know that a good number of people will either lose the debit card, or not use it within a year, or not bother to use up the last little bit once it gets to a low enough amount. Not me, not this time!
I guess there’s nothing I can do to stop the trend, and next time I’ll definitely cash in a card immediately rather than go through the annoyance of using it as a debit or credit card. But I just had to vent a little first. Thanks for listening, or pretending to listen!
(NaBloPoMo | August ’10: 10 of 31)