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The Rebate with Strings…


After months… OK, over a year… of delaying the inevitable, I finally caved and bought a new cell phone. My phone is several years old – which in cell phone years equates to centuries. I would have kept it, but when the reliability of actually being able to make calls sinks under 50%, it’s simply time to move on.

I went into my local Verizon store and pulled out my phone to show the salesman the level of phone I wanted – aka, a cheap one. He looked at me, looked at my phone, and then replied, ‘They don’t make phones like that anymore. Exactly how OLD is that thing?’

He was incredibly helpful and walked me over to the section of phones that don’t require data, internet, or gps plans. He didn’t pressure me to purchase accessories and helped me choose a phone that worked for my um… ‘discriminating’ taste. Some like to call it cheap, but I think ‘discriminating taste’ sounds more refined.

My phone was ‘free’ after a mail-in rebate.

Today, I received my rebate – a Verizon Visa card. Sure I can use the card anywhere Visa is accepted but what happened to the good ol’ days of checks I could cash? Now I have to figure out where in my budget I can use the card and try my best to spend it all at once so I don’t have to keep a record of how much is left on the card. If I only use part, I have to record the amount remaining and charge the exact amount on the next transaction, otherwise the card will be declined.

They make it nearly impossible to complete the rebate submission information correctly and now spending the rebate will be equally as difficult?!?

It’s a good thing I have another 5-7 years before I need a new cell phone.


  • Reply Megan |

    When I got my Verizon rebate, I could just go onto the website and transfer the entire amount to my bank account.

  • Reply Janelle |

    You can use a stickie note right on your rebate card to keep track of what you’ve spent. I love stickie notes. They make life a lot easier.

  • Reply Brian |

    All visa member banks have to let you cash the card or deposit it into your acct. if you can tell them the exact amount on the card. My work actually pays out paychecks on cards instead of as checks now to make it easier for them.

  • Reply Maggie |

    Take the rebate card back to Verizon and apply the entire thing to your account. Of course when I did it it went towrds the activation fee as well as a data plan.

  • Reply Kati |

    If you normally shop for groceries at one store, you could get a gift card to that store in the full amount of the rebate card. Then they will be the ones to track the amount left on your gift card. I think that would be an easy option. 🙂 Good luck with your decision!

  • Reply Deeanna |

    When I have gift cards with small balances, I add that specific amount to my amazon gift card balance. I can always buy a book and the little gift card amounts add up.

  • Reply Rina |

    Can you pay your cell phone bill with it? You’d be able to specify the exact amount.

  • Reply christine |

    I hate those rebate gift cards, but when I got mine in the mail I noticed it said I could take it to the bank and get cash. I did just that! No more having to keep track of those small balances!

  • Reply T |

    We got a new verizon phone with a rebate this year too. Look closely at the paperwork it came with. Ours said that if you wanted a check, you could get one, but you had to not attempt to use the card at all.

    I know that’s a huge pain, and delays your money arriving that much longer, but it’s something.

  • Reply Nicole |

    I was always frustrated with these too and ended up with tiny balances that I threw away after too many clerks couldn’t get it right. I do exactly what Kati mentioned…buy a gift card in the full amount from a grocery store or gas station. Those are necessity purchases anyway, and they’re equipped to deal with little remaining balances.

  • Reply RB |

    I just bought tires for my van which had a manufacturer rebate. Basically I got the high-grade tires for the middle-grade price. But after filling out the form and reading the fine print, I too will be getting my rebate in the form of a VISA gift card. Had I known that, I probably would have declined. At least it was not one of those rebates with so many strings attached that they hope you don’t follow the directions to the letter so they can deny your rebate. So far, I have to say that Costco has the best rebate plans. Either they take the rebate off at the register, or there is a control number on the receipt that you type into their website and they send a check.

  • Reply Nichole@40daysof |

    A quick note about Visa/Mastercard/AmEx gift cards: if you are buying something where the total is more than what’s on the card, have the cashier type in the amount on the card (eg. $50) before running the card. Otherwise it will get rejected. And always know to the penny, what’s on the card.

  • Reply paisleypenguin |

    Oh that happened to me too! They didn’t even tell me before hand. So irritating!

  • Reply Shannon |

    I’ve also used Visa gift cards like, well, like gift cards. Can’t you just use it as you want and when it’s out, pay the remainder of your purcahse with cash/debit??

  • Reply Lynn |

    Look at the bottom of the letter in the tiniest of letters there should be a website address you can go to and fill in your bank account info and get the money instead of the card. I had 2 $100 gift cards and I got both of them deposited to my account after getting the rebate card in the mail.

  • Reply mary |

    Just bring the card to a bank and ask for a cash advance in the amount of the card. There should be no charge for this-at least there isn’t at the bank where I’m a teller. I’ve gotten those Verizon cards for my rebate, and that’s what I did.

  • Reply John |

    I did the same thing that Lynn mentioned with 2 $100 Visa Rebate cards from Verizon and the money was deposited into my bank acct a few days later. Read the fine print on the letter that came with the rebate card.

  • Reply WicketsMom |

    We used the remainder of one to get gas and were able to bring the balance to zero.

  • Reply mv |

    the purchase shouldn’t have to be for the exact amount on the card. What are the chances of that happening? I’ve had gift cards where the amount spent was higher than the amount on the card. The clerk should be able to split the transaction – pay part on the card and the rest via some other funds.

So, what do you think ?