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SanDisk VISA rebate card rips you off

:: Wednesday, October 28th, 2009 @ 6:33:14 pm

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SanDisk sent me $20 and $60 rebate VISA cards for buying SanDisk compact flash cards. I hate rebates in general, but I hate VISA prepaid card rebates even more.

I’m told that banks are required to cash these cards in, but Bank of America had no idea what to do with them. So I tried using a $20 card at a restaurant (i.e. “put $20 on the card, and we’ll pay the rest in cash”), and the transaction failed. It is very hard to use rebate VISA cards.

A friend suggested that I use the cards to purchase gift cards, which is a great idea. I bought a $20 card from Amazon with no problem, but a $60 order failed. I logged in, and it turns out that the account only has $59 on it, even though it plainly says “60 DOLLARS” right on the front of the card.

How is this not ripping me off? It isn’t worth $1 to call a customer service number. Instead, I bought a $59 gift card from Amazon and am posting about the issue here on my website for SanDisk customers to find. I’m sure it will cost one of the companies involved (SanDisk, VISA) more than $1.

UPDATE:

OK, I tried to purchase a $59 gift certificate on Amazon, and it failed. I checked the balance again, and now it says that it is $58. I tried buying again, and now it says $57. My balance is shrinking with each attempt, and I am not even successfully using the card!

UPDATE:

I believe the reason my balance kept going down is that Amazon does a pre-authorization for $1 before charging the entire amount of the gift certificate. But because the VISA rebate card treats pre-authorizations as charges (before refunding the amount “up to 15 days” later), there is no longer enough on the card for the full charge to go through. The solution is to purchase a gift card for $1 less than the value of the rebate card, or to buy a gift card from somewhere that doesn’t pre-authorize.

Note that my $20 gift card didn’t have this problem, so it seems that Amazon only pre-authorizes for gift cards of a certain value or higher.

UPDATE

I just got a Verizon $50 VISA rebate card. Verizon has a menu item called “Access $” on their rebate card management website, and from there, you are able to withdraw funds directly to your bank account. Way to go, Verizon!

| San Francisco, CA | link | trackback | Oct 28, 2009 18:33:14
  • scromp

    Recently at least some of those visa cards essentially deteriorate over time; you have to use them almost immediately if you want the full “face” value. Sounds like in your case it started rotting early. Anyway, yeah, it’s a giant ripoff.

  • http://echeng.com echeng

    Interesting. It appears that my balance is rotting away. The cards were issued only 6 weeks ago…

  • EggRollMonster

    Have you tried to use it for gas? It is important that you know what the balance on the card is since the gas station cannot check for balance. My $30 prepaid Visa card worked for me.

    Perhaps the magnatic strip on your card is losing energy(if it emits ionizing particles and radiation). :|

  • Rod

    It’s a $1 card authorization to make sure the number is valid. Happens when you update a credit card online or even at the gas station. I run card authorizations when we do a cross ship RMAs. After 7-10 days you’ll get the $1 back onto the account. Regarding the restaurant, some places will authorize 10-20% more than what is on the bill. So if you say $20, the system will authorize $21-$22.

  • Rod

    opps my percentage calculations were off but you get the idea. :)

  • Amy

    Agreed with Rod, it is the $1 credit card authorization thingy. They should not do that for debit card though, I think.

  • Amy

    Oops!!! I meant prepaid instead of debit. My bad :)

  • http://echeng.com echeng

    Rod — yeah, I understand, now. The VISA rebate card doesn’t return the money until “up to 15 days” later. Amazon doesn’t appear to pre-authorize $1 for a $20 gift card, but they do for a $60 gift card.

    It makes it really hard to use an entire VISA rebate card. They must be making a shitload of money from people not being able to use up an entire card before the thing expires.

  • tammy

    i use prepaid gift cards for gas. seems to be an easy way to guarantee a set amount.

  • Christie

    I have been able to use it at local Walgreens. That’s about the only store where I could use it w/o any problems.

  • http://ihatepink.com Caroline :)

    The only way I’ve been able to use up all the value on these cards is at the gas station. But it’s still a hassle. First, call the number to ascertain the exact remaining amount on the card. Then, walk into the gas station and tell the cashier repeatedly, “I want seventeen dollars and thirty-three cents put on this card for gas” because nobody ever asks for exactly $17.33 for gas, and they keep trying to correct you because they think you want $17.00 even …

    Unfortunately, tons of rebate offers are turning to these stupid prepaid Visa cards. :( I totally agree – they must be making a TON off people who won’t go through the trouble of using the whole amount! And they do make it difficult!

  • http://echeng.com echeng

    Update: I just got a Verizon $50 VISA rebate card. Verizon has a menu item called “Access $” on their rebate card management website, and from there, you are able to withdraw funds directly to your bank account. Way to go, Verizon!

  • http://www.voxcall.com/ calling cards

    you know using a card make us confuse, I think that you update some thing that's why the amount was lessen, so next time ask first to the seller you may ask some guidance if how could you use it to prevent an awareness situation

  • http://www.voxcall.com/ calling cards

    test

  • Loundave

    MUST BE HARD TO USE IF YOU DON;T HAVE A CARD! HA THEY ARE RIP OFFS AND RUN!

  • Loundave

    ops ment a car!

  • Davenlou

    I KNOW IT IS HAPPENING TO ME! THESE CARDS SUCK AND THINK ABOUT HOW CONFUSING THIS IS TO OLDER PEOPLE!

  • John Gushman

    Finally a solution to this issue! I recently came across this new site to get cash for my prepaid cards called Prepaid2Cash.  They transfer the balance of my prepaid card directly to my bank account! It was super easy. http://www.prepaid2cash.com

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